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A rickshaw ride for Mr President

Last updated on: November 3, 2010 18:32 IST

Image: A rickshaw ride can give you a feel of walking over the moon
Sanaya Dalal and Abhishek Mande draw up a list of dares for Mrs and Mr Obama.

So, the Obamas will be here smack on Diwali. And since we Indians like to bend over backwards for every firang that ever sets foot on our soil, we will expectedly play the ever-gracious hosts (read push-overs).

But Mumbai is a place that is known to challenge the best of international travellers.

And since the First Couple seem like they're game for adventure (a little like Dora The Explorer -- in fact, Mrs O even has hair like the loveable animated character, but we draw the line at comparing the President of the United States to her sidekick Boots!), we'd like to dare the Obamas to try their hands at these tasks -- individually or together!

After all, there is no other city in the world quite like amchi Mumbai, is there now?

Take a rickshaw ride

So Obamaji, you may never really set foot on the moon. But a rickshaw ride on a pot-holed road from Borivali to the domestic airport could well give you an experience that'd come very, very close to the real thing!

Part One of this dare involves winning an argument with a rickie -- get him to drive you to your destination. Because any Mumbaikar will tell you that no rickshaw driver ever wants to go in that direction!

Part Two involves beating Manmohanji to the same destination, except that he's flying in from Delhi and will take off at the precise moment that your rickie flags his meter.

How's that for an Amazing Race experience?

Haggle with a fisherwoman

Image: Photograph used for representational purposes only
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
Now this one's specifically for you, Mr O.

Care to try your hand at bargaining for Bombay Duck (which is actually a fish, please note) with one of Mumbai's magnificient fisherwomen?

We've seen you try to negotiate with Israel, Palestine and China lately. Let's see you wrangle out a deal in this situation.

Be warned -- if talks fail, you may just get smacked in the gob with a smelly pomfret! No, not really. Just kidding!

Survive an Indian movie

Image: Most Indians would pay to be in RajiniSir's next
We all love Indian cinema, right, so why use the word 'survive'?

Let's see -- they're usually three hours long and they're all musicals.

Yes, they have songs, sometimes 15 of them -- and usually, they have nothing to do with the plot!

So here's the task. You watch one.

If you survive it, we'll even throw in a free cameo for RajiniSir's next.

Why use the word 'free'? If you were an ordinary mortal like the rest of us, you'd be paying him to appear alongside.

Try to meet Amitabh Bachchan

Since we're on the subject of Bollywood, any real tourist and Indophile will tell you that a visit to Mumbai is incomplete without a glimpse of the Big B.

No, not you. We're talking about the one and only Amitabh Bachchan, B-Town supernova and pride of the nation.

Set aside an hour one evening for the privilege of waiting outside his homes in Juhu. If you're lucky, he may just step out and wave at you, along with the rest of his fans.

Who knows, seeing your entourage, he may just allow you a quick chat for a few minutes at his front door, if he's in a good mood.

What, you want more than that? Sorry, he's a busy man!

Work out at a local akhada

Image: Flex your muscles in an akhada
We hear you're a fitness freak, getting up at some unearthly hour to hit the treadmill.

Tough guy, huh?

Check out one of our extreme gyms. And yeah, you could bring your Secret Service minders with you.

Our akhadas and pehelwans (wrestlers) could show you folks a thing or two.

Pity one pehelwan is trapped in that Bigg Boss tamasha down the Pune expressway.

You must have seen him on your WWE channel -- The Great Khali. 7 feet, 3 inches in his socks. Scaary man!

Want to eat 'Mumbaiya'?

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Photographs: The Vada Pao is not as lethal as it looks
We like the way you pronounce Dal.

Not the American Daaal way, thank heavens.

Hanging out with Indians and Pakistanis way back in college, we hear, has given you a taste for curries etc.

Since the Secret Service won't allow you to head to Bhendi Bazaar to try the Nalli Nihari, we suggest you ask your Indian hosts to open up Bade Miya near the Taj, which will be shut down during your visit.

Bade Miyan has the best kebabs in the republic of South Mumbai, which most Mumbaikars think is a quirky place anyway.

If those Tea Party folks are going to give you a hard time about tasting Muslim fare, maybe you could try the Vada Pav.

We recommend though that you give the Pao Bhaaji -- a culinary concotion conceived in Mumbai -- a wide pass. Taste a spoon and you'll know what we mean.

Address a rally at Shivaji Park

Image: Raise your political quotient in Maharashtra, speak at Shivaji Park
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
We hear 5,000 seats were empty when you addressed a rally during this past week's testy election campaign.

If David Axelrod, your political guru, is advising an ego boost, please call the Shiv Sena's Thackeray clan who pretty much own Shivaji Park, Mumbai's answer to London's Hyde Park.

Balasaheb, the Hindu Hridaysamrat (emperor of Hindu emotions, that is), could host a political rally for you and pack enough Shiv Sainiks at Shivaji Park to delete all those mood-busting memories from back home.

If Sachin Tendulkar, whose journey from the maidans of Shivaji Park to cricket god is the stuff of legend, turns up as well, you are guaranteed a full park.

Welcome, welcome, 'Barack Raoji Obamasaheb'.

If Rahul can, so can you!

Image: A Mumbai suburban train
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
An authentic Mumbai experience can never be complete without a dash to the railway station to clamber onto the fast local, which is in reality may be five minutes faster than the slow ones. Or five minutes slower, depending upon the time you take to get into the crush and out of it.

Heck, our very own prince-in-waiting Rahul G did it when he last visited our city. No reason why you shouldn't, no?

But here's the challenging part -- to get to the train not by taking the footbridge, but rather by jumping from one platform to the other and crossing the tracks.

Yes, yes, we know it's illegal. But find us one Mumbai commuter who hasn't taken that route once in her/his life and we'll be happy to believe that there really is a Santa Claus.

You could also treat the train ride as an expedition of biological discovery -- trying to decipher the flood of strange human scents.

Maalish at Chowpatty

Image: Treat yourself to a massage at Chowpatty
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
You'll be pleased to know that common folk in Mumbai can access a seaside spa experience at no extravagant cost.

You may have tried lavish spa treatments in Chicago and DC, but the maalishwallahs (masseurs) at the Girgaum Chowpatty beach are from another planet truly.

Nothing you've ever experienced could match the extreme maalish (massage) on the sand -- what with the cracking of bones and the odd ways in which they twist your neck.

Just make sure to leave your Jorg Gray timepiece at home, or you'll find yourself buying it back at Chor Bazaar.

Play a game of gully cricket

Image: How well can you bat and bowl
It's our religion.

We're not talking about sitting at a posh stadium pavilion, sipping champagne and watching Sehwag (Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter could take a tip or two from Viru), defend the nation's honour -- we're talking about making your way into the cramped alleys of the city for a street game.

Your ability as a batsman depends on how many runs you score without breaking a single windowpane!

Nope, no gloves.

Nope, no helmet.

Yup, you have to.

No, we're not crazy -- it's just that here in Mumbai, we are like that only!