Saturday, January 20, 2007

moroccan rooftops and airport goodbyes

The night after Guru, I met up with a friend I haven't seen in a while and headed to Bandra. For those of you not from these parts Bandra is where everything exciting seems to happen. It is the place where the restaurants, clubs and excitement of Mumbai all come together along with fabulous shopping, and streets that are alive with people and traffic, and wealth and the star's fancy houses to blow your mind. It's party central.... basically! About 45 minutes from my apartment on a busy night .... but less when things aren't crazy.... it's where we go for good food and fun. I'm happy to say I am really starting to get used to the late eating hours (10pm or so.... still need an early snack... but it's getting easier).

Anyhoo... we headed to a place I hadn't been too.... a very cool Moroccan style restaurant that was on top of the Shoppers Stop building in Bandra. Shoppers Stop is a fancy department store along the lines of Macys ... and this one is 6 storeys high. The lift was one of those bubble window ones you can look out onto the street chaos... much more fun with lots to see in India! I had no idea the restaurant (called Sheesha which means glass in Hindi) was going to be as gorgeous and exotic as it was. It was the whole rooftop... outdoors with dark and low tables/couches.... hookahs, and dim lighting to make it feel very exclusive and wonderful. We were led to a skinny metal spiral staircase up to a 2nd level of roof that had an even more spectacular view over the city... and were given such a show over dinner. Fireworks! Now I will see or hear them from my bedroom almost every night... but to have them like this from a rooftop restaurant felt like a personal display. I saw trains running by in the darkness and the little autos speeding around and all the activity far below felt like such a magical thing to watch. Definitely have to go back there! The food was not quite authentic Moroccan... more Indian kebab style.... but very tasty and enjoyable for sure.

Afterwards we headed down one floor to the nighclub - Seven. It was nearly empty at that point - still only about 10pm. But it had a great view with one wall of smoky glass looking across the cityscape. Ah.... does it get better than this? We had a tall table and drinks.... and waited for the place to fill up and get crazy. Amazingly we could leave our stuff on the table safely while we danced to the great eclectic mix of modern and bollywood music. I can't imagine ever feeling safe about leaving my bag alone at a club in LA... perhaps there are places but it seems unlikely. Here it is just fine.

The Sunday was a lazy day at home.. a very nice one. At 5pm I headed out to the airport to meet Arun as he flew back to LA. He was inbetween his flight from Coimbatore and the US.... so I met him at the International Terminal and we found a way for him to store his bags at the Left Luggage (quite a hike) and then we got an auto to the JW Marriott for one last fancy bash to send him off. It was so good to see him. My partner in crime :) We had a lot of catching up to do. Talked and talked and laughed. We got an Indian meal at the Marriott's Indian restaurant... very fancy. I had a mango lassi unlike any I've had before... made freshly and pretty freaking good! The meal was great... Arun had his favourite biryani and we got jumbo prawns that were the size of small lobsters! hehehe. Decadent.... we are so spoilt in this life. Dhanya-waadh (and I keep copying the hinglish spelling from websites that tell me things incorrectly... so to any of my Indian buddies... correct me if this is wrong... it looks wrong to me!)

Saying goodbye *again* to the guy was just as painful.... this time I knew he wasn't even going to be in the same continent dammit (does that mean he's now 'incontinent'?? hahaha) so.... I gulped back the lump in my throat and wandered away into the warm night air. It was after 10pm and I thought I could flag down an auto that had dropped someone off but no luck. It's a long and roundabout way to the lineup of autos near the Left Luggage and they certainly were different to me without Arun around. I realise now my mistake was, after telling the large group of them where I wanted to go and following one... that I climbed into the auto without knowing I had to negotiate a fare first. Suddenly the auto is surrounded by men all finding this pretty funny and saying 120 rupees for a journey that I paid 55 for earlier in busier traffic. Hmm.... I was a little blank at this point on how to proceed. I was very relaxed and joking around, but repeatedly demanding he turn the meter on which he wouldn't do - something about being in the line at the airport and a charge they pay.... Something clicked and I realised I better have my wits about me.... so I got serious and a little aggressive and also thought 'screw it, the money is very little for me and who cares if I get ripped off by a $1... it's better to just get going and leave the situation'..... so I got him to 100 rupees and we left. Just afterwards he turned the meter on in case a cop saw, as it's illegal for them to set a fee up front and not use the meter ... hmmph.... and sure enough.... the fare would have only been about 50 rupees. I wonder what kind of extra fee they pay for starting from the airport? Damn, I gotta learn more Hindi! ;)

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