Who? Anyone visiting Mumbai who wants to experience the many shades of life in the city on a beach.
What? Juhu Beach is located in the suburbs of Mumbai.
How? You can take a taxi, auto or a public bus to the beach. The JW Marriott in Mumbai is located on this beach.
Why? Growing up in Mumbai, Juhu Beach was a favorite economical Sunday outing. It was a few minutes from home, we got fresh air and cheap food and occasionally bumped into a movie set as an added treat.
Recently, I got to spend about three weeks at the JW Marriott in Mumbai and this gave me the opportunity to experience many facets of a Mumbaikar’s life on the beach. First, given the shortage of space in Mumbai and most people living in cramped quarters, Juhu Beach is this wide open space that serves as an oasis and a great equalizer across all socio-economic classes.
An early morning outing on the beach provides a profusion of life scenes. There are joggers and walkers getting their early morning exercise. The less intense workouts are accompanied by conversations around challenges faced at home, issues in the office and of course a plethora of tips on the SENSEX and what stocks to invest in. One or more groups of yoga enthusiasts get busy doing their “surya namaskar” and other asanas. Even in this early hour, you are suddenly jolted by the yell of kids playing soccer on one end and cricket on the other. You see a few couples in a distance walking and talking before getting into another crazy day in the city. There are a few solitary garbage collectors, cleaning up while looking to see if there is anything that is salvageable from the trash of the day. And let’s not forget the city’s many stray dogs. While a few run along uninvited with beach joggers, others are fighting or congregating around discarded food. The many food stalls stand deserted at this early hour and in the backdrop you can see the buses already starting to transport hordes of people to their daily destinations.
Fast forward to the evening and while you still have fitness enthusiasts working out, there are crowds of people of every shape, color and size that descend on the beach in droves, suddenly flooding the beach with a profusion of every color imaginable. The food stalls now are humming with action and the smell of all of Mumbai’s well loved junk food including bhel puri, pani puri, ragda patties and more permeates the air. Couples are cute feeding each other or sharing shaved ice “gollas”. Kids are building sand castles and nagging parents for the cheap toys and balloons sold by street vendors. As the sun goes down, people slowly, partially unwillingly get up to go home, having enjoyed their small piece of bliss in a tough city.