Madness in Mumbai

19 Oct

My apologies, loyal readers, for not updating you sooner.

Let’s start with the Mad Men party. On Saturday night, I met my friend at her chic apartment in Malabar Hill, “the most expensive place to live in all of India,” she told me. My flat looks like a cardboard box compared to hers, complete with marble floors and a view of Marine Drive. Hugging part of the Arabian Sea, the C-shaped road is nicknamed the Queen’s Necklace because, at night, the streetlights resemble a string of pearls.

She had ordered food well before I arrived, so I dug into that and she poured us some drinks, which were much needed after my first experience in Mumbai traffic. At 5:30 p.m., I called a cab to pick me up at 6:30 from my flat. When, at 7, the cab had not arrived, I called back. I finally got in touch with the driver, who had been sitting at the gas station down the street for half an hour because he couldn’t find the place, and of course, couldn’t call me on my U.S. cell. My landlords explained to him in Marathi how to get here. I didn’t understand how he could be so confused when the cab company’s website says, “cabs equipped with GPS.”

But, they lie. And, so do their cab drivers. They will tell you that they know where you need to go, but that doesn’t mean that they do. I gave him the name of the neighborhood, Malabar Hill, and a point of reference, Teen Bati, as well as the address. Twelve miles and an hour and half later, we arrived at Teen Bati. He had no idea where my friend’s apartment was. He got out of the car asked several shopkeepers and other motorists, while I called my friend. She spoke to him and tried to explain. Then she gave me directions, so I asked him to get back in the car and told him I would help him find it. Finally, thanks to my friend’s guidance, we arrived.

So, after dinner and drinks, my friend and I got ready for the party. She put on a sassy little one-shoulder number and I wore the only outfit I could come up with that was dressy enough for the occasion. She called her driver, and off we went.

We arrived at a nice apartment in Colaba, and everyone was dressed to the nines. Most people had even managed to dress for the theme. These expats where serious! There was great music and good booze, and I managed to meet some people who were really nice. They all reassured me that I would get used to Bombay, but not to expect to feel comfortable for another two to three months. I had read that advice in books but hoped it wasn’t true. Who has patience for that?

We partied until it was pretty late and my friend gave me the nod that we should leave. We went downstairs and found her driver. She, a few of her friends, and I headed back to her apartment. We had a couple more cocktails and called it a very late night at 5 a.m. Thanks to jet lag, though, I didn’t sleep one bit.

The next morning, my friend convinced me to attend brunch with the expats at Indigo, a very nice restaurant in Colaba, not far from the iconic Gateway of India. The brunch was delicious—there even was beef!—and a jazz band played everything from “Killing me Softly” to “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” By the end of the brunch and countless glasses of champagne, the whole group was dancing and singing along to jazz/funk covers of the Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson, and more.

For most of the weekend, I never really felt like I was in India. I mean, yes, it’s impossible to forget you are in India. For instance: At a red light on the way to Malabar Hill, a begging child came up to the window and started tapping on it. In between taps, he made gestures from his belly to his mouth while repeating something in a language I didn’t understand. That’ll snap you out of la-la-land really quick.

So, yes, you can never forget that you’re in India, but for 24 hours, I didn’t really have to experience it…until the cab ride home on Sunday.

More on that tomorrow.


5 Responses to “Madness in Mumbai”

  1. benignhumor October 20, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Thanks for these well-written moments in your new adventure, Steph. I’ll keep reading. Stay healthy and happy and sweaty.


  2. Ashley October 20, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Hey Steph~
    I’m glad you are liking it there and making friends. I check everyday for your blog and love reading it. What is you skype name? I think mine is adeats, but if you give me yours I will add you. I hope you continue to have a great time and look forward to reading more!

  3. MomDC October 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    “But, they lie. And, so do their cab drivers. They will tell you that they know where you need to go, but that doesn’t mean that they do.”

    Yep Steph – national pride at its finest moment. You’ll def have to get used to this. Need sweaters to round out your social wardrobe? I know where I can get you some…

  4. Jackie October 25, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    That is so wonderful that you got to go to a party! I know this will help with the transition! I can’t wait to read more and see your pics! I’ve read the other posts, but didn’t comment. But I promise to be a commenting machine from now on. PS: Which dress did you end up wearing to the Mad Men party? xxoo

  5. Krista November 1, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    So the cabbies are much like those in DC! Why would we ever expect that they know where to go?! Sounds like a fun weekend!

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