Day two. 16th Feb 2014
After an early breakfast with all the European fare as well as Indian treats, I had a bit of a lie by the pool and a dip before heading to the reception to meet the driver who was taking me out for the day.
As it was Sunday, most of the places that I had I had hoped to go to we’re closed, like MANGALDAS MARKET, traditionally home to traders from Gujarat, and apparently a great place to browse for Indian textiles and traditional clothes.
I wanted to go to the suburb of Bandra, which was open, so we headed about an hour out of Central Mumbai and near the airport to the new trendy suburb of Bandra where a lot of the Bollywood stars live. I was expecting something a bit glamorous but to me it was just like any other suburb of Mumbai, crazy and noisy. Perhaps we went to the wrong area.
I had asked the driver to take me to “The Shop”, to buy some specific cushion covers I knew they sold. The Shop is a six-room, space selling clothes, bedding, (blankets, sheets, pillows), kitchenware (tea pots, mugs, bowls, saucers, plates) as well as accessories such as handbags, printed stoles, and several books. I found the cushions I was looking for and some beautiful printed cushion covers but otherwise, it was not as exciting as I had hoped.
I told the driver I was looking for fabrics and so he suggested that we go to a far flung suburb he knew where there were fabric shops. We never really found the fabric shops, but I spotted one shop that looked like it might have something interesting.
Inside the shop there were so many staff and lots of shelves full of really ugly towels and bedspreads that it was hard to move in the shop. The assistants actually had to jump over the counters to get out from behind the counters. It didn’t look very promising but as I was there I asked about cushion covers and was directed up a tiny spiral stair to find more staff waiting and more hideous stuff. The cushions covers were not great, but to get out of the shop, I purchased a few as they were well priced and I planned my escape.
On exiting onto the street from the shop, I spotted a torn and dirty Ikat thrown over some stock, and asked one of the staff if they had more. Back inside, from below the shelves appeared all these single bed cover in beautiful Ikat designs and colours. I was in heaven. I bought too many (well 12) and then had the problem of shipping them back to Australia.
After many attempts to find a courier, (being Sunday most were closed) the driver found a courier who was open and we drove there. Situated in a back lane and in a very messy and stuffy room, I bargained for while and was able to get a slightly better price, but still paid more for the freight than I did to purchase the goods. I was over a barrel as I was leaving very early the next morning, so could not go to the post office to send the goods at half the price of the courier. That’s life. Still, it was a good day of shopping.
Back at the Taj I thought I deserved a coffee in the garden after my long day shopping, but fortunately, I looked at the menu first as coffee was 325 rp which is around $6, so I decided to go out for a coffee instead.
I wanted to go to the well known restaurant Leopolds, that I had read about in Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts…. and it was about two blocks from where I was. As I was about to enter the restaurant, I was stopped by a security woman who held a metal detector to me and checked inside by bag. That set the atmosphere for this extraordinary cafe.
Security guard with metal detector at the front entry to Leopolds.
It was packed, mostly with Indians of all ages and types, some foreigners and lots of staff, who were very cheerful and full of character. It was bustling and loud with ceiling fans whirling overhead but had a sort of edgy atmosphere that anything could, and would happen. The food was excellent. I ordered an orange and lime freshly squeezed juice, half size portion of chicken tikka and a roti. All for 600 rp including a small tip (about $11.50 Aus). Great value and lots of atmosphere and certainly worth a visit.
The mural on the wall at Leopold Cafe