With Mumbai being considered a world city that is seeing an exponential rise in the influx of expats, we connected with a cross section of expats about what they like about sunny South Mumbai and how they liked to spend their time here.
For the love of Indian food
Food, especially Indian fare, is a lure for most. A resident of Colaba, Nor Hazima Abdul Hamid says, "We are a foodie family and we like to try new foods. Wherever we go, food is always on our mind." An expat from Malaysia, she leaned heavily on the Lonely Planet guides for restaurant suggestions. "The first place that we tried is Bade Miya behind Taj. Since then, we have been in love with Indian food."
Altamount resident Judith Francorsi, a tall, willowy German, shares Hamid’s penchant. She says, "I love Indian food, both veg and non-veg. My favourite restaurant is the basic but brilliant Modern Lunch Home at Lamington Road for all things fishy." She recommends the fish curry thali or fried Bombay duck here.
A piece of homeland
Away from the scrum and scrabble of Mumbai streets, Indigo Deli, Serafina and Starbucks are the definite favourites. Gregory Kroitzsch grew up in the town of Plymouth, Vermont in the United States. After moving to Mumbai, he has lived variously in Malabar Hill, Tardeo and Sewri and is the founder, CEO and Managing Director of Lower Parel's Barking Deer brewpub. "I was ecstatic when Starbucks came to town. For seven years in Manhattan, I would grab a grande Americano and a scone on my way to my bank job. The Starbucks' paper cup was a fixture in my hand. Tasting the coffee again brings back memories of Manhattan coffee shops," he reminisces. "Here, armed with a good book or my laptop, I find refuge in other city coffee shops as well. Kitab Khanna is also pretty cool."
Colaba and Kala Ghoda lovers
Nor Hazima Abdul Hamid
Many expats perfectly negotiate the fine line between their two worlds. While Palladium Mall and the Breach Candy Club are popular hangouts, Takako Abe and Nor Hazima Abdul Hamid confess to a penchant Colaba and Kala Ghoda. Says Abe, a Worli resident originally from Japan, "Kala Ghoda is one of my favourite places. After I drop the kids to school, I go to the Pantry and have breakfast, while waiting for shops like Fabindia and Westside to open." Just a few steps down the road is Hamid's shopping destination, Colaba. "You can find everything there–from shoes, clothes, accessories and to souvenirs and food."
Chor Bazaar too appears to be a favourite. Both Hamid and Francorsi confess to plunging into its pulsing, chaotic streets ever so often. According to Francorsi, "I suffer from a shopping phobia–malls scare me and 'over-enthusiastic' shop assistants make me want run, but Mutton Street in Chor Bazaar is different. To call it a flea market is an insult. You will find vintage toys, tin signs, automobile parts, Victorian antiques, and toys that look like they belong on the sets of the Titanic. Rummaging around under the gaze of friendly shop owners and nearby goats is a real adventure. The shopkeepers are experts, they won't bully you into buying and will offer you bottled water while you work your way through the dusty shelves."
James Thompson, who recently relocated to Breach Candy from London, believes, "Places like Chor Bazaar are what make Mumbai unique and interesting." Kroitzsch seconds this, saying "Mumbai is a unique and authentic place unlike some of the new prefab cities popping up in India that remind me of strip malls in New Jersey."
Kids’ day out
The children of expats seem to be having a good time as well. According to Abe, "Smaaash (next to Kamala Mills) is very popular with the kids. Until we came to India, we did not know anything about cricket, but now my children have become good cricket players." There is plenty to feed the mind as well. "My kids like going to the Nehru Science Centre and the Prince of Wales Museum as well."
Takako Abe with her children
In the evening, Francorsi and her daughter usually go to Harish Mahindra Children's Park in Breach Candy. "It is a playground sprawling over two acres with a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea. It is by far the best place to take children in this part of town. Amarson's Garden next door is fantastic if you are a walker. But do not forget to walk clockwise, or else you will get into trouble with park authorities," she chuckles. The true mark of a local!