As a traveller, I have always been surprised by the wonders of nature and the landscape that I see around. However, there are times when surprises come from the most unexpected situations. When I started this blog, my sole objective was to offer reliable information about India and Indian destinations to locals and international travellers who would want to explore my country. In the last couple of years, as I wrote more posts, I have been receiving questions from readers who email me their queries – some sensible ones, some funny and some really weird questions. I try to answer them as honestly as I could based on my opinions and experiences.
On August 9, I received an email from Iris who was visiting India with Angel and would be in Mumbai for a day or two. She mentioned that they were a bit lost about making decisions and would appreciate if I can help them. After a series of emails back and forth, we decided to meet on August 20. For me and Sarah, this was a completely new experience because we had never turned into a personal tour guide. Both I and Sarah were excited and nervous on that day.
The day started off with me and Sarah heading to the hotel where Iris and Angel were staying. Luckily, for us they were staying in South Mumbai, so it became much easier for me to plan the entire tour right inside my mind. Since I only had one day it was challenging for me to show all the important locations without making them feel uneasy and tired. So, I split the tour into two sessions: pre-lunch and post-lunch.
We started off with walking the alleys right close to their hotel and I showed them the iconic Taj Palace and Taj Tower and later walked towards the iconic Regal Cinema. Angel and Iris were instantly falling in love with the Neo-Classical architecture of the Majestic House, while I was sharing with them how various invaders and colonial empires had their impact on the architecture in India and Mumbai.
We had a really long session of questions and answers right outside my college and I was enjoying this already. Sarah could see me enjoy explaining the traditions, culture and different topics related to India and how I was connecting them to the places they were visiting. We went further and I showed Angel & Iris, probably the oldest 5-star hotel in the city – The Watson Hotel. I could see the amazement on their faces as they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. A 5-star hotel of the bygone era now in shambles. It is also the oldest cast iron building in India, still functional, as many lawyers have their offices in here.
We saw the Jehangir Art Gallery, Elphinstone College, David Sassoon Library, Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue, University of Mumbai and the most popular Flora Fountain.
At this point, I could see the humidity and heat hitting us hard so we decided to break and head for lunch. When it comes to food, I and Sarah have explored various restaurants in the city and we decided to take our Spanish guests for an Indian lunch treat. I and Sarah mutually decided to take them to Cream Centre because we wanted to offer them Indian food with the right amount of spice. The funny thing is – I used to work here during my college days and I stepped into the restaurant after 16 years.
I made sure to order the best food available on the menu, but only Iris and Angel can comment and tell how they liked it. We skipped the regular brownie and ice cream dessert that Cream Centre has to offer and instead we went to a kulfi store that sells kulfi for around six decades. Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream made from pure milk cream and sugar and there are no artificial flavors or preservatives.
Since Iris and Angel were heading to another city the same night they mentioned about getting reservations done on time. I thought it would be better if I help them out with getting their reservations in time so we next headed to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as the Victoria Terminus. It’s one of the biggest stations in India and Mumbai, but fortunately, things were sorted out quickly and we were ready to head to out next spot.
We headed once again to Kala Ghoda for the post-lunch tour and they saw the St. Thomas Cathedral, The Asiatic Library (Town Hall), The Mumbai Samachar Building, and took some desperately needed break at Starbucks. However, we did some photography on the steps of the Town Hall.
After that, we took a cab to Marine Drive for a great sunset experience which is a must if you’re in Mumbai. We had a great time sharing information on our traditions, food, cultures, viewpoints and country. I shared with them information that will help them to cut down their cost the next time they visit India.
For me and Sarah, this was a unique and a memorable experience interacting with people from a different country at a personal level. At the end of the day, I and Sarah were quite happy that we tried our best to provide them a glimpse of the city to the best we could in a day, but there was so much more that we wanted to show. After all, a mega-city like Mumbai cannot be toured in a day, but I am hoping that the magic of Mumbai will remain in their hearts and probably someday in the near future, I will receive another email from Iris and Angel saying that they’re coming back to Mumbai for another memorable trip. Until then, I have this Marine Drive selfie as my parting gift.
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