Friday night, my boss took out a few expats for a bit of bar hopping downtown. Our first stop was the Dome, a nice lounge bar on the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel right on Marine Drive, a.k.a. Queens Necklace. Nice view, a pool, and expensive cocktails. After that we went to the Gymkhana. I had been told that this is probably the most exclusive private club in Mumbai, so I was quite afraid that this will be some sort of Connecticut Country Club place, with men in white shoes and white hats or something like that. It turned out to be a very laid back and relaxed place where everybody seemed to know everybody. Some people looked like a bit of show-offs, but generally it was pretty apparent that money alone doesn’t get one into this club, what matters most are relationships, so presumably a lot of the members have been downtown Mumbaikars for generations.
I thought the atmosphere was quite different from a few places that I had been to in Bandra. I guess like many big European cities, there is always an invisible divide between the newly rich and the old money spots. Where the nightlife of the Mumbai suburbs of Bandra and Juhu seems to be dominated by Bollywood people (or those wanting to become Bollywood people) and the growing call center brigade (a term I saw the TimeOut Mumbai use twice), this place seemed quite different.
Afterwards, we went to Indigo, a very happening bar and Italian restaurant, which the wife of a British diplomat whom I had met on the way from St. Petersburg to Delhi was raving about. I remember thinking then that I don’t really want to go to some posh downtown exile for Western diplomats, but the place was actually quite nice and laid back as well – and now that I live here, I realize that this town would be simply unlivable for me without these sorts of places. Sadly but true enough, now that I have a car, I don’t even take the riksha anywhere – it is just too exhausting to be sitting in these things right next to the big stinking busses and passing by open sewage systems and mountains of garbage. So I drive in my air conditioned car with the windows rolled up and Madonna or Eminem in the CD player – kind of like a submarine floating in stop-and-go speed through a zoo approaching hell.