Mumbai on a Budget

One of the first things a young migrant to Mumbai would notice is the sheer mind-numbing variety of entertainment options it seems to offer. There’s pubs, restaurants, café’s and a general sense of freedom that may be unique to the city. But a fairly quick realisation sets in that most of these things cost money, and if there’s one thing the newly-moved youngster never seems to have enough of, it is money. After all, once the landlord is paid, and the bills taken care of, and the remittance sent back home, there’s very little left to spend on yourself. And if you’re a college student, well that’s even worse, because then you have to make a little pocket money go a long way.

So here’s one lifelong Mumbaikar’s attempt to tell you just a few of the things you can do and manage to have a good time in the city without busting your wallet.

Go to Marine Drive

Just…go. Catch a train to VT or Churchgate (costs hardly anything) and walk. Do it on a Sunday morning if the weather’s good, or late evening when it’s warm. Find a place to sit and stare out at the sea. Feel the breeze come in. It’s the same sea that laps at the shores of every coast in the world. When you’re sitting at that sea-front, you’re sharing an experience that the heiress in Greece, the beach bum in San Diego and the fitness model in Miami are – the feel of the salt-kissed spray upon your face.

Take a walk around Shivaji Park

There’s always something about the Park. Maybe it’s the hearty laughter of the pensioners joking about their glory days. Maybe it’s the cackles of the old ladies talking about how stupid their daughters-in-law are. Or maybe it’s the energy of the youngsters – the walkers, the runners, the cricketers. Shivaji Park is not just the cradle of Mumbai cricket, it’s the heart of Mumbai, one of the last places where the “middle class Maharashtrian’ may be glimpsed.

Have a meal at Aaswad

Yes, the same chaps who won the ‘best dish’ aware for their missal. Aaswad sits a stone’s throw away from Shivaji Park, and once you’re done waiting in line with some of the same pensioners and old ladies you heard at the Park, you’ll enter into a small, unpretentious place that nonetheless serves ‘proper’ Maharashtrian food. Forget the bicarbonate-laced wada pav you may have had in the western suburbs or the poor excuse for missal you were served in your office or college canteen. Here is where you’ll get food the way it’s meant to be.

Take a walk at Bandstand

Bandra is the reason Mumbai has its nightlife reputation. Pubs, restaurant and pretentious café’s abound, and even street food here costs double what it would anywhere else. But the sea-face here is almost worth it. Do not spend a bomb if you don’t want to. Take a walk all the way to Carter Road, where there’s a lovely Bollywood-themed promenade.

Visit the national park

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Sprawling acres of forestland located just off the Western Express highway, the SGNP is reasonably-priced to enter and a haven for nature lovers. Full of walking-trails (much preferable to the so-called safari), the park also has the Kanheri caves, a lovely medieval series of sculptures.

So that’s five things to do to have a great time without having to file for insolvency! Now go, enjoy!

Article by Kunal