It was as if the sea was suddenly reaching out for me with its magic powers. After eight weeks in Mumbai, I finally realized that I was living a mere 10 minutes away from Juhu Beach. Yes, I had been aware of that earlier. Precisely every morning when I went running on Juhu Beach at 7 or 8am. But it took me a while to realize that the beach is more than a so-so replacement of good ol’ campus loop.
My first encounter of Juhu Beach was rather engrossing. It was back in June, my first week in Mumbai. After three days at work and thankfully still jetlagged, I got up at 6am in the morning, put on my running gear and went out. Culturally completely inappropriate. I am happy to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants at work where there is an A/C, and I can handle wearing jeans and shirts when going out at night. But running in the morning, at “only” 27 degrees C (80 F), was not an activity where I would compromise personal comfort over cultural sensitivities. So I left my apartment, said “Namaste” to the security guard downstairs, and hit the road. Once I was out of the apartment building complex and on the road, I had a weird feeling in my stomach: not only was I the only white guy around, I was also the only person with shorts (and, being my running shorts, they were merely fancy boxers) and a short and tight running t-shirt. After I few minutes, I got used to the stares. What was more surprising, a foreigner running, or a guy in really short shorts outside in public? I never got to the bottom of this, then all my attention was focused on getting to the beach. After some failed attempts, a friendly group of guards finally gave me the crucial hint, and a minute later I found myself on the beach.