GUIDE TO INDIA
The busy but efficient Government of India tourist office (Tel: 22207433; 123 Maharshi Karve Rd ; open 8.30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am2pm Sat), opposite Churchgate train station, cheerfully provides tourist information for the entire country. It produces a free (but dated) booklet on Mumbai and a city map, and can also print off more up-to-date reference sheets from a database. Guides can be organized here, and this is the place to find out about the paying guest accommodation scheme. It also has a 24-hour booth (Tel: 28325331) at the international airport (Arrival Hall 2A) and a counter (Tel: 2615 6920) at the domestic airport.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has a reservation office (Tel: 22026713; Madame Cama Rd, Nariman Point) which can give information on travel in Maharashtra and book the overpriced MTDC hotels throughout the state.
Most major banks will exchange cash arid travellers cheques, although commission fees are generally high and service slow – it’s best to use the foreign-exchange offices. American Express (AmEx; Tel: 22048291; Shivaji Marg, Colaba; open 9.30am-6.30pm MonFri, 9.30am-2.30pm Sat), next to the Regal Cinema, is the best place to exchange cash and travellers cheques (1% commission on non-AmEx cheques) and it provides cash advances on AmEx credit cards. Thomas Cook(Tel: 22048556; 324 Dr D Naoroji Rd, Fort; open 9.30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm Sat) also provides swift foreign exchange.
Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank ( Bhulabhai Desai Rd ) in Breach Candy has 24-hour currency exchange, and the Fort branches are open till 7pm Monday to Saturday.
There are 24-hour exchange bureaus at the domestic and international airports.
ATMs The number of 24-hour ATMs linked to international networks in Mumbai has exploded. There are Centurion and ICICI bank ATMs on Colaba Causeway; Citibank ATMs are at its branches at 293 Dr D Naoroji Rd, Fort, and at Nariman Point in the Air India building. Other good international banks with ATMs on MG Rd, Fort, are HSBC Bank and Standard Chartered Grindlays. HSBC has a handy ATM at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST; formerly Victoria Terminus) station, just outside the reservation hall.
Post & Communications
The main post office (Tel: 22621671; open 9am-8pm Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm Sun) is an imposing building behind CST station. Poste restante (open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat) is at Counter 3. Letters sent there should be addressed c/o Paste Restante, Mumbai GPO, Mumbai 400 001. You’ll need to bring your passport to collect mail. There’s an EMS Speedpost parcel counter (open 11am-1pm & 1.30pm-4pm Mon-Sat) to the left of the stamp counters. Regular parcels can be sent from the parcel office behind the main post office building. Directly opposite the post office is a group of parcel-wallahs who will stitch up your parcel for around Rs 30.
To send air-freight parcels out of India, try DHL Worldwide Express (Tel: 22837187) in the Sea Green South Hotel or Blue Dart (Tel: 2288 2220; www.bluedart.com ; Veer Nariman Rd, Churchgate). A 10kg box to the UK or USA costs about Rs 4800.
Private phone/fax centres (labelled ‘STD/ ISD’ or ‘PCO’) in Colaba and the Fort are convenient for STD and international calls (around Rs 25 a minute to the UK, USA or Australia ). The international telecommunications centre (VSNL; Tel: 22624020; Bhaurao Patil Marg; open 8am -Spm daily) in the Fort is only useful for home country direct, collect call and call-back services.
The cheapest international calls can be made through Internet cafes using Net2phone, dialpad, or a similar service. Calls cost from Rs 8 a minute to anywhere in the world.
There are many Internet cafes in South Mumbai, particularly around the Fort, Colaba and Marine Drive areas, but also scattered around the city. Most charge around Rs 30 an hour and almost all offer phone, fax, photocopying and printing services.
New Nikhil Communication ( 45 Mint Rd ; Rs 30/hr) is a modern, air-con place near CST station. Cyber Z (Anandila Podar Marg; Rs 30/hr), near Metro Cinema, has fast cable connection.
In Colaba, Satyam i-way (Colaba Causeway; Rs 40/hr) is above Kamat Restaurant (the entrance is around the side on JA Allana Marg); Access Infotech (Rs 30/hr) is down a laneway just off the causeway near Cafe Churchill’s; and Cyber Zone ( Arthur Bunder Rd, Rs 30/hr) has cheap Internet calls. Just off Chowpatty Beach, Kool Cyber Cafe (Pandita Ramabai Marg; Rs 10/hr) is as cheap as it gets, but don’t expect high speed.
The Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (Tel: 22620446; Annexe Bldg No 2, CID, 3rd floor, Sayed Badruddin Rd ) is near the Police Commissioner’s office. This office does not officially issue extensions on six-month tourist visas – even in emergencies they will direct you to Delhi. However, travellers have managed to procure an emergency extension here after a lot of waiting and persuasion.
Transway International (Tel: 22626066; www.transwayinternational.com; 8 Maruti Cross Lane, Fort), in a tiny office on the 3rd floor of Pantaky House, off Maruti St, is a good place for travel information and advice. It can be a challenge to find because there are no obvious signs on the building (ask around for Pantaky House), but the service is worth the hunt.
Thomas Cook and AmEx are also reliable options. Magnum International Travel & Tours (Tel: 22840016; 10 Henry Rd ) is handy for those staying in Colaba.
Modem digital processing, print and slide film, video cartridges and camera accessories are available from Standard Supply Co (Color Vision; tel: 22612468; Image House, W Hirachand Marg, Fort), opposite CST station. You can get print, slide and black-and-white film processed on site (Rs 265 for mounted slides, Rs 210 for 36 prints).
The best bookshop in the city is Crossword (Tel: 24920253; 1st floor, 22 Bhulabhai Desai Rd, Breach Candy). The Strand Book Stall (Tel: 22661994), just off Sir P Mehta Rd, Fort, also has a reasonable collection.
Shankar Book Stall (Colaba Causeway), outside Cafe Mondegar, has a compact assortment of paperbacks, maps and guidebooks. India’s largest selection of new and second-hand books and magazines would have to be at the motley assortment of bookstalls and street vendors lining the footpath on Veer Nariman Rd, between Flora Fountain and the maidans, and along nearby MG Rd. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, it may not exist.
Newspapers & Magazines
The Times of India and the Indian Express both have Mumbai editions: the main local English-language paper is the tabloid MidDav. Ciry InJo is a free bimonthly listings magazine with a range of entertainment and shopping information. Many guesthouses have it, or you can get it from the tourist office.
Libraries & Cultural Centres
You have to be a member to take advantage of the facilities at the British Council Library (Tel: 22823560; www.bdindia.org ; 1st floor, Barrister Rajni Patel Marg, Nariman Point; minimum monthly membership Rs 250, annual membership Rs 1000; open 10am-6pm Tues- Sat) at Mittal Tower (A Wing). The library has an extensive collection of books, British newspapers and Internet access. It will be moving to new premises in South Mumbai in 2003, so call ahead or check the website.
The incredibly security-conscious American Information Resource Centre (AIRC; Tel: 22624590; 4 New Marine Lines, Churchgate; casual visit Rs 10, annual membership Rs 200; library open 10am-6pm Mon-Fri) has a good library, Internet access and newspapers.
You can read French papers and browse the library for free at Alliance Francaise
Tel: 22036187; 40 New Marine Lines; annual membership Rs 800; open 9.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-1pm Sat). There’s also Internet access and a regular cultural programme of music, dance and films. German speakers can use the library at Max Mueller Bhavan (Tel: 22027542; K Dubash Marg, Fort; library open 11am-6pm Tues-Sat).
Medical Services & Emergency
An ambulance can be called on – 102, and the police can be contacted on – 100. The best hospital in Mumbai (if not India ) is the Breach Candy Hospital (Tel: 23685406; 60 Bhulabhai Desai Rd, Breach Candy). The Bombay Hospital (Tel: 22067676; Marine Lines) is close to Fort and Colaba.