Sometimes it’s hard to dig in a new place and experience all facets of it when it’s so strange to everything we know and completely overwhelming. If you don’t have a local friend who can show you the city it could be difficult to experience Mumbai throughout. We at Horn Ok Please Hostel are always there for you to share our tips and recommendations on the city but maybe for some of you that isn’t enough. So here are 5 things you can do to really see Mumbai from a locals’ eyes:
The Bandra Walking Tour, organised by Horn Ok Please Hostel
Bandra is a very unique neighbourhood and nothing like the rest of Mumbai. Its history goes more than 500 years back when the first Portuguese colonists arrived and did some serious missionary work around the area. You can still find many traces of this era: Bandra Fort, countless churches and chapels, numerous catholic bungalows from the 19th and early 20th century. But what makes it also unique are the people! The population is a wild mix of Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Parsis, Expats, Celebrities and Wanna-Bes, Fishermen, Fisherwomen, crazy Rickshaw Drivers, Night Club Managers, Café Owners, Chai Wallas etc. To best explore this exceptional part of the city you can come on a walking tour run by our two local friends Alex & Kaushik. Both are born and raised in Bandra and know the neighbourhood like the back of their hands.
Details: 9am or 08.30pm (whatever you like, it’s very flexible), 1.5-2h, RS 400 including morning or evening snack. We need to know one day ahead of the tour if you’d like to participate.
Clap Global – Travellers and Classrooms
Clap Global is an Indian organisation that enables international travellers to visit local classrooms and have eye-opening conversations with the students. You would basically take over an entire school lesson and talk about your country, culture, lifestyle, family, work etc. and answer the kids’ questions. In the same time you can find out more about the kids’ life and culture too. The idea of it is a win-win-situation: you can meet smart curious and keen local children and have lots of fun with them but also help the schools to raise a more understanding and compassionate generation.
Details: All you need to do is sign-up online and choose your date, check out the different schools and classes to select the one you like, make a small presentation with photos of your home and show up at the school! The best is to be in touch with them at least 4 to 5 days before you arrive to Mumbai.
Our Belgium volunteer Gwen after her Clap Talk with the students of the 4th grade at the Fazlani School in Mumbai.
Culturetable – A local meal with a local family
The guys from Culture Table believe that the best way for you to experience India’s rich culture and culinary tradition is to sit with a local family and share a meal with them. We absolutely agree and love the concept! They facilitate a visit at a Mumbai family’s home where you can enjoy that particular community’s cuisine. Enjoy an authentic, home-cooked wazwan with a Kashmiri family. Or experience the culture of Rajasthan as you gorge on Marwari cuisine with a Rajasthani family. Dig into some sumptuous fish from Goa. Sink your teeth into spicy Maharashtrian dishes as they regale you with stories spanning five centuries. And of course understand the science of eating with your hands as you slurp off yummy curries in a Tamil home.
Details: Vegetarian meals start from Rs 799 and non-vegetarians from Rs 1099 plus taxes (18%). The whole experience can last between 1 and 3hrs. They usually select places close to where you stay but it also depends on the availability of the families. Let us know 48hrs before in case you would like to enjoy this experience.
At Culturetable you can experience a typical Indian meal at a local family’s home and learn how to eat with your hands.
Reality Tours & Travel – Social responsible tours in Mumbai
Reality Tours and Travel is a responsible tour company dedicated to providing fun and authentic experiences, mostly famous for the Dharavi slum tours. Dharavi is one of Asia’s largest slums and the centre of small scale industry in Mumbai. The tour operator aims to educate visitors about the reality of slums in India – the productivity, the sense of community, the lack of appropriate facilities. This way, they hope, to break down negative stereotypes of slums AND support local communities: 80% of the profits of the tours support social development projects in Dharavi run by the associated NGO Reality Gives which focuses on high-quality education and extracurricular activities. It’s a wonderful way to understand the dynamics of the complex society structures in Mumbai as well as to get out of your comfort zone to tackle your own prejudice.
Details: Tours start from Rs 900 per Person. Dharavi Slum Tour starts at the Mahim Station Ticket Counter. That’s just one station down from Bandra station which is 5 mins walking distance from our Hostel. The tour lasts 2.5h. Book on their website and use the promo code HOP10 to get a 10% discount on the tours.
Swadesee – Be local, See local
Swadesee is an activities and experience aggregator offering insights to India’s culture by using local resources and information. The idea is to have locals show you their home and culture from their perspective and understanding. Example: a life-long resident of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the north of Mumbai who also happens to be a Buddhist shows you the ancient Kanheri caves and rock-cut monuments inside the park. They contain Buddhist sculptures and relief carvings, paintings and inscriptions, dating from the 1st century BCE to the 10th century CE. It also includes a visit to a tribal Warli settlement where you will see and learn about the traditional Warli art unique to Maharashtra and a short climb up to earn a panoramic view of the forest, the suburbs and the crocodile-filled Tulsi Lake.
Details: The 3 hours experience costs Rs 900 and happens early morning when the temperatures are low. It starts at the Ticket counter of the main gate at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali East, at 08:15am. Find out more here.
You’ll experience pure tranquility during the morning walk at the Kanheri Caves and Nationalpark.