Despite the attempts of many people to prove otherwise, Bombay, India, is still possibly the most happening city on the Indian subcontinent. With its cosmopolitan nature, friendly people and fun attitude, Bombay is the perfect place for any self-respecting Indian. Of course, due to the 'Save our Culture' brigade, politicians have renamed it Mumbai. Of course, they never exactly took into account the sentiments of the citizenry, many of whom still call it Bombay, and therefore, is referred to as Bombay throughout this Entry.
Bombay is situated on the western coast of India. It is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, and houses what has been labelled as the best and worst administration in the history of politics. The city is divided into various areas: Bandra, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Kurla, Matunga, Malad, Worli... the list is endless, and the only way to get to know your way around is to get lost a few times.
Once again the best and the worst way to get around is to use the bus. Why are they the best, you ask? Simply because they are run by the Bombay - now Brihanmumbai - Electric Supply and Transport Company (BEST), and they're the only buses in town. If you decide to use the trains, prepare to brave the crowds, who'll stop at nothing to get in. The trains are bursting at the seams, even at six in the morning. People will practically be hanging on by one finger, and spilling out of the doors, which obviously are not automatic and are never closed. As for getting into the buses, just follow these tips:
- Stand away from the queue and wait for the bus.
- Once it arrives, make a mad dash for the door, pushing everyone aside by the sheer force of your leap.
- Never fight with the conductor and always carry exact change. It is a fact of life in Bombay that the conductor never has any change.
- When your stop arrives, use the entrance instead of the exit. It is easier to push the people getting in.
For the gluttons among us, this city houses some of the best restaurants you might find, and also some of the worst. For the penniless tourist, the Pav Bhaji and Bhel Puri are recommended. These are available all over the place and are guaranteed to give you a night of indigestion, unless you're a local, of course. For the not so penniless tourist, the world's best cuisines stretch before you. Besides all the foreign influences, there are also about 17 different Indian styles to choose from as well. After all, Bombay is the Manhattan of the East.
This shouldn't be much of a problem, since most people will speak English. Of course, there are always those who speak Hindi - the national language, Marathi - the state language Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, et al. Take your pick from 30 official languages, each spoken in various dialects.
A good knowledge of Bambaiya Hindi or Hinglish (Hindi and English) - is an added advantage. If you're pestered on your travels by those that will try to sell foreigners anything, just reply with a curt 'Oye, havaldar ko bulayenga, kya?' which means 'Kindly leave me alone'.