Mumbai (Bombay) 12.31.16

The global network of 55,000 Carlson School graduates is a source of pride for the school. When I worked at the Carlson School, I remember public addresses and communications from Dean Sri Zaheer highlighting the deep network I am now benefiting from. My journey is enriched when I meet in person or chat virtually with an alum.

Building on the amazing welcome I received from Carlson School friends in China, Vietnam and Delhi, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with another Carlson MBA graduate, Harsh, in his hometown Mumbai, India. While I did not realize it until after our day together, the chance to talk about topics from home, his business Tenicity, and our shared experiences, was a special break from the quick connections common in my traveling life.

In Harsh’s home he took time to share family photos and stories about his Mom’s experience as a professional tennis player and his Dad’s experience playing professional cricket. Both of his parents represented India at the top levels of their sports.

Harsh’s mom, Mrs. Nirupama Mankad, is a role model for women in sports and a tennis legend. She broke barriers for female athletes in the 1960s as India’s top ranked professional tennis player for more than 10 years. I tried hard to imagine what it was like to travel the globe as a ranked woman’s player representing India, a country with more strict gender roles than the U.S., at a time when womens’ participation in sports globally remained a newer phenomenon. Kudos to this amazing woman and my gratitude to her for opening doors for those who followed.

With friends from my dorm room, Mona, Anky, and Arancha, we spent a day together exploring. Our first stop was the Elephanta Caves located on an island an hour ferry ride from mainland Mumbai. For a few of our fellow visitors, we were a more exciting tourist attraction than these caves that are believed to be from the 5th to 8th century AD.

 

Deities including Shiva are carved in the caves. The complex includes 5 Hindu caves and 2 Buddhist caves all carved from solid rock.
As the ferry from Elephanta Island returned to the mainland we had a great view of the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The hotel is the second most photographed icon in India after the Taj Mahal.
On our boat ride to Elephanta Island we made friends with two Indian guys on holiday. After exploring the caves together we called an Uber (Yes! Uber is in Mumbai and it is great) to drive us to Girgaum Chowpatty, or Chowpatty Beach as the tourists say, for a wander by the sea and dinner.
Realestate in Mumbai is expensive and the city sprawls. My hostel was a 40 minute railway ride from the city center. Riding the Mumbai Railway was an exciting experience. On my first ride, the train was so crowded I was held in by other woman while most of my body remained outside the car. Colin from the U.K, another dorm friend, enjoys the view.
I rested for a few hours at Harsh’s childhood home. It was an amazing sunset view. The Sea-Link bridge connects two of Mumbai’s neighborhoods, Bandra and Worli. The $240 million bridge opened in 2009 reducing travel time in some areas from 60-90 minutes to 20-30 minutes.
Harsh’s home has a few mementos to his parents’ successful athletic careers representing India at the top levels of their sports. One item is a photo of Mrs. Mankad receiving honors from the Prime Minister at the time, Indira Gandhi. We also walked the boardwalk outside his home and I rested in his mom’s apartment. It was a great day!

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There is a story here! After 30 days in India, the data on my cellphone expired. At this kiosk I tried to top-up (re-charge) my data. The two young men working were incompetent in a humorous way. After 30 minutes, Jack, a friend from the hostel, successfully added data to my mobile using an application on his phone. The two men at the kiosk charged me twice for the wrong service, struggled with the math to make change, and took selfies with me. It was one of the many silly experiences with daily life that I enjoy when traveling.
With more friends from the hostel, I met up with Sara, my cooking partner from Thanksgiving, for another day of exploring in Mumbai. We met at the University of Mumbai campus and enjoyed walking around the grounds. This University felt similar to campuses I visited in the U.S. After visiting campus we walked along Linking Road, a shopping mecca.
Mumbai is a proper city and I did not miss the opportunity for a good night out. With half our hostel, we went to The Fatty Bao in the Bandra West neighborhood. It was great to have a cocktail and spend time at a bar with friends. Henni, shorter hair and wearing a dress, and I met in Ho Chi Min, Vietnam and made sure to find each other again in India. Luke and I traveled to Mumbai together from Varanasi and met up again in Goa. This was my first visit to a real bar since arriving in India November 14. After drinks we found a club and danced until closing time – 1:00am.
Mumbai is known for its architecture. Many buildings in the city center were built during the British colonial era in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminusmunicipal building, and post office were buildings I visited.
I visited Knesset Eliyahoo synagogue located in downtown Mumbai in a posh neighborhood called Colaba in the far south of the city. This is a Sephardic synagogue and it is home to a practicing Orthodox community. The congregation was founded in 1884.
The Dhobi Ghats are an open air laundromat in the city. All of the people working here are men. Look closely and you can see the washing pits and flogging stones.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Woessner says:

    So true – the 60’s even in the U.S. were a time when women’s sports were just arriving. How great to meet this woman who sounds pretty incredible. Chuckle re: the elephant caves – although you seem to be (all of you travelers) a special sight throughout India and very photogenic:) All the new friends you are making throughout the trip really make it so special. Loved the chance to experience some night life with them. Another amazing blog – no surprise there since Mumbai seems to be an amazing city. Thanks for the tour:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all your thoughts! As I learned more about Mrs. Mankad’s tennis career I thought of you and some of the comments you’ve shared over the years about sports. I wasn’t surprised to read what you wrote here!

      Yep – great group of people I had the chance to meet in Bombay. Thanks for touring along with me!

      Like

  2. Bryana says:

    Happy New Year Sarah!!! Thanks for letting me join you in India as you started your travel there and for allowing me to continue the travel adventure through your blog. You are the ultimate travel partner, and have the patience, intelligence, and grace to thrive in any setting. Thanks for your friendship. My time with you in India was a highlight of 2016. Looking forward to keeping in touch in 2017!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy 2017 to you Bryana!!! Thank you for being a travel buddy. It is beyond special to have a friend from home to journey with. Ditto on an Indian highlight to have had the chance to spend time with you. So much laughter!

      Like

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