Arriving a day before wedding festivities began, I booked a hostel in Mumbai’s Bandra West neighborhood.
Online, Bandra West is described as “cosmopolitan” and like the “Brooklyn of Mumbai” — which might be kind of true in some ways, but I’m pretty sure Brooklyn does not have goats roaming the streets. (Actually who knows, maybe it does. Sounds like a new hipster thing that could be trending.)
We arrived before the sun came up and walked down the quiet alleyways while the fruit vendors were still setting up their stalls.
After checking in, we started exploring as the day got brighter and the streets came alive.
There were people and dogs and stores and food and motorcycles and cars buzzing in every crevice of the neighborhood. After many hours on a sterile plane, ALL of your senses are stimulated walking in Bandra West.
My favorite moment was when I saw a bunch of goats chilling, eating trash on the sidewalk (just kidding, there’s no sidewalk) and I said to Scott: “Who do you think owns these goats? What do they do with them?”
And then I took 5 more steps… and there were freshly chopped GOAT HEADS on a table, next to their bodies being BBQ’d.
It was a very direct “farm to table” food stand.
We stayed at Horn Ok Please hostel that’s camouflaged in a hectic alley way, with the only sign being giant letters spelling out “HOP” in yarn. But as soon as you enter the doors (and take off your shoes, you gotta take off your shoes) it’s like stepping into a serene, shabby-chic oasis.
As a hostel veteran, I didn’t know what to expect of a cheap hostel in India (I got bed bugs in Marseille, France) but this one was FAB. I felt like I could’ve been in Brooklyn or Berlin, but with DIY Indian Hipster decor.
It was so clean and well designed, there was delicious Indian-Western style breakfast and they even have a great blog with useful tips that made it easy to explore the neighborhood as soon as we checked in.
I thought the name “Horn Ok Please” might’ve been a clever translation gone wrong — but I later found out (while on the back of a motorcycle) that the phrase is painted on the back of buses and trucks all over India to “alert a driver of a vehicle approaching from behind to sound their horn in case they wish to overtake.”
This rule (and signage) was actually banned in 2015 to help prevent noise pollution, but I assure you, the practice is still alive and well. Drivers are still very vocal with their horns, especially the tuk-tuks. Makes for a fun ride.