Our second day in Mumbai, we headed out on foot with Canadian friends Michael and Joey to see the Dabba-Wallahs or lunch box delivery boys at the Church Gate Train Station. Every day 4,000 intrepid men of all ages deliver fresh, home cooked meals from 100,000 suburban kitchens to offices in the downtown area. Each lunch is prepared by a loving wife or mother, and packed into a set of stackable aluminum boxes within a cloth bag ready for delivery. The meals are then carried, dangled from shoulder-poles, bicycles or stacked on handcarts, to be delivered to their hungry recipients. Each lunch bag has a sequence of letters and numbers to assure that the multiple deliverymen who transfer the lunches from location to location know exactly where it goes. They are so efficient and accurate in the delivery that they only make one mistake in every 6-million lunch deliveries. The cost of this service is only $20 a month. This train station location is where lunches from all over are brought to be reassigned to the final delivery person in the city.
From here we walked to the waterfront for coke floats at a local seaside restaurant. Then we took a taxi to a nearby street called the garment district. Here for block after block is one stall after another (about 500) filled with clothing of all sorts. Our next stop was the local shop called Fab India where they had an extensive collection of local clothing from ladies Sari’s to men’s wedding coats. The bright colors and fabrics were very nice and the prices seemed reasonable. As usual we purchased nothing but it was fun to look. It was then over to the Colaba market district popular with tourists. Here we found shop after shop packed with huge amounts of inventory of costume jewelry, clothing and souvenirs. Not much in the way of quality, just volume.
Our next stop was a visit into the exquisite Taj Mahal hotel. This is the hotel where there was a tourist attack in 2008 so security is very tight still today. Cars coming into the portico are required to open their trunks before entering and security guards use mirrors to check under the vehicles before granting access to the hotel grounds. The hotel has a beautiful lobby with tons of fresh flowers, the pool is situated in a lushly landscaped courtyard and there were many high-end gift shops.
Overall, I found Mumbai to be much cleaner than I had expected although the traffic is extraordinary. Drivers drive on every bit of roadway as pedestrians fearlessly fight their way across the streets. The British colonial buildings are truly breathtaking while most of the other buildings are in desperate need of paint and restoration. The people were very friendly in general, but the salespeople are quite aggressive in trying to make a sale. We did see a few cows in the street, but they were very scarce in the city.
The evening’s entertainment was a show by the B.B. King’s All Stars group who normally performs three shows a night in the crow’s nest. They performed a variety of songs made famous in Memphis.