A few quick wiki-facts:
- Mumbai is the 2nd most populous city in the world with a population of 14 million
- It was formerly named Bombay
- Mumbai is the home of Bollywood
- Mumbai generates 70% of India's capital transactions

We were invited to attend a one day conference at the Orchid Hotel in Mumbai sponsored by the ETS (Education Testing Services) for English teachers that help students prepare for the TOEFL exam. These are the same people that design and administer the SAT, PSAT and GRE. We arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon, and with the conference starting the next morning, we had the rest of the afternoon and night to do what we pleased. Emily had been to Mumbai just a few days ago during the weekend, so we trusted her to take us to a few places she thought would be fun to visit.

First on the itinerary was the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the Bandra area of Mumbai, which had a very Starbucks-esque ambience. I wasn't feeling too adventurous (or willing to pay Rs. 190 = $4 for a dessert drink) so I just opted for the brew of the day. I hadn't had real, brewed coffee in several weeks so I'll admit I did end up feeling a little jittery but the taste of familiar coffee really hit the spot. At the cafe, we struck a conversation with a pastor, whose name was Mark, of a church in Mumbai and Scott, a freelance photographer from Indiana working with Mark. I was really interested in knowing more about his church, its worship and mission, and a little bit into our conversation, he told me that the church is actually connected to Redeemer Presbyterian in New York! What a small world! I told him eagerly that the next time I'm in Mumbai over a weekend, which hopefully isn't too far from now, I would definitely drop by for service on Sunday morning. What also really surprised me was that everyone, including Westerners and local Indians, spoke English. Before I left the states, a lot of people asked me why I was being sent to India to teach English since most Indians already know how to speak English. I'd respond by saying that where I was posted in Kadod, less than 5% of the student population know English. Hearing Indians in Mumbai use English as their go-to language in conversation just blew my mind, but at the same time, what would you expect of people who began learning English since the year they began going to school?
After waiting out a torrential rain shower, we had a rickshaw take us to the train station where we'd take a local train to Kolaba, known for some fine-dining restaurants and street-side shopping. Wow. I don't know what else to say. Just watch the video.

Our mission, to find the Indigo Delicatessen, ended up being a much harder task than we anticipated. Every store owner, street vendor, or random passerby we asked gave us different directions. We were certain that many people didn't know their rights from their lefts. I swear we passed the same corner at least 5 times after rounding a couple blocks several more times before, finally, we got to our destination. All I have to say is that all the searching, walking, and waiting was well worth it. At the top of the entrees menu was a sirloin beef burger with lettuce, onions, spicy mustard, and a special, home-made sauce. I didn't have to read much further before making my decision. I just can't describe in words the overwhelming sensation of bliss I experienced after taking my first jaw-stretching bite out of that burger. There was no decreasing marginal returns for my enjoyment while I ate that dinner. Each bite only tasted better than the last. But it's true, good things never last, and taking my last bite felt like saying goodbye to an old friend.

With satisfied stomachs, we made our way to the Mondegar Cafe, a bar heavily frequented by travelers. They really did a good job making the place feel like a bar back in the states. It was crowded, noisy, and even had a jukebox going with American music. It was getting late, but we weren't in any rush. We played a few games of categories, "Never Have I Ever," and my favorite, 3-player mafia. The night ended when we headed to Priya's cousin's apartment, which he was so nice to let us stay in for our short stay in Mumbai.

All in all, I can't wait to come back to Mumbai. There are so many more parts of the city for me to see and so many more things I could do. Apparently, for about $12, I can spend a day at the site of a Bollywood film company and be an extra in a Bollywood movie, all meals provided. Maybe it could be my big break!


electric broccoli man said...

Dear Eric,
PLEASE be in a bollywood film.
Yours Truly,

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