A Final Few Days in Bombay and a Special Note on the Road Ahead

Mumbai 2 - Architecture on Muhammed Ali Rd

The ever-present black-and-yellow taxis framed by the Victorian architecture along the busy Mahatma Ghandi Rd

After nearly a month of touring around Northern and Central India, my time in the country has finally come to an end.  I’ve passed through majestic mountain-top forts, narrowly survived the chaotic flow of traffic from my vantage point inside a speeding tuk-tuk, marveled at the vast array of colors and aromas that characterize the marketplaces, navigated the winding and dusty back alleys of old and historic cities, and eaten at every delicious street food stall that I could find.  My final stop, however, seems a world apart from everything else I’ve seen and experienced in this vast country: that of the modern metropolis of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay).

The sidewalks of the city are filled with posh locals and expats alike sporting the newest fashions, brief snippets of dance music reach the streets from the many clubs and discos that seem to pop up on every corner, signboards advertise both fancy international restaurants and fast food chains alike, and an entirely different energy permeates the consciousness of city (not to mention the fact that it is 2-3 times as expensive as anywhere else in the country).  The traditional hallmarks of any India city are still present here — the juxtaposition of enormous wealth butting up against devastating poverty, the general hustle of bustle of the crowds at nearly any time of day, street vendors and chai wallahs perched on stools on the sidewalks, and thousands of smiling eyes and head waggles greeting you are you pass by — but yet Mumbai is a unique city, apart from the remainder of India.  It has openly welcomed the modernization of the world’s great cities, has fully accepted globalization, and has allowed itself to be shaped by the many varying influences of the world at large.  It is distinctly its own, yet still very Indian – a contrast that seems difficult to grasp until you actually set foot here.

My time in Mumbai was all too brief — only a few days — but I did manage to wander the city a bit and see a few of the major sights:

The crowded streets of the Colaba district of town

The crowded streets of the Colaba district of town

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (known as the CST) is one of the most distinct structures in Mumbai, combining Gothic, Victorian, Hindu, and Islamic architectural styles into one imposing building (which, incidentally, is now the busiest train station in Asia)

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (known as the CST) is one of the most distinct structures in Mumbai, combining Gothic, Victorian, Hindu, and Islamic architectural styles into one imposing building (which, incidentally, is now used as one of the busiest train stations in Asia)

Cricket matches being held in the Oval Maiden, a massive park in the center of the city that is flanked by a variety of stunning Victorian buildings

Cricket matches being held in the Oval Maiden, a massive park in the center of the city that is flanked by a variety of stunning Victorian buildings

The Gateway of India, at the India, which overlooks the Mumbai Harbor near the very southern peak of the city's peninsula

The Gateway of India, which overlooks the Mumbai Harbor near the very southern peak of the city’s peninsula

The famous façade of the Taj Mahal Palace (now a fancy-pants hotel)

The famous façade of the Taj Mahal Palace (actually a fancy-pants hotel, not a palace)

Fans of Gregory David Robert's sprawling novel Shantaram will quickly recognize Leopold's Café, a common setting throughout the novel

Fans of Gregory David Robert’s sprawling masterpiece Shantaram will quickly recognize Leopold’s Café, a common setting throughout the novel

The Rajabai Clocktower rising in the background

The Rajabai Clocktower rising in the background

Oval Maiden 6 - Cricket Game

One of the most unusual and striking sights in the city of Mumbai is that of the Haji Ali Mosque — housing the tomb of the Muslim Saint Haji — which is built atop a small island set out in the water to the West of the city.  A long causeway bridge allows access to the Mosque, but only during low tide, as the high tide will completely cover the causeway, leaving the Mosque to seemingly drift away on its own isolated island.  Further, it has become a common tradition for pilgrims coming to visit the mosque to donate money to the many beggars who line the path over the water.

The Haji Ali Mosque as seen from the shore

The Haji Ali Mosque as seen from the shore

The path out to the Mosque is lined with a variety of food vendors, souvenir shops, and beggars (to which many donate as a normal part of their visit to the Mosque)

The path out to the Mosque is lined with a variety of food vendors, souvenir shops, and beggars (to which many donate as a normal part of their visit to the Mosque)

The entrance to the Haji Ali Mosque

The entrance to the Haji Ali Mosque

Haji Ali Mosque 9

Exposed rocks along the backside of the Mosque, where many people congregate to chat, play, or simply enjoy the view back towards the city

Haji Ali Mosque 3

My favorite part of the city, however — and a great place to sit back, relax, and watch the world ease by — is that of the waterfront along the Western coast of the city’s peninsula known as Marine Drive.  A large “see-and-be-seen” pedestrian promenade flanks the busy street, which is in turn lined with a variety of hotels, condos, shops, and restaurants, all of which culminates in the Chowpatty Beach (technically Girguam Chowpatty, and incidentally, a great spot for street food) to the North.  This is the perfect place to take an evening stroll, watching the sun slowly set in sea of pastel colors:

Marine Drive 11 - Palm Trees

Marine Drive 3

A dock jutting out from Chowpatty Beach

A dock jutting out from Chowpatty Beach at the Northern edge of Marine Drive

Marine Drive 13 - Hanging on the Beach

Marine Drive 8 - Palm Trees

Chowpatty Beach 3

Marine Drive 15 - Waves

SPECIAL NOTE — Thoughts About the Future of my Journey:

Mumbai marks the end of this leg of my journey — which, if you’ve been following along, is far earlier than I had first anticipated.  Originally, I had intended to spent another month touring the Southern and Eastern regions of India before making my way into both Sri Lanka and Nepal.  But, as often happens, my actual path didn’t follow the pre-arranged plan; but then again, such is life.

The reason for my early departure is that I’ve basically hit a wall with my travels — in the sense that I’m not enjoying the journey as much as I feel I should be and no longer have the same spark that originally set this journey in motion in the first place.  I’ve written about my struggles with travel burnout several times in the past (most notably in my 3rd Life on the Road post) — previously I was able to keep it at bay by simply staying in one place for a few weeks, falling into a routine, and letting my batteries recharge — but this instance was a little different, and I knew that it wasn’t something that could easily be cured.  (As a side note, my decision to return home has nothing to do with India itself — it just happened by chance to be the last country I was in before the burnout became unbearable).

With this in mind, I’m currently wrestling with the decision of whether to continue my journey exploring the far corners of the world or to call it quits and settle back into a semi-normal, stable life (if I’m even capable of that anymore).  On the one hand, I still have a passion for travel, I love delving into new cultures, I get untold pleasure out of setting foot in a new country for the first time, and I’m obviously driven to sample every bit of food I can find in every faraway land.  Additionally, I’m lucky enough to have the means to travel, the necessary resources to travel, and the time — a few years carved out of my life — in which to travel; meaning, I feel as though I should take advantage of these gifts while I have them.  Since life has a funny habit of getting in the way of our plans from time to time, I don’t know when (or if) I’ll ever find myself in these same circumstances again.  On the other hand, however, after spending most of the last 20 months on the road, and having passed through close to 40 countries on 4 different continents in that time, I’m in desperate need of a long break from the trials and tribulations of a life spent traveling.  I may have pushed myself too far and done too much in that time — cramming in too many new countries and cultures all at once — but ultimately, my fear is that if I continue to push myself, I may lose my passion for travel altogether and that moving from place to place will seem more like a chore than a blessing.

Like all major decisions in life, I know this isn’t something I can settle on overnight.  So in the meantime, I’m headed back to the United States to lay low and relax for a few months, allowing my mind to rest and giving me time to reevaluate my priorities and goals.  Honestly, I know in my heart that I’m ultimately not done traveling — that this will most likely end up as a temporary break from my free-spirited life on the road — as traveling is still my passion and there are still many more countries and cultures left in the world that I haven’t yet explored, but I do need some time to collect my thoughts before making any final decisions.  This is the type of obstacle that I would have never anticipated before my initial departure, but one that I must overcome nonetheless.

I know this post is a little out of character for my usual offerings, but I thought I’d at least let everyone know what’s going on with my trip, where I’m at mentally, and why there likely won’t be any posts up for a while (also, why the last few posts have been so infrequent).  So for the time being, I’d like to thank everyone for their interest and support over the last two years — I couldn’t have accomplished what I’ve already accomplished without it — and hopefully I’ll be back up and running soon!

Sincerely,

Andrew Amiet

(aka Temporarily Lost)

Marine Drive 21 - Sunset

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About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

37 Responses to “A Final Few Days in Bombay and a Special Note on the Road Ahead”

  1. Will you change name to temporarily found?

  2. I’ve really enjoyed reading about the different places and adventures you’ve been on. I also thought it was good to hear your current thoughts. I’m sure those reading this blog because they like world travel can relate, and I’m sure those considering a trip like yours appreciate knowing these crossroads happen. I’m looking forward to reading more entries when you’re good and ready to hit the road again.

    • Thanks, dude, for understanding. Hitting a point like this in my travels certainly wasn’t expected — and experiences like this will differ for every traveler — but it is all part of the greater journey. We come, we see, we encounter obstacles, we overcome them, we move on, and then we repeat.

  3. Perhaps part of what made it exciting was the freshness of the newness of the experience…but then the new became a bit similar? Perhaps the next phase of any travel will have another purpose…like service or education ,….something you bring to them and live among people for a while?

    • You pretty much hit the nail on the head, and are running parallel with my own line of thinking. The novelty of “newness” is gone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something else to be gained. If I do choose to re-shoulder my pack and hit the road again, it will very likely be in a totally different manner — i.e. not simply galavanting around, but actually committed to a cause or diving deeper into a particular culture than I have done already.

      • I have had the idea of wishing to learn a particular language and then only travel around countries with that language (for example South America for Spanish or former USSR for Russian), with the goal of mastering a new language.

  4. Rest up and get well soon.
    Marty

  5. Temporarily Lost I truly hope you find your way – Good Luck:)

  6. those photos show a different angle to india that i have not seen through other blogs or photos. It actually looked appealing to visit. great post. laying low in the USA is not considered to be not traveling, it will just be a more relaxed form than you have been use to .

    • You make a great point — going back home doesn’t mean I won’t still be traveling, just that the landscape, pace, and style of exploration will all be slightly different. After all, life is ultimately one long journey in which we are constantly discovering new things — and learning more about ourselves — along the way.

  7. I’ve never really had a real job, if that makes you feel any better.

    I work about 9 months per year in the tourism industry and travel the other part. Good luck with your adjustment into the next phase of your life.

    Mumbai is a cool city. Thanks for the photos – it brought me back.

  8. “It is distinctly its own, yet still very Indian – a contrast that seems difficult to grasp until you actually set foot here.” – what a great and beautiful description of Mumbai 🙂 Possibly my favorite city in the world, and it is especially great to visit when you are starting to feel burnt out from traveling…there is something familiar about it that is welcoming, even if you haven’t been before (maybe it’s just the availability of good Western food).

    • It was a breath of fresh air to reach Mumbai, as just like you mentioned, there is a comforting aspect to it, that may be affected by the increased Westernization, but may just be the unique character of the city. It is definitely a place that I’d like to return to some day! And thanks again for reading!

  9. Oh Andrew. You have followed your heart and taken that leap of faith when most of us are still in dream mode 🙂 you ought to be so proud of yourself regardless. The time you have spent wandering the many cities has given you a richer experience of life outside the drudgery of the “normal”. Your journeys may have taken a temporary rest. It doesnt mean it won’t evolve into something else from hereon. The life we have is only one and sometimes too short to be savoured fully. You have seized the moment(s) well and I am sure your next step will be one filled with equal zest and passion!!! All the best to you. Dont give the blog up though because its always wonderful to read about your life’s adventures.

    • Oops. Spotted some typos. …the pain of typing the comments on the small keyboard of a mobile!!!

    • Steph, thank you so much for the kind words. I’ve loved having you along for the ride (as well as me following along with your adventures, too 🙂 ), so it certainly means a lot. None of us ever know what the future holds for us, but you’re definitely right: even if the pace, style, or setting of our lives change, so long as we continue to seize each moment and pursue our passions, it will be a life well lived. Thanks again!

  10. Andrew, congratulations for making it this far through so many long trips, it takes an incredible amount of energy and commitment to achieve what you’ve done!

    From the sounds of it you’re ready for something different. Have you ever considered living abroad? Say relocating to Taipei or some other Asian city for work? That way you’ll still get the “newness” of adapting to a different culture, but you’ll also have a sense of being settled (or normalcy). Plus you’ll be well within reach of lots of great travel destinations.

    Another possible direction would be to spend some time exploring the places closer to home – the Lower 48, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada & Mexico to name just a few. Although some of these places may be in your backyard, it’s always going to be unique/different/exotic for many readers out there. 🙂

    • I love your idea of living in a foreign country (or at least staying significantly longer than I have been), and it is the same line of thinking that I’m going through if I should hit the road again in the next few months. It is nice to see a large number of countries in a short period of time, but it is hard to really dive deeper than a brief, superficial level with nothing more than a few weeks in a country. Thanks again for the kind words, James, and I’m looking forward to reading about the rest of your time spent in Taiwan!

  11. I will miss your wonderful descriptions of the sights, sounds, and, of course, the food. Take a well-deserved rest and savor the memories you have and the friends you have made. You have done what many of us only dream about doing.

    • Thank you very much for the kind words, and thanks for following along for so long! Hopefully our paths will cross again soon now that I’m back in Ohio for a while!

  12. These are very open, honest and personal words, something which is rarely found on travel blogs where everybody thinks they need to show off with yet more countries travelled and the photos to prove it.
    But first and foremost, it should be enjoyable. Nothing should be done for the sake of doing it.
    I have not yet had this travel burnout, maybe because I haven’t see as much of the world as you have, maybe because I travel very slowly. I move to a different country every 6 of 12 months and then explore the surrounding countries (like Eastern Europe at the moment from my base in Lithuania). This way I have a home, I have some routine due to my freelance work, I feel settled, but it’s still in a different country which gives me the feeling of being on a long holiday.
    I have sometimes pondered what I would do if I didn’t enjoy travelling anymore. Luckily, I have a second passion, which is actually even stronger than travelling: reading. I know I would be happy staying in one place for a longer time if I just had enough books. Depending on the type of books, it could be another way to explore the world, either reading more about the countries that you have already been to, or reading about places that you have not yet seen.
    And one day you will probably read or hear about a place and it will spark your interest again. I am currently reading “A Time of Gifts” by Patrick Leigh Fermor for example. In 1933, as an 18-year old he set out to walk through Europe, from Holland to Istanbul. When I read this, this brings up the idea of going on a long walk, a slower form of travel, less planned, with enough time to stay at places and to get to know people.

    • I totally agree. As mentioned in a few comments above, I think my future travels will be more geared toward longer stays in any given place as opposed to quickly moving around. And, like you, I also share a passion for reading, and checked out about 20 books from my local library as soon as I got home — so now I’ve got a fun couple of weeks of diving into the world of words to look forward to. And thanks for the recommendation about “A Time of Gifts,” it sounds like it is right up my alley!

  13. With an open and exploring mind, there are many interesting things to be discovered at home as well. I believe you are from Ohio, where I have never been. But if I had to spend some time there, I would go to the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, hike around Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Wayne National Forest, spend some time on the islands in Lake Erie, go to Holmes County to learn about the Amish. And those are just a few ideas for one state. But you got plenty more states around, plus Canada.
    I find that time spent at home can be made truly interesting if one seeks out places that one has never been to (I don’t know if you have ever been on an Indian reservation) or people that one would not normally encounter (go to a homeless shelter or meet a group of refugees from Somalia). I also found it quite revealing to read a guidebook or the Wikitravel page about my home area. There were many things I had never heard about.

    • I like how you’ve done some research on the great state of Ohio! The Wayne Forest area is one of my usual stomping grounds when the winter weather finally clears out, the US Airforce museum is amazing for any military and aerospace fans (although I haven’t been to visit for a decade or so), and Lake Erie is always great if you can find a friend with a boat to take you out. And I find it funny that you mention the Amish, as well, as most of my family lives in and around Holmes Country, and are subsequently quite familiar with the Amish culture. Thanks again for some great suggestions — and I’ll likely head back to a few of these areas with my camera soon, so hopefully I’ll get a post up featuring “my home” for those curious souls out there.

  14. Andrew, it’s been wonderful following your journeys through Southeast Asia (I used some of your notes for my own culinary adventure in Laos), East Africa, East Asia, and India. You covered some of the most interesting places that I’ve never heard of before. It’s a good thing that you decided to come home because you follow your heart, not something else. Life is about changing and adapting to new things. You might feel that at the moment traveling is not what you need. But anytime that wanderlust kicks in and you’re thinking of going to Indonesia, drop me a message! 🙂 Good luck!

    • You’ll be the first one I contact if (actually, when) I finally make it to Indonesia. Thanks again for following along for such a long time, thanks for the kind words, and I’m looking forward to reading more about your time in Taiwan!

  15. Hi Andrew, rest well and hope u will be travelling soon! Loving all the articles! Maureen (the girl u met in Korea)

    • Thanks, Maureen! I appreciate the message, and I hope you’re still eating your way through Singapore. It was great meeting you, and hopefully we’ll be able to meet up again in the future over a plate of something tasty at a Hawker Center!

  16. I only got to see Mumbai at night (quick glimpse of Leopolds) as we were leaving on the train to Goa, but reading this post has reminded me once again why I want to go back there for at least a week! Thank you!

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