Friday 8th November 2013
This morning’s buffet breakfast featured aloo curry and parathas, so we skipped the toast – a little greasy, as parathas always are, but tasty. Then packed and took a taxi to Dadar, a journey of about 25 minutes and Rs150. The driver didn’t know the hotel so just headed for the station, but luckily I spotted it down a side street. The room is a little small, but the mattress is of the slightly softer kind and the hotel has its own restaurant called the Viking – rather oddly, since it serves Indian and Chinese food.
After a rest we wandered out to explore the neighbourhood and get some cash. The ATM at the nearest bank wasn’t working, but we had more luck at one of the several banks along the main road. It is amazing really – cashpoints hadn’t even been invented when we started travelling: we had to carry enough traveller’s cheques to cover all expenses plus contingencies. Now it’s possible to get cash from a hole in the wall in a sidestreet in a nondescript part of town. Indian cashpoints are very civilised. Although this one was outside the bank, it was in its own little air conditioned cubby hole with an armed guard outside to prevent other customers from entering until you’d finished. The machine offered a choice of languages, and even addressed us by name. However, it flatly refused to dole out more than Rs10,000 (about £100), so paying cash for a pricey hotel might prove tricky (not that we are likely to stay in pricey hotels).
We found Dadar station easily enough; there’ll be no problem walking there with our luggage, especially in the cool of early morning. It’s actually quite small, nothing like the vast gothic palace of CST. It doesn’t really seem a fit starting point for a long distance train, but I guess CST can’t cope with the volume, which is why some trains start way out at Lokmanya Tilak.
Dadar is very different from Fort – market stalls line roads with architecturally bland concrete buildings, mostly small shops selling cheap goods. This is not where the money is – no Starbucks here, although we did find a decent cafe with outside seating, part of a hotel I think. Their coffee was half the price of Starbucks and actually better. Starbucks/Tata seems to skimp on the coffee a little – it was definitely weaker than at home.