Flew Kingfisher airlines to Mumbai. A fantastic airline, not unlike the beer. Clean, comfortable, efficient. You get a meal, a drink, and….a pen. For a budget airline, they’re extremely good, and more comfortable than most big-name airlines I’ve flown with.
Befriended a guy on the plane, and we shared a taxi together into the heart of Mumbai. He got off halfway through in a posh area, and I continued my journey to Coloba, a major district in the south of Mumbai, teeming with history, colonial buildings, shops, restaurants and bars. I got out of the cab at Leopald’s cafe, a popular travellers haunt and was set upon immediately by a drunken tout, who kept mumbling some hotels name. I tried to shake him off, but he kept following me. I had no idea where to go, and eventually got talking to a friendly Swiss couple, and they walked me to Arthur Blundell Road, where a number of hotels were situated. I checked in at Maria Lodge, and felt for 500Rs a night I’d got a very fair deal. I headed out for a walk and saw a sweaty-looking chap with a huge backback, clearly lost. I returned the favour the Swiss couple had afforded me, and walked him to Maria Lodge. Turned out he was Scottish, 36, living in London, and named Lindsay. A nice, amiable chap. We hit it off straight away and went out for a coffee, then the first of many beers
It was getting on a bit – 8pm in fact, so we checked out all the bars and clubs in the area in the hope of finding a New Year party. We eventually decided on Red Light Club, where it was 2,000Rs in with free drinks all night. We hit Cafe Leopald first and had dinner washed down with 3 or 4 big beers. We drank until midnight, then walked to the Gateway to India to watch the ‘countdown’. Thousands of people were streaming towards the Gateway, and police with batons were busy using them to separate the crowd into a line of women and children, and a line of men to stop any monkey business. It became a stampede towards the Gateway, as people rushed to get there in time for…..well…..nothing really. A few tame fireworks, nobody really knew exactly when midnight came. Lindsay and I shook hands. Happy New Year 2008! Then, we went on to Red Light Club.
Red Light was a testosterone-fuelled centre of carnage. Far too many people were crammed in, and the dancefloor was heaving, quite literally. About 5 Indian women were there, and the rest were drunken Indian blokes Getting to the bar was bad enough, getting a drink near impossible. Random Indian blokes were being very helpful offering to get our drinks for us. We got talking to a group of locals who hated Mumbai, and the fact that it’s “10 guys to every girl.” Depressing stuff, I’m sure. They were in a band, and the guy talking to me kept singing Coldplay songs very badly.
At 3am we went to Leopalds, and got talking to many random travellers, talking a load of rubbish and making fools of ourselves. Great fun. Happy New Year!!