MUMBAI TRAVEL GUIDE - TRANSPORTATION
Trains are easier to deal with than buses, but if you're going to be in town for a while, it's worth the (Herculean) effort required to come to terms with the city's chaotic bus system. For a complete guide to stops and routes, pick up a city bus map (Rs20) from the bus terminal office on Colaba Causeway (open Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm). Try to learn the Marathi numerals so that you can recognize the bus as it approaches (the Roman numeral and English destination are only written on the side - often visible too late to allow you to clamber on board before the bus roars off again). Red numbers indicate "limited" services,which supposedly stop less frequently and cost marginally less. No fare within the city should exceed Rs3, limited or otherwise.
Mumbai's commuter rail system runs along two lines. Western Railways runs one line form Churchgate through Mumbai Central, Mahalaxmi, Dadar, Bandra, and a dozen other stations before and beyond. The Central Railways line runs to and from VT (check the final destination; be sure you're on the right line) and tends to be of less use to the tourist. Most trains out of VT stop at Dadar, where you can cross the platform and change onto a Western train. One-way tickets (2nd class Rs3 - 10, 1st class Rs8 - 32) are sold at windows in each station. When boarding a train, check the illuminated display - the first letter code is the first letter of the final destination, the second code is the time, and the "F" or "S" indicates whether the train is (relatively) fast or (especially) slow. Fast trains skip the stations whose names that are lit up brightly are the places it does not go. There are special, less crowded cars exclusively for women on all trains.
Taxis rule in Mumbai, since auto-rickshaws aren't allowed in the downtown area and public transport is so crowded. Set the meter and go - this shouldn't be too much of a struggle unless it's very late or the weather's very bad. You pay roughly Rs16 per km - for the precise figure, consult the chart that the driver should carry.
Auto-rickshaws only roam the suburbs; you pay about seven times the meter.
The city of Mumbai reaches into the Arabian Sea like a cupped hand, the fingers and thumb forming a backward letter "c" off the Western coast of India. For purposes of orientation, it is more important to familiarize yourself with the names of the city's different areas than specific street addresses, as most locals (and taxi drivers) navigate and give directions according to the names of neighborhoods. and well-known landmarks. At the fingertip of Colaba, toward the southern end of the city, is the tourist ghetto. The area's main thoroughfare, Colaba Causeway (also known as SBS Marg), is where you'll find most of the budget accommodations and lost-looking backpackers. The Causeway ends in the north at a huge, circular intersection universally known as Regal because of the movie theater that presides over it. Directly west of Regal, jutting into the bay, are Cuffe Parade, an elite residential area, and Nariman Point, Mumbai's most prestigious corporate address, housing the offices of many international banks, airlines and a few consulates. North of Regal, past the Prince of Wales Museum, stretches Fort, Mumbai's oldest neighborhood and its main financial district. Banks cluster near its most prominent landmark, Flora Fountain (Hutatma Chowk).
West of Fort and north of Nariman Point is the Churchgate neighborhood, where you'll find the Churchgate railway station and several trendy restaurants. Marine Drive (Nataji Subhash Rd.) runs along the western edge of the city, curving from Nariman Point in the south to Churchgate in the north, and farther still to Chowpatty Beach. North of Chowpatty are the upmarket Malabar Hill community and the northern suburbs.
CROSSWORD BOOKSTORE, Mahalaxmi Chambers, 1st fl., 22 Bhulabhai Desai Rd., Breach Candy.
Look up for the yellow sign in the window.
Open: Monday - Friday 10am - 8pm, Saturday - Sunday 10am - 9pm.
Tel: 24 - 92 - 48 - 82
THE STRAND BOOK STALL, Sir PM Rd., Fort. Just above Horniman Cir.
Favorite of the Mumbai intelligentsia, the Strand's crowded collection is hand-picked. Search carefully for discounts.
Open: Monday - Saturday 10am - 7pm.
Tel: 22 - 66 - 19 - 94
NALANDA, Taj Mahal Hotel, 1st fl.
A fine selection of fiction, travel, and ethnographic literature.
Open: daily 8am - midnight.
Tel: 22 -02 - 25 - 14
M PHULE MARKET, north end of Dr. DN Rd.
Universally known as Crawford Market. Anything from kitchen supplies and vegetables to puppies and European chocolates.
Open: Monday - Saturday 6am - 6pm.
EMERGENCY AND COMMUNICATIONS
PHARMACY: New Bombay Chemists, Churchgate.
Opposite the cinema and next to the hospital.
Open: daily 8am - 11pm.
Tel: 22 - 00 - 11 - 73
REAL CHEMIST, 50/51 Kaka Arcade.
Open: 24 hours.
Tel: 22 - 00 - 24 - 97
HOSPITAL: BREACH CANDY HOSPITAL, 60 Warden Rd., Breach Candy.
Just past the American Consulate and the Breach Candy Swimming Club, Not near Colaba, but one of the most modern hospitals in Mumbai and accustomed to dealing with foreigners.
Open: 24 hours.
Tel: 23 - 63 - 36 - 51
BOMBAY HOSPITAL, 12 New Marine Lines.
Modern, established, and centrally located.
Open: 24 hours.
Tel: 22 - 06 - 76 - 76