I honestly haven't been to Mumbai a lot. The last time I was there - technically also the first time I was there - I had a pretty good time. I won the award for Best Creative Writing Blog in India, you see. Prreeeety good time, as I was saying. It's been nearly eight months to the day that I picked up that award and when the opportunity came to visit Mumbai once more, I would be lying if I said I wasn't licking my lips with anticipation.

You see, I had been thinking a lot about some advice fellow blogger Nisha had given me awhile back during a discussion - about saving a third of your money for traveling and seeing the world outside your regular walls. That's something I had not really done in the years prior to this one and it was something I did intend to change in style.
In the days to come, I would hear the familiar refrain of "Vadde log Vaddi baatein" many a time and I could only laugh. After all, I had decided not to think of the purse-strings for once and instead chosen one of Mumbai's finest five star hotels as my not-so-humble abode to stay in while I was there.

Grand Hyatt deserves every bit of applause that you could conjure up in your mind. Wonderfully pleasant staff, immaculately maintained rooms and a gorgeous ambiance are just the thoughts that crossed my head in the first hour I was there. From being extra-helpful in accommodating me when I landed there a few hours prior to the official check-in to catering to my every need with a smile, this hotel single-handedly redefined my image of a luxury stay.

Some of the things I would like to highlight from memory:

  • The overall design of the lobby interiors - par excellence. High ceilings, very spacious interiors allowing for a relaxed ambience as you stroll from one end to the other.  
  • The complimentary chocolates on arrival: best I have had in India. And that is not an exaggeration.
  • The 'shopping store' downstairs. My impression of in-hotel shopping stores has always been about the odd store which sells rural trinkets and the odd painting. Hyatt ups the ante with a two floor shopping complex, with designer gowns, Mont Blanc, luxury watches and suits et al. 
  • While I regret not being able to try out two of the in-house restaurants (Cellini and China House), I have no regrets about the place I did have my 'meals' at. I used to say that Barbeque Nation was the best buffet I ever had. Well, I change my stand.
Fifty-Five East is officially the best buffet I have ever had and I mean both for breakfast and lunch.
Once more, there is such a beautiful aura to the place with perfected lit backdrops and shades. The staff are not just courteous but extremely knowledgeable and helpful, guiding you with choices and yet being unobtrusive once the food has reached your table.

Grand Hyatt Mumbai

  • There are separate live counters in action for every style of cooking: Japanese, Thai, Chinese, continental and Indian. Each section offers a dozen or more options at hand. Watching the vast set of chefs in action as they sliced the hams and sushis while making the steaks as per personal requests was simply poetry in motion. 
  • This is in addition to the awesome range of unlimited martinis, margaritas, wines and mocktails too, for a ridiculously minimal price addition.
  • The dessert section again, consists of two sides of a very large table and I would be lying if I tried to tell you I recalled everything I saw and ate there. 
  • Honestly, this is now my official breakfast place whenever I step into Mumbai from here on in. Yes, yes... I know. Vadde Log...

Of course, I did not mention why I came down, did I?
Well. it was for something special at any rate. Myriad Tales had its national book launch (by author Preeti Singh) at Kitab Khana on the 12th and I really wanted to be there for it, seeing as how I featured in it. It officially became my third book launch and my tenth* story in print in an Indian anthology.

Kitab Khana

The book launch was a truly gala affair, getting to meet fellow co-authors Rafaa, Tapobrata, Vaisakhi, Mihir and Neoni.

The atmosphere was less about being official and more about a lovely playful ambience thanks to Preeti Singh's infective joyous character. I also finally got to meet my fellow doc from my Mangalore days Dr Manjula and her hubby along with my co-author, the bubbly Divyakshi from the recent Bards of the Blogosphere team of 'Game of Blogs' contest, who is the one behind some of the awesome candid pics taken at the event. 
I had spoken in length earlier on why I thought this book edited by bestselling author Suhail Mathur was truly unique and my own story based on a famous urban legend within it. You can see more lovely pictures of the event here.

I was lucky too. I had the most beautiful plus one for the event: my 1 am buddy, the super gorgeous Bong Nairita, who also took on the role of being my guide as we raced across the corners of Mumbai over 24 hours, alternating between dinner at Mamagoto in Bandra West to a celebratory lunch at Leopold Cafe after a successful book launch. I have a lot to be thankful for to this fellow blogger who I rarely meet and who is yet my biggest supporter, my 24/7 sounding board for advice and a major Snoopy-fan. 

Pics courtesy: Divyakshi
Glamour courtesy: Nairita
Blue shirt for picture contrast courtesy: Me

I had written about this mystery chica a year earlier wherein I wondered if I would get to meet her with our lives in different corners of the country. Well, turns out the universe does indeed find a way if you wish for something with your heart. 

The visit to Mamagoto (I chose it cause the name sounded naughty!) had another surprise besides amazingly thick and juicy Satays - checking in on Facebook helped another doc from my past, Dr Ismail, find me and stroll right in. Like many others on my timeline, I know him well and I value his opinion a lot but I had never had the chance to meet him in person before that evening.

You'd think I would be done for the day after racing from one end to Mumbai to the other, having an awesome book launch and a celebratory lunch. But no, Nairita also managed to squeeze in time to help introduce me to the Colaba market and showed me how real bargaining was done as we picked up some stuff for our homes and families. Quick touristy pics and selfies were taken alongside the Taj Hotel and Gateway of India before we finally parted ways for the evening. Heading back, I was in a mad rush across Mumbai once more, making a quick costume change before heading on: my "dates with pretty women who also had brains" calendar still held one more important event that evening.

Authors of Love Stories That Touched My Heart:
 Mumbai Edition
One of the most successful books which featured me was Penguin's "Love Stories That Touched My Heart". I still get feedback and comments for my story "HeartStrings" within it but what I cherish the most is the friends I made thanks to the book in the form of my "whatsapp group of co-authors". A lovely bunch of people, situated in literally every corner of the country, we hardly get to meet each other. So finally visiting the Mumbai alumni of Renuka, Renu and Anjali felt like coming home to a family I had known for years.

T.G.I.Fridays was the venue for the meeting and it once more had a wonderful ambience to just sit, chat and have fun for hours as we got to interact face to face for the first time. Wonderful people and authors, these three.

The next day, before racing back to the airport, I also got to meet my buddy Aditya as we visited the 'home' that has brought so much happiness and joy to me, not just this year but for many years with the awards of Tangy Tuesdays and Spicy Saturdays that they had bestowed upon me. Yes, I did visit Blogadda, where the wonderful team of Nirav, Harish et al surprised me with a chocolate cake, no less. We had some nice discussions about how far the Indian blogging scene has come in the past few years and since the day they first began. They have had a stellar year, hosting the first live national blogging conference and awards ceremony in addition to the brilliantly managed Goa meet with Tata Motors for the Zest and the unique 'Game of Blogs' contest which pitted three hundred bloggers against the others in a unique tag-team novel writing contest. The fact that they are calmly confident of giving more unique contests in the months to come is truly heartening for someone like me. I look forward eagerly to see whats coming up.

Mumbai is not a city; it is an experience to be enjoyed. Whether it watching the Haji Ali Dargah in silent awe or smiling as you stare at a crowd sitting outside Shahrukh Khan's Mannat eagerly waiting for a glimpse of him or just chatting with friends and relaxing as the evening unfolds with a lively ambience that still gives you privacy, it is a world apart from anything God's Own Country has to offer. I assume the people of Mumbai will have similar observations about us too, at some level.

For now, I am back home again and it feels like an extended jet lag. From the joy of ham, bacons, eggs-to-order and kiwi muffins to the doldrums of hospital canteen food, it is a sharp heady fall... but oh, for a brief moment, I was a king and that is enough.

I was a Vadde log.

Authors note:

It's a very unique dilemma to be in... not being able to promote your story in one book because your story in another book is also out simultaneously. After a brief stint in horror in "Myriad Tales", I move back to a genre I am more commonly associated with - humour.
In "Social Potpourri - An Anthology II", my story "How I Married Your Mother" deals with a father who has a very unique heart-to-heart conversation with his son about the woman that forms an integral part of both their lives. Of course, since it's me writing this, you can expect a few twists along the way. 
For those who liked my story in Urban Shots: Bright Lights, this is a chance to meet some familiar characters from the past.
The book is available here in both print as well as e-book format.
*Nairita rightly pointed out something I missed. Myriad Tales becomes my 11th (and not 10th) story in print in an Indian anthology. Turns out Social Potpourri - An Anthology II had its official launch on 11th October in Delhi.  Technically, that would mean that I had the rare distinction of having two books featuring me launched in India within 24 hours of each other. Amazingly, this would be the SECOND TIME I have achieved this feat, after having two books released during Valentine's Week earlier this year.



Nisha said…
What a trip!! You sure had a greattt time with all that food on your plate!!! :)
Also, lately I've been seeing that all your trips involve some kind of writing. For me THAT is vadde log, vaddi baatein. Proud of you!
divsi said…
Yayyy! I am so happy to be featured in this post. It was indeed a pleasure meeting you Doc! I am glad you loved Bombay. Hope to see you soon for another book launch :)
Indrani said…
That is quality time spent in Mumbai.
Great pics.
Anonymous said…
Vadde log, vadde trips, vadde posts :D Awesome doc! :)
pramila r k said…
may u have many ..many,,trips..like this all ur life!!!..don t look back.
Anonymous said…
Aditya who?
Harish Krishnan said…
It was a pleasure Doc to meet you at our adda. You bring in this infectious sense of humour. The team was speaking about it after you left. Says a lot. :) Yes, more things coming up and with awesome people like you with us, we can't think of failing. Thank you and wish you all the best.
Renuka said…
Waiting for your next visit, Doc!
Nabanita said…
What a great trip ...But baring everything you have written here I'm stuck with the pics of food! Is there something wrong with me doc? :D

Random Thoughts Naba..JSepia Tones: Diwali & Shillong...
Locomente said…
Nice to know that you had a great time...
Prats said…
Looks like you really had a gala time. Now that you have mentioned about the buffet better than Barbeque Nation, I would definitely try it when I visit there next time. :)
Coral crue said…
it was such an awesome read. thoroughly enjoyed your experience. I've been to Mumbai years ago and the city sure has a vibrant pulse on it :)
Aseem said…
Awesome doc :). Congrats on the book launches and may you have many many more ahead :D. Vade log Vadi baatein :D.
Thanks Nisha. These are only some of the dishes on display.. so many more didn't make the final album :D
And yes, its been a good year :)
Was lovely to meet you too, Divs :) Yes, touchwood, there will be more reasons to visit Mumbai soon.
You've got it spot on. It was quality time spent...
haha... Thanks :) I kept hearing that dialogue the moment I mentioned where I was staying :)
thanks. Hopefully, that will happen
The full name of the dragon that be THE NAMELESS ONE cannot be revealed to human ears :)
Was lovely to meet you and the team. Take care. All our best wishes will always be with you all for all that you've done for the blogosphere..
Definitely. Book the TGIF table and I will find an excuse to be there :)
No no... it proves that you're just like me (Now, what THAT SAYS about you I cannot comment upon :p )
Thanks... I really did...
Definitely do so... I guarantee you will report back to me confirming this statement :)
I guess people living there are used to it but for those outside, the life force that the city exudes is amazing, honestly. A far far cry from my own areas where the whole district goes to sleep by a humble 7-8pm
Thanks Aseem. Touchwood there will be more to come in the days ahead..
That is such a lot of food and fun !! And I know what you mean when food and fun comes in the same sentence ! :D I like the 'Glamour courtesy' part ! LOL
So glad you had a great time, Roshan. Sometimes it really pays to be nice to oneself - damn the cost! ;)
Suzy said…
I always travel 5 star - see fewer places but do it in style. It just makes the trip so much nicer. The Hyatt hotels are great - my first choice wherever I travel. Glad you enjoyed my hometown.
Rajlakshmi said…
I have to say this - Vadde log vaddi baatein...
After reading your post all I could remember is Hyat, food food food... published author... Celebrity!!! :D kiya baat hai !! congratulations on all your publications.
I like the title you choose Doc "vaddde log vaddi baaten". Someone who is going to travel can take tips from you that how to enjoy and how to make your trip memorable... remarkable article .... waiting for a lot more.. once more... Vadde log vaddi baaten .....
Kathy Combs said…
Sounds like you had an amazing time! So happy for you that you got to go!!
Hehe.. no doubt about it... good food and fun people together make for an awesome time :)
true... its something that i dont usually do but sometimes, we just gotta say "to hell with it. im buying this stuff."
Haha... yes yes.. Vadde log :p
Now that u put it that way, it does sound grander you know.. :)
I wasn't aware you lived in Mumbai...awww!
And yes, this is now something I must seriously consider too - lesser trips but more luxury :)
thanks a lot... yes, memorable is the right word to describe it, indeed :) Vadde log hi to hai :D
Thanks Kathy.. yes, I'm really glad I went