3 — The hikes of Navi Mumbai

I’ve been lying so far. I’m not technically in Mumbai, but in an adjacent city called Navi Mumbai (literally, “New Mumbai”). To the Canadians out there, I’m in the North York of India’s Toronto. Navi Mumbaikers love saying what’s better here: wider roads, cleaner roads, trees on roads … and more road things. But really, the roads are hella nice.

Reminder to put a photo of a nice road here.

In the past few weeks, I explored Navi Mumbai, took a bus to Goa (more on that later), and explored a bit more of Navi Mumbai when I came back.

The Jewel of Navi Mumbai

On the drive from the airport to my grandma’s place, Dhannu aunty mentioned this place was really the place to walk. Both my grandma, who’s been living here for 11 years, and my parents have never heard of this Jewel. So either it isn’t that precious of a Jewel or is one of those hidden Jewels. It was neither.

I found the Jewel on Google maps in five seconds, thought I knew how to walk there and ended up here:

I’m sure this was “Karavegaon Pond”. What I started noticing with this place and others is that almost every sight in India has a temple next to it. I guess Indian Gods like a view. And looking back on where I’ve traveled in India, sometimes the temple is the sight. So growing up with religious parents, we traveled a lot to see Gods in their natural habitat. Compare that with an old friend of mine whose parents aren’t religious, and he’s barely been outside of his state. I’ve also noticed that there isn’t a lot of inter-state leisure travel among Indians as compared to Canadians. The railway network here is fantastic, what gives?

When I did reach the Jewel, I was pleasantly surprised. A boardwalk that surrounds a lake. New, interesting-looking birds with long bills and odd calls. I swear I saw an alligator there but maybe I was just hopeful. There were, however, giant snails slinking about. Some of these slimeballs were the size of my fist! Sorry about no photos for this one, I left my phone at home. Here’s a photo someone else took:

credits: Sahil Ubale

Back to Navi Mumbai

My train from Goa reached 30 minutes late at the platform but thankfully it wasn’t that crowded. A guy approached me and asked “where do you wanna go?”. Now, in India that means he’s a driver and not a curious traveler. I tried haggling with Farhan Patel but the man did not budge from his reasonable fare. It took 20 minutes to get from the station to home and it was nice to be back home.

I went walking about the next day and stopped outside this cute coffee place called Kruti Coffee. I ordered a black coffee (90₹) and it was unlike I ever tasted:

It was an Arabica, but had a surprising hint of acidity. I think there’s 4 more beans that I’m excited to try out. The brewer (barista?) was a dude named Gunamani from Odisha who made the crap out of this coffee. From what I could tell, he traveled all the way from Odisha to Mumbai just to work at this place. That sort of story is repeated a lot in Mumbai: fruit sellers from Uttar Pradesh, rickshaw wallas from Gujarat, etc. I didn’t really think about inter city immigration in India until I came here but that’s what makes Mumbai a lot more interesting than most other places (like Delhi).

The next days were hikes with friends I made at the gym.

Parsik hills with Aditya

More a stroll than a hike but the view on top was unexpected. It had a lot more green, mixed with buildings. You could hear birds, cars and prayers from the nearby temple and mosque. :

I walked to the top with Aditya, a guy I met at the gym and teaches me a lot about India and lifting.

Aditya’s into startups and he’s helping me see just how much in India is changing towards that. Most people our age are either working in startups, know people who are, or desperately want to start their own. I read somewhere that India’s #3 in total number of startups that have reached a valuation higher than 1 billion USD (called Unicorns). I’m optimistic about these startups starting the engine of a new India but I’m pessimistic about the infrastructure to support them. Some of these people register their company in another country and work remotely just to avoid these hassles.

I’d recommend Parsik hills if you’re down for a short, easy walk. It’s no Mt. Everest.

Kharghar hills with Rohit

The last thing I want to show is a short, intense hike that I went to with another gym friend, Rohit. This one’s called Khargar Hills and is a lot more steep with unabashed greenery everywhere. I only managed to get one photo (anyone notice a theme going on here) when we summited the hill:

Oh, it rained quite a bit when we hit the top but the rain was misty and hit us sideways. We think it was a low cloud.

I’d recommend Khargar hills if you’re down for a beginner to intermediate hike and not afraid to sometimes use your hands on the ascent.

Next stop, Goa.

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