28th September 2012
Weekends in Mumbai
Weekends in Mumbai, once the monsoon has passed, can involve a variety of activities: walks along the 5km Marine Drive past the art deco buildings and the landmark Oberoi hotel, brunch in one of the expanding range of cafes and restaurants around the town, a round of golf on what must count as one of more unusual but enjoyable courses in the heart of any mega city, or shopping in one of the new malls.
I managed some of those and more recently, while taking in as well a number of British-focused events around the city. First off was a chance to see a range of UK fashion at “The Collective” outlet in one of Mumbai’s most popular malls, Palladium, on the site of one of the city’s former textile mills. The Collective, a tiny part of the massive Birla Group’s empire, offers a range of clothing for men and women.
Pitched firmly at the middle class and above, its creative director Nageshwar left me in no doubt that he is pleased to showcase a range of British products. Highlighted in the store recently was a display of Ted Baker clothes and accessories, taking pride of place for the weekend alongside Hackett and Fred Perry apparel.
From the Palladium it was a dash – or to be more precise a crawl, in Mumbai’s Saturday evening traffic – to the southern end of the city, to one of its original, smaller landmarks, The Bombay Yacht Club. Recently completely renovated to give the Club something of the flavour of what it must have been like in its former glory, with wood panelling and windows like those of ships, the club was host for the evening to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
Sir Leszek Borysiewicz was meeting alumni from the university, for the second time in 12 months, and he left no-one in any doubt that he and his team would be back to Mumbai to pin down specific new research collaborations with Indian partners, as well as to encourage even more Indian students to bid for a place alongside the over 200 who are already studying or researching at the university.
Of course there is a lot more to Mumbai than British-focused events, and my weekend was rounded off with a visit to one of the city’s teeming commercial quarters, to see some of the hundreds of Ganesh idols produced with loving care by local groups to mark the enormously popular 11 day festival of Ganesh the elephant-headed God who is the guardian deity of Maharashtra State.
We managed to get in, together with hundreds of excited Hindu adults and children, to view about a dozen of the larger and more exotic displays. All the idols will be immersed in the seas surrounding Mumbai, in one of the most colourful and vibrant events of the year, with hundreds of thousands of Mumbaikars heading for Chowpatty and other beaches around the city.
Next weekend: two more British icons, of automobiles and sport – Rolls Royce Cars and Manchester United!