India’s popularity as a tourist destination has increased in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, but on arranged tours travellers often see only the surface of what this incredible country has to offer. To get right down into the underbelly of a place, you either have to stay a while longer and go for ‘slow’ or ‘experiential’ travel, or approach it from a different perspective altogether.

Here, we do just that, as we join my former workmate David Bader on the last instalment of his guest author trilogy ‘Impressions of India’.

Mumbai cityscape at night, by Vidur Malhotra

In Part One we accompanied David as he set foot in Delhi for his business trip plus a little sightseeing. Part Two took us with him on a whirlwind visit to Bangalore and onto Mumbai, where he continued to engage us with his off-the-cuff and often hilarious observations.

Now, in his final couple of days here, David has become used to many of the unique customs in India, but is never short of enthusiasm for its charms, quirks and culinary delights.

Get ready for David Bader’s Impressions of India: Part Three!

Day Five

To fall asleep I didn’t count sheep, I tried counting the tooting horns I heard outside – no surprise, it took me ages to nod off.

Need… coffee… badly… must… wake… up…  
‘Hello sir, what is your room number?’
Oh damn, what was my room number?!
Nooo… I really can’t remember my room number.

Random guy in hotel uniform walks up ‘Your room number is 307 Mr. David’
Ok, that was just scary. Why do you know my name and room number?!
Actually, I don’t care, because the same random guy in uniform brings me coffee!

The delights of authentic Indian cuisine, image courtesy of Y’amal

Now that I am awake, let’s see what Mumbai has to offer food-wise.
Hot, hot, hot coriander omelette with chilli and onion…
Fried mushrooms
Fried tomatoes
Some potato thingy
Some rice thingy
Sweet, sweet lemon juice!

Mumbai morning traffic! tut tut, honk honk, tut tut tut… hooonk!

Mumbai traffic, photo by Eirik Refsdal

In these few days India I have heard more horns than in the rest of my 33 years put together.

‘Can I carry your bag Mr David?’
‘Can I watch him carry your bag Mr David?’
‘Can I watch him watch him carry your bag Mr David?’
Yes sir, you may! 

I’m ready for today – including my 250 business cards.

‘Can I bring you a cup of tea, sir?’
What?! You don’t know my name?!
Everyone else in this country seems to know my name and that I drink coffee. I’m disappointed in you, go back to your corner and be ashamed of yourself ?

Ok, I actually only said ‘No, thank you’ but he did stand in the corner for 20 minutes looking ashamed!

During the work discussion it seems that every potential traveller wants to go to Iceland now. Is there space in Iceland? For all of them?

It’s been interesting this morning – a pleasure sitting with you guys! 

It’s all about business networking, wherever in the world you are.

Here is what I ate for lunch:

Chilled cucumber salad with garlic vinegar sauce (BEST THING EVER)
Prawn and crispy noodle salad (BEST THING EVER 2)
Plus kachumber salad, sweetcorn soup and tofu & spinach pot

Others seem to have found out that I have the internet password.
Sure you can have it, 10 dollars for you my friend, special price!

While talking to clients, I still manage to eat the following:

Wok-fried chicken with dried chili, cashew nut and vegetables
Rasmalai – whatever that was, can someone please explain?
And a small piece of chocolate mud cake (I am a sinner)

I shook the general consul of Norway’s hand – and he said he is proud that a Norwegian is doing such good work here. When, after 20 minutes, I told him that I’m not Norwegian, he was speechless and told him I had him fooled.’s an Indian sweet dish consisting of small, flat cakes of paneer (curd cheese) in sweetened, thickened milk. Image by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier.

‘Hello Mr David.’  Wait, why do you know my name, random client?
‘My friend told me that I have to come and talk to Mr. David, he was very happy with all the information you gave him.’
*Blush*, thank you!

‘Hello Mr David, can I also have your card?’
‘Me too, Mr David.’

Huh? I need more business cards, I only have 2 left!

The last workshop day is finally over and it’s been a true pleasure – thanks for inviting me! Only a short feedback session with the other participants still to come.

I have a lot of thoughts to take back to Oslo and the other Scandinavian countries, but first a rush hour ride back to the hotel – and I saw the first car accident happen!

Apparently, that was not an accident – that is what they call ‘kissing of vehicles’….

Hotel dinner time, here is what I had:

Spicy duck and coriander soup (best thing ever, of course!)
And then…..

Broccoli and water chestnut dumpling, black mushroom dumpling, corn and pine nut dumpling, coriander vegetable dumpling, seasonal vegetable dumpling, corn, cheese and spinach dumpling, burnt garlic dumpling, prawn and water chestnut dumpling, crystal prawn dumpling, prawn and chive dumpling, prawn and coriander dumpling, seafood dumpling with ginger chili oil, bok choy chicken dumpling, crystal chicken dumpling.

I am in dumpling heaven right now!!

So, time for some shopping and to test my negotiation skills.

‘One for 2000 rupees and the other one for 2500’
If I take both, can you give me a discount?‘ No sir, they are very good quality items.’
Ok, then I’ll take only one. ‘But sir, both are very nice.’
Yes, but I don’t want to pay 4500 for two. ‘What do you want to pay?’
I give you 3800 for both. ‘Sir, you can have them 4000.’
Ok, but only if you give me 1 of these extra. ‘Ok sir.’

4600 down to 4000: That’s a 13% discount. I’m happy with this! 🙂

A warm welcome. Image by Yllia Photo

Now it is time for my last night in India. No matter, how busy this place is, no matter how dirty and hot and humid it is at times, I’ve loved every minute of it. Ohhhhhhhh, I need the toilet….this is going to take a while, so I’ll say goodnight now!


Day Six

I had more than 3 hours of sleep. something is wrong

There’s bacon at breakfast!
Did I ever mention that I love bacon?
What else is there that I haven’t tried yet?
Baked yogurt – oh WOW, this is good. From now on I will bake all my yogurts!

Bacon, delicious crispy bacon. Photo by Cookbookman17

Worst thing about this place was the bad internet! How can people live like that? ?
‘May I take your bag Mr David?’
Yes, you may! I think I am finally getting used to this…

Every office has a coffee guy, why don’t we have a coffee guy?
Bleh… this is sugar water… not coffee.  

A large room full of people listening to my presentation. I could get used to that.
Wow, they actually take notes!!

Meeting the founders of Veena World is a big honour. Really cool office and down to earth people! All they do is simply enjoying traveling and want others to do so too!

Travelling to the next few clients takes so long in this traffic!
So, I found out that if you press the horn too much, you are offending people – everyone must be permanently offended then. Every meter along the road is used, really, you just can’t imagine!

Visiting Mango Travel… Sounds fruity, although mangoes aren’t in season right now. 

Everyone wants to sell Scandinavia. Everyone.

Lapland image by Chris, with Northern Lights.

Arctic Finland, image by Guillaume Baviere

Next office visit is at Kesari tours, something completely different again
Again, a full showroom of people listening to what I have to say.
Oops – now my laptop can’t be connected to the projector. I’ve been very bad and used a pen drive –  OMG I am such a badass, such a rule-breaker!
Ohhhh…. a 30 min wait for IT?
Let’s do some stretching, entertain the crowd. Make some jokes! 

Alright then, let’s try to start a conversation with them without the presentation.
‘What do you know about Scandinavia?’
Great, good start…
‘What would you like to know about Scandinavia?’
Silence. Awwwwwkward….

Ha, now the projector itself doesn’t work.
Finally the projector is working and the presentation is loaded on the other laptop.
Open MS Office.
Does not show the presentation correctly…

Very awwwwwkward…..

OK, I’ll threaten them with a quiz after the presentation
That got their attention  😀 Now the questions are coming in.
Everyone wants to know about the Norway Nuts!

Awwww, no bargaining here, I was looking forward to that.
I bought 2 great shirts, fantastic linen, very comfortable.
Ok, I am done shopping, we can go now…
But first, the next store looks good, just a quick 5 minute look.
Alright… one more store, promise.

Mumbai tailor, image thanks to Herry Lawford.

I don’ t like shopping. I only bought the shirts because I needed new shirts.

Stuck in traffic again
Dinner! Challenge me, you order – I eat!
Some kinds of fish and some kind of chicken with some kind of bread.
Very good! Very goooooood!

Off to the airport.
My check in starts in 1 hour and then I still have 3 hours more to wait.
My neck hurts because of the air-conditioning everywhere

I know, I’ll go for a spa treatment at the airport!

Aircon and traffic stresses melt away with a massage, image by Hamza Butt.

The massage is good, but still 2 hours to go.
Last meal in India: KFC hot and spicy chicken.
Now boarding my economy class flight. Why was I teased with economy plus on the way here just to be slammed down again?

Stepping into the plane is like stepping into a full-service cinema.
Bad Neighbours 2 is rubbish.
Eye in the Sky is very sad. I hate Helen Mirren now! Alan Rickman was also mean (RIP)

It is amazing that you are actually called ‘non-vegetarian’ if you eat meat, instead of ‘vegetarian’ if you don’t eat meat! 

Time to sleep….followed by time to wake up – it’s technically Day Seven ?
Breakfast is some sort of thing with a thing on a thing. Unidentifiable!

Airline food – hit or miss? Picture credit: Subha Das

Not such a smooth landing in London. Bounce, bounce!
So, what should I do now in London for 5 hours?
NETFLIX? I’m bored…

But I just noticed…for a moment there weren’t many people around me.
How relaxing was that?!
That’s it for this time.
Peace out!

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Disclosure: David is Purchasing Manager (Norway and Iceland) for a global DMC, and a former colleague of mine. He lives in Oslo. All views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author.