Why I Still Love Mumbai

Driving past Worli Sea face after a late night film, I see something heart-warming and reaffirming about Mumbai.  Something that reminds me why Mumbai in some ways remains such a great city.  
There at 2 AM, out in the open, amidst the drunks and cops on patrol duty, were couples hand in hand; even small groups of women hanging about enjoying the quiet and balmy weather. Not a sight I am quite sure one would get to see in too many cities in India.
It’s been nearly thirteen years since I moved to Mumbai and this is one facet of the city which I value the most. Especially because I moved here from Delhi where I lived eleven years.  Delhi has great parks, roads and better weather.  But it’s also rather unfriendly towards women. I remember during my college years my friends and I felt lucky if we were not groped every time we used the public transport!  I believe some of that has changed after the Metro.
Having said that, life in Mumbai is tough – the overcrowding, long commutes and crumbling infrastructure grate on the nerves.  Like someone told my husband, “In Mumbai you sweat the small stuff”.  And it’s not that Mumbai is completely safe. You do have crimes against women, and they seem to rising.  But if you had to choose among the big cities, it’s the most open towards women.  And among the better places to raise two young girls.

Ethiopia Notes

View of Addis Ababa 
Kaffa House

Looking for an eatery in Addis Ababa? Well, you had better start early. I mean a good two-three hours early.  Ethiopia’s capital has an amazingly vibrant and crowded night life. Hard to believe given the predominant images linked to the country for the longest time were famine and hunger deaths.

As the sun sets, the city comes alive with the “bolel”, a blues-like music, pouring out of the taxis and  ‘kaffa houses’. Coffee drinking is huge here and the Ethiopian Arabica can become quite an addiction. Locals take it black with a hint of sugar, after their meal. Hard to drink initially, but by the end of my stay I was quite hooked. Equally addicting is the local variety of tea, marketed as Addis Tea.  All along this sprawling hilly city, you find hundreds of kaffa houses, packed with people spilling onto the streets , enjoying their cuppas late into the night.

Ethiopian Honey Beer

 Anyway, back to the dinner experience.  Ethiopians love to eat out. The traditional dish in the injera, a  flatbread made with teff flour.  To help it go down smoothly is the local honey beer which comes in  beautifully curved bottles. I was tempted to bring a few samples back to India but they are packed rather badly and definitely wouldn’t have lasted the journey.


Traditional Dance

Coming to the Injera. It has a slightly sour taste and is a bit of an acquired taste.  It’s eaten with meat dishes called tibs. Not being a huge carnivore myself, I got a bit desperate for vegetarian food after a few outings, at which point I discovered the fasting food. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes a number of fasting days (Wednesdays, Fridays and the entire Lent season) during which many vegan dishes are cooked.  The dishes are wonderfully light – infused with garlic, ginger and several spices like berbere, which is like powdered chilli pepper.

Strangely I did not spot any desserts. Reason perhaps I did not also spot any obese Ethiopians!