Free hit counter


By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.


Interview for 20 minutes: Visiting Mumbai in 3-4 days

A journalist of 20 Minute (French free magazine) contacted me for an interview! I would like to thank her for her interest in my experience in India!! Poor thing, instead of just answering her questions, I wrote a full article ;)

Here is what she could extract for her interview… In PDFand the link. And below my programme to visit Mumbai in 3-4 days!

Namaste Bombay! Welcome in this chaotic megacity… to say the least! Crossing Mumbai from the airport to the heart of the city already gives a good overview: you feel like moving from one neighbourhood to another without distinction. And everywhere : people, life, activity, even at night!

Diving in the chaos, past the hotel door, can be somewhat of a shock: it's hot, the streets are badly indicated (Mumbai has been able to ignore the concept of urban planning), where to start? A walk in Colaba is a good stretch for the legs: the Gateway of India and a detour to the mythical Taj hotel (ideal for a pee break). Then take a stroll around Oval Maidan, a huge lawn surrounded by buildings dating back to the British era, before pushing to Victoria Station. Eventually stop to watch the sunset on Marine Drive, or walk along the Indian ocean, maybe up to Chowpatti Beach to experience what a good bath is (but for locals only!). To help digest this first day, treat yourself with a beer at Leopold Café, a meeting place for backpackers and locals.

Malabar Hill is also worth a visit, with its hanging gardens, Jain temple, Banganga Tank and its beautiful mansions. Then take a taxi for the rest of the day to go see the Haji Ali mosque perched on a peninsula and Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghats, an open-air laundry. A drink at Aer, the terrace of the Four Season, will then be welcome, providing with stunning views of the city and a good change of scenery (from the poorest to the richest…).


india,mumbai,bombay,visiting mumbai in 3-4 days,interview

Bargain-hunting for the rare pearl in the markets (an antique at Chor Bazaar, a jewel at Zaveri Bazaar, everything and anything at Crawford Market) is a unique experience... More relaxing and less touristy: getting lost in Khotachiwadi, a neighborhood standing from the Portuguese era. A boat trip to Elephanta caves is also worth it if you don’t have the time to go to Ellora... Others will prefer a tour of Dharavi, the legendary slum and its industries, rather well organized and not voyeuristic.

A visit to Mumbai is not complete without a 'train' trip (the local metro), if possible at peak hours! Or without testing the street food (it's a little risky for the intestines but you don’t get nothing with nothing!): bhel puri, pani-puri, vada pao, Bademiya’s goat brains etc. The motivated (or just lucky) tourist who hangs around Regal theater may be rewarded with a figuration in a Bollywood movie... At worst, watching a movie is generally worth its weight of popcorn! And well prepared tourists can experience Holi festival and Indians throwing colour powders at each other, or the throwing of Ganesh (the elephant-headed God) statues for Ganapati...

One of my articles on the "Mumbai Incontournables":

Other of my articles on Mumbai:


The chawls of Mumbai

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls are typical dwellings in Mumbai, built in the 19th and 20th centuries (especially between 1920 and 1956) by landlords and industrialists to accomodate immigrant labor.

 Chawls are “buildings with one room or two room units of not more than two hundred square feet attached by a common corridor with shared toilets on each floor”. Living conditions are quite sordid in the chawls, most of which being about to collapse. ‘Legally’ they do not qualify as slums which refer to jodapattis, squatter hoursings on unused land and pavements dwellings, tents and huts, “shanties built on footpaths alongside roads/pavements, close to workplace”. The families who live in chawls refuse to vacate the premises. On one hand because of the low rent for places in the heart of the city, and on the other hand because the social networking that exists in these structures.

 The Bombay Rent Act of 1947, enacted at the time of Partition, froze the rents at the level of 1St September  1940, to protect tenants. This freeze lasted for more than 50 years (the Maharashtra Rent Control Act in 1999  took over the Bombay Rent Act (twenty times renewed) and allowed a 5% rent increase the first year and then 4%) and caused the ruin of the buildings – at this level of rent, the owners could not invest in maintenance or repairs. As a consequence of all this, living in a chawl costs 250 rupees per month to former tenants and one can find offers on the Internet for 1,000 rupees. To give an idea, renting a 700 square feet apartment (thrice the surface) costs in the same area minimum 25,000 Rs (100 times more!).

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls of Girgaum - one can note the Mercedes on the left side (contrasts of India!)

Sources: ;



By a sunny (and not yet too hot) afternoon I went for a walk in a 'village in the city', a haven of peace in the bustling metropolis, a jump from Mumbai to Bombay, a flashback one hundred and fifty years ago...

More specifically I went to Girgaon (or Girgaum) and in Khotachiwadi. There you can see bungalows (28 of them are left of the original 65) Portuguese-style – the Portuguese, let's not forget about it, were the first foreigners to land in Mumbai (in 1536) and it is only in 1661 that they gave it away to the British as part of the dowry of a Portuguese princess marrying a Britisher.

And chawls or wadis, cluster of three-four story buildings around a central open courtyard (more about these structures in my next post).

All of these about to be replaced by modern towers...

And it’s a pity...

Khotachiwadi - March 2014

inde,mumbai,khotachiwadi,heritage village,bungalows,chawls

Sources: image above ( and

1 2 3 4 5 Next