- Where the Locals Go
Munira Chendvankar has traveled across much of India, but maintains a “happy bias” toward her hometown. In keeping with the city’s status as the country’s entertainment capital (hello, Bollywood!), this self-proclaimed “film-ie” works as a senior producer for a television production house and says filling out our “I Heart” questionnaire reaffirmed her faith in–and love for–the city she calls home. Here are a few of Munira’s favorite things about Mumbai.
Mumbai is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is for a ride on the local train for a taste of the real Mumbai. Each face you see in the always cramped compartment tells a story of hope, struggle, compassion, and an undying chase to realize their dreams.
Monsoon season (June through September) is the best time to visit my city because I truly believe that the rains make Mumbai a prettier, happier place. You can also time your stay to coincide with the biggest festival that the city immerses itself in–Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the birth of the Hindu deity Ganesha.
You can see my city best through the eyes of a Mumbaikar. Be it any window, any street, all you needs is a Mumbaikar by your side telling you stories of this humble city.
Locals know to skip the big name brands at malls and check out street fashion instead.
Colaba Causeway is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
In the past, notable people like aviator J.R.D. Tata, business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani, and film director Yash Chopra have called my city home.
My city’s best museum is Chhatrati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya because it houses treasures not just from Mumbai but also from other parts of India. It also holds the distinction of being the city’s oldest museum.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Marine Drive promenade. Let the waves draw away all your worries while the rocks keep you grounded where you belong.
My city really knows how to celebrate life because be it torrential rains, terror attacks, or regular everyday problems, Mumbaikars know how to smile and move on.
You can tell if someone is from my city if he or she knows the meaning of cutting chai!
For a fancy night out, I go to see live music at Blue Frog.
Just outside my city, you can visit hill stations like Khandala, Lonavla, Matheran, or Mahabaleshwar for a quick weekend getaway.
My city is known for being a genie that fulfills the dreams of everyone who steps foot in it, but it’s really a humble mother that nurtures dreams by helping people realize their true passions.
The best outdoor market in my city is Colaba Causeway; from the fanciest accessories to the humblest souvenirs, you can find it all here.
Leopold Café, a place heart-wrenchingly wounded in the terror attacks of 2008, is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read burrp.com or Time Out Mumbai.
My city’s biggest sports event is cricket. Watch it in the streets with kids strutting it out as miniature Sachin Tendulkars (a legendary batsman known as “God of Cricket” to his fans).
To escape the crowds, I sit by the Worli Sea Face with some soothing music plugged in my ears.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Sachin Tendulkar because it might be a major city, but it still knows how to stay humble and rooted, just like Sachin.
The dish that represents my city best is a platter of food that reflects the city’s vibrant mélange of cultures–fish fry (Maharashtrian), butter chicken (Punjabi), aamras, sev puri (a local chaat), dosa (southern Indian), and kulfi (the local ice cream)–and cutting chai is my city’s signature drink.
CST Railway Station is my favorite building in town because despite its status as an architectural marvel, it hustles and bustles with life (it’s the busiest railway station in all of India).
The most random thing about my city is that it never sleeps and is never tired, even though the locals work so hard.
NCPA, Blue Frog, Hard Rock Café, and the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival are the best places to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out clubs like Firangi Paani, Prive, and Sutra.
Bollywood could only happen in my city.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
In the monsoon season you should throw away your umbrella and sail a toy boat in the street puddles while sipping on some hot chai!
In the summer you should eat a lot of mangoes!
In the winter you should cuddle yourself in a blanket and read a book.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Juhu beach, just a short trip north from the city center.
The best book about my city is Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is the classic “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.”
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it’s a city of vibrant colors, humble stories, and self-won happiness–a true cultural olio where people from all over live their dreams.
- I Heart My City: Jasmine’s Mumbai (April 2013)