mumbai, india: reflection
New York City in Mumbai! I first met Aashay when we were studying at University of Maryland. We then also interned together in New Jersey the same summer and then ended up overlapping and living in New York City for a bit. Aashay went back to India to start a family business the same time I left to go backpacking. I am so happy the timing worked out to see him in his city along my travels.
Aashay's spirit is a welcoming gatherer. He is always inclusively getting big, fun groups of amazing people together and Mumbai was no different. Upon our arrival, Aashay set us up in his family country club where he came as a kid. So cool to see where he grew up. We then went to his house for dinner, met his family and met/saw some of his friends that recently came back from New York.
I must say, this was the @best.meal.ever of this trip (since February, I mean). Aashay's mom cooked us Peni Puri- an Indian dish where hollow pillow-like balls are filled with spices, rice and vegetables. It is so fun to eat and the contrast of hot and cold, hard and soft all within one bite is sensational! So good and we had never had or heard this before! Aashay's mom was so sweet and kept feeding us her amazing home-cooked meal and chocolates. I felt so at home.
That night Aashay took us to see some of the main sights. It was so cool to see them with fewer people around and the glistening lights from the city glowing all about. From the south point port to the Gateway to India to the Taj Hotel, Ali and I were blown away by the beautiful architecture within this city. The skyline, stretching for miles and miles, and the river walk warms my heart with feelings and nostalgia of New York. I had been really missing the city lately so I was especially grateful to have a taste of home via the vibes and the people.
The rest of the week, Aashay and his friends and family hosted us brilliantly. At the end of the trip, Ali joked "what would Aashay do" to make sure we figure things out correctly... ha! Aashay and his friends are the most fun and came out with us every night despite work the next day. From rooftop drinks above the most gorgeous skyline with a saxophone playing behind to dinner at an Indian Chinese place to a night out exploring the scene in Mumbai, we had the best time being completely immersed in this group of friends!
Also...my friend Nikita from Unilever works in Mumbai. She got back into town on our last day so I got to see her out with everyone. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of traveling! I have met Nikita at Ottawa and Bangkok before so it was so amazing to add a 3rd country to our list so impromtu! So grateful for her friendship.
On our last day, Ali and I got to try the infamous Desi Keri mangoes. Aashay and his family started this organic mango business earlier this year and it was so incredibly cool to see the behind the scenes operation. Desi Keri works so closely with its farmers and community to ensure strong relationships and high quality. Not to mention this was the best mango I've ever had! I've used "best ever" a lot here but it is really true! So proud and happy for him and so fortunate to have seen the business in action.
Mumbai got me thinking about which environments I feel happiest in. Without a doubt, huge, bustling, international, diverse cities is where I feel happiest, most myself. Being in Mumbai, I could feel the New York in me coming alive. This makes me think about what makes certain people drawn to different experiences. For me, peace is chaos, many people, loud sounds, etc., whereas peace for others may be nature or something entirely different. The spectrum in variety of preferences is beautiful and provides a sense of balance in a way.
Also! Given that this was our 3rd city in India, it has been amazing to see the contrasting differences of each. Such happy feels from a few days with this amazing city and people.