World's Greatest City: 50 reasons Mumbai is No. 1

World's Greatest City: 50 reasons Mumbai is No. 1

Pachyderms, produce and perseverance -- you can find it all in the streets of India's commercial capital, along with some of the most colorful culture imaginable

1. Most romantic home furnishings

Since the 1950s, the old corner couch at the posh Taj hotel’s Sea Lounge has been where moneyed Mumbai introduces suitable boys and girls for marriage. The lucky velvet sofa is no ordinary love seat -- it’s big enough to couch mummy, aunty and whomever else is in on the plot.

Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Hotel & Palace, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, tel +91 (0) 22 6665 3366

2. The amazingest race

Spanning 1,900 kilometers from Chennai to Mumbai, the Rickshaw Challenge is an “amazing race for the clinically insane.” The 13-stage event requires auto rickshaw drivers to navigate hills, valleys, beaches and, of course, jam-packed city streets. Those seeking to learn how to operate the two-stroke workhorse of the Indian commuter system -- the ‘beautiful beasts’ first rolled off Indian assembly lines in 1957 and have barely changed since -- can take lessons and register for free at the link above.

3. Women travel handprint-free

It might sound like the title of your next book group novel, but the Ladies Special local train pulls into the Gothic-style Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station (which noobs mistake for a huge cathedral) at 10:09am every morning. Of the thousand trains that run daily through the historic station, the Ladies Special is a sanctuary for some 35,000 working women who don’t fancy being groped on their way to the office. On the 5:55pm ride back home, the Ladies Special turns into a portable kitchen with mums peeling vegetables, a communal office for laptoppers, a mobile shopping center, a meditation and prayer room and whatever else it need be to accommodate the endless demands placed on India’s tireless working women.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Fort, tel + 91 (0) 22 269 5959

4. Porn the whole family will love (to scurry past quickly)

Pressed between the brothels and skin and sex therapy clinics of Grant Road, the Pila Haus cluster of colonial-era cinema halls -- such as the Theatre Royal, Alfred Cinema, Gulshan Cinema and New Roshan -- screen Bollywood films from the 1980s and 1990s for as little as Rs 15 a pop. Originally playhouses for the British, they were named ‘pila’ because locals couldn’t pronounce ‘play.’ Following independence, the stately halls showcased Parsi theater and Marathi tamashas. But these days, amid pulsing red-light distractions, the main draws are tales of puppy-love romance, such as Sanjay Kapoor’s “Sirf Tum.”

5. A million-dollar baby … elephant

This infant is 12 feet tall, his name is Lalbaugcha Rajaand he is the king of Mumbai’s annual 10-day Ganesh festival in September. During the festival, more than two million Hindu devotees throng to see the wish-granting idol of the infant elephant god, which was insured for 25 million rupees this year. Devotees collectively donate Rs 5 crore and more than 5,000 sacks of coconuts each year, then follow the Raja on a procession toward Chowpatty beach, where he's immersed in the sea.

Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, G.D. Ambedkar Marg

6. The original Cavern Club

Each February, an antiquated ferry runs from the Gateway of India to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Elephanta Caves on an island in the Sea of Oman. That’s where music fans gather for the annual Elephanta Festival, where Indian classical music maestros such as Zakir Hussain and Ravi Shankar rock on amid a collection of ancient rock art dedicated to the cult of Shiva.

7. A brand new paint job

People are always grumbling about making Mumbai prettier. On Independence Day 2009, the graffiti artists of The Wall Project did it, covering a 2.7-km stretch of wall along Tulsi Pipe Road with colorful spray-painted art mixed with slogans promoting social causes -- all with the municipal corporation’s cooperation. Chronicling Mumbai’s contemporary culture, the Tulsi Pipe graffiti joins the vibrant seaside mural adorning Sassoon Dock’s high-cement boundary and Mario Miranda’s caricatures of Mumbai beer drinkers on the walls of Café Mondegar.

Café Mondegar, Metro House, near Regal Cinema, tel +91 (0) 22 2202 0591

8. Our chefs don't want you to die

Mumbai may be cuckoo for sushi and fugu, but many still bow down to traditional fare, eating well to live well. At Swadshakti Café, Mumbai’s only Ayurvedic restaurant, the Panchakarma Thali, with five saatvik vegetarian dishes is cooked with healing herbs -- and without oil, garlic or onions. Designed to detox, the menu was created by Dr. Smita Naram to put her chunky husband, Pankaj, on a healthy path -- and it’s a proven winner.

Swadshakti, Bhadran Nagar Cross Road 2, opposite Milap Cinema, Malad (W), +91 (0) 22 2806 5757

9. Illiterate business gurus

Prince Charles and Richard Branson have met with Mumbai’s famous dabbawala lunch deliverymen to learn how 200,000 identical steel lunch canisters (‘dabbas’) are transported by 5,000 mostly illiterate deliverymen from the homes where the humble lunches are made to offices and workers around town -- daily, punctually and with barely one error in every six million deliveries. Dabbawalas now give management lectures at top Indian business schools, explaining how the 125-year-old dabbawala industry continues to grow at a rate of five to 10 percent a year.

The Dabbawala Foundation is currently developing software that will allow users to book dabba lunch delivery online. In the meantime, you can email to sign up for service.

10. Best chocolate fondant at a beach bar

At Rs 395, the price of the bite-sized chocolate fondant at Aurus is steep, though not as steep as the ledge that drops directly onto Juhu beach from this suburban party hot spot. The fondant is best eaten after downing a couple of Aurus’ dirty martinis and rolling through an inventive menu that includes king prawn with wasabi foam and a side of house music.

Aurus, Nichani Kutir, Juhu Tara Road, next to Vie Lounge, tel +91 (0) 22 6710 6667

10. Most prolific film industry in the world

Compared to Hollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai produces nearly 200 more films a year, each almost 50 percent longer, on a fraction of the budget, with more color, more melodies and more melodrama. And Bollywood's even starting to steal stars from its Western counterpart. One billion moviegoers can't be wrong.

11. Potatoes are religion (and politics)

They’re fast, cheap and political. Every day thousands of vada pav (potato dumplings) are fried and deftly placed in pav bread quickly enough to keep up with Mumbai’s voracious appetite. The fiery red chutney that goes with vada pav can be risky -- not unlike Shiv Sena, the local political party that has made Mumbai’s five-rupee signature street snack its mascot. It’s hard to go wrong with vada pav, but we love the ones at a stall called Ashok, off Cadel Road, Kirti College Lane, Prabhadevi.

12. Yoga for the face

If you live near a rare patch of park in Mumbai, chances are you’ll wake up to the sounds of laughter. That’s because every morning, members of the city’s 87-odd Laughter Yoga clubs gather in green spaces to guffaw. Founded by Mumbai physician Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995, laughter yoga is based on scientific research that shows the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. You get the same physiological and psychological benefits whether you find something funny or not.

13. A bridge worth its weight in elephants

Our brand-new Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge took 10 years to complete, but now that it’s here we can hardly remember the near-hour it once took to travel between Mumbai and the western suburbs. For the 25,000 vehicles that use the bridge each day, the trip now takes about seven minutes. With main towers as high as a 43-story building, the 4.7km bridge weighs as much as 50,000 African elephants and the steel wire used can nearly wrap around the circumference of the earth. The Times of India described it best: “Heavy-duty beauty.”

14. Stickiest wickets

The Dr. H.D. Kanga League combines two of Mumbai’s greatest loves -- cricket and heavy rain. Perhaps that’s why the league has never taken a season off since being founded in 1948. Touted as the only tournament to be held during the monsoon -- heroic batsmen with muck-splattered faces, valiant fielders slogging through flooded outfields -- the Kanga League has been the muddy battleground beginning for some of India’s biggest cricketing stars, including Sachin Tendulkar.

15. Art deco cinemas

Talk to anyone who lived in Mumbai before the multiplex deluge and they’ll get all gulpy about the single-screen art deco cinemas that once dominated the movie scene here. With its rococo artwork and ethereal lighting, Liberty Cinema is the most popular and publicized vestige of bygone Bombay elegance. But we’re suckers for the soaring entryways, peeling powder-blue walls and delicate white-and-gold scrollwork at Bharat Mata theater.

Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines, +91 (0) 22 2203 1196 Bharat Mata, Parel, +91 (0) 22 2470 9181

16. Maximum panorama

Opening in November 2009, the rooftop bar at the Four Seasons hotel offers an amazing vista of the iconic Mahalaxmi Racecourse, the Arabian Sea, Haji Ali, the Worli-Bandra Sealink and acres of slums and old mill areas. Maximum city in a single eyeful.

Four Seasons, 114 G Babu Sakpal Marg, tel +91 (0) 22 2481 8000

17. Buy your stolen stuff back cheap!

From a replacement for your chipped antique Wedgewood demitasse cup to the Mercedes Benz hood ornament that was yanked off your car, the most bizarre jumble of antiques, spare parts, Bollywood posters and electronics in Mumbai can be found at grimy Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market), so called because it’s assumed many of the goods for sale are stolen. Take along your bargaining skills and leave your claustrophobia (and morals) at home.

Get started at Mini Market, 33/31 Mutton Street, Chor Bazaar, Mohammed Ali Road, tel +91 (0) 22 2347 2427

18. Drinking holes that don’t dry up

Pretty relics of Mumbai’s colonial past, the Willingdon Sports Club and Cricket Club of India have always laid an elegant tea. Patrons sit in cane chairs by the lawns where cricket and golf are played, old money talks and the waiters are hard of hearing. Along with five-star hotels, these old Mumbai institutions are the only places that serve alcohol on ‘dry' days -- and, best of all, at prices that, too, have not kept up with the times.

Cricket Club of India, Brabourne Stadium, Churchgate, tel +91 (0) 22 6659 4252

Willingdon Sports Club, K Khadye Marg, Tulsiwadi, tel +91 (0) 22 2354 5755

19. Sweetest 200-rupee tourist view and dessert

Sesame-sprinkled honey noodles with vanilla ice cream at the Bay View Terrace Bar sweeten the already rich view that takes in the curving bay, the Taj hotel’s heritage wing dome and Mumbai’s most famous monument, the Gateway of India, right at the tip of our narrow island.

Bay View Terrace Bar, Hotel Harbour View, Kerawalla Chambers, opposite Radio Club, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, tel +91 (0) 22 2282 1089

20. Party like it's 1909

Mumbai’s textile mills were an important part of India's manufacturing history. And in the Lower Parel district, factory commerce is still alive, albeit with music and mojitos, in the stretch of bars that has sprung up inside converted mills. At Shiro, Hard Rock Café, Blue Frog and Zenzi Mills, the sound is banging (that's good), because each venue has preserved the industrial-sized ceilings and post-modern factory feel. After all these years, it's still the best place to spin.

Shiro, Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, tel +91 (0) 22 6615 6969

Hard Rock Café, Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, tel +91 (0) 22 6615 5959

Blue Frog D/2 Mathuradas Mills Compound, N.M. Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, tel +91 (0) 22 4033 2300

Zenzi Mills, Todi Mills Compound, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel, tel +91 (0) 22 4345 5455

21. World’s most expensive home

Soon, Mumbai will house the highest-priced residence in the world. Local tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s US$2 billion, 27-floor skyscraper Antilla will reportedly have three helipads, six floors of parking and 600 full-time staff. That beats even Marine Drive’s three-kilometer strip of land where, at Rs 40,000 per square foot, one jewel in what’s known as the Queen’s Necklace can cost Rs 100 crores.

22. Complete and utter silence

Mumbai never stops squawking, but inside the walls of the Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre, conversation is completely verboten. The center’s newly built Global Pagoda stores important relics of Buddha and hosts a meditation camp that forbids participants from speaking -- or watching TV, listening to music or reading -- for the entire duration of the 10-day beginner’s course. ‘Vipassana’ means “to see things as they really are.” Founder S.N. Goenka -- a Burmese sugar and textiles entrepreneur born in 1924 -- says the technique is a path to mental purification that will eradicate suffering.

Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre, Gorai, tel +91 (0) 22 2845 2261

23. The home of rebellion

In the simple two-story building called Mani Bhavan, Mahatma Gandhi conspired against British rulers, initiating the Civil Disobedience, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat movements. The residence where Gandhi lived from 1917 to 1934 is now a museum and library with treasures including Gandhi’s correspondence with Winston Churchill, like this classic: “Dear Prime Minister, You are reported to have the desire to crush the 'naked fakir,' as you are said to have described me. I have been long trying to be a fakir and that, naked -- a more difficult task. I therefore regard the expression as a compliment though unintended. I approach you then as such and ask you to trust and use me for the sake of your people and mine and through them those of the world.”

Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangralaya, Laburnum Road, Gamdevi, tel +91 (0) 22 2380 5864

24. Cafes as tough as nails

In business since 1871, Leopold Café was an institution long before being immortalized in Gregory David Roberts’ 2004 novel ‘Shantaram.’ How gritty is the place? Four days after being riddled with bullets during the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, this raucous bar for travelers reopened for business to a packed house of tourists and locals who came, as always, for the beef chili, cold beer and loud, uninhibited conversation.

Leopold Café, corner of Colaba Causeway and Nawroji F Road, tel +91 (0) 22 2282 8185

25. Pinkest non-gay parade

Beginning each year in early November, a migratory flock of 10,000 to 20,000 bright pink flamingos from Central Africa keeps its date with the five-acre Sewri mudflats before flying off to its final breeding destination at Rann of Kutch (a swampy area shared by India and Pakistan).

Contact the Bombay Natural History Society for the most flamboyant bird watching ever.

Bombay Natural History Society, Hornbill House, Dr. Salim Ali Chowk, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, tel +91 (0) 22 2282 1811

26. The real meat-packing district

Forget the over air-conditioned hotel coffee shops, Mumbai’s real after-hours food is at Mohammad Ali Road under the JJ flyover, where spiced meat is rolled and fried or barbequed into the best shammi and seekh kebabs this side of Kabul. This street is not for the queasy, squeamish or vegetarian. Here, you’ll be served up piping hot nalli nihari beef on a bed of steamed rice, goat bheja (brains) with fresh bread, and warm firni (condensed milk pudding). The best time to go is past midnight during Ramzaan, when the street food feast becomes a fully festive experience.

27. Die-hard desserts

You’d be forgiven for questioning the success of Parsi Dairy Farm’s 100 percent milk kulfi -- after all, there are fewer than 100,000 Parsi residents among one billion Indians. But since 1928 this sweet, creamy ice cream, available only at this single dairy outlet, has been a Mumbai mainstay. At Rs 29 a slice, it’s one of the best cheap chills in Asia.

Parsi Dairy Farm, 261-62, Shamaldas Gandhi Marg, Princess Street, tel +91 (0) 22 2201 3633

28. Get lucky through prayer

Siddhivinayak Temple was built by a childless woman in 1801 who wanted to fund a place where other women could pray for future offspring. Judging from the 100,000 devotees that flock here every Tuesday, her plan's got legs. Devotees include Mumbai’s biggest movie stars and industrialists, who bypass the lines with VIP passes to pray for the smooth delivery of their biggest projects.

Siddhivinayak Temple, Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Marg, Dadar (W)

29. Feeling shabby? Take it to the streets

Men get their ears cleaned, feet massaged, hair trimmed and face shaved all for less than Rs 150 -- and in full view of the public. Setting up shop on street corners and sandy stretches, Mumbai’s master street barbers help clean up the city every day. The most popular are at Chowpatty beach, where guys can also get a “first class champi” head massage.

30. Celebrity-est slums

Mumbai’s Dharavi slum inspired English director Danny Boyle to film his award-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” in this square mile, home to over a million souls, two of whom reached the red carpet at the Oscars. And starring in movies isn’t the only thing Dharavi does. This is the epicenter of Mumbai’s recycling industry, generating a turnover of more than Rs 3,000 crores, or $650 million annually. Curious? Take a trendy “reality tour” of the slum for Rs 400.

31. Kitschy kabs

They may be falling apart, but with ceiling mirrors and chandeliers, red velvet seats with leopard print trimmings, psychedelic poles, incense sticks and religious art, Mumbai’s vintage black and yellow cabs are a trip in more ways than one. Buy your own kitsch taxi paraphernalia at the motor shops that line Kurla and Kalina.

32. Vociferous wake-up calls

In the financial capital of India, it’s not surprising that we wake up to the sound of business. Every morning on the streets below our bedroom windows, we hear knife sharpeners, kitchenware vendors, fishmongers and salesmen of every stripe advertise their goods at the tops of their lungs. Interested? Holler back. Haggle. Buy. You’re not a Mumbaikar till you try.

33. Magical railway badges

The iconic brass badges worn by Mumbai railway porters change hands illegally at astronomical prices, sometimes for lakhs of rupees. Even superstar Amitabh Bachchan is a fan -- the screen legend believes his costume tag bearing the lucky number 786 saved him from a near-fatal accident on the set of 1983’s blockbuster “Coolie,” in which he immortalized the role of a railway porter.

34. The best billboard babe

The pre-teen Amul butter girl with the sassy ponytail and red polka-dot hair band, has been on the Mumbai billboard circuit for over 40 years, selling Amul butter by taking comic pot shots at everyone from cops to movie stars, politicians and sports players. In short, you’re no one till this billboard baby satirizes you.

35. Chaat's cradle

The extra-spicy pav bhaji at Sardar’s, the dynamite paani puri at Elco’s and the bhel puri on Juhu beach define Mumbai’s spicy street food chaat. If you don’t cauterize your vocal cords, you’ll be back tomorrow. Vodka paani puri is a 21st-century innovation. Naturally it was only a matter of time before chaat and alcohol had a hot affair.

Sardar Pav Bhaji, 166A, Tardeo Road Junction, Tardeo, tel +91 (0) 22 2353 0208

Elco Paani Puri Centre, 46, Geetaneel Arcade, Hill Road, Bandra (W), tel +91 (0) 222643 7206

36. Bollywood page 3 gossip

Snicker all you want, but if you stay in Mumbai long enough you’ll need a healthy hit of Page 3 celebrity gossip just to wake up each day. With Bollywood as the focus, it's often blatant voyeurism, speculation, sexy party photos and censored wardrobe malfunctions that bring the colorful tabloid-style pages of the Hindustan Times and Times of India to life, making these five minutes needed innoculation against the stressful day ahead.

37. World’s largest laundromat

Watch Mumbai wash its dirty linen in public at the Dhobi Ghat, the world’s biggest laundromat turned tourist attraction. You’ll find over 200 dhobi families washing and drying a bright patchwork of saris, kurtas and boxers in the open with the smell of detergent in the air.

Dhobi Ghat, Dr. E. Moses Rd, near Mahalaxmi Station

38. Pop-up persian cafes and sweet palaces

Persian style cafes famous for Iranian chai (boiled with sweetened condensed milk), rickety colonial furniture, wooden tables with marble tops, large glass mirrors, beautiful old ceiling fans and fast, no-nonsense service numbered 350 in the 1950s, but today only 25 quaint Irani cafes remain. Even Hassan Irani, a year-round stock broker, opens up Iranian Sweet Palace for just one month during the Irani New Year and serves the yummiest baklava in the city for Rs 540 a kilo.

Iranian Sweet Palace, 143, Imamwada Road, Haroon Manzil Block, Near Metro Opticians, Dongri, Mazgaon

39. The couch potato is king

It isn’t what you can get delivered home in Mumbai, but just how much -- or, more importantly, how little. Whether it’s a 10-pack of cigarettes, a strip of pain killers or an odd cable wire for your computer, Mumbai’s grocers, chemists, general stores and even bookshops will service you at your doorstep, no matter how small the need. In a city of hustlers, everyone knows that if you don’t bend backwards for business, 10 others will.

40. Vultures bred to pick at the dead

People still ask us about Mumbai’s “Tower of Silence,” the Malabar Hill rooftop where the Parsi Zoroastrians of India lay their dead under the sun, believing that solar power has the ability to purify. Vultures strip the body of its flesh and in August, alarmed by the drop in the number of vultures in Mumbai, the Parsi community and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) joined hands to launch a vulture breeding centre at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli.

41. Cut the day into cups of chai

In a city that’s always rushing, a “cutting” chai , or mini half cup of chai, is a quick any-time-of-day fix for people on the move. Over boiled, cutting chai is strong enough to keep you going for the rest of the day, sweet enough to improve your mood instantly and heavy enough to tide you over till your next meal.

42. Garlic crab -- burn after eating

Every Mumbai guide book mentions Trishna, a seafood restaurant in the Kala Ghoda area with surly waiters and not enough seating. The menu is uselessly long, but the “butter, pepper, garlic” King crab picked from the Indian Ocean and drowned in slippery butter, sweetish garlic and hot black pepper is a Mumbai experience you won’t mind exuding from your pores for the next several days.

Trishna, Birla Mansion, Sai Baba Marg (next to Commerce House), Kala Ghoda, Fort, tel +91 (0) 22 2261 4991

43. The floating mosque

Haji Ali Dargah, which houses the tomb of Saint Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, suspends itself on a tiny island in the middle of Worli Bay, connected to the coast by a narrow causeway. Attempt the walk only during low tide after drinking the now legendary Kabuli Anar (pomegranate) juice at the nearby Haji Ali Juice Centre on your way out. Sunset qawwali music sessions are on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays around 4 pm.

Haji Ali Dargah, Lala Lajpat Rai Road; Haji Ali Juice Centre, tel +91 (0) 22 2351 0957

44. No store can contain our top shoe designer

In the city’s hippest suburb of Bandra, a moody Muslim man with a shoe fetish takes credit for many a happy foot. Shoemaker Musalman Uncle’s street store sells trendy footwear starting at Rs 300. And he’ll even copy a design for you right out of your notebook. But only if he’s in a good mood.

His street shoe stall is in a narrow lane opposite Globus, next to Le Bijou, Hill Road, Bandra (W)

45. World's fishiest duck

"Bombay duck" is its English name, but no one really knows why. It's a dish you'll only see on Mumbai menus, where you wouldn't get a clue that it's actually bombil, a fish cured on the footpaths of Cuffe Parade that stinks ungodly when dried. For the fresh, funk-free version, you'll want to hit Gajalee for bombil that is -- to quote India’s most touted celebrity food critic Vir Sanghvi -- “beaten to a thin escalope, tossed in masala and then fried till it is encased in a crisp golden batter.”

Gajalee, Hanuman Road, Vile Parle East, tel +91 (0) 22 6692 9592

46. Our lawyers don't just chase ambulances

Only in Mumbai do you see throngs of lawyers hanging outside courts, fishing for clients. For as little as Rs 200, they’ll notarize papers and even play guardian to get you off your college attendance blacklist. Mumbai’s most useful pick-up by the hour.

47. Monsoons that muddle the municipality

From mid-June to mid-September, Mumbai is marked by torrential bursts for several minutes or downpours for days on end. As a result the city, especially around its poorly planned suburbs, often finds itself swimming. Yet citizens find a way not only to survive in the face of the government neglect, but to help each other too. This year, Indian mobile provider Aircel erected a billboard near Milan Subway, featuring a real rubber dinghy accompanied by the line, "In case of emergency, cut rope." And on July 15, they actually needed to. That’s Mumbai’s in a nutshell -- survive first, and hustle some business in the bargain.

48. Making out by the sea for all to see

In India, social norms are still fairly strict regarding dating and public displays of affection -- especially with someone from outside your community. But in Mumbai, lovers leave a trail of abandoned motorbikes behind them as they line up along such sea face promenades as Worli, Marine Drive, Carter Road, Bandstand and Reclamation highway. Here, a love that dare not express itself elsewhere entails a lot of neck gnawing and face swallowing until the sun goes down.

49. Mumbai’s little master of the bat and ball

On December 11, 1988, aged just 15 years and 232 days, Sachin Tendulkar scored 100 not-out in his debut first-class match for Bombay against Gujarat, making him the youngest Indian to score a century in his first-class debut. Bit prophetic, that. Tendulkar today is the highest run scorer in the world in both Test cricket and one-day internationals. He is also the batsman with the most centuries in either form of the game. And just this month the Master Blaster popped back into the current world top 10 after scoring his 44th one-day century for India against Sri Lanka. Not to mention being understated about his wealth and fame, a hard worker, a team player and a family guy.

50. Every day is someone's holiday

Being India’s most cosmopolitan city in one of the world’s most religiously diverse countries means that between Hindus, Muslims, Parsis and Christians we have 30 official holidays a year. That’s a month right there. Plus, everyone’s got a neighbor who has too much food left over from last night’s celebratory feast: Parsi Dhansak to the office, left over biryani after Ramzaan dinner and boxes upon boxes of sweet Diwali mithai.

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Kanika and Mansi are the co-founders of Brown Paper Bag, a Mumbai lifestyle website.

Read more about Kanika Parab and Mansi Poddar