I was planning to write about our weekend of vintage selling but the weather put paid to that. Saturday's fair at Walthamstow (where the above photo was taken) was pretty good considering the hideous temperatures, incessant snow showers and the Met Office severe weather warnings but yesterday's fair at Moseley had to be postponed until April after most of us got up and discovered that we were snowed in. Come on Spring!
I thought I'd share a few photos from our trip to Mumbai instead, although India's heat and humidity seem but a dim and distant memory today. The sweat dribbling down my back and my hair clinging to my shoulders like seaweed is in stark contrast as I sit here with the wood burner crackling away & looking out on a garden swathed in a blanket of white.
We stayed at Moti International, an elegantly crumbling, ramshackle Colonial-era family mansion a stone's throw from the Gateway of India which you may remember was our base a couple of years ago. Despite being in the heart of bustling Colaba, owner Mr Raj (who occupies the top two floors with his family) is a passionate gardener and his collection of lush potted palms helped filter out most of the traffic noise. Jon & I loved helping ourselves to an ice-cold Kingfisher from the communal fridge in the hallway and sitting on the marble steps, watching the madness of Mumbai unfold before our eyes.
We took a room on the first floor because Jon loved the drama of the rickety wooden staircase.
We'd spent the previous three weeks in Goa and only had a couple of days in Mumbai before our flight home but, as always, we managed to pack loads into those 48 hours. Our flight landed at 7am and, after a quick stop for a breakfast of Parsi-style scrambled eggs (with chilli and green mango), we headed to Sassoon Docks to watch the Marathi fishermen unloading the morning's catch from the boats. The women squatted on their haunches in circles, gossiping and tossing the freshly gutted fish into straw baskets whilst well-fed cats prowled around, feasting on fish guts and mewling for more. Because the area is a port, photography wasn't allowed but we did take the picture above - all that remained of a recent arts festival in the city.
Street cats! We're always amazed at how friendly and well-fed the moggies of Mumbai are. These boys were just a few of the cats hanging around Pasta Lane in Colaba.
The lovely thing about Mumbai is that despite the general chaos there's loads of green spaces where you can sit in peace. Elderly ladies resplendent in chiffon sarees and trainers do one hour circuits of this tiny square every morning.
After a few hours of aimlessly wandering we called into Kyani, one of the many Parsi food joints dotted around downtown Mumbai. We feasted on super spicy veg patties and sweet-salt lime sodas (spending the grand total of £1.50) before continuing on our way.
We continued on to Kala Ghoda, the epicentre of Mumbai's hip and happening arts scene as well as a great place to shop. We're big fans of Cotton Cottage, a shop that specialises in hand-made, block printed, Indian cotton clothes - there's also a couple of branches in Goa. There's often a sale at this time of year so Jon stocked up on granddad shirts and I bought a couple of maxi length wrap-around skirts (we're wearing our buys in the Moti collage). New to Mumbai this year was a massive Zara although I did wonder about the logic of displaying a beige wool cape in the window when it was nudging 36° and I don't think I've ever seen an Indian woman dressed in beige.
I loved the albums covers on display at the second-hand vinyl stall. Sadly the proprietor was nowhere to be seen (probably off feeding the cats like most of the other market traders) so we left empty handed.
After a quick shower back at Moti we rushed down to the Taj with the rest of Mumbai to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Sea before beers and dinner at one of the swanky bars on Marine Drive.
We'd booked the Dharavi slum tour for the afternoon of the following day so after a breakfast of upma (a dry-roasted savoury semolina porridge) & masala chai in a tiny hole in the wall food joint on Colaba Causeway we set off to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or, as most Mumbaikers still call it, The Prince Of Wales Museum.
We queued behind this adorable group. How on earth do Indian schoolchildren always manage to look so immaculate?
Built in the Indo-Sarenic style by George Wittet in 1904 to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, the museum is set in the verdant Victoria Gardens and houses over 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from all over the world, categorised into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History.
We loved the thought-provoking displays created by local schoolchildren from waste materials.
The sheer amount of stuff on display was overwhelming. I took loads more photos - which I've shared HERE.
The antique textiles were particularly fabulous.
The image below is possibly one of the best vintage clothing labels I've ever seen!
After lunch in Churchill's, a favourite Parsi cafe of ours on Colaba Causeway, we dashed back to Moti for a quick change before racing off to Churchgate Station in time to meet the Reality Tour guide and the other tourists. (Read more about our slum tour HERE).
Before dinner that night we browsed the stalls thronging the pavements of Colaba Causeway as I needed to stock up on leather chappals (I ended up buying three pairs for £10 - I haggled hard) and also snaffled the dress in the photo above from a little boutique which I thought would be ideal for our next trip to India. It was a fixed price shop and cost 700 rupees (around £7.60).
When I was rummaging around a dusty tailor's shop in Goa I found the remains of a bolt of block-printed homespun cotton. The shopkeeper called it "old fashioned" and tried to get me to chose a polka dot polyester, very popular in your country. I explained that I was an old-fashioned girl and handed over the kimono-sleeve dress I wore in most of my Gujarat photos to copy. Twenty-four hours later and at a cost of £15 this dress was mine.
The uber cool Bombay Vintage was the location for our last dinner in India. The food was excellent, the beer plentiful and a lot of the accompanying 1960s Bollywood filmi soundtrack was just our thing.
Mumbai, we love you, we can't wait to see you again!
Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.
Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.