Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Agony of ' Wedding Shopping ' in Mumbai

“Will you be at home? My packet from the designer will arrive today, can you collect it for me, please?” said my niece, as she headed to yet another shopping centre.

With only few days left for her wedding, she was busy shopping all day, sometimes skipping lunch and missing all the luxuries of easy life that she is normally used to! Every hour she would check her shopping list and plan the next move. Life is tough in a city like Mumbai. Traffic jams, pollution and crowded streets can squeeze out the energy off you. Shopping in Mumbai can be a nightmare! But still, every young NRI dreams of coming to India to shop for their most important day of their life.

A chat with my niece reveals what you can expect when you embark on the special journey to your trousseau shopping to India.

Why did you choose to come to India for your trousseau shopping?

For Indian clothes, India has the biggest variety (obviously). You can properly shop around and check out the various designers/styles/trends that are out there, instead of depending on the limited styles that might come to your city. Also, I live in Asia so traveling to India is very convenient.

If the designers and the sales people came to your place of origin, would you buy from them? Why?

For my bridal wear? No. For my bridal outfits, I was very fussy (aren’t all brides?). I wanted to take a look at absolutely everything out there and then choose what I wanted for my big day  But if I really liked a particular designer, and he/she came to my city, and I really liked an outfit, then yes, I would buy from them for my other trousseau wear. But since I live so close to India, I still prefer traveling there and taking a look from their full collection. Also, the prices abroad are often higher than the prices offered within India.

Which is the best city in India to shop for? Why?

DELHI!!! Well, I’ve only actually been to Mumbai and Delhi for shopping, and between the two, DELHI was definitely, without a doubt, better. I noticed that although Mumbai is very often the city most Sindhis go to for the “trendier” stuff, the same stuff (and a good deal more) is available in Delhi. Delhi had a MUCH larger variety, with styles from all over India, the trendy, the traditional, the funky. From the large variety of styles/outfits available in Delhi, only a small percentage are actually sent to Mumbai, and that too, a few months later. The collections I found in Mumbai were so limited compared to the ones I saw in Delhi. Also, there are more designers based in Delhi than in Mumbai.

What are the different things that you need to shop from India?

Bridal wear; accessories like bindis, chindis, bangles, anklets, handbags, etc; Saris, suits, lehengas, etc.; Wedding Invitations; Silverware, puja items, Wedding fan and the pillow cover over which you do “dattar”… For Sindhi weddings, the shopping list is endless…

What are the things u would rather buy from your place of origin?

Western clothes and western accessories.

How long did u stay in India to complete the shopping?

My first trip was for five weeks, when I bought my trousseau and ordered my bridals… The second trip was for 2 weeks, where I picked up all my bridals..

What are the hurdles you faced during your stay in Mumbai? In Delhi?

OH THE LIST IS ENDLESS, I don’t know where to start… for trousseau shopping in India, you need LOADS of patience. It gets incredibly wearisome. The tailors were completely unreliable; outfits were never ready when they’re meant to be, the fittings were never-ending, the traffic was frustrating, some of my ordered outfits turned out wrong, and on top of it all, I fell sick.

Was the shopping experience good or bad? Why?

Ummm… actually, the shopping experience was not as bad as I thought it would be… (because of the horror stories I heard, I was expecting much worse)..

Whom would you trust the most with the trousseau shopping?

I would take anyone whose style I appreciated; someone who understood my style, what I would wear versus what I would buy, regret, and never wear.

Any embarrassing moment u faced during your shopping?

Hehehe, yes… I was in a boutique, I tried on a lehenga in the changing room. It was too big for me so I held it tight on the side and walked out of the room, on to a small “pedestal” so my mom could have a good look. The sales girl took hold of the lehenga and tried to pin it tight… accidentally, she let go and the whole lehnga fell down around my ankles.. the whole boutique turned and saw…

Would u recommend your friends to come to India to shop? Why?

Yes, for Indian clothes. As irritating as the experience is, it is still your wedding day, and you still need to look your best.

Did your shopping experience match your expectations? Why?

Well… no. I actually expected the experience to be a lot worse. I heard a lot of horror stories. My cousin got her wedding outfit the day before the ceremony, and the colors came out horribly wrong and completely off… because of all the horror stories I heard, of girls getting their bridal outfits the day before the occasion, and the outfit turning out a horrible color, etc. etc.

What advice would u give to new shopper who is thinking of coming to India to shop?


:)no seriously, know that nothing will turn out the way you want it to, or go according to schedule. Be patient and flexible. Eat well everyday even if you are too busy to take time off. Every week or so take a day off from shopping to have fun. Eat pani puri, go for a movie, catch up with friends, whatever…just take it easy :)

Where to go for wedding shopping in Mumbai?


When in Mumbai, always be prepared for heat, crowd and traffic.

Many people prefer to come from different parts of the world to Mumbai for their wedding shopping because of diversity of design and latest trends.
There is a lot to choose from and Mumbai is a shopping Paradise.

Most of the wedding shopping can be done from Juhu Tara road, Santa Cruz (West), Colaba, Kemps Corner, Lokhanwallah complex or Dadar

For your our wedding outfits,

You may check out some of my favorite ones:

Friendship Sarees at Santacruz.
Queens road at Marine lines have rows of saree shops.
Juhu Tara road has line of designer shops on both sides of the road.
Lokhanwalah Complex is another lane to check out.
Benzer at Breach Candy
Ogaan at Colaba
Courtyard at Colaba
Kimaya at Juhu
Quorum at Phenix Mills, Parel
Ensemble at Lions Gate
Atria Mall , worli
Inorbit Mall, malad
Oberoi Towers at Nariman point
Aishwarya Desigh studio, Linking road
Silk India, Masid Galli, Dadar
Kamdhenu, 4 Bungalows, Andheri

Some of the designers to check out:

Ritu Kumar at Parel
Private collections at Pedder Road
Designer studio at Pedder road.
Kavita Bhartia at Ogaan
Payal Singhaal at Altamount road
Deepika Gehani at Juhu
Menka Mirpuri at Shivaji Park
Manish Arora at Courtyard
Bhartis’ at Lokhanwallah complex
Satya paul at Juhu Tara road
Tarun Tahiliani at Bandra
Vikram Padnis at Juhu
Mango at Linking road

for Dress Materials

Elco Arcate in Hill road, Bandra
Gandhi Market in Kings’ circle
Mahesh market at Tardeo
Sagar at Linking road
Saroj at khar

For shoes and foot wear and handbags:

There are variety of shoe shops at Linking road, Kemp Corner, Lokhanwakkah complex and Colaba.

Some of the shoes stores you could check out

Some of the stores for designer handbags to check out

Cheemo at Kemps’corner
Boudoir London shop at Juhu
Calzzare at Nariman point
Da Milano at Quorum, Parel
Hidesigh at Kemps corner

The places to check out for bindhis, bangles and artificial jewellary

Past lane, Colaba
Santa Cruz Market
or if you have strength to walk, try Bhuleshwar

For mehendi and hair assessories

Beauty Art centre at khar, SV road.
Santa Cruz Market

For Men's clothes

Try Millionare at Juhu
Standard at Santa Cruz
Charagh Din at Colaba

Accessories for Mandap and car decoration

Dadar market (west) near the station
Santa Cruz market
Khar market

For gold and diamond jewellary
Javery bazaar
Turner road and waterfeild road, Bandra
Panchratna, Opera house.

Some of them to check out for great designs
Tanishq at Linking road
Amparapali at Oberoi towers
Adora at Turner road, Bandra
Anmol at turner road, bandra
Naqsh at Panch ratna, Opera House
Notandas & Sons at waterfield road, Bandra

For wedding cards

C P tank road (behind Opera house)
Dadar (west)

For wedding souvenirs

Silver stores at Khar or Dadar
Big bazaar at Parel
The Bombay store, Fort
Santa Cruz market.
Art d’inox, Raghuransh estate, Parel
Ravissant, Kemps corner
Frazer and Haws, Bandra

Wedding Management services

Seven steps, Jivan Kiran, s.V. oad. Bandra
Touchwood entertainment.

Travel by cool cab (a blue car), pay by meter or you can rent which may cost you around Rs1200 fro 8 hours.
You can call for cool cab service from any part of the Mumbai. You can reach them within 15 minutes
Call at 38246216/38227006/38016622/38649955.

If you want to send a visitor on a shopping trip or sightseeing tour of Mumabi, but don’t have car or driver, call Titoo Singh, a Cool Cab taxi driver and tour guide. He can be found on the Oberoi taxi Stand at Nariman Point or call him o 2444067/9821029783. He knows the tourist interest points and fashion shops in Mumbai. He charges by hour so ask him his rate in advance. Need to negotiate with him a little.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Shopping in Mumbai City

Most of the people, whom I know, come to Mumbai for Shopping. Mumbai is a shopper’s paradise. The shops and bazaars offer a truly amazing diversity of goods, as well as being worth a visit in their own right.

Mumbai sells everything from expensive European antiques to local spices by way of electrical goods and silks. In particular, it is the centre of the Indian clothing trade and caters for all tastes and budgets.

Likewise, Mumbai is a major centre of the diamond trade and for those with strong nerves and long pockets, who know what they are doing, it is possible to pick great bargains.

Main shopping area is around Dadar T.T, and if you go there in the evening, the place is packed. Good cotton clothes, saris, children's clothes galore and a general atmosphere of fun shopping.

Bandra, the so-called "Queen of Suburbs" is the residential abode of film stars, industrialists and the likes, of Mumbai. Linking Road joins Bandra to Khar and is lined up on both sides with showrooms for the elite. But the striking contest here is the pavement selling, a world of contrast from a posh showroom. Hill Road has number of shops lining on both sides of the streets. Elco market and Globus have good range of clothes. Turner road has great number of jewellery stores. Shoppers’ stop and Crystal shopping mall at linking road sell wide variety of goods. Kenworth Mall at Linking road have wide range of shoes’ stores.

Lokhanwallah Complex, in Versova, Andheri, has one long street, that is lined with stores on both sides of the street and it sells wide variety of things that suits every budget.

More trendy and costly shopping is found at Breach Candy and Kemps Corner, down the hill from the Hanging Gardens.

‘Fashion Street’, on M Gandhi Road between Cross Maidan and Azad Maidan, is a row of market stalls where some very good bargains can be found. Fashion street sells export rejects, and export "over-runs" which are often excellent quality clothes at knock down prices. Bargain very hard, and with any luck one can reduce the sales man's opening offer down to a more realistic price. Shoppers should trust to luck and their eye, haggle fiercely and hope to be rewarded with an exceptional bargain.

Shopping For Handicrafts Very close to Gateway of India, there is the main government emporium, Cottage Industries, which is reasonably well stocked with a cross section of handicrafts and clothes, and prices are fixed. In the little streets immediately opposite to the government emporium, there are lots of handicraft and silver shops, and a couple of good, but pricey, antique shops.

For those who like to shop in comfort, The Oberoi and Taj Hotels both boast air-conditioned shopping malls with an interesting range of boutiques. The shopping arcades of almost all five-star hotels offer a good variety of up-market shops and you can shop for clothes, shoes, leatherwear, jewellery, and good quality handicrafts. Prices will be higher than outside, but the choice in these shopping arcades is excellent, and if one is a canny shopper, one can always window shop there, before heading off to the markets.

For the book lovers, "Crossword" has its branches spread all over Mumbai, and they sells books, magazines, records, CDs, greeting cards

One of Mumbai's most popular bookshops is the tiny "Strand Book Stall" which has helpful knowledgeable staff, a comprehensive range of books, and if they don't have something, they will order it within a day or so. It is quite an achievement to leave the shop without buying something!

There are several excellent bookshops, and street stalls galore, many of the latter concentrated around Flora Fountain where a persistent search may reveal interesting volumes among the pulp thrillers.

In Mumbai, there has been mushrooming of Shopping malls in recent times, and they are found almost everywhere and stock every thing that women, men and children could ask for. Some of them, worth the mention are:

InOrbit mall at Malad

Infinity Mall at Versova

City Mall at Versova

Nirmal Lifestyles at Mulund

RR Mall at Mulund

Eternia at Breach Candy

Big Bazaar at Pheonix Mills

Cross Roads at Tardeo

Atria at Worli.

Benzer at Breach Candy

Shopper's Stop has branches all over Mumbai

Central mall at Vashi

Alfa mall at Irla

No trip to Mumbai is complete, however, without a visit to the bazaars –

Chor Bazaar, Mutton Street, near Sir JJ Road, for bric-a-brac, furniture and junk, It is an antique-hunter's delight. Its name literally means "thieves market," as this was where stolen goods were once sold. Today, it is best known for antique furniture and quaint collectors’ items sold at throwaway prices

Zaveri Bazaar, off Abdul Rahman Street, for jewellery, Dhaboo Street Bazaar, is famous for its diamond, gold and silver jewelery.

Dhaboo Street, for leather goods

Masjit Bunder for spices

Crawford Market, Lokmanya Tilak Road and MRA Road (north of Victoria Terminus) for flowers, fruit and vegetables. This is where you'll find the best Alphonso mangoes in the city along with hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables. The flower market is a riot of red, yellow, pink, marigold and purple. Bargaining is expected, and you can take home most items at 50% of their quoted price.

Mangaldas Market, off Sheikh Memon Street in south Mumbai, and Gandhi Market at King’s Circle are massive indoor market selling every conceivable type of cloth. Look for the bolts of beautiful Indian silk and cotton. The key to success there is patience and astute haggling.

Night Life in South Mumbai

No matter what time of night you venture out, there are bound to be other's going about some business or other. The city has always led the nightlife scene in India and there are bars and clubs to suit every taste; jazz dens compete with Salsa, Tabla dance fusions and Funk. Mumbai 's alternative but decidedly yuppie crowd meets at the Ghetto Bar before heading down to the gay, glitzy or groovy clubs around Colaba and Juhu.

Night is when Mumbai really starts hopping. If you're in south Mumbai try Polyester for some nostalgic '80s song and dance.

Hawaiian Shack has a boat shaped bar and waiters in straw hats with 1980’s pop-up repeats.

Visit the pricey high-ceiling two-floor Indigo voted among 60 top restaurants in the world. The restaurant serves spicy Thai and Oriental food.

Celebrities can be spotted at Athena, the cigar lounge restaurant, with low yellow sofas and opaque glass counters.

Try Gaylords at Colaba too. An established bar since 1942, it has two levels with a mezzanine-floor bar - the menu card here is reasonably priced.

For a fun alfresco experience not far from the Taj, wander up a few floors to the trendy rooftop Koyla a hookah bar and restaurant where white tents flap in the breeze amidst leafy vegetation and lots of cosy low sofas and cushioned corners. Good mix of music, mood and food

Nightclubs are the ultimate great escape – people on the prowl all looking for a good time. The atmosphere is smoky, the lighting other-worldly and the music, always sexy. It’s hardly a wonder then that for the bold and the beautiful, it’s the most socially accepted way to just “chill out” and “hang loose.”

Monday, 29 January 2007

Eating out in Colaba

If you are tired of walking and shopping in Colaba, you need to relax and eat too. Although there are many restaurants in Colaba, but sometimes it becomes difficult to find the right place. When in Colaba, you could try some of these eateries.

Cafe Basilico is designed like Indigo Deli style and it is an enjoyable place to dine. It is just opposite Radio Club of Colaba. They serve Italian, Mediterranean and Thai cuisine.

Henry Tham, right next to Tommy Hilfiget between Gateway of India and Regal, is quite a popular bar most evenings and they serve a decent lunch/dinner as well. It is the restaurant for the Elite and they serve Chinese cuisine

Opposite of Henry Tham is Indigo Deli, it’s a café that serves continental, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. They are famous for their Salads, Pizzas, Desserts, etc.

Just off the Colaba Causeway, in 1st Pasta lane is a snack corner called Kailash Parbat that sell great Punjabi and Sindhi Snacks and delicious vegetarian food. Finish it off with some Falooda with Ice Cream for a yummy whole meal.

The best tandoori food in Mumbai can be relished at Bade Miyan. It's easy to spot Bade Miyan. When you turn the corner from the Colaba Causeway, you can faintly smell the aroma of chicken in the tandoor. Turn right again, and you can cruise straight into the restaurant. Tables are on the street. It is the only street side joint in Mumbai city which has been allowed to exist legally. This isn't a place for vegetarians.

Between Cafe Leopold, Gokul and Bade Miya near Regal in Colaba is a cheap quarter bar called Vrindavan. They serve South Indian cuisine.

Cafe Paradise is an old and famous Parsi eating joint. It is on Colaba Causeway on the left after the petrol pumps. Don't miss the Parsi daily specials. They have good selection of deserts.

Coming from VT, take the small lane behind Fountain Sizzlers. Take a left after that and you have Ankur on the right. It is a restaurant in Colaba that serves seafood predominantly from Kerala, and Mangalore. It is a pleasant place with excellent food. Ideal for a business lunch or for a quiet dinner with family, girlfriend or friends

In the lane of the petrol pump, perpendicular to Colaba Causeway is a restaurant Tavern, which is a very old bar with good music. It is a Bar in Feriyas Hotel. They serve Indian and Moghlai cuisine.

New Martin is an eating house in Colaba - turn at the petrol pump on Colaba Causeway and take the first right turn (after Gables). They serve very cheap and very good Goan food. Great deal if you are on a budget. Try and go there as early in the evening as possible. The small eating joint is just around the corner.

In the lane parallel to the Causeway; backside of the Taj Mahal hotel is Indus Cocktail Lounge that serve good cocktails and Indian snacks.

Behind Regal cinema, halfway to Gateway of India is Bayside Café. It is a decent cafe with good continental food

At the very end of Colaba Causeway is Kalpana Bar, where you can find cheap liquor.

About midway on Colaba Causeway; about 10 minutes walk from Regal cinema is Mings Palace, where you can find good Chinese food.

Close to Mings Palace is Cafe Churchill. They have very good continental food and desserts.

Opposite Regal cinema is Cafe Royal. Bill Clinton apparently visited this place when he visited India as U.S. president. They serve excellent steaks.

Alps is in the lane perpendicular to the lane with Bagdadi, Gokul, Bade Miyan. It is a small beer and sizzler joint. Rock music and a TV showing sports set the scene for college kids. Their sizzlers especially their steaks are really cheap compared to most other places, and good.

Tamarind has the unpretentious ambience of an airport lounge. You can gaze at aging hippies sunning themselves by the pool outside while enjoying a quiet meal. They serve Indian Italian and Chinese cuisine. It is in fariyas Hotel, off Arthur Bunder Road in Colaba.

On Divia Thani-Daswani Mandik Road, off Colaba causeway is the much talked about restaurant called Busaba. Burmese Khawsuey, Korean bipimbap and Thai lime-chilly fish are their favorites.

Some other restaurants you could try is All Stir Fry, at Gordon's Hotel, and
'Churchill', One of the original old good joints

Monday, 15 January 2007

Booking your tickets in Mumbai

You can book tickets for your train journey within 24 hours before your journey if you are a tourist. All you need is the foreign passport and foreign currency. Yu can go directly to the Government of India, tourist department (ITDC) which is opposite Churchgate station in Mumbai. The booking office is on the first floor. The window opens at 8.30 am. You have just to fill in the form with all the details and you get tickets immediately to any part of the country. They always have some quota of tickets for tourist.

The Department of Tourism functions under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. It is the nodal agency for the development and promotion of Tourism in India. The administrative head of the Department of Tourism is the Secretary (Tourism). The Department is assisted by an attached office headed by the Director General and ex-officio Additional Secretary to the Government of India.

In Mumbai, the address is:

The Regional Director (West) India Tourism (Mumbai), Tourist Office
123 M. Karve Road, Opp. Churchgate,
Mumbai - 400 020
Tel: 022- 22074333 / 4,
22033144 / 5
Fax: 022- 22014496

Tourist information is also available at
Government of India Tourist Office Counter, Domestic Airport, Tel: 6149200, 6116466 Extn. 278, 279 (Timing 0700 hrs till the last flight)

Government of India Tourist Office Counter, International Airport, Tel: 6325331, 6366700 Extn. 3253/3608 (round the clock)

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, CDO Hutments, Madam Cama Road, Nariman Point, Tel: 2026713, 2027762.

India Tourism Development Corporation, Nirmal Building, 11th Floor, Nariman Point, Tel: 2023343, 2026079

You can also book your train ticket online. The booking system of Indian Railways online is perfectly safe and reliable. You need to go to to book. It is the official website of Indian Railways. More information on train time tables and maps can be obtained from You might find it a bit confusing and difficult to book at first, but once you are familiar with the options, you'll be able to book the tickets with ease. I'd suggest you to travel in A/c (third / second)... because the First Class A/C fares are more expensive than air tickets.

You can book your air tickets online by visiting, they have some gr8 offer there.

Sunday, 14 January 2007


The southernmost peninsula, known as Colaba, is where most tourists gravitate to as it has a good range of hotels and restaurants and two of the city's best landmarks, the Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Mumbai's most famous monument, Gateway to India, built in 1911, is the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the Raj rule ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianiced, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbor or to Elephanta caves. In the days of the steam liner, the Gateway was for many visitors their first and last sight of India but today it acts purely as a colorful tourist stop, and attracts hawkers, snake charmers, and beggars.

The neighbouring Taj Mahal Hotel was built in 1902 by JN Tata, after he was allegedly refused entry to one of the city's European hotels on account of being 'a native'. It has since turned into a bit of an institution, and the streets behind it have become a Mecca for tourists,

Colaba Causeway could proudly be termed the `Culture Square' of Mumbai. The look and mood are reflective of its cosmopolitan feel; a classic example of the clichéd `East meets West'. The Causeway is a must-see for tourists. People of different nationalities meander through the streets to pick up a souvenir or two. And to cater to this crowd, there are vendors who display authentic Indian ware. So, there is woodwork inlaid with ivory, miniature Taj Mahals, decent imitations of South Indian temple paintings, Kashmiri carpets and shawls that apparently come from Shimla! Further down the Causeway, a mehndiwalla woos foreigners. If oddity excites you, then don't miss out on the stalls that display a motley combination of antique pieces such as gramophones, porcelain door knobs, bugles, colored glass lanterns, nautical sextants, miniature telescopes, compasses and, most importantly, the hookahs. These hookahs, available in several sizes, are generally made of wood or ivory. These aesthetic pieces appeal to users as well as the non-users.

Barely a stone's throw from the Gateway of India, to the North, set in beautiful lush gardens, is the Prince of Wales Museum, a magnificent structure, built in a confluence of Gothic and Moorish styles, and crowned by a sparkling white dome. It boasts a good collection of ancient Indus Valley artifacts dating back to 2000 BC, plus some priceless Tibetan and Nepali Art. There is an entire gallery devoted to Buddhist tankha scrolls and another to Tibetan bronzes, but the chief attraction here is the collection of over 2000 miniature paintings from the various art schools of India.

Nearby the new National Gallery of Modern Art, opposite the Prince of Wales Museum, showcases Indian modern art. Converted from an old public hall, the dynamic, three tiered structure houses collections from India's best known living artists and provides a convenient overview of the country's contemporary art scenario.

To the south is the Sassoon Dock, which at dawn becomes an area of intense and pungent activity as fishing boats arrive to unload their catch.

Hewn out of solid rock, the Elephanta Caves date back to 600 AD, and attract more visitors each year than the entire city of Mumbai. It is situated on Gharapuri Island in Mumbai's harbour, about an hour's boat ride from the Gateway Of India. At the entrance to the caves is the famous Trimurti, the celebrated trinity of Elephanta : there's Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva the Destroyer No wonder: this place resonates with the spiritual energy of India. The cave complex is a collection of shrines, courtyards, inner cells, grand halls and porticos arranged in the splendid symmetry of Indian rock-cut architecture, and filled with exquisite stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Every year, in February, the Elephanta Dance Festival is held. Renowned dancers and musicians perform outside the caves, beneath a star-studded sky, to an appreciative audience. Special launch services and catering arrangements are provided for visitors.

Bus routes to Colaba 1, 3, 6, 43, 45, 103, 107, 122, 123, 124, 125, 132, 133, 137, 11 Ltd., 21 Ltd, 21 Ltd., 83, 136

Bus routes to Gateway Of India, Prince Of Wales Museum 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 14, 16 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 43, 44, 47, 65, 70, 101, 107, 123, 130, 131, 132

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Mumbai’s Flood Fury on dreadful Tuesday, 26th July 2005

I remember long ago, when I was a kid, every time it rained, I would walk down the wet streets, without an umbrella, soaking in the rains and enjoying the sweet smell of the earth. Sometimes I would invite my friends to join me in the building compound and happily splashed the puddles. We didn’t care about getting wet or dirty, because it gave us great pleasures in getting wet and enjoying the warm showers. But everything has changed after the out burst of killer rain. The sounds of even the mild showers frighten the child of today. Every time it rains, the children run to seek a safe place where they can hide. They stay there cuddled till it is dry and bright again.

Nothing is close to what Mumbai experienced during those two days. Mumbai, strung together from seven islands, found itself marooned on Tuesday, July 26, 2005. The incessant rains recorded at 896mm in 24 hours (first ever in 100 years) were more anybody could imagine. The streets looked like rivers, people were stuck at workplaces overnight, powers were cut off in many places, phone lines were not working, interconnectivity with the outside world was on the halt as flights and trains were suspended. Even as close to thousands lay dead, millions could barely keep their body and bone together. The state government declared public holiday for two days, as the commercial capital bobbed up like flotsam, facing the fury of the dark skies.

People were struck for many hours in the city’s life stopping floods, with barely enough water to moisten their lips. It was virtually like one of those, water-water everywhere (not a drop to drink) situation. Many people just abandoned their vehicles and waded through the knee-deep water to reach a safe place. Those who stayed were trapped inside their cars and many of them lost their life when it was too late to escape from jammed-up car doors. Thousand of students spent their nights in the classrooms. Hundreds were marooned in their buildings, those in Kaline-Kurla airport colonies required water rafts and army to help reach safety. The electric poles collapse and sent the electric currents through water and many people were electrocuted. Animal and human dead bodies floated in the water for hours. For those two days, only personal records mattered. Dreams of international Shanghai-like city found a quiet, wet burial.

Mumbaikars added new survival skills to their enviable repertoire. People of every neighborhood served tea and biscuits to all the stranded and disoriented commuters. Residents opened their doors to commuters who couldn’t proceed further. Those made people regain their faith in the city.

People in the slums suffered the most. All the appliances, utensils and furniture floated in their tiny rooms. Women and children sat perched on the rooftops, hungry and thirsty, completely drenched in dirty and filthy water, patiently waiting for the rains to stop and water to recede.

The airports remained closed for two consecutive days. Crucial navigation and landing aids such as the instruments landing system and distances measuring instruments were not available, forcing diversions of all international and domestic flights. Thousands of tourists were stranded at the airports.

Mumbai’s floods were a result of the large-scale urbanization with little care for nature. Concrete jungle erupted as eyesores all over Mumbai and along the river Mithi and mangroves simply gave way to building without any heed being paid to environment. These mangroves acted as natural barriers to the sea and in absence of the same, the high tide combined with the cloud bust resulting in the flooding of the city that caused widespread loss of human life and property. The drains simply did not function due to having been choked with plastic, and the only solution to the choking of the drains seems to be was to ban plastic once and for all.

Floods continued to interrupt the post flood relief work in Mumbai. While all people whether rich or poor, have been hit badly, the worse affected are those on the threshold of survival whose capacity to take any more shocks is very little. As the city limps back to normalcy, the scars are still there. Although Mumbaikars suffered a lot during those days, they have to be applauded for their resilience, fortitude, courage and patience in dealing with this calamity!

Monday, 8 January 2007

Farewell to Lord Ganesha

“Come home on Sunday for lunch, I am having Ganpati prayers in my house.” said my friend, Deepu, when I met him during my regular walks at the Jogger’s park. It had been many years, since I had last attended a Ganpati Festival in Mumbai. I had lived in Canary Islands for many years, and Ganpati Festival was celebrated there, within the small Indian community, that resembled more like a private party than like a festival. My friends, back home, would relate to me about the celebrations of the festival but I had always wanted to be in India to experience it first hand. Now, that I was finally having the opportunity to celebrate the Ganpati festival in India, I was curious and most eager to attend.

“For how many days will you bring Lord Ganesha at your house?” I asked him as I sipped the water from my bottle.

“It will be for one and half day.” Said my friend, “Although many people bring home idol of Lord Ganesha and celebrate the festival by worshipping the Lord in a special way, some for a day and half, or 5 days, 7 days or 11 days, depending on the family tradition and commitment of each individual..” My friend informed me.

Ganpati Festival started on 27th August this year. Deepu brought the idol of Lord Ganesha to his house with much love and devotion. He had devoted one week prior to the festival to cleaning and decorating his house. All his friends and relatives, who came to seek the blessing of Lord Ganesha, were welcomed to stay for meals and sweets. Deepu informed me that this wonderful custom was popularized by Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak (in the year 1893 in Pune, India,) to bring together the ‘Hindustanis’ during the British rule. Originally, worshipping Lord Ganesha was a family affair. Wet clay was fashioned into a symbolic Ganesha form, placed on the left palm and worshipped with the chanting of mantras, followed by the rituals. The idol was then immersed in the well or a pond. A devout Hindu believes that what came from the earth should return there.

After one and half day it was time for the farewell. We gathered at his house at 5 o’clock in the evening to perform the aarti. (An Aarti is a devotional hymn accompanied by musical chimes, with one devotee moving the plate containing rice, sindoor and burning lamp, in circular motion in front of the deity). Deepu’s family had hired a special open truck for transporting Lord Ganesha to the beach. The truck was decorated with yellow and purple flowers. After the aarti, he carefully positioned the Ganesha idol in the truck. Some of us sat facing the idol and the rest followed us by walking behind the truck..

As the truck crawled down the crowded streets of Mumbai, we all happily chanted devotional songs and hymns. Deepu’s mother had made lot of Prasad, which she distributed to every passerby who cared to accept. We passed the streets that were decorated with chains of lights and were flooded with long procession of devotees. A Spanish native would have called this ‘Hindu Carnival’. We saw some groups of people in the procession dance to the Bollywood numbers while some other group danced at the traditional music of layzims and drums. (a layzim is a kind of musical instrument that has a long metal chain of chimes, that converges into an arc connecting the two ends of a wooden rod. A dancer holds the wooden rod in one hand and the metal chain of chimes in other hand and produces the music by swinging the arms in rhythm) The festivity was everywhere. There was a huge crowd of spectators lining both sides of the street, some sitting on the foot paths, others perched on the building fence and many stood leaning against the wall.

We reached Juhu beach after a long ride of one hour. (Normally it takes just ten minutes) Deepu carefully lifted the idol of Ganesha from the truck and took it to the beach and placed it on the sand. His mom dug a large hole into the sand and placed the burning lamp and other puja materials in front of the idol of Lord Ganesha. They, then performed a farewell aarti for the last time.

After the farewell aarti, I saw everybody whisper something in Lord Ganesha ear. Deepu’s mother asked me to make a wish in Lord Ganesha ear and she assured me that it would be answered!! She informed me that whenever she selected an idol of Lord Ganesha, she looked for the idol with large ears and big belly. The big belly signified the prosperity for the family and the huge ears would guarantee the listening capacity of Lord Ganesha!!

Deepu lifted the idol of Lord Ganesha and placed it on his head. Each family member touched their head to the idol’s feet to seek the farewell blessings. He carried the idol on his head and waded into the waters as far as he could, while we waited at the shore with our feet immersed in water. When he could go no further, he, and all the other family members who had accompanied him, chanted loudly ‘Ganpati Baba Morya! Pudcha Varshi Laukarya!’ that means ‘O Ganpati, Return soon next year’. He, then, slowly immersed the idol into the water and waited for it to disappear.

When he returned, tears clouded his eyes as he announced his decision of bringing the idol of Lord Ganesha to his house once more, next year!!!

Mumbai City Bus Routes- AC and Non AC

Non AC buses

Aarey Milk Colony 341, 342

Ahilyabai holkar chowk (Churchgate Station) 5, 7, 45, 81, 82, 87Ltd, 90Ltd, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 132, 133, 137, 138

Andheri Station (East) 184 Spl., 311, 312, 332, 334, 335, 337, 338, 383

Andheri Station (West) 4 Ltd., 84 exp., 201, 202 Ltd., 251, 252, 254, 257, 259, 233, 293

August Kranti Maidan 48, 81, 104, 122, 133, 135, 155, 162

Babulnath 47, 64, 67, 71, 80, 106, 108,

Backbay 7 Ltd, 137, 138, 14Ltd., 20 Ltd., 38 Ltd., 86 Ltd., 86

Ballard Pier 3, 32, 60, 66, 68, 71, 74, 75, 80, 122, 129

Bandra 4, 81, 83, 84Exp, 201, 202 Ltd, 203, 213, 220, 310, 316, 317, 373 Ltd., 375, 214, 505 Ltd.,

Bhandup Station
302, 393, 395, 406, 407, 606 Ltd.,

Bhendi Bazar 1, 3, 4 Ltd., 7 Ltd, 9, 10 Ltd., 42, 47, 78, 71, 73, 102, 103, 104, 152, 161

Bhuleshwar 5, 6, 10 Ltd., 101, 124, 154

Bombay Central 42, 48, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67, 72, 74, 124, 126, 152

Borivali Station (East) 289, 299, 189, 293, 398 Ltd., 702, 708, 40

Borivali Station (West) 188, 202 Ltd., 203, 204, 209, 221 Ltd., 291, 289

Borivali National Park (Sanjay Gandi National Park) 187 Spl.

Byculla Station 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 Ltd., 9, 22 Ltd., 48, 50, 62, 63, 67, 153, 154, 161.

Chembur Station 8 Ltd., 371

Chembur Colony 6 Ltd., 351, 361, 362, 371, 381

Chowpatty Sea-face 48, 67, 101, 102, 103, 106, 123

Colaba Bus Station 1, 3, 6, 43, 45, 103, 107, 122, 123, 124, 125, 132, 133, 137, 11 Ltd., 21 Ltd, 21 Ltd., 83, 136

Dadar T.T. 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 Ltd., 9, 43, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 85, 105, 109, 171, 314, 315, 351, 385, 503 Ltd., 504 Ltd., 506 Ltd.

Gateway Of India, Prince Of Wales Museum 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 14, 16 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 43, 44, 47, 65, 70, 101, 107, 123, 130, 131, 132

Ghatkopar Station(East) 181, 185, 350, 379, 380, 381, 385, 386

Ghatkopar Station (West) 7 Ltd., 10 Ltd., 303, 36, 337, 359 Ltd., 382 Exp., 384, 385, 387, 388, 389, 390, 392, 400, 510 Ltd, 604 Ltd

Goregaon Station (East) 341, 342, 343, 347 Ltd.

Goregaon Station (West) 201, 202 Ltd., 203, 204, 253, 261, 262

Haji Ali Dargha 31 Ltd, 35 Ltd, 63, 81, 82, 83, 84 Exp., 85, 86, 87 Ltd., 88, 89, 90 Ltd, 125

Hutatma Chowk 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 Ltd., 8 Ltd, 9 Ltd, 19 Ltd, 20 Ltd, 42, 62, 65, 70, 74, 81, 83, 84 exp., 85, 86, 87 Ltd., 90 Ltd., 101, 103, 106, 107, 122, 123, 124, 126, 127, 131, 133, 137

Juhu Beach 182 Spl., 231, 237, 253

J. J. Hospital 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 10 Ltd., 16 Ltd., 71, 124, 135

Jijamata Bhonsle Udyan 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 50, 64, 65, 69, 126, 161

Kamla Nehru Park 102, 105, 106, 108, 181 Spl.

Kalbadevi 5, 9, 10 Ltd, 101, 124, 131

Kanheri Caves 187, 188 Spl

Kandivali Station 202 Ltd., 203, 206, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 300, 701

Khar (S.V.Road) 4 Ltd., 83, 84 Exp., 202 Ltd., 221

Kemp's Corner 63, 81, 83, 84 Exp., 86, 127, 133,

Kurla 7 Ltd., 10 Ltd., 183 Spl., 302, 303, 304, 309 Ltd., 311, 313, 314, 315, 318, 325, 326, 330, 331, 332, 333, 337, 341, 362, 384

Lalbaug 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd, 43, 44, 61, 64, 65, 66, 68, 69

Mahim 1, 2 Ltd, 4 Ltd., 12 Ltd., 62, 66, 70, 74, 81, 83, 84 Exp., 86, 87 Ltd., 182, 201, 202Ltd., 314, 315, 321 Ltd.

Maheswari Udyan 5, 6, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 10 Ltd, 11 Ltd., 43, 64, 65, 66, 67, 69, 72, 73, 75, 165, 171, 314, 351, 385

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market (Crawford Market) 1, 2, 4 Ltd., 41, 61, 66, 71, 81, 103, 130, 134, 137

Malad (East) 601 Ltd.

Malad Station (West) 202 Ltd., 203, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 281

Mantralaya 5, 15, 19 Ltd., 20 Ltd., 25 Ltd, 31 Ltd, 45, 81, 82, 87 Ltd., 126, 137, 93 Ltd., 97 Ltd., 134

Mulund 302 Ltd., 302, 336, 392, 394, 397

Nana Chowk 48, 68, 81, 82, 85, 87 Ltd., 101, 107, 108, 122, 126, 132, 133

Navy Nagar 3, 136, 137

Opera House ( Pt. Pluskar Chowk) 41, 42, 47, 61, 66, 70, 72, 73, 74, 81, 83, 84 Exp., 85, 86, 87 Ltd., 90 Ltd., 101, 102, 103, 106, 107, 122, 133

Parel T.T. 1, 4 Ltd., 5, 6, 7, 8 Ltd., 9 Ltd., 43, 61, 64, 65, 66, 72, 73, 160, 162, 163, 201

Santacruz (East) 306 Ltd., 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 507 Ltd.

Santacruz(West) 4 Ltd., 83, 84 Exp., 201, 202 Ltd., 231, 232, 284

Sewree 10, 45, 69, 72, 73, 199

Shivaji Park 1, 4 Ltd, 61, 62, 72, 74, 81, 85, 86, 201, 314, 315

Sion Bus Station(Rani Laxmibai Chowk) 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 Ltd, 11 Ltd, 15, 63, 66, 165, 183 Spl., 302, 312, 332, 341, 348, 352Ltd., 365, 371, 376 Ltd., 383

Tardeo T.T. 48, 63, 64, 81 Ltd., 82, 85, 123, 124, 126, 130, 132, 133

Thakurdwar 41, 65, 66, 68, 69, 103, 107, 126, 130, 132, 133

Vasudeo Balwant Chowk 5, 10 Ltd., 41, 61, 62, 68, 69 Exp., 86, 87Ltd., 103,124, 126, 127, 129, 132, 133

Versova 151

Vidya Vihar 322, 323

Vikroli 7 Ltd., 202, 336, 392, 394, 397

Vile Parle (East) 232, 312, 322, 339, 384

Worli D.D. Chawls 68, 124, 160

Walkeshwar 67, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 181 Spl.

Zakeria Masjid 1, 4, 7 Ltd., 73, 102, 130, 131

AC Bus routes

List of BRTS AC BEST BUS Routes in Mumbai

AC EXPRESS 13 - AC EXPRESS 70 runs from Mira Road Station (East) to Nehru Planetarium

AC EXPRESS 70 This BRTS AC BEST Bus route is between Mira Road Station (East) to Nehru Planetarium

AS-1 - Cadbury Junction (Thane) to Backbay Depot

AS-2 - Dahisar Bus Station to Backbay Depot

AS-3 - Cadbury Junction (Thane) to Nehru Planetarium (Worli)

AS-4 - Oshiwara Depot to Backbay Depot

AS-5 - Cadbury Junction to Kurla Telephone Stores via Bandra Kurla Complex

AS-9 - Ghatkopar Station (East) to Colaba Depot

AS-551 - Marol Depot to Nerul Railway Station via JVLR and LBS Marg

AS-92 - Anushakti Nagar to Mantralaya

AS-302 - Mahim Bus Station to Ashtvinayak Chowk (Thane)

AS-388 - Ghatkopar Depot to Poisar Depot

AS-422 - Mulund Bus Station (West) to Agarkar Chowk (Andheri – East)

AS-440 - Wadala Depot to Borivali Station (East)

AS-458 - Mulund Check Naka Bus Stn to P.Thakre Nagar Bus Stn (Charkop) Gorai

AS-461 - Mulund Bus Station (West) to Borivali Bus Station (West)

AS-503 - Wadala Depot to Kalamboli

AS-505 - Santacruz Depot to CBD-Belapur

AS-512 - Mulund Check Naka Bus Station to Nerul Railway Station

AS-524 - Borivali Station (East) to APMC Vashi Sector-19

AS-525 - Dindoshi Bus Station to L & T Infotech (Mhape)

AS-700 - Magathane Depot to Thane Station (East)

AS-707 - Santacruz Depot to Golden Nest (Mira Road-East)

Look for details on these routes before you travel in the city of Mumbai

Eating out

My NRI friends tell me that they love to come to India and eat, eat and eat. They love the Bhelpuri and Pani Puri from road side stalls, drinking hot tea on the corner of a lane and eating Pav Bhaji with lots of butter, then, there are Bhajias and samosa, grilled sandwiches and rolls. There is Dosa and Vada Sambar (a south Indian dish), Chinese bhel and frankies. You can see street food being chopped, cleaned and cooked before your eyes as the footpath sand, disturbed by the moving traffic, happily settles on your plate and you don’t care a damn.
The character of cuisine in India is essentially regional; the sheer size of the country has forced every area to develop a style of cooking of its own. In times gone by transportation was a problem, and this meant that each area had to come up with a style of food which made do with the locally available materials.

As a result, not only dishes, but flavors, colors, methods of cooking, down to even the style of cutting the vegetables, changes as often as the landscape does.

What has helped along this diversity is the amazing number of religions and the sects and sub-sects within them. Each sect often has strict dietary codes. For example, Hindu Brahmins are vegetarian and some Jains do not eat onions, ginger and garlic.

In Mumbai, food is available at every budget. For example, you can have fish for as low a price as Rs50 or as high as Rs1000. The taste may be the same, the difference lies in the ambience of the eatery.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Moving aroung exploring Mumbai city

Don't let yourself be overwhelmed by the big city character because there are plenty of nice things to see and do. There are museums, art galleries, bazaars like Crawford Market area (check out Jhavari Bazaar, where bargaining is done comfortably on piles of pillows), parks (the hanging gardens are a must) and temples.

Even the existing malls are worth a visit. Especially the In Orbit mall at Malad and Nirmal lifestyles at Mulund.. Besides shopping, these huge malls also have huge food courts and multiplexes where you can enjoy a film or two.

You will find a large concentration of impressive and important historical buildings, such as the fabulous Town Hall in neo-classical style. Marine Drive nearby the seaside, which is also called the Queen's Necklace because of its sparkling nightlights, is a nice area to stroll and relax in the evening hours. If you are on the suburb side, you could watch the sunset from the sea-shores of Bandstand or Carter road in Bandra.

However, you haven't actually been to Bombay if you haven't seen the Gateway to India. This monument was built to commemorate the visit of King George the V and Queen Mary in 1911. At the same time, it's the place where you can catch a boat to the Elephanta Island, a UNESCO world heritage site where you can see rock-cut temples and caves dating back to the 6th century.

Daytrips from Bombay include visits to the Kanheri Caves at Borivli (more rock carvings), Bassein (to see its Portuguese fort) and Cheul (ruins of Muslim and Portuguese forts). From Bombay visit Ellora and Ajanta caves too.

Don't miss the various food outlets. There are numerous restaurants and roadside eateries. Specialities are: Vada pav, Bhelpuri, Paanipuri, Dhabeli, Masala Papad and various other cusines local, Indian and International.

Traveling in Bombay is calculated by time it takes to reach a destination and not by kilometers as is the norm elsewhere.

Tours and Excursions in Mumbai city

There are several options for sightseeing in Mumbai

The following are some good options:
The Government of India's tourism department (ITDC) has an office next to Churchgate station, where you can walk in and ask for a guide for the day. You need to arrange your own car. However the cool cab service is quite good and you can rent the cab for the whole day at the nominal charge of Rs1000 for eight hours.

There are ‘Mumbai Magic Tours’ - these are personalized tours of Mumbai's must-see places. Several offbeat as well as standard tour options are available, with car, driver, guide, handouts, etc. Guides are knowledgeable and experienced and with the nominal fee they help you explore the city at your convenience. The tour covers all the must-see places on any traveler’s itinerary, such as:
• The Gateway of India
• St. Thomas Cathedral
• Prince of Wales Museum
• Bombay University and the Oval Maidan
• Town Hall
• Victoria Terminus
• Crawford Market
• Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach
• Mani Bhavan, home of Gandhi
• Malabar Hill and the Hanging Gardens
• Banganga Temple Tank
• Haji Ali Mosque
• Dhobi Ghat

The tour begins at 9:00 in the morning, and ends at 4:00 p.m., with a break for lunch. They also create a custom-tour for you, based on your interests.

Bombay Heritage Walks - if you want a walking tour of Mumbai's heritage district, try these guys. They have an in-depth appreciation of Mumbai's architecture and the history of its buildings.

Or you can go by yourself! Get a map of Mumbai, read up about it, and take a taxi, bus or train.

Mumbai has a centuries old history and many sites of tourist interest. Some of them are:

Aarey Milk Colony
Bombay Natural History Museum
Chor Bazaar
Chowpatty Beach
Crawford Market
Elephanta Caves
Essel World
Fashion Street
Linking road
Lokhanwala road
Film City
Flora Fountain now renamed to Hutatma Chowk
Gateway of India
Haji Ali Mosque
Hanging Gardens
INS Vikrant
Jehangir Art Gallery
Jijamata Udyaan
Juhu Beach
Kamala Nehru Park
Kanheri Caves
Tiku ji wadi
Hiranandani garderns
Kashid Beach
Mahalakshmi Race Course
Marine Drive earlier/historically referred to as Queen's Necklace
Nehru Centre
Nehru Planetarium
Powai Lake
Prince of Wales Museum
Prithvi Theatre
Rajabai Tower
Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali National Park)
Taraporewala Aquarium
Veermata Jeejabai Bhosale Udyan
Victoria Terminus
Flamingo Bay at Sewri

Foreigners Registration Office

When you are preparing to get settled in Mumbai, in addition to sorting out where to live, shop and where the kids will go to school, you will also have to register with the foreigners Registration office. This must be done within 14 days of arrival. Failure to do so will result in a fine.

The Maharashtra Registration Office, more commonly known as FRRO, is located in South Mumbai.

Its details are:
Office of the Commissioner of Police,
Annex-ll, third floor, Badruddin Tayabji Marg,
Behind St. Xavier College.
Tel: 22620446/22620721

Registration is required for any foreigner who enters India on visa valid for 180 days or less and wishes to stay in India for longer time..

The FFRO’s function is to register all foreign nationals who are considered residents of India. They will issue you a Foreigners Registration Book and Residential Permit. The purpose of this book is to track your comings and goings for the local Government. It is also proof that you are a permanent resident and that you are entitled to local Indian rupees at hotels. Etc.

The office is division of the Police Department and therefore has all the bureaucracy that goes with being a government department. You must attend the FRRO in person but it is good to have some local assistance and knowledge. Expect a long queue and plenty of paperwork. It is advisable to take a good book to entertain yourself as the process can take hours. Many FRRO close for lunch at 2pm Check that you have ALL your original documents with you and all the requisite copies and passport photos.

Those who need to register have to make a declaration of the date of arrival and place of residence to the Commissioner of Police.

Following are the documents that you are asked to provide at the time of registration.

1. Registration forms (four copies)
2. Original passport, which is returned immediately after verification
3. Four copies of the passport.
4. Five passport size photographs, four of which are pasted on the registration form and one in the residential permit book.
5. Letter of undertaking from the individual’s Indian employer for an employment visa or by the assignee company when applying for business visa. This should be printed on company letterhead and stamped with the company seal. Separate copies of this letter should be produced for every member of the family.
6. A residential permit book (which you will need to purchase at the office and complete with your details.
7. Money for visa charges, booklet issue, etc, this can be paid in rupees at the current US dollar exchange rate.
8. A letter from the employer confirming your application

Once the FRRO is satisfied about the completeness of the application of registration, a Residential Permit will be issued.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Social Behavior in Mumbai

Although Mumbai is the cosmopolitan city it is still a rather conservative society. Therefore it is important to be sensitive to local customs and culture.

Do not dress in scanty or tight clothing. You might draw unwanted attention.

Holding hands and kissing is permitted only in Bollywood films but never in public. Cops mind lovers’ business.

Do not get frustrated by delays, bureaucracy or inefficiency. Its normal.

Keep waiting and keep cool. The concept of time and punctuality is rather vague.

Traditionally, Indians use the right hand for eating, use your right hand for giving, eating or shaking hands as the left hand is considered to be unclean.

When visiting religious places, wear clean, modest clothing (shorts and vests are inappropriate) and remove shoes before entering temples.

When visiting an Indian function, do not be surprised if you are piled with big range of assorted snacks and cocktails and then faced with a full buffet dinner, which is often eaten standing up and once the meal is finished; the party comes to an abrupt end.

Do not expect privacy or personal space.

When in Mumbai, do as Mumbaikars do.

Moving to Mumbai? Get a Visa!

There are four main categories of Visas

Employment Visa: to be applied if you are coming to India as an employee. Can be accompanied by spouse and family

Business Visa: to be applied if you are coming to India on business. This is usually for short duration. Cannot be accompanied by family

Tourist Visa: as the name suggest, this is for tourist and is valid for a period of 180 days only. It cannot be extended and cannot be converted to another visa.

Any foreign national arriving in India with the appropriate visas and intents to stay over 180 days is required to register with the ‘Foreigners Regional Registration Office. Registration must be completed within 14 days of arrival, failure to do so will result in a fine of US30 dollars per person.

Spouse or dependent visa: this visa is for a spouse and other accompanying family member. Anybody holding this visa cannot be employed in India. If an accompanying spouse is interested in working they should have an employment visa however this is difficult.

Always apply for multiple entries Visa. You should make sure that the words multiple visa are on visa itself or at least the initials ‘MEV’. This is necessary for any travel outside India undertaken by employee and the family during the period of assignment in India.

A Visa Extension can be obtained from the embassy where the original Visa was issued, or from FRRO Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.

It is highly recommended that prior to the expiry of your visa, you leave India and obtain a new one from abroad. Many expats go to Bangkok, or Dubai for few days just to get a new visa. It is acknowledged as being the quickest and easiest method.

Mumbai Transport System

Foreign visitors will find the general state of traffic and transportation in Mumbai very chaotic. On going around town, taxis, auto rickshaws, buses and trains are available. The heart of the city is fairly easy to traverse, but getting from one end of the city to the other can take time. Roads are congested due to high number of vehicles that are part of any modern city, but the problem is exacerbated by the use of the roadside for many other purposes, for example, there are slums, businesses and poor regulated parking. No body oversees transportation in the city, and this lack of co-ordination makes a slow and difficult process.

Taxis: Taxis are one of the symbols of Mumbai with their black and yellow paint work. Taxis can be flagged down anywhere in the city. Insist that the driver reset and turn on the meter, a mechanical contraption on the hood of the car, before setting off. Do not accept a taxi if the driver says that meter does not work.
Auto rickshaws: these three wheeled vehicles, painted same black and yellow as standard taxi are allowed only in the suburbs north of Mahim creek. These are extremely maneuverable and are often the fastest way to get around the suburbs.
Bus: the buses are red color generally and on the front and the side of the bus route details are written. The BEST buses are one of the most efficient modes of travel in terms of service and reliability for shorter and long distances although not a very comfortable ride.

Water travel: Ferries ply the waters between the island of Mumbai and the mainland. Riding the ferries on a sunny day is a great outing., but the main use of the ferries is to visit Alibaug or to shorten the driving time to Kashid or Goa. If you live in the South Mumbai and are heading south of Goa or beyond, it is common practice for the driver to drive the 2-3 hours up the island and down the coast to meet you at Mandwa. You simply board a ferry at the Gateway of India and within an hour you can be picked up by your car and be on your way south. You can also hire ferry for a group ride/party.

Train: the local train provides the fast and cheap transport to thousands of commuters. Local trains serve the following routes
Western railway from Churchgate to Borivali/Virar and return
Central railways from Mumbai VT to Karjat/Kasara and return
Habour Route from Mumbai VT to Andheri and return
New Mumbai route from Mumbai VT to Vashi/Panvel and return.

Facts about Mumbai

Location: Maharastra State, India

Country dialing code: 91
City dialing code: 022

Time zone: GMT +5 ½ hours

India has single time zone
Indian Standard time is
5 ½ hours ahead of London (GMT)
10 ½ hours ahead of New York
4 ½ hours behind Australia
2 ½ hours behind Hong Kong and Singapore

Currency: Indian Rupee
Coins: 25, 50, Rupee1 and Rupee 5
Notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000

Languages: Hindi, Marathi, English.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz
Round two or three-pin plugs are standard.

Average temperature:
October to February is cool temperatures
March to May is warm
June to September is a monsoon season.

Government of India Tourist Office:
123 Maharishi Karve Road,

Mumbai is spread over 430 square kilometers

Mumbai is the melting pot with over 15 million people from different religions, ethnicities, castes and classes.

It is the country’s financial centre. It houses the largest stock exchange in India and is the heart of its banking industry.

The ‘Kolis’ are a tribe of fisher folk thought to be the earliest inhabitants of Mumbai (from 12th century onwards)

Mumbai Beginnings

Mumbai sprang from modest roots. It was originally a group of seven islands that have been inhabited since Stone Age. Successive dynasties ignored Mumbai (called Bombay in those days) but when Portuguese acquired islands in 1534, they called them Bom Bahia (which means ‘good port’).

In 1668, Bombay was given in dowry of Catherine of Braganza that brought the islands to Charles ll of England. These were handed over by the king to the East India Company at an annual rent of 10 pounds in gold.

During the 18th century, Mumbai became an increasingly important city with its harbor and naval base. British wealth and power in India reached its zenith in the mid to late 19th century and many of the Neo-Gothic buildings were erected during this period. British continued to view Mumbai as a jewel in its colonial crown and eventually Mumbai became the capital of East India Company’s regional holdings. After independence, Mumbai became the centre of trade and commerce. Textile and shipping were the main industries during those days.

Changing government and political leaders make little impact on the spirit of Mumbai. Mumbai continues to be vibrant and chaotic city and it is now a Bollywood capital. People from all parts of country come to Mumbai with a dream of making it big. Starry eyed youngsters flock to the city dreaming of stardom and Mumbai’s glittery film star party scene fuels pages of celebrity dominated magazines and countless movie gossip.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Welcome to Mumbai

To my wonderful land….My India…I am very sure that you will love it! As you experience and explore the unique flavors of my land, its memories will cling to you for many years! Beautiful memories! I am sure of that!

Yes I agree, India is famous for 3P’s : Poverty, Population, Pollution. But that is not what one should define India. Their hospitality and love will entertain you; their smile will brighten your day and the food; (hmmnn) you will love it.

Be sure to try our mouthwatering kababs and roasted chicken in the narrow alleys or the pani puris and bhelpuri at the beaches or the batata wadas at the railway stations. We have roadside tea-stalls that sell flavored tea

Be sure to visit our Gods in our temples. We have Him in different costumes, and in different shapes but All have their mystic powers that will bless you everyday!

And of course, enjoy at least one bollywood film! You can learn a tune or two and take back with you to relate to your friends!

The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

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