After an early start in Udaipur we landed in Mumbai at 8.10am ready for an action packed 4 days of wedding Celebrations for Ollie and Neem.
Most of the action would be located around Juhu Beach an upmarket area of the city with a sprawling beach that looked right out onto the Arabian Sea. Back in the 19th Century Juhu was an island that could only be reached at low tide. It was inhabited by the Koli people – a mixture of fishermen and salt traders before the Portuguese arrived and built a church in 1853 – St Joseph’s.
There is a small airport in Juhu and this is the home of the Bombay Flying Club – India’s oldest aviation club.
The wedding party gathered that morning at the Ramada Hotel and then headed on a convoy of rickshaws to Neem’s house for the exciting part…choosing our Sarees and jewellery and for the men – the Kurtas.
Neem and her family were fantastic hosts, explaining the Indian wedding traditions and how the traditional saree is to be worn and even providing Kurtas and sarees for everyone.
We had such fun looking through all the colourful outfits and trying them on. Most of us were lucky to find one which fitted perfectly.
How would we manage to wrap the Sarees on Saturday?
Never fear, like everything else Neem had this covered, a stylist had been organised to dress us all the morning of the wedding. Very flash for a backpacker.
As most of you know Karen loves jewellery so when Neem started showing us the bling worn at Indian weddings she was like a magpie. Nothing is to over the top for an Indian wedding. The perfect excuse to go shopping for some huge earrings.
It was the lads turn…quickly the living room was a catwalk of Irish boys strutting their stuff in their kurtas.
The Kurta is a loose collarless shirt that falls to the knees and is derived from a tradition of nomadic tunics worn in Central Asia during medieval times.
The biggest giggle was the elastic waist pants worn under the kurtas. They were huge – an entire family could fit inside.
Outfits sorted, we sampled some amazing Indian potato sandwiches and Idli and Sambal made by Neem’s mum.
That evening we had the chance to experience real Bombay nightlife. Neem guided all of us through the bustling streets to the local train station to catch the next service into the city centre.
We are not sure who was more shocked the locals to witness 18, mostly country Irish people in a pack or us with the oversubscribed trains and the locals jumping off and on while the train moving – Hollywood style. No standing away from the closing doors here 😀
Arriving in the Colaba precinct we meet Haresh, Neems friend , who was our trusted guide to show us the sights and keep us all together. A big challenge! Colaba is a seaside promenade and contains the ‘Old Mumbai’ part of town.
He showed us the sights of Colaba – including the Taj Mahal Hotel, CST – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus ( formerly known as Victoria Terminus) – Asia’s busiest Railway Station and an extravaganza of Gothic Architecture, and some Portuguese Churches.
Last but not least we had a look at a large basalt archway next to the water – the Gateway to India. It was erected to honour the landing of King – Emperor George V in 1911 – the first British Monarch to visit India.
Sadly you could still see collateral damage from the Terrorist attack in 2008 on some of the buildings nearby.
The Portuguese owned the islands of Bombay until Catherine of Braganza married the English Charles II in 1661 and the whole city was gifted as part of a dowry.
After all that ‘Culture’ it was time for a king fisher, local food and some shopping.
This was shaping up to be a great destination wedding.