The Hotel Shabana, located at 12/A, Metro House, 2nd Floor, Next to Regal Cinema, Opp. Majestic Hotel S.B.S. Road, Colaba, Mumbai - 400 039, thats what the business card says, and when I asked for the address today as a return address for my packages I needed to post that's what I was told to use. So that is my new home, for the time being. No particular number just a location that anybody can use to find me if they so wish to.
I find that is how people give directions here I had a sms today that said, Join me at the Barrista opposite Basilico on Arthur Bunder Road. So I guess my address isnt too much, a tad long but I will get used to it.
My home In Mumbai, is a budget level hostel located in the heart of this amazing city. A tiny entrance that can be easily missed, leads two floors up a worn wooden staircase right on the busiest street of the neighborhood. I have a window I can look out at all the hustle and bustle and not break a sweat because the AC works too well. My room faces the front desk so the room wallahs see all my comings and goings but thats ok. They also make sure nobody will go into the room when I am not there.
Its part transient and part traveler hotel. I like that. It has the feel of a small community. The staff are pleasant enough and get me coffee and bottled water when I ask and even try to run errands for me,though I have better success myself at times. they even got me Mcdonalds today while I was busy working. When I want a real shower they turn up the water pressure, if its late and I am hungry the staff share their dahl rice with me. I in turn buy them fruit and say I bought too much so please feel free to have some. They have opened their little community to me and I am pleased I feel comfortable and I get to watch daily life without feeling like I'm spying or eavesdropping.
The Hotel Shabana isn't in a guide book and its not a place you will find easily through Google. I happened upon it by meeting the manager at the internet cafe I was frequenting before I got my mobile internet setup. He offered me a very fair price for a room in a city that accommodations come at a premium.
Their are a few characters that stay at the Hotel Shabana, their is Kudrun the Bollywood actor recruiter, Maryam the large Somalian women who is having Indians make Somalian dresses and then ships them to the Somalian diaspora. There is the group of Yemeni boys who have laptops and chew Quat in their room with the door open. they gave me a stalk to try, its bitter and I probably needed to chew more of it to get a feeling of whatever they feel after chewing. If I understood him correctly one of the Yemeni's, said today he has been living in the Hotel Shabana for 2 years. There is Nick a young American who is taking a year off before college and volunteering in teaching Eglish and playing football with the slum kids.
Hotel Shabana has become a sanctuary for me when I want to retreat from the drenching heat and noise, its a place that when I lay my head I am home.