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My Mumbai: 7 Travel Tips From Bly Founder Rena Thiagarajan

Bly Founder Rena Thiagarajan

Notable San Franciscans dish on their favorite destinations in a seven-part series.

Cities make great muses—just ask Woody Allen. For Rena Thiagarajan, founder of online boutique Bly, it was in Mumbai that she dreamt up the idea for her business—an online marketplace and travelogue of curated souvenirs from around the world. While Thiagarajan can’t tell you how to haggle at the bazaar like a local, here are her favorite treasure-hunting shops and street food vendors.

The spot that really captures Mumbai's energy is . . .

Chor Bazaar. It’s the place to find treasures like vintage brass and Bollywood posters. It's Mumbai's most popular, but not its only bazaar. There's also magic and history to be found at Crawford Market, Bhuleshwar, Mangledas, and Zaveri. 

In my bag, I always pack . . .

A notebook and camera.  

Among locals, it’s a faux pas to . . . 

Correct a local who calls Mumbai "Bombay." It will always be Bombay to many a Mumbaikar. 

A hidden gem in Mumbai is . . .

Banganga Tank, an ancient water tank built as part of a temple in the 12th century. It's in the upmarket residential South Mumbai neighborhood, Malabar Hills, and a great place to go at the end of a dusty day of wandering. 

I want to buy everything whenever I go to . . .

Ishaque Gadiwala’s stall on Mutton Street in Chor Bazaar. He's got an impressive collection of vintage brass. 

I always leave full and happy at . . .

Sardar Pav Bhaji in Tardeo, in South Mumbai. Pav Bhaji is classic Mumbai street food and consists of a hot buttered roll ("pav") and a potato-based curry with vegetables, cilantro, onions, lime, and chili (the "bhaji").

The perfect way to end the night is . . .

At Aer, the Four Seasons’ rooftop bar. It has a spectacular view, and is a good place to people watch—you might just get a glimpse of a Bollywood star!