Mumbai at a different pace

When I was invited by Sanne of I Like Local, to participate in any of the activities listed on her website and write a review on my blog, I was a bit hesitant. After all, I want to ensure that the reviews and opinions expressed here are completely independent and free of any influence. However, one look at her website’s philosophy (providing travellers with simple, authentic and unique experiences through activities run by local entrepreneurs in developing countries), and I was convinced that I had to try it. And to keep it completely unbiased, I took along a paying friend.

And so it was, that on a balmy August morning, with the clouds providing a much-needed cover against the sun, while sparing us a monsoon downpour, AB and I joined Suraj of Reality Tours & Travels, for a bicycle tour around the streets of south Mumbai.

We were enthusiastic – to see Mumbai under a different light and at a different pace. Yet sceptical – about what our guide might be able to show or tell us about a city that we have (at various points) called home.

While the stories about the Gateway of India, Taj Mahal Palace hotel, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, etc. were all too-familiar; the sights – unencumbered by throngs of tourists and commuters, were certainly new for us.

And – from hearing the story of the Goddess whom the city is named after, to seeing the cathedral referenced in the familiar name ‘Churchgate’; from learning about the first building in the country to be lit up using electricity, to witnessing a daily ritual of sweeping for bits of precious metals at Zaveri Bazaar; from finding a fountain designed by Rudyard Kipling’s father, to visiting a shelter for the welfare of cows tucked away amidst chaotic lanes – we discovered many hidden aspects of this wonderful city, hitherto unknown to us.

Visiting other lands and learning about different peoples, histories, cultures, cuisines, etc. is indeed a rewarding experience.

But sometimes, playing tourist in your own city, can be equally enthralling.