Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm Feeling Patriotic Today...

The happy couple
As a blogger, I think it is very important to keep up to date with the latest current affairs from around the world. Given this I do not feel my April entries would be complete without a mention of the Royal Wedding back home in the UK. To honor this tremendous occasion, I decided to hop on a horse and carriage (as no doubt Kate and Wills will) and have a comical cultural tour of Mumbai. Probably the opposite to the regal, elegant, Royal horse-drawn carriage, pulled through the streets of London by thorough bread stallions, Mumbai's carts are made from silver coloured tin and are embellished with chinsy beautiful plastic flowers, balloons and LED lights. The horses, well, I certainly think the RSPCA would have something say, but regardless, something you just have to do whilst in the city.
I will be watching the Royal Wedding and waving my Union Jack flag from the comfort of my sofa, as unsurprisingly ‘Royal Wedding Fever’ hasn’t hit India. Shame. Looking forward to it though! 

Do you think the Mumbai elite pop on
one of these on special occasions?
The Royal Horse and Carriage 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Need Any Overtime Ramesh???

Me, Chad and The Shapeshifters no less!!
(and in size order!!)
A ride in an un-air-conditioned, battered, black and yellow taxi never fails to disappoint and Saturday night was no exception. Being the good bosses we are, we rarely ask Ramesh, our driver to work evenings, so it was up to us to find our own way to the Blue Frog Club in Lower Parel. We tried for a good twenty minutes to flag down a Cool Cab outside our flat, God dammit, I even made my way over to the scene of my parking space protest to see if I could find the ginger henna haired Cool Cab driver, but there was no sign, we were forced to bite the bullet. I knew the journey was going to be uncomfortable as the driver looked around one-hundred and one years old and should have surrendered his licence years ago. He started the engine and off we went, it took us fifteen minutes to go two-hundred yards, for no other reason than that he was driving so slow! ‘Fata fat, Fata fat,’ (I’m not sure if this correct spelling but this is how it sounded) Paul kept on shouting from the back seat ‘What the hell does that mean?’ I asked, ‘Faster- Fata fat’ he replied. As I was slowly starting to melt in style of The Wicked Witch of the West, I had no choice but to join in ‘Fata fat, fata fat’, not one to be left out Paul’s friend Chad also joined in ‘Fata fat, fata fat’!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I’m Turning Up the Air- Con!

My electricity bill for March has just come through and I’m not gona lie it came as a bit of a shock! The grand total of the bill was… Wait for it… You'll never believe it... 149 Rupees! As in around £1.70…for a whole month of actual electricity! OMG!
British Gas, E-On, N Power and all the other electricity companies in the UK you should be ashamed of yourselves!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Name is Sophie and I’m an Alcoholic

I was too tipsy to take my own pics!
Next time!
After the eventful Friday night I hadn’t been feeling 100% over the weekend (maybe the level of hangover did warrant the 2k bill?) and didn’t fancy doing anything, but when Paul told me that Tulika had found an 'all you can drink (and eat)' Sunday brunch I was up and out of bed before you could say Jack Robinson! It was Ramesh’s day off so we had to take a dreaded unair-condiditoned black and yellow cab to the restaurant. It wasn’t a pleasant trip, Paul and I had a massive argument because I wanted the windows up as I’d curled my hair and he wanted them down as it was 45 degrees, I felt he was being unreasonable. In the end we compromised, I could have the windows up because I moved to India (works every time). We asked to be dropped off outside the gates of the racecourse because we are snobs because it was quicker to walk. Still not speaking to each other we entered the little haven that is Tote on the Turf; and walked through the air-conditioned conservatory entrance where we were shown to our seats. Here we both started smiling like Cheshire cats, argument? What argument? 
The buffet was fit for a king and catered for every living persons taste. First a selection of starters, dips, salads, soups and then the grills, steaks, jumbo prawns, corn, paneer, salami, chicken, kebabs, then made to order risotto, pastas, and pizza and then the egg stand (which I left as I thought it was out of place) and of course desserts. (I’m literally salavating writing this!!) The alcohol list was pretty extensive too but I didn’t need to look past Mojitos! ‘Mojitos all round’ was my sentence of the day, and a circle gesture with my finger was the movement, just to make sure the waiter understood. I certainly got my 2000 rupees worth, Paul counted 10 Mojitos, 10! I think that deserves some sort of award!  
We were the first to arrive and the last to be kicked out leave, a fantastic day!

Tote on the Turf, Race Course, Opp. Gate #5 & 6, Keshva Rao Khadye Marg, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai 400 034 Mahalakshmi, Bombay, Maharashtra - 022 61577777

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Of course it is!

Easy mistake to make
Yesterday I bought a beautiful bunch of twigs for the corner of the living room as I felt it 'needed something'. The following day I went in to my kitchen to find the cleaner wiping it across the floor! ‘What are you doing??” I bellowed!! Turns out it’s an Indian broom, not a decorative home accessory- my bad.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This was a busy night, I’m proud I remembered it!

The 'restaurant'
We had been arguing over the 1.2 lakh bill at Geoffrey’s Bar at the Marine Plaza Hotel for a good 30 minutes, surely 17 of us couldn’t have drank nearly 2000 pounds worth of alcohol? At least half of us were still standing?? After rudeness and even aggressiveness from the staff at Geoffrey’s, Paul’s boss decided to leave it for the night and reconvene the debate the following week. So the night wouldn’t be completely ruined, our local friends suggested going somewhere for a bite to eat, at a place that sounded like the word Bulimia, I refused point blank, I wasn’t going to a restaurant called Bulimia it was too ironic. But (and I think you’ll agree) there is nothing more satisfying than a kebab after a night of heavy drinking so I was eventually persuaded. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Couldn’t Make It Up!

Before the incident took place
My list of favorite words is growing at the rate of knots and my favorite word today is Powai. It’s the type of word I can imagine Voice Coaches or Yoga Instructors would get you to say because it really works all of the muscles in your mouth when you over exaggerate it, POOOWWAAIII- but I digress. Powai is about an hour away from where I live on Marine Drive but the travel is worth it if you fancy something different. As you reach Powai, on your right is a beautiful lake which I can imagine is not too dissimilar to the ones that can be found in Udaipur!  The centre of this town although small, has the most beautiful well maintained buildings I’ve seen recently, a few shops, is extremely clean and I didn’t see one beggar which is always a bonus in India. Although there seemed to be plenty of eateries including a Pizza Hut and KFC we opted to eat at the Renaissance Hotel, which over looks the lake, it was idyllic. After a very palatable, al fresco lunch we walked hand in hand through the lush green gardens and watched the locals wade up to their waists into the lake and fish with large nets. At that moment everything was perfect, I was blissfully happy and I hadn’t even had a drink.  I turned to Paul, kissed him and told him how lucky I felt to live in India, as I finished my sentence, out of nowhere a crow swooped down and pooed on my face! ON-MY-FACE! The good feeling went!
View from the hotels gardens- I'm pouting on this one

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pigeon Tree

None of these photos do Pigeon Tree justice
Paul looked at me very peculiarly the other day. Whilst everyone else was taking snaps of the Gateway of India, I was trying to get the 'Money Shot' of my own. I’ve been to see the Gateway of India quite a few times and don’t get me wrong it is quite spectacular; however what I find even more spectacular is the singular tree located near the road (opposite the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel) with about a gazillion Pigeons on it! I really think this should be a tourist attraction in its own right and I’m more than sure the entrepreneurial fellow who sells Pigeon feed underneath it would agree with me.  ‘The Indian version of Trafalgar Square but it’s a tree’... My slogan needs work, but I’m on to something! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 2- Malaria Watch!

Week 2: Malaria Watch! : My leg looks like a game of dot-to-dot! 
Not only extremely unattractive but they itch like hell!!

I'm a (Wo)man on a Mission...

My babies
Whilst I was perusing the shelves of Good Earth in Colaba for some pink candle holders for my bedroom, a young Indian girl walked in, about my age, she was wearing tight jeans, nude colored Christian Louboutin shoes and carrying a lilac Dior handbag. Now I’m all up for wearing a heel, but a Christian Louboutin? In the day? To go shopping in? On the dirty, partially missing streets of Mumbai??! I thought wow! This girl speaks my language, we could be friends! Although I’d finished looking for my pink candle holders a good five minutes earlier, I stayed in the shop and spied on observed my future BFF, to my delight she picked up the same cushion I had bought a few days previously, ‘another sign’ I thought. After a few minutes of stalking shopping I left and walked to meet Ramesh, the Louboutin adorned woman followed, I got into my car and she got into hers which was parked in front. ‘Where are you going Maaaam’ asked Ramesh, intrigued by this string of coincidences my mind said ‘follow that car’ but luckily my mouth said ‘Mad Over Donuts’.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Would Rather Have This Than Wine!... Well Maybe Not Wine

You can keep your Chicken Tikka, Garlic Naan, Paneer and anything else cooked in a spicy sauce, if you try one thing whilst you’re in Bombay (I’m a local now, I can call it that) it must be a 100% pure strawberry juice from Haji Ali Juice Centre. It sounds disgusting, I know, I didn’t want one either, but it’s not disgusting, it’s immense! I could hear my insides thanking me as I gulped it down, as it must have contained about a million of my five a day! You’ll never regret it! (Unless you don’t like Strawberry's or are allergic to them)

Haji Ali Juice Centre.  Lala Lajpathrai Marg, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This Sounds Like Something Out of a Mills&Boon Book!

Security first, respect for personal space second
Is it physically possible to smuggle drugs and other illegal objects underneath your skin? Well the Security Woman at the Oberoi Sandwich Shop certainly seems to think so!
Security in Mumbai is of the upmost importance and rightly so. When entering any restaurant, hotel or shop you are likely to be frisked, have your bags checked and go through some sort of detector, but when you’re wearing a tight skirt with your legs on show and a tight top with your arms on show, I think it’s clear to see you have nothing to hide.  As I put my bag through the X- ray machine a very petite, very unthreatening looking Security Lady took me behind the partition and started frisking me with a large electrical paddle. Normally it’s just a quick pat on your belt and near your pockets and away you go, but today was different; she slowly moved the paddle up and down both of my naked legs, all around my back, under my hair, down each arm, over my chest and around my middle. I’m not going to lie, I felt slightly abused, Paul even popped his head round to see what was taking so long, she quickly finished. The only conclusions I could come up with for this unusual behavior was A) I looked really dodgy B) She was very serious about her job and wanted to be thorough C) She was Lesbian.  I’m going with C.

For cheap thrills and delicious sandwiches visit the Oberoi Sandwich Shop- Oberoi Hotel, Sir Dorab Tata Rd , Nariman Point, Mumbai,  022 6632 5757

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Controversial yet Educational…

A door with 'that sign' over it
I don’t want to offend my Grandads or anything but when I first arrived in India I couldn’t help but notice the Swastika sign almost everywhere I went. I chose to ignore it until a few weeks ago when I went with Paul’s boss to go and collect her new car. Collecting a car in India is a big deal, the Honda Civic came out decorated with a flower necklace and Tulika was required to smash a coconut in front of it. She then got some powdered red paint and drew the Swastika on to the engine of the car. This was the final straw, ‘Tulika! ‘I said. 'Why have you just drew the Nazi sign on your car, I think it’s inappropriate, my Grandparents were in the war!’ Amused, she explained to me that the Germans had taken this sign, altered it and changed its meaning. It is actually a Hindu religious sign which means good luck! Feeling slightly more educated than I did a few moments earlier, I enjoyed the journey back with new found cultural awareness and the smell of new car in my nostrils. 
Blessing the car
The cars pretty necklace made of flowers 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Hanging Gardens aren’t ‘Hangin’ - result!

I look miserable but I wasn't
If the sun was shining like this at home today, I can bet my life that almost every living person in Walsall would be in the Arboretum soaking up the rays. Men would be sitting with a can of Stella with their tops off, flashing their tattoos, Women would be sipping on a WKD blue wearing the obligatory white linen trousers with a bit of thong showing out the top, whilst the kids play in their pants (because their mom forget their swing trunks/ costume) in the puddle of water swimming pool next to the climbing frame. Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of an Arboretum on my door step (shame), however I do have the Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill… sound so beautiful don’t they…?? and they actually are, for Mumbai. The gardens are split in to two, one side of the road has beautiful elevated views of the sea and various terraces where people take picnics and the another side, the best side in my opinion, has grassy areas, flowers and topiary!! In this case the carefully pruned bushes are shaped in to various safari animals that Edward Sissorhands himself would be proud of. I particularly enjoyed the elephant with a person growing out of it creation- Genius.
See what I mean- GENIUS

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just like Spring/ Autumn/ Winter Watch but not

Malaria is no laughing matter, especially when you haven’t taken any medication to prevent it. On Friday 8th May 2011 between the hours of 7.00pm and 1.30am the following day, I received my first ‘Indian’ bite from one of those pesky mosquitoes, so I am officially launching Malaria Watch! I think it is necessary!  

Week 1: Malaria Watch! : The bite is big and itchy. No fever but do have headache- I think this is from the bottle of wine I drank earlier though, not said bite. End. 

Join me weekly for the latest symptoms, irritations and pains in……Malaria Watch!

My leg looks more normal than this is real life. Promise.

I forgot I wrote this!

'Baby you're a Firework'- love that song!
Two weeks ago on Wednesday I woke up excited, I didn’t know what it was but I was excited. Mumbai seemed different, everyone was excited and there was definitely something in the air! Then I remembered why I was so excited… it was because I was going to Goa on that Friday for a long weekend! Yey! But that didn’t explain why everyone else was feeling the same? As the day went on the excitement was turning in to tension, there wasn’t the normal beeping of the car horns, screeching of breaks, the hundreds of people sitting on the wall gazing out to sea on Marine Drive and there was no Lift Man! In fact there was no one about, apart from me. I felt like that guy out of 28 Days Later when he walks down the street in London and there are no people- I’m not going to lie, for a moment there I was a little bit worried that everyone had turned into Zombies, but then Ramesh arrived and I knew humanity was safe. Ramesh and I were going to take advantage of this eerie situation by going on a drive, but not just any drive, a safe drive, a quiet drive, a drive where I didn’t have to fear for my life! Barely two seconds into our road trip we came to a set of traffic lights, I looked to my left and saw around 100 people gathered around something, at first I thought it was a fight or worse zombies feeding on a human body, but it wasn’t (phew) it was the local TV shop. ‘Have they got a sale on’ I asked Ramesh? ‘No, no madam, they are watching the cricket’ Ramesh replied. Of course, it all made sense the tension/excitement/ nervousness, the lack of people.  India and Pakistan were in the Cricket World Cup Semi Final! This was a big deal, a massive deal and a great opportunity to get my hair done! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

And on the seventh day…

Moi sipping champers on a Sunday
Sundays are known as a day of rest, and in my family growing up we used to ‘rest’ on a Sunday in the Great Barr Club. Whilst my cousins and I would be enjoying jumping on the stage, getting up to mischief and trying to sneak a sip of Dads Carling Black Label, our Parents and Grandparents would be getting quietly squiffy on cheap alcohol (80p for a glass of Jacobs Creek back in those days!).
As an ode to my family and nothing at all to do with my need for an alcoholic drink almost daily (I’m joking) I have tried to revive this tradition here in Mumbai; and with my other half have been checking out various establishments suitable for Sunday cheer. After weeks of pain staking research I have discovered that the three best places (in my humble opinion) to do this are Dome, Aer and Casa du Sophie and Paul aka our terrace. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Welcome Dotty

Where the magic happens
It turns out that it is very difficult to arrange a Master Chef style cook off in Mumbai, in fact it has been very hard to locate a cook in Mumbai full stop. But luckily for us we stumbled across, errrrr, I’ll call her Doris (as her name is very Indian and long and i'm still learning it and theres no way on earth I can spell it!) Doris has now been with us two days and has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, her culinary skills are second to none! So far we have had a chicken curry thing and a chicken pasta thing, it may not sound like much but they were both amazing! Tonight we are having a fish thing! Welcome to the fold Doris!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I never liked Anna Ryder Richardson

This is only on here because I think I look nice
When I was younger I always wanted to be on Changing Rooms (well that was until Lucy Lawlor told me in GCSE French that her friends, brothers, teachers, cousins, auntie, doctors, wife's, best friend had been on it and the MDF wardrobe Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen had made broke, fell on their cat and killed it.)
My favorite part of the show was the before and afters at the end, I reckon if it was on TV now, I would sky plus it and just watch that bit.
Anyways, from all the knowledge I have gathered from TV shows of that ilk over the years, I have been engaging in a bit of interior design myself and would like to show you some before and afters of our new abode… Do hope you like…..

Living room before
Living room before 
Living room after
Living room after
Bedroom before
Bedroom before
Bedroom after
Bedroom after
Bedroom after


All those years of passive smoking in the UK have not been in vain. Today the smog is very bad and I know if I had virgin lungs they would struggle to cope. I can’t even see the end of the bay from the roof terrace! But what do you expect from a city of 22 million people (the same population as the WHOLE of Australia I’ll have you know!) and one of the fastest emerging economies in the world? Those face masks that Chinese people wear to protect themselves from Sars are looking very appealing.
Smog view from terrace
Normal view from terrace

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jolly Good Show Fellas...

On Saturday, probably the most important event in Indian history bar their independence from the British in 1947 (I'm not over exaggerating), took place about 4 buildings down from our house on Marine Drive. The cricket world cup final 2011 India vs. Sri-Lanka! Sensibly (I thought) or Stupidly (Paul thought) we decided to go away on holiday this particular weekend, and guess what?? They won! This is what we missed…..
I think we were better off out of it… Paul’s not speaking to me

Monday, April 4, 2011

Back to Reality

After a lovely, relaxing, fresh air filled, weekend break in Goa we arrived back into Mumbai Chattrapathi Shivaji International airport with a bump (unsurprisingly). After a ridiculously long wait for our luggage we exited the arrivals doors to that oh so distinctive scent of Mumbai- urine. It’s great to be back.