Monday, February 12, 2007

Three Days in Mumbai

I spent part of the last week in Mumbai for NASSCOM's India Leadership Forum. This is the premier annual event in India for IT and is well-attended by the who's who of the Software industry. Like always, I was again charged up seeing how much excitement is in the air and the continued success of our industry in India. Anyway, since I only focus on travel and food in this blog, let me describe the Oberoi hotel I stayed in.

Oberoi MumbaiThe Oberoi in Mumbai is located at the southern tip of Nariman Point, in the heart of Bombay's business and financial district. The cab stopped at the Hilton and I thought he had mixed up my hotel, but quickly realized that the Oberoi in the lane right beside the Hilton. A smell of jasmine was all around as the helpful bellboy escorted me to the Lobby which is located one level above the street level. I like the Oberoi uniforms, very regal and reminiscent of the royal costumes of the era of maharajahs.

Oberoi MumbaiThe girl who checked me in escorted me to my room. The room was well-appointed with a large bath & shower area and a separate vanity area. You can also summon a butler very quickly through an easily accessed button. All through my stay, the service was impeccable, from the bellman to the server in the restaurant, and from the receptionist to the housekeeping person. The Oberoi positions its hotel at the premium five-star segment and it's staff definitely provides an experience that is a couple of notches above the usual five-star hotel.

I sampled biryani and Kandhari kababs (very succulent, marinated in yogurt and a bunch of different spices) from the Kandahar restaurant that serves a variety of Indian fare. I also sampled the breakfast at Tiffin, their lobby level restaurant. Tiffin has low 'sofa' seating, and they only have the cold breakfast items on display in the buffet. You can order hot breakfast items (eggs, and Indian breakfast staple such as idli, dosa, paratha, etc.) which they then get freshly prepared directly to your table.

Oberoi MumbaiThe NASSCOM event was being held at the Grand Hyatt and getting from there to my hotel meant an hour's drive though the Mumbai traffic. This is the only time I actually found myself longing for good ol' Pune roads! In spite of all the talk about worsening traffic in Pune, I think we are still better off than our friends in Mumbai and Bangalore at this point in time!

BTW, here's a snapshot of the Pillow Menu from my hotel room. Sweet dreams! :-)

On a different note, I find Bombay and Calcutta the two cities in India with the most character. While I have never lived in these two cities, I have visited them many times: in a different lifetime when travel meant 48 hours in a train with friends, getting down at every station for 'chai' and smokes. Also, in the current one, when I mostly stay at big business hotels, non-smoking rooms and fly in an out of these cities. I haven't quite figured out what makes these cities special to me: the people, the contant festivity in the air, or the winding roads and Victorian buildings from a bygone era.

3 comments:

Sank said...

I've been to neither, but I have the same experience with San Francisco. I lived 100 miles away and a trip to the "city" was always so cool. Then I lived there. Killed the charm, big time.

Now I use Chicago and London for the same feeling.

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

You should have given us a hint. We would have loved to meet you when you were in Mumbai.

Hilton Tower was the original Oberai-Sheraten. then Oberoi Towers. Though we have been to all other restaurants in Hilton Towers and Oberoi, never had an oppurtunity to visit Kandahar. I believe it's very good restaurant.

sahil said...

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