Ok, so this must be like the cheesiest pic ever, but trust me, there were guys who were actually getting their portfolios done in front of the Gateway of India! No kidding!
Anyway, so as I sluggishly threw my body into the back seat of the car, I started looking forward to seeing the real Mumbai. My friend and her husband kept pointing out various landmarks and giving the history behind them. After driving around in the car for about an hour, our first major landmark was Worli sealink! My friend's husband graciously asked me to sit in the front seat of the car. (We had a driver along, so only one other person could sit in the front seat). The driver stopped the car just a few minutes away from the bridge and we switched places.
We all rolled down our windows and I caught the first glimpse of the sea link. It looked magnificent! A gigantic half spiderweb hung from the highest pillar and spread out to hold a part of the bridge in it's clutches. I was sitting with my eyes and mouth wide open as we entered the sea-link. At exactly that moment, it started raining lightly and "Kya karoon" from Wake up Sid started coming on the radio. I couldn't have asked for a better ambience. :D As each string of the web swung by, first slowly and then faster and faster, I could not help but marvel at the beauty of the moment. Truly, truly etched in my mind forever.
Unfortunately, only one of the pillars has that spiderweb kinda hanging strings, the others are plain. So it was doubly special when I saw it for the first and the last time in all its glory :D Later, while coming back, it was dark and to tell you the truth, it needs a lot more lighting to make it look even half as pretty as it does during the day. Anyway, as we crossed the sea-link (my friend's husband helpfully informed me that it was a 4km long stretch :O), I caught sight of the Haji Ali Dargah. It was really far and I wouldn't have known if Jeeju hadn't told me but once I saw it, I could see 100s of pilgrims queueing (WTF is the spelling of this word!) up outside. Some day, soon hopefully *sigh*
Our next stop was Gateway of India. I had this stupid grin stuck on my face ever since I entered the Worli sea-link and now it just got wider (as you can see in the pic above :P) Here's the thing you never notice in those pretty postcards. There is a HUGE open space in front of the gateway, where millions and millions of people come everyday with their families to spend a nice evening. The sheer amount of space available made me delirious and I felt like skipping about merrily. I settled for something better though, got myself clicked in a 100 different poses! The Taj was also impressive but the whole shooting episode kind of made me sad.
After a few more crazy pix, we went behind the gateway for a lovely boat ride.
I'm generally scared of getting into boats especially since I have no confidence on my traitorous legs (yeah yeah I know exercise will help me get control :P). So it was with some hesitation that I stepped into the boat. The three of us rushed to the top of the boat for which we had to pay 5 bux extra but the view was amazing. As the Gateway-shaped lights started going farther and farther away, it became darker and more peaceful. The breeze was just lovely and we had a good time talking about this and that. I think this was the first time 3 of us sat in front of each other and spoke. We spoke about the past, about college, hostel, about the present, job, about the future, job, marriage.. It was surreal.
When it was time to get down, I was shaking in my boots. Just as I was about to take a superman leap off the boat on to firm land, the boat moved away from the steps. Thank God I did not jump. After 2-3 mins of adjusting, the boat showed promise of sticking to the rocks and I said a short prayer and jumped out. Aha! That wasn't so bad ;) Next on our entertainment list was to take a ride in a "Victoria" buggy. I hope I used the right term. At first, I was really excited about it, but just when we were about to climb one, I actually saw what a Victoria was. It was one poor horse pulling a damn big cart which was decorated like a damn throne and had a million fatsos sitting on it. I just lost heart. I feel very tender towards horses, especially after reading "Black Beauty". So, before I burst into tears about how lonely horses were and how they had to work all day with bits in their mouths and how they had no friends, my friend and her husband whisked me away to our next tourist destination!
Till now it was pretty dark and hence the right time to see the "Queen's Necklace". The whole Marine Drive stretch is called a Queen's necklace because it's semi circular in shape and at night, if you see it from the sky, the lights on Marine Drive make it look like a Queen's Necklace. From Nariman Point, you get a perfect view of the Necklace. Even though it's not at a higher altitude, you can still make out the curve. The really wide foothpath made me really happy and we took a nice walk while enjoying the breeze and discussing how the terrorists actually came into Mumbai. Unfortunately it was low tide, so I couldnt really hear the waves but it was soothing nevertheless.
From Nariman Point we went to Leopold Cafe for dinner. I walked in expecting a really posh place but got thoroughly disappointed when I saw the interiors and the overwhelming smell of beer almost killed my appetite (that is a mean feat, fyi ;)) I guess Jeeju sensed mine and my friend's discomfort and herded us upstairs. Ah! now that was something to look at! Beaut interiors, awesome music and lovely beerless aromas floating around! That's what I was looking for! Oh and of course, there was AC :D So we settled down, ordered food and again fooled around with the camera. After some signature analysis and promises of a full blown handwriting analysis to come later, we dug into the delicious food.
Clutching my stomach and swaying like a drunk, many people must have thought that I had more than my fair share of beer at Leopold's, but truth was I was stuffed! Once I ate so much that I was about to pass out, and at Leopold's I was pretty much near that stage. So as I tottered towards the car and crashed into the backseat, I prayed to God that the end was near. The end of the night that is :D But of course, how could I forget, I had promised my friend a complete handwriting analysis and once we started talking, we couldnt stop till 4 am! Now that's real friendship according to me. You notice the time only at 3 am and then say "Damn its 3 am! We should get some sleep" Only to realize 5 mins later "Damn! It's 4 am! We should REALLY get some sleep!" I miss having slumber parties!
Anyway, so finally at 4 am we decided enough was enough and that we would discuss about the rest of our friends later (Hehe). I fell into a deep sleep dreaming about the great shopping expedition soon to come!
Part III coming soon folks! ;D