India is where I was on a Jet Airways flight to; Mumbai to be precise. It was Thursday night and on Tuesday we would be setting off for Goa. ‘You’ll either love it for hate it’ people had told me but there was no doubt that I would love it. And I did.
Listening to Adele’s new album 21 I sat on the flight and I had already come across a diverse range of people. The man leading us to the check in desk was a big stocky Indian man. The lady at the check in desk had an accent which I couldn’t put my finger on but could have quite possibly been French and was very European looking. Going through security a blonde woman with a broad Yorkshire accent had ensured my liquids were in a clear bag.
The Jet cabin crew were impressive. When I had told my ‘Asian’ friends I was going on Jet they had always praised the airline but in my non Asian circle of friends and work colleagues they had frowned on hearing Jet as it wasn’t a name they were familiar with but I have nothing but praise for the cabin crew. Nothing was too much trouble. The first thing I noticed that all crew members were stunning so it did make me think that image would play a major part in Jet’s recruitment process. I don’t think any of the female crew weighed more than 7 or 8 stone.
I was flying with my mum, brother and sister. Our first holiday together in 20 years (minus dad as he didn’t want to go to Bombay) I was sat my mum who I would be sharing a room with for the duration of the holiday as we are the only ones who can handle each other. So I was sat in an aisle and brother and sister were a short distance behind us as we hadn’t managed to get seats together. On the flight I got chatting to a good looking blonde gentleman, originally from Sheffield, but now located in London. I never got his name but he was on a flight to Mumbai where he would be getting a flight to Bangkok. Wow! Bangkok now that’s a place I would love to visit. His only brother lived in Bangkok. This guy was designed process systems (I think!) and had aspirations to move abroad one day. Bit if a geek with his hair slicked to the side and glasses – but isn’t that what I love the most in men 😉
This made me think if I had the opportunity to move abroad would I? Could I leave everything I am comfortable and complacent with and just up and leave? I know people who have gone to work in Africa, America, Australia, Dubai, Europe and they all say it was a wonderful experience but all of them always want to return to their Hometown Glory just so that they can be close to their loved ones. The Jet Airways cabin crew, the pilot all must spend days on end away from their families? Do they not miss it? I don’t think it is something you can answer without thinking about in great detail but all I know is that it would miss home…alot.
Mumbai, one of the most exciting cities in the world I was told. I agree with this statement in some ways. It is the city that never sleeps (and you can hear it from the horns) money is just thrown around where available like water, shops and people galore, clubs and bars in abundance and traffic 24/7. Yes the poverty is striking. As someone who hasn’t ever been to India but have heard about the poverty and seen it in films it was still saddening. It seems where there is poverty it is extreme poverty and where there is money there is A LOT of it.
It was my last day in Mumbai so while mum and sister have an afternoon siesta and brother went for a massage I thought I would update the diary whilst catching some rays at the Novotel Mumbai’s poolside. I had had a lovely massage earlier. Lovely until she began to massage bits that reeealllly didn’t not require massaging unless by a man (Yuck) I was highly disturbed!
Yesterday we had pani puri at Juhu Chowpatty and in the evening we went to the TAJ Palace for dinner. I had a sweet corn dish to start with which was very nice but I had a disgusting fish dish for mains which was so not worth it. Not impressed by the Taj. Made me vomit twice today. Yuck.
However, before we went to the Taj We went for drinks at Aer at the Four Seasons and it had the most amazing views over Mumbai. Imagine looking out over the Empire State over New York, these views were almost comparable to that.
Bageecha restaurant at the Novotel was a totally different matter though where we had eaten on Friday night. The poolside bbq restaurant was delicious! We had a set menu – 5 starters, 2 mains and desert. Everything was exquisite. The softest paneer I had tasted and the most tender chicken and fish ever with melt in your mouth rasmalai to finish. Bella Bella!
Friday we had scoured probably every shopping area to search for saree’s, Punjabi suits, kurti’s, champals, jewellery, bangles, dvd’s, cds, books, magazines and such. I bought a Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahilani saree and mum bought me one (which she wants me to save for when I get married if that ever happens) from Millionaire. Must say the prices weren’t as cheap as I thought they would be but the choice is never ending. You will find stuff you would never in a million years see on Melton Road Leicester or Wembley. On Saturday we had taken a tour of Mumbai and saw sites such as The Gateway of India, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial museum, Haji Ali Dargah, The stars houses, Marine Drive and the place I had wanted to visit the most…… Leopolds Cafe as featured in Shanataram. I had told the gang I don’t care where we go but I definitely want to go there. And my dream came true. I sat in there and imagined I could’ve been part of Lin Baba’s friends Didier or Karla.
On Saturday evening we had gone for dinner at Aurus which was a beautiful Italian/European restaurant. Most delicious sea bass I have ever tasted. After wards my brother and I headed to Club Trilogy at the Sea Princess which was an experience. It was nothing different though. Music you would hear here (we were hoping for some Bollywood) and drinks you would drink here at the prices you’d pay in London. None of the girls smiled or wore colour though. Not very friendly. And that wasn’t just women who weren’t friendly. People with too much money in here. We did make friends with a man who had crazy hair and had lived in the USA for 10 years so it was nice to speak to at least one person who was friendly and some of his friends seem talkative too. On Sunday and Monday we did more shopping.
Back to the poolside. As I lay on my lounge chair, sipping a sweet lime soda, watching a couple in traditional dress having their pictures taken I thought back to Sunday night. After we had finished at the Taj we had a long-ish journey back through Mumbai to Juhu and the taxi had taken us over the Mumbai Sea Link Expressway Bridge. Views of the city by night from the bridge were spectacular.
As I was gazing over the city. Looking for a sign, a tiny glimmer that love would be on its way into my life I couldn’t see it. Recently there was someone I liked (he could possibly be reading this so I must be careful) the feeling was not reciprocated (bit of the foolish situation yes but you can’t help it when you feel a connection with someone) but it hasn’t saddened me the way it would’ve when I was younger. Maybe it’s because I have become more resilient to heartbreak which you can’t deny has made many appearances in my life. I was searching into the city, looking for a ray of hope. I didn’t see it.
But as I sat by the poolside I thought I couldn’t let previous heartbreaks rule my life and as Saint Valentines lurks it would probably lead to some bitter ranting but hey ho such is life.
I had a wonderful time in Mumbai and knew I would love it. Apart from my love for Bollywood and Indian music I’m probably not one of the most ‘Indian’ people you will find but the people of Mumbai, the hospitality, the place, the hustle and bustle, the heat, food, dirt and everything about it led me to think that coming back to my roots wasn’t such a bad thing. We were off to Goa tomorrow and I was looking forward to a few peaceful days of sun. Watch this space for the Goa Diaries.