Mumbai Musings

I have been quite bad. I start off with a ‘series’ and never really sit to pen its subsequent parts. So, audiologist hemorrhoids let me rectify that immediately. Since eating out is more compulsion than choice, unhealthy I guess it was easier to complete this.

So without much further ado, here is the second installment of this series:

Copper Chimney (Worli, Near Atria Mall) – I had tried Copper Chimney in Delhi, so I was very sure what to expect. Serves Indian cuisine. Am told it has good non-vegetarian fare (though I haven’t tried, since I visited only after converting to vegetarianism). Contrary to many other restaurants, CC in Bombay enjoys ample space, with lots of crevices and corners to enjoy a relaxed private meal. I had ordered pretty standard fare (Dal makhani, naan and paneer) and they were all good.

Vig (Chembur) – If you are in Chembur, and haven’t been to Vig‘s then you ain’t eaten anything. Like Crystal, Vig has small space, not very tidy and pretty ‘down-market’ look. But let it not fool you. The food is simply sumptuous and will have you literally licking your fingers. Serves veg and what we can call ‘snacks’. However, they are more than stomach-ful. The chholas are just amazing.

Guru Ka Dhaba (Lokhandwala) – Rush here for some delicious home-style vegetarian food. Don’t expect any fancy seating area; in fact, it is less than ordinary & you might have to share tables. But the culinary brilliance more than makes up for the lack of space. Or service, which is tad too slow. I loved Rajma and Paneer Bhurji here, though do try out various vegetables like Ladies Finger & Cauliflower too. They serve soft phulkas (instead of the usual tandoori roti).

Papa Pancho’s (Seven Bungalows, Andheri W) – Another awesome Indian food joint, more Punjabi. And pretty authentic. I liked its Baingan Ka Bartha, which is as rare in Bombay as winter chills. Also, talking of the season, do try out the sarson-ka-saag there. Nothing to beat mom’s taste, but quite there. They have another outlet at Pali Hill, Bandra. Yet to visit that one, though.

Falafels (Various outlets) – I have become a fan of this Lebanese delicacy, made of chick-peas. Order their Combo-2 and you get quite a meal: a huge portion of hummus, with two large pita breads, and topping of choice (I usually order falafels), combined with a dessert (chocolate mousse is my favorite) and a drink (lemonade or carbonated drink, choose your pick). I have tried hummus at various places (including Cafe Coffee Day at Juhu-Shopper’s Stop) but the way these people make it something else altogether. Their home-delivery service rivals Domino’s in speed and promptness.

Mondegar‘s & Leopold’s (Colaba) – Two joints which perhaps define Bombay’s spirits are Mondegar’s & Leopold’s – both situated near each other, on Colaba Causeway. Both are crowded in evenings, and is full of foreigners, hippies, back-packers and the young-at-heart. The beer flows freely. The snacks are great. And one has to ‘experience’ these joints to understand the absolute carefree and bindaas attitude available. A perfect place to head to for an evening of fun & frolic with friends.

Leopold has been a degree more famous – thanks to the incessant tourist over-flow, as also the book Shantaram, and (more recently) due to the shootout there, last November. Established in 1871, Leopold’s is as much a landmark as Gateway of India is.

Five Spices (Fort)– Located near RBI’s office, Five Spices is another ‘cool’ place; it serves Chinese cuisine. With some good amount of spices, as the name goes. The portions are more than sufficient, so be careful while you order. The service is impeccable. However, decor could have been more innovative. I am told there is another branch at Bandra or Andheri, yet to try that out.

Chetana (Kala Ghoda, Fort) – Situated next to Rhythm House, Chetana offers an array of thalis – Gujarati, Maharashtrian and Rajasthani. It’s tough to choose the best one. All three are outstanding. I have a soft corner for Rajasthani fare- including dal, baati and choorma, which the thali contains. The service is extremely prompt. And since food in unlimited, stuff yourself! Do also try the Gujarati thali, and it’s white kadhi, served alongwith khaman dhokla and multiple chatnis. This place leaves you more than full, and often a lavish lunch equates skipping dinner.

Panchvati Gaurav (Infiniti Mall, Link Road, Andheri West) – Another marvelous thali joint, similar in concept to Chetana: that is, unlimited thali starting off with snacks (dhokla, small samosas et al), jal-jeera, and then variety of sabzis, dal, rice, raita, and papad; rounding it off with some awesome sweets (moong dal halwa or any other sweet of the day). Thali joints thrive on quick service, and this one is no exception. It’s location (within a famous mall) helps it garner a good crowd. Again, a place guaranteed to give you ‘burps’!

That’s all for this episode. Will be back shortly, with a third installment, as I go discovering (and re-discovering) more Bombay joints.

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I have been quite bad. I start off with a ‘series’ and never really sit to pen its subsequent parts. So, hemorrhoids let me rectify that immediately. Since eating out is more compulsion than choice, I guess it was easier to complete this.

So without much further ado, here is the second installment of this series:

Copper Chimney (Worli, Near Atria Mall) – I had tried Copper Chimney in Delhi, so I was very sure what to expect. Serves Indian cuisine. Am told it has good non-vegetarian fare (though I haven’t tried, since I visited only after converting to vegetarianism). Contrary to many other restaurants, CC in Bombay enjoys ample space, with lots of crevices and corners to enjoy a relaxed private meal. I had ordered pretty standard fare (Dal makhani, naan and paneer) and they were all good.

Vig (Chembur) – If you are in Chembur, and haven’t been to Vig‘s then you ain’t eaten anything. Like Crystal, Vig has small space, not very tidy and pretty ‘down-market’ look. But let it not fool you. The food is simply sumptuous and will have you literally licking your fingers. Serves veg and what we can call ‘snacks’. However, they are more than stomach-ful. The chholas are just amazing.

Guru Ka Dhaba (Lokhandwala) – Rush here for some delicious home-style vegetarian food. Don’t expect any fancy seating area; in fact, it is less than ordinary & you might have to share tables. But the culinary brilliance more than makes up for the lack of space. Or service, which is tad too slow. I loved Rajma and Paneer Bhurji here, though do try out various vegetables like Ladies Finger & Cauliflower too. They serve soft phulkas (instead of the usual tandoori roti).

Papa Pancho’s (Seven Bungalows, Andheri W) – Another awesome Indian food joint, more Punjabi. And pretty authentic. I liked its Baingan Ka Bartha, which is as rare in Bombay as winter chills. Also, talking of the season, do try out the sarson-ka-saag there. Nothing to beat mom’s taste, but quite there. They have another outlet at Pali Hill, Bandra. Yet to visit that one, though.

Falafels (Various outlets) – I have become a fan of this Lebanese delicacy, made of chick-peas. Order their Combo-2 and you get quite a meal: a huge portion of hummus, with two large pita breads, and topping of choice (I usually order falafels), combined with a dessert (chocolate mousse is my favorite) and a drink (lemonade or carbonated drink, choose your pick). I have tried hummus at various places (including Cafe Coffee Day at Juhu-Shopper’s Stop) but the way these people make it something else altogether. Their home-delivery service rivals Domino’s in speed and promptness.

Mondegar‘s & Leopold’s (Colaba) – Two joints which perhaps define Bombay’s spirits are Mondegar’s & Leopold’s – both situated near each other, on Colaba Causeway. Both are crowded in evenings, and is full of foreigners, hippies, back-packers and the young-at-heart. The beer flows freely. The snacks are great. And one has to ‘experience’ these joints to understand the absolute carefree and bindaas attitude available. A perfect place to head to for an evening of fun & frolic with friends.

Leopold has been a degree more famous – thanks to the incessant tourist over-flow, as also the book Shantaram, and (more recently) due to the shootout there, last November. Established in 1871, Leopold’s is as much a landmark as Gateway of India is.

Five Spices (Fort)– Located near RBI’s office, Five Spices is another ‘cool’ place; it serves Chinese cuisine. With some good amount of spices, as the name goes. The portions are more than sufficient, so be careful while you order. The service is impeccable. However, decor could have been more innovative. I am told there is another branch at Bandra or Andheri, yet to try that out.

Chetana (Kala Ghoda, Fort) – Situated next to Rhythm House, Chetana offers an array of thalis – Gujarati, Maharashtrian and Rajasthani. It’s tough to choose the best one. All three are outstanding. I have a soft corner for Rajasthani fare- including dal, baati and choorma, which the thali contains. The service is extremely prompt. And since food in unlimited, stuff yourself! Do also try the Gujarati thali, and it’s white kadhi, served alongwith khaman dhokla and multiple chatnis. This place leaves you more than full, and often a lavish lunch equates skipping dinner.

Panchvati Gaurav (Infiniti Mall, Link Road, Andheri West) – Another marvelous thali joint, similar in concept to Chetana: that is, unlimited thali starting off with snacks (dhokla, small samosas et al), jal-jeera, and then variety of sabzis, dal, rice, raita, and papad; rounding it off with some awesome sweets (moong dal halwa or any other sweet of the day). Thali joints thrive on quick service, and this one is no exception. It’s location (within a famous mall) helps it garner a good crowd. Again, a place guaranteed to give you ‘burps’!

That’s all for this episode. Will be back shortly, with a third installment, as I go discovering (and re-discovering) more Bombay joints.

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Whoa! It’s this blog’s seventh anniversary. Seven is considered an auspicious number:  Seven Wonders, oncologist
seven pheras, approved
seven music notes, seven seas & seven colors.  Let’s wish the number’s luck also rubs onto this site & it gets more prolific.

Happy Anniversary Random Expressions!

Last month my HR manager sent a very sweet mail congratulating on three year completion in the organization. It struck me then that that meant three years completion in Bombay as well. Three years sped by and I didn’t even realize it. If time flies, cardiologist then it most definitely has very large wings to brush under its span 1095 important life-days.

If reader’s recall one strong reason for opting for Bombay (I still cannot get over calling it by its old name) was to understand what makes the city tick; to comprehend & appreciate its pulsating energy; to feel that radiance which seems to make a Bombayiite so uncomfortable elsewhere; to unravel its various layers that compel writers & lyricists to pen novels & songs on it.

Honestly, injection I will confess I am nowhere close to grasping any of the above. Perhaps I allowed myself to be sucked in my work’s unavoidable vortex which left me very little residual time to mull & ruminate on the city. Or perhaps, health I am now one with the city’s electrifying intensity so much so that I didn’t realize that three years have gone by and that is the sum total of my years of stay in Nepal and Agra put together. The gypsy in me seems to be finding a city anchor. Frankly, I do not like it.

But I will park the thought to shift base (once again) for a few more days.

Rewinding back let me run past a few memories now permanently associated with this city. I landed here on 5th September 2007, sans a house or even an inkling of an idea as to where I would stay. It took me three excruciatingly long months (and numerous extended approvals to stay on in the company guest house) to mentally adjust to the house dimensions here, and learn the language of BHK and deposits (which I felt were impossibly high). However, soon I understood that housing is such an important factor in an average Bombayite’s life that there is a well-oiled machinery to cater to all its needs. This was a huge contrast to my previous experience in Agra, where I had just made a loose agreement with the owner (that too, done via the building office & who collected cash rentals every month); and of course, a deep disparity from Nepal where even that loose agreement was done away with.

Discovering Bombay was fun because of its sheer size, though I feel it s a pretty easy city to explore, due to its longitudinal geography. Actually, the city allows you to lose yourself rather than your way. No one bothers what you do and why you do. There are no nosy neighbors at home & no prying eyes on the road. Privacy is respected; each one on his own. Early on, when I was still at the guest house, I returned very late to find the doors locked. Having no other place to go, I roamed around a bit (hiring an auto); since it was a festival month & a weekend, there was pretty much traffic and crowd on streets. Later I went to the airport, bought a few magazines and sat in a cafe sipping coffee till the sun rose. I returned to find a Ganpati on its way to visarjan , followed it till the beach and finally came back to the guest house. In that whole night, not once did I feel uncomfortable (what will they think of me sitting idly in an airport cafe ?) or scared of being stranded in middle of the night or any apprehension or fear of any untoward incident. This kind of security is something that Bombay should cherish & always nurture. Bombay s true charm lies not in its outward beauty (which, admittedly is lacking to a large extent), but in its inner resilience; in its innate strength.

Having seen them in films, visiting areas like Fountain or Town Hall or Gateway of India provided an unmatched thrill. Of course, add to this passing by a celebrity s house (for example, Peddar Road, where Lataji stays) was (or rather, is) definitely exciting. I have already recorded my visit to the famous Chor Bazaar.

Bombay s festivities are unique. Ten-day Ganeshotsav is a mind-boggling & unparalleled array of sound & color & joy & music, and to see the sea of people throng the beach took my breath away. It s a sight to be savored, enjoyed & participated in. It s as if the entire city converges into one large fair. Other than this, Janamashtmi (or Gokul Ashtami) is celebrated in a unique manner where dahi-handi competitions are held at almost all areas. Real fun!

Of course, most of the discovering happened in the early days first via the city’s ubiquitous trains, and later (when I purchased it) my car. I still cherish moments when I would step out every weekend to visit a new place; and sometimes with hilariously disastrous results. For example, I can never forget the painfully long drive to Aksa Beach; which I undertook at a whim, seeing a signboard on the Link Road, and hoping it to be just round the corner ; only, it turned out to be after several corners, and in end a pretty much disappointment.

In those initial days, I used to even enjoy the repeated trips to any beach Juhu or Bandstand, largely, though sometimes to Versova as well. For a Delhiite, watching the sea (and especially the gorgeous sunset) holds high premium. It is soothing & inspiring to observe the rapid waves roll to the shore & lose their energies only to recede back and return with a new force.

Gradually, I too seemed to have rolled over to a comfort routine (which just oscillates between home & office) & have dissipated my energies. Now I barely step out on weekends. I am too burdened by the thought of traffic, which honestly speaking is as good or as bad as any other big city. I think I need to reorganize my strength. Once, I had planned to photograph & archive all the musical legend roads & landmarks. I never could start it. Perhaps, I should try to give it a shot again now.

Anyways, Bombay (or Mumbai) will have to bear with me for some time. I hope it continues to accept me and provide me its radiance & brilliance.

Other posts to read – Myths & Truths – Bombay; Finding A Doctor; Eating Out In Bombay -1 & Eating Out in Bombay-2

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Comments

  1. Hey DJ, cant believe you hv written this…not that i doubt ur ability to write sooo well but i was almost certain that u hv developed an aversion to this city…of late, guess wt, i dont get sleep without listening to ur endless crib abt the city, the road, the traffic and last but nt the least, the sea of people on the road for ever ( u remember saying “dont they hv a house to stay”)…Yes, the city will surely bear with you for a long time 🙂
    btw, when r u clicking the photos of roads / landmarks…i will b waiting wd bated breath…so wt r u waiting for? start NOW :))

  2. Hey DJ
    Found u after a long span.Well written blog.Now u realize how busy one can be. I am glad u r enjoying yr stay in a great city where I have spent five decades before migrating to USA.I am sure inspite of all the hasstles, u will never want to leave Mumbai.
    Rgds.
    -Harshad Jangla
    Atlanta, USA

  3. Having spent almost all my life in Bombay, I too feel like a part of that well-oiled machine and fail to register some of it’s gorgeousness (if there is such a word). Your post though inspires me to take time to drink in the energy of this amazing city 🙂