India: Monkeying around Mumbai

November 23rd, 2011 · Lisa · Travel · Comments

Hello all! I’m in Delhi now and just dropping in to catch you all up on the adventure. Nanditaand I are still going strong. We’ve taken our tour through Auroville, Bangalore, Gokarna and now Mumbai. Just one more event to go…but let’s rewind to Monday:

That morning I went to meet the team behind Vegan Bites – a healthy, vegan tiffin delivery service in Mumbai. I loved chatting about their menus over a delicious, warm bowl of Malaysian curry. Although we have the fantastic Tiffin Day delivery service in Toronto, we do not have the tiffin infrastructure that exists in Mumbai making it a whole different logistical dream. In Mumbai tiffin delivery is done by a group of men on cycles – many of them have had the position passed down in through their families – they load up their bikes with 50 lunches and sort them based on codes through train stations, to office building throughout the city. Their network is famous for efficiency, timeliness and accuracy. It is an incredible thing to witness.

After out lunch, Samir (the owner of Vegan Bites), took me on a trip to source some cold-pressed coconut oil. We found what we were searching for at Conscious Food – an company focused on organic food in India. Our route took us through the Phoenix Mall – a massive shopping centre that rivals the places I’ve seen in Houston, TX (and with all the same stores). Sigh.

On Tuesday, I was back in tourist mode. I took a taxi to the Gateway of India to meet Rithika for trip out to Elephanta Island, the location of ancient Hindu temples carved out out basalt caves. It is absolutely awe-inspiring to stand in front of the huge carvings and try to imagine the lives of the creators, walking the same stone pathway in the 7th century. We wandered through trying to wrap our heads around this rich Hindu history.

It was wonderful to have Rithika’s company, she’s an amazing vegan food blogger and we easily filled the hours with words of inspiration and recipe creation. I love vegan bloggers!!!

Outside the caves, little monkeys wrestled under the trees. I’ve heard these guys are tricky, known to swipe water bottles and cameras from the unsuspecting cave admirers. I kept my distance but giggled at all their enthusiastic romping.

Rithika and I hiked backed down from the caves to the docks, through the long staircase lined with people selling souvenirs. I can’t imagine taking an hour ferry everyday out to the island, hauling flashy Ganesha t-shirts up the long stone staircase just in case a tourist, light-headed from the hike, decides to make a purchase. I’m not cut out for sales.

On the way back, Rithika couldn’t resist a fresh cucumber sliced and salted for the ferry ride back to Mumbai. It looked refreshing but I’m still staying away from street food – my stomach has been treating me very well since my arrival so I’m trying to keep up my end of the deal.

I saved my appetite for a traditional thali…well, actually not that traditional. This is Rithika’s plate full of curries, rich in oil and spices.

My meal was this “healthy thali” that contained no oil or dairy. There was still some flavour and I enjoyed the opportunity to sample some more of the south-Indian cuisine. Before I took my final bite Nandita arrived and we were off for more meetings with the chefs.

We went over all of the requirements for my food demo in Mumbai – a challenge given how little Hindi I speak and how little English the chef understands. But I went to sleep that night thinking all was well…

silly me.

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