I’ve been writing a blog about my little eastern Mumbai suburb of Powai for some time. I had grand plans of a comprehensive blog. But, you know what they say about best-laid plans…
I love my little oasis amidst all the Mumbai mayhem. I love that I can walk to Starbucks, walk in the park across the street from my house, and walk to a yoga class in the early morning. I love that we can walk to dinner at Mainland China without getting run over. I love the cornucopia of American brands represented as I walk down Central Avenue. I love the Italianate architecture and the lack of items hanging out the back windows of buildings as I walk to a friend’s house. I love that so many expats call this neighborhood home, and they are all within walking distance.
Have I mentioned that Powai is very walkable?
Powai’s walkability is its biggest strength and most attractive feature. For example, as I write this post, my husband is on his way home from a haircut and will stop at Nature’s Basket to pick up a few items for dinner and breakfast in the morning. We often spend Sundays strolling to nearby restaurants or shops, especially now that Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) has opened next to Haiko.
In fairness, Powai has its critics. Not everyone loves the homogenous, un-Indian architecture. Some have said that you leave India when you enter Powai. I don’t know that I would go that far, but Powai does mix international and Indian influences more than other suburbs. Despite claims to the contrary, Powai is not the best place for happening nightlife. If you want bars and nightclubs, go to Bandra. If you want quiet streets and lush gardens, come to Powai. For a Western expat relocating to India, Powai is an easy, soft landing. The suburb mixes the familiar with the foreign in a way that makes the transition less daunting, especially if it’s your first expat assignment.
A recent transplant asked me about a typical day.
This video promoting a Times of India contest is exactly what my day in India is like.
Well, OK. Not really. But, it could be.
Top 5 Powai Pastimes
- Walk to my yoga class. Pia’s yoga classes take place throughout Powai, with most classes in Glen Heights, across from Heritage Garden. Pia offers co-ed classes six days a week. Classes feature a combination of stretching, core work, and overall Hatha and Vinyasa flow yoga inspired sessions. Classes include Asana, Pranayama, chanting, and yogic philosophy. Pia “aims to share her joy of healthy living with others that spells a healthy body & a calm mind.”
- Walk to brunch at LPQ. Technically, brunch at LPQ is my husband’s favorite pastime. Sunday brunch runs until 3 pm. You can order a la carte or from a special brunch menu. The brunch menu features small-bite samples of LPQ’s most popular dishes. Sunday brunch costs 1450 plus taxes with alcohol and 1250 plus taxes without alcohol.
- Walk to Starbucks for coffee. I have written many times of my love for Starbucks Powai. The staff is friendly and efficient. The coffee is from TATA’s Indian coffee plantations and tastes much better than Starbucks coffee in the US. In a country devoted to tea, coffee is a hard sell, but the Starbucks atmosphere makes it easy to enjoy a steaming hot cup of caffeine. I have a not-so-secret ambition to go to every location in Mumbai.
- Walk to the Mumbai Mobile Creches’ Hiranandani site. Although I don’t often get to attend the English classes at the new location across from Evita, I can’t sing the praises of the volunteers highly enough who work with the children every week. These volunteers are a remarkable group of expat women giving back to the local community.
- Walk in one of Hiranandani’s many eponymous gardens. The part of Powai in which I live is called Hiranandani Gardens. A master-planned community built by Hiranandani Construction Company, this suburb within a suburb is well-known for its gardens. Bollywood movies shoot in these parks. The parks feature playgrounds which are packed with children in the evening after school.