Welcome to my place . . . Mumbai
‘You are in the land of spice in India, so stock up on spices from local supermarkets’
Sean Mooney and his wife JoAnne in Mumbai.
Sean Mooney grew up near the village of Monamolin in Wexford. He lived in Dublin, Berlin and London before he went to work in India eight years ago. He is director of a multinational engineering company. His wife, JoAnn, is from Pune, a city about three hours from Mumbai, which is known as the “Oxford of the East”
Where is the first place you always bring people to when they visit Mumbai?
I seem to always take people to the Sea Lounge in the Taj Mahal Palace in Colaba. As you make your way from the main entrance towards the stairs leading to the first-floor Sea Lounge, look out for one of the displays on your right-hand side, showing celebrities who have visited the place. How many faces do you recognise? At the restaurant, try to get a seat by the window for stunning views of the bay and the Gateway of India. Take some time to explore the hotel itself – it’s a landmark in itself in India.
The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are . . .
Try a local train into town for a glimpse of life in Mumbai. For a real sense of things, go during rush hour to experience the crush for yourself – it will give perspective for future Irish rail or Dart journeys. Otherwise, a weekend trip is usually less hectic and you might even get a seat, depending on your luck.
If you do make it into town and want to slow things down a bit, try the Unesco World Heritage site in the bustling train station that is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).
In the evening, stroll along the Queen’s Necklace near Nariman Point. Feel that sea breeze coming off the Arabian sea. Soak in that skyline and the sights and sounds around you.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Mumbai?
Without doubt, if you want to get a flavour on Mumbai you need to try the street food. Check out dishes such as Panipuri, Sev puri, Bhelpuri and Vada pav (local vegetarian burger). Look for vendors with a lot of local customers as this is a good indicator of authentic taste. Also taste the local curries, rice and breads. A must-try is the veg thali (a spicy meal in a plate consisting of breads, curries, veggies and rice). Masala means spicy in Hindi and Marathi so any dishes with masala in the title will definitely bring flavour into your life.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Mumbai’s place in history?
Mumbai was and is a trading centre. The Gateway of India is a short stroll from CSMT. From there, you can sit back and watch the hustle and bustle of the harbour. Hire a sailing boat to get a better feel of the harbour and be closer to all the action out there.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Mumbai?
After visiting the Gateway of India, take a short stroll to Colaba Causeway. You will find a street filled with hawkers selling souvenirs of India. Get your haggling on as the hawkers have negotiable prices. My favourite, though, are the shops along that road selling Indian-themed tee-shirts, check them out! And remember that shops normally don’t settle down on the price quoted. Haggle.You are in the land of spice in India, so stock up on spices from local supermarkets for when you get home.
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