While living in Mumbai for the past two months, we’ve been renting an apartment in the area called Bandra. Before arriving I knew it was supposed to be a nice area, due to the high rent we would be paying, and I had heard there was a large ex-pat community here, but that was all I knew. As soon as I began to get to know our neighborhood I couldn’t stop making comparisons to Brooklyn, our home in New York. Most people know that Brooklyn is fast acquiring a hip, organic reputation and Bandra is in the same spot as one of Mumbai’s cooler suburbs. Here’s some comparisons that jump out at me:
Bandra is north of downtown Mumbai and is generally thought of as a suburb of the city, even though it is well within the city limits, just like Brooklyn and Manhattan. Similarly to Brooklyn, many people commute form here to downtown, some using the new Sealink Bridge, which although not as classic as the Brooklyn Bridge, has sped up the drive into the city.
- Just like Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhal, and Julia Stiles in Brooklyn, lots of movie stars live in Bandra, owing to the many film studios that dot the area. The most famous may be Shahrukh Khan (check out that link to his IMDB page–the guy has made like four movies a year since 1992), who we had an almost-but-not-really brush with our first week here.
- Brooklyn has some excellent farmer’s markets; our favorite was the greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza every weekend. Bandra has a weekly farmer’s market as well, and to top it off, everything is organic.
Aside from produce, there are vendors selling flours and grains, as well as milk and yogurt (or curd as they call it here), which we became fast fans of.
Inside there are vendors selling baked goods and even organic pani puri! We ended up going every Sunday we were in town.
Brooklyn has a lovely promenade along the water in Brooklyn Heights. Bandra actually has two promenades along the water: the Bandstand and the Carter Road Promenade.
- Many of you are familiar with the Brooklyn style of restaurant or bar currently in vogue now: aged, shabby chic furniture, antique knickknacks as decoration, and “artisinal” food (see Vinegar Hill, Al di La, and Weather Up for prime examples). Bandra actually has very little good Indian food; Western food and style is where it’s at here (although most of the actual food is not that good, compared to what you can get in NYC).
They have some of the only healthy food in the city, serving up delicious salads, tofu and brown rice numbers, fresh-squeezed juices, and amazing yogurt with fruit, honey, and granola. Plus, they have awesome yoga classes that I attend around twice a week. Read more about them here in this excellent post by Follow My Recipe.
You know Celebrate Brooklyn? Well Bandra has Celebrate Bandra, I kid you not. Occurring in November, it consisted of various outdoor concerts, wine tasting, and a food festival, which we attended. The food actually wasn’t very exciting but they did have a rather hilarious band playing “classics” like “That’s Amoré” and “Day-O.” So maybe they’re a little behind in the music scene…but people love to dance, which is very un-Brooklyn, of course.
Brooklyn has some great shopping and Bandra does not disappoint in this category either. Some of my favorite stores include FabIndia, Anokhi, Cottons, The Shop, and Sanctum (this store could seriously fit right into Brooklyn, even the prices are high enough).
Plus, there are tons of outdoor stalls selling cheap shoes and clothes, as well as kitchen supplies and toys.
Of course, this is still India and the differences abound (traffic, garbage, and a billion people to name a few), but the similarities have helped ease my adjustment to the city immeasurably.