Friday, March 25, 2011

1 & half day in Mumbai - Part 1

As you know, my mission in India was to attend Anju's wedding.

And then Anju hooked me up with Dheepa to help me do some shopping for Sarees.

Dheepa suggested Sarees may not be practical and hardly anyone stitch Saree blouse in a day now. So she suggested maybe Salwar is a better idea.

So, I said I will get a pair of Saree and a pair of Salwar... so we had to do 2 sets of shopping in one day.

No shops in Mumbai is open until after 10am. So waking up early is not a good idea. However, I woke up with the sound of crows! And many many distant honking filled air.

It was 7am. and it was a beautiful morning.

Dheepa was still fast asleep, so I got up and read my book.

2 chapters later, Dheepa came to ask me if I would like some coffee.


"Do you want Nescafe instant coffee or filter coffee?"

I gave her a very long, "Errrrrmmmmmm..."

"The coffee is south India coffee, very nice. Would you like to try?"


20 minutes later... Oh my God!!!! The coffee was so nice, I wanted to ask for another cup and bring a few packet home.

Anyway, Dheepa told me she bought the coffee from Chennai because it is difficult to get it else where. But I can get the similar taste in Starbucks, All I have to do is to ask for cafe latte, double shots, without foam. That's what she usually have when she is back in the U.S.

By the way, Starbucks do not exist in India. The Starbucks version in India is Cafe Coffee Day, and they made very good coffee too! Nescafe is also a hit, they have their own cafe. Very cool...

Anyhoo... we also had berries cornflakes with banana for breakfast.

Indian fact:
Milk is essential in India. Everyone drink milk and is very fussy about it. Any milk that is not full cream and fat reduced, is water.

Dheepa briefed me activities for the day during breakfast, which basically was just shopping...

Destination 1: Inobit
What: Buy Salwar, and accessories for Salwar
Estimated time: 1 hour

Destination 2: City mall
What: Lunch
Estimated time: Half an hour to an hour

Destination 3: Mumbai Central
What: Buy Saree
Estimated time: Travelling, 1 hour, shopping, give and take about 1 hour

Destination 4: FabIndia, Mumbai Central
What: Buy Matching Saree blouse
Estimated time: Travelling, give and take about half an hour (depending on traffic); Shopping, give and take about an hour.

So that basically takes up the entire day. And we do not think we have much time for sight seeing (She had not seen Mumbai, by the way...), So I left the camera at home and we went out around 10:30am.

We took an auto rickshaw to Inobit.

Traffic in Mumbai and a ride on auto rickshaw may not be for the faint hearted. Not only it moves crazily fast in the traffic, honk to its heart content, and there was just too many emergency break. The rule of thumb is, as long as there's no accident, there is no problem.

Though, the traffic was not as bad as I thought. But it was flowing with school children walking to school at ease with motorcycle and auto rickshaw zig-zag between them you thought they going to knock those kids down anytime.

There are small shops along the way selling all kind of stuff you could imagine, you may spot a couple of people urinate in the open, vendor selling flowers and small stuff from one car to another, and beggars begging with children in one hand...

The journey took about half an hour, and there was police greeting us at the entrance.

Terrorism is a problem in Mumbai. We can see signboards everywhere that says, "Let's fight terrorism together" and the like. The terrorist attack in 2008 that killed 170 people left many Indian hold grudge against it.

Anyway, police are performing routine check on all shoppers - Check bag, walk through scanner, into the booth, get another scan, and then we are off. They were very friendly though.

Inobit had everything world class you can imagine. Just to mention a few - Mark & Spencer and Mac and a few other well known cafe except Starbucks and 7-eleven.

We went into SS department store. With Dheepa's help, I tried on a few Salwar and picked the green and gold one.

After that we looked at earrings. We spent almost half and hour there picking and making a fuss about everything... everything must put against the dress to see if it match perfectly. well, basically being a pain.

I tell you, Indian women and their matching accessories! How fussy they are to achieve the style and that perfect look. I salute those server who served us with such amount of patience.

Finally, after about 12 earrings later, we decided the traditional looking one is the best.

Indian fact: "We serve with a smile" is just a tag. We don't smile. We only serve.

On the way to the check out counter, we saw a pearl counter with buy one free one promotion. So we picked up 2 sets of pearls necklaces and earrings as Anju's wedding present. That also took quite awhile because we want "NEW ONE!"

So there you go. It was almost 2pm when we left Inobit.

We took another auto rickshaw to City Mall to have lunch in Rajdhani Thali Restaurant.

Dheepa was on the phone many times talking to many peoples, one them was brother who ran a successful Saree supplier/distributor. Honestly I'm not very sure.

Anyway, I heard the word "Nalli" many times. and apparently that's the only shop we will not get cheated because they priced their merchandises. As we were on the escalator to go up to the restaurant, I saw "Nalli" on the ground floor.

"Dheepa..." I tapped her on the shoulder, and point,"Nalli."

And her eyes sparkled, "XXX... listen! There's Nalli in City Mall."

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