Carter Road Beach, Bandra
- Slipped off to India for a friend’s wedding. It was to the be reunion of our group of girls after Bali fell through last year. One got pregnant and bailed and another got really ill and almost bailed but in the end we were six ladies in Goa including the bride (not me, the one getting married).
- Landed in Mumbai with a slight tummy upset. Okay, I had had too much wine at dinner the previous evening, but I swear there was something wrong with the food on the Jet Airways flight in. That airline is really degenerating in quality. The food used to be stellar; now, even I, certified crazy “airline-food-lover” that I am, getting give it a pass. Moreover, the reason Cathay Pacific was my last choice on a flight to India (cost factors being almost equal) was the racist unpleasantness of their staff on the flight. Now it seems like Jet Airway’s hostesses are doing the same thing. I have never seen such grumps serving me on an Indian airline.
- Five flights must have landed at the same time because the immigration queue was packed. I noticed a strange phenomenon: white people cutting the line. I told off one lady, only to have her stand right behind me and the Indian people let her. Then another first-world privileged soul comes up and asks if there’s a separate line for British passport holders, chats and ends up standing right there. Then another white couple come and start talking to the original queue jumper, and tried to pretend that they were with her (they weren’t). They switched to French, and I was on the verge of telling them off in that language when the Indians behind the original queue jumper did. I watched the room and all over were white people queue jumping while looking clueless. The Indians who let the original queue jumper in were talking to the “separate British line” woman about how Indians never stand in queues except in foreign countries. Hello, the room was chaotic because there wasn’t an immigration staff around to organize things but by and large the Indians were queuing up. I wanted to scream.
- Someone left a bag unattended in the line. Two days after Brussels, we all moved away from it. Wanted to call security, but there was no one in sight. Eventually, someone claimed the bag. The same thing happened on the way back with a box of mangoes. This time a foreigner in the line called out asking who the box belonged to and it was claimed by its sheepish owner.
- I am beginning to learn how to do Indian Standard/Stretchable Time. I arrive ten minutes late for everything. Usually that means I’m on time for the other person or waiting only a further ten minutes. I am managing not to stress about being late.
- Before I left, at dinner with friends in Hong Kong, a male friend mentioned that young people in Hong Kong don’t have enough money to buy their own home and so each lives with their own parents and they meet in the week. My girlfriend and I looked at each other and said this would be a very good arrangement. Later, discussing this with the girls in Goa, one said she had actually proposed this arrangement when she got married. It solves the problem of which house parents should move into when they get old, apart from just leaving one in one’s comfort zone. Another friend said that she could never live with her parents. It was pointed out that my relationship with my parents was unusually cordial. By the end of this trip though I realised I could never live with my parents. Heh.
- Spent the first whole day doing stuff with my mom. We went to the spa together, where I was fully deforested and pedicured while mum got a much overdue facial. Then we went for lunch to Raj Bogh (the thali was too sweet for me though), then we shoe shopping on Linking Road, where we serendipitiously ran into one of my friends. I haven’t been shopping in the shoe shops there for years, as these days I prefer to just do everything in Shopper’s Stop, but there are some pretty good deals to be had in those shops (compared to Hong Kong prices). Whether the shoes hold up is another matter.
- In the evening, went with my dad to pick out a colour for his new car, and then met my cousin for tea at Birdsong Cafe in Ranvar. We giggled endlessly about the unbearable hipsterness of Bandra and whether bruschetta is pronounced brusketta or brushetta. My theory is if you pick one, someone at your table or the waiter will correct you and say the other.
- Next morning got my curls in order with a haircut. The heat got to me and I ruined it by tying it back in five minutes.
- I had limited time in Bombay and although I had severe FOMO, I did not meet friends when I was there. I visited my closest uncles and aunts, and I’m glad I did. It is tempting to skip out on the older folks, but there is something to be said for the affection that flows in these encounters.
- Every time I caught up with a cousin, I ending up spending more time than originally planned. Met my cousin after work, went for a drink to Otters’ Club and ended up chatting for two hours. Finally, finished up when the parents called to find out where I was.
- I did most of my shopping on Hill Road. It’s hot but honestly, those export surplus t-shirts are great and you don’t get that variety as well as quality anywhere else.
- The most charming encounter of my trip was when I walked into Happy Book Stall, a little bookstore on Hill Road that we used to go to as children. I ended up having a long chat with the owner, who it turns out knows some people from my building who are regular customers. He was also the kind of owner that actually reads the books in his shop and can talk about them, something that is quite rare nowadays. When he saw me lurking outside waiting for the Himalaya shop next door to open, he invited me in to sit in the air conditioning and wait. I ended up buying a very beautiful book of sketches of Bandra houses. He told me how the author of said book rudely turned him down when he requested a few books for his shop, but ended up bringing the books over himself. I feel like a heel ordering books from Flipkart on my trips home, and resolved to patronize his store more. It is hard surviving as an independent bookstore in this day and age when even chains like Crossword are struggling and filling their shops with stationary. I asked him how he does it, and he said, “Trust in God.”