Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mumbai meri Jaan?!

I have spent the first 17 years of my life in Delhi, except 3-4 initial years when I was shuttling between Delhi and Gujarat.
And it's been just over a year at Mumbai- so please feel free to disbelieve the title of the blog! Truth be told, the title of the bolg is just attention seeking behaviour at display- trying to cover up for my 10 months of non-blogging! I'm quite far, in fact, from giving my life for the city or any such noble deed! However, at the risk of taking the politically incorrect stand in the standard Delhi-Mumbai controversy, I will concede that Mumbai has been a lot more fun for me! Lest I get chopped into bits and pieces by my co-TDCs (those who cannot de-abbreviate this have clearly not engaged in too many third-party conversations about Delhiites), I'll give the disclaimer that a) first 17 years are really not the perfect period to make the most of a city and b) conservative middle class homes come with certain curfews, even if they send their kids to study at DPS! So, the fact that I couldn't experience the true colours of fun-Delhi may be all my fault!

Having suitably de-risked myself, I can now come to the main point this blog is making. Apart from the fact that Mumbai is THE place to run a B2B business in, and that the weather does not go to extremes, I am quite passionate about the city for the whole range of small pleasures that you can enjoy here- quite inexpensively! (Please note that inexpensive is an important criterion, because I do still categorize myself as gareeb entrepreneur!)

So, here's my list of Top 15 Small Pleasures in Mumbai ("in no particular order"- you can't imagine how long I've waited to use this phrase, because I always wonder why the writer couldn't spend an additional minute in sequencing the points in some particular order!)

1. Biking down the Palm Beach Road especially when it's absolutely empty at nights!
(Ravi, don't kill me for giving out your secret hideaway- I'm sure not more than 10 people read my blog, most of whom I'd have anyways raved about the road to!)

2. Sailing off the Bombay Harbour on a hot summer's day with a couple of breezers and some cookies!
(Cyrus, my sailing instructor would love me for this, because most non-DNA reading Mumbaiites have no idea about the extremely active Sailing circuit in Mumbai- and believe me sailing's less elitist than golf in Mumbai, because you do not need to "own" a yacht to sail)

3. Sipping coffee (and having the complementary cookies!) at one of the couches next to the French Window at Sea Lounge (Taj Palace's coffee shop overlooking the sea) at twilight!
(The best part about twilight is that you watch the transition from frontview to backdrop!
6:50 PM- Thousands of colourful boats with a smoggy horizon as the backdrop
7:10 PM- Thousands of lights (from ships far away in the horizon) capture the focus and the small boats disappear into the empty space that exists between me and the lights in the horizon)

4. Watching a play at Prithvi, and the paranoia that precedes it knowing that a second late and you will be locked out!
(The 15 minutes time lag of their clocks does not help, because it takes simple math to game it! Of course, the experience is not complete if you do not run into Kay Kay Menon/bearded man who sits on top of the wagon in the movie Swades/the flutist with the skull cap and grey beard engrossed in his art at the Prithvi Cafe)

5. The Point of View on the 30th floor of ITC Grand Central at late nights!
(Ravi insists on spoiling my kick by proving that it's not actually 30th floor, but that stratospheric view really lives up to the 30th floor expectations! No wonder, it's an only-for-guests-staying-in-special-suites lounge! I suppose if people start treating it like the Eiffel Tower, the authorities might get strict about that rule, so if you're going there, at least look like you stay in one of those suites- and if you have figured out how to stage that look, let me know as well, because I always have to negotiate my way up there!)

6. Singing at the Tuesday Karaoke at Aura in Powai!
(I'm not bothered about too many people reading about this because a) most Mumbaiites treat Powai as a neighbouring hill-station and wouldn't trek all the way here on a weekday and b) more first-timers in the room increase my chances of being above-average in the singing scores- which, for some strange reason, have very little to do with actual singing skills. They're not even inversely proportional, because then I should have scored high at Aura- it's a complex vertically parabolic function with me at the bottom!)

7. Having garlic cheese croissant at Birdy's in Prabhadevi before a meeting at ICICI Prudential
(Those who know me would know the psychological block I have against food products, whose nomenclature includes the terms cheese or butter! For instance, I would have been able to stand the Frankie guy at Ghatkopar if he served the same 4 types of Frankie, but didn't name them 1) Cheese Frankie 2) Cheese Butter Frankie 3) Jain Cheese Frankie 4) Jain Cheese Butter Frankie. What is an adequately health-freaky person supposed to order there?! But, the croissant at Birdy's is so soft and delicious that a carnivore like Barood also likes it (though, he prefers the Garlic Cheese Chicken Croissant for obvious reasons!))

8. Playing badminton on weekends at the Catholic Gymkhana, Charni Road
(I have taken the risk of writing this here, assuming that PG is the last guy who reads blogs. I have been explicitly instructed by him to keep this "our little secret"! Of course, the other reason is the altruistic streak in me that wants every badminton lover to play in a court, that is wooden, but comes really close to a synthetic court, and is incredibly affordable in this era of hilariously high membership fees!)

9. Having the gigantic Bloody Mary at Hard Rock Cafe on a Tuesday or Thursday, with a live band playing covers!
(I have great respect for Indian bands that make original music, but I'm not yet altruistic enough to allow this respect to come in the way of a brilliant evening where I can involve more in the music than just be able to critique it! And if you're going with someone who's going to Hard Rock for the first time, the men-in-black do play some interesting pranks! And I'm not talking about YMCA here )

10. Early morning jog at the Worli Sea Face or in the woods of IIT Bombay campus, especially when it is raining!
(Truth be told, I have done the Worli Sea Face jog only twice (once while running the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and the other time when my mum had managed a wonderful guest house on the sea face at 40 bucks a day!). Of course, running in the rain implies no IPod, so this is the kind of small pleasure that ceases to be pleasurable if stretched beyond a certain time!)

11. Reading for hours on the couches by the French Window at Crosswords, Kemps Corner!
(Though my favourite bookstore in Mumbai is Landmark at Andheri, I'm currently protesting against them disallowing people who sit on the floor near the racks and read! But, even if they were to allow that again, it wouldn't beat the deadly combination of having access to a great view, a comfortable couch and so many amazing books! Also, it is not a good idea to read there during Lunch or Dinner hours, because the Moshe's that has recently been opened on the 1st floor of Crosswords is quite noise during its peak times!)

12. Losing most arcade games at Haikone, Powai and then regaining some lost pride by beating most people at Basketball!
(There are other places in Mumbai such as Phoenix Mills where you can bowl and play all kind of arcade games, but Haikone also has a go karting track. Honestly, I am so bad at karting that there have been times when Kaushik has overtaken me with an entire lap's lead, but, considering that the go karting industry seems to be in its terminal stage, I love to do this, hoping that I may go down in history as the last Indian woman on a go karting track!)

13. Having God level filter coffee at Maddu Mess at 4AM!
(The kick is in not just the coffee, but also in sensing how alive a khopcha in Mumbai can be at that unearthly an hour. Maddu Mess runs only from 4-7AM in the morning and is a God-send for BPO employees in Hiranandani and IITians. But, if you are not accompanied by a member of these 2 categories, or if you do not have medical insurance, do not even attempt trying to locate this dingy, severely unhygienic khopcha!

14. Working on my laptop or reading a book on Marine Drive, constantly soaking in the beauty of the waves from the corner of my eyes!
(Part of the kick is also in taking bio-breaks in the candle-lit restroom of Inter-Continental and occasionally picking up a fight with bystanders who randomly dump trash into the sea!)

15. Coffee by the pool-side at Rennaissance, Powai or at La Cafe, Chembur!
(Two disclaimers I forgot to add in the beginning- my entire worldview is biased towards a) coffee, because I'm an extreme coffee-fanatic and b) Powai, because I stay here and in spite of my love for Mumbai, I am yet to feel happy about too much of local-train-travel! But, coffee at Rennaissance figures not just because it's a fusion of both of these, but also because it has the most amazing view of the Powai lake, has lovely palm trees on its pool side and has the 2nd best driveway to a hotel in Mumbai . La Cafe in Chembur is quite secluded from the Mumbai crowds and is another of those hidden treasures. However, it did not merit a 16th point, because I think there quality of service has deteriorated in the last few months!)


  1. The bearded man at Prithvi would be Makarand Deshpande, I guess? :)

    Also, despite you categorically claiming ur healthy-food-only fanaticism, I'd like to recommend a quaint parsi eatery in Colaba, called Theobroma. You need to ignore Leopold and Mondegar and keep walkin straight on in that street to taste the most delicious bakery items coupled with their cappuchino. I am sure it'll be worth the travel from Powai to town!

    Do update more often! :)

  2. Hahaha!

    For the love of Karting, I hope you are not the last Indian Woman on a Karting track!

    For the love of Garlic, Cheese and Chicken (yupp.. all 3!), I hope I can get my hands on Garlic Cheese Chicken Croissant at Birdy's in Prabhadevi!

    Oh, and when you come for Coffee by the pool-side at Rennaissance - do drop in to our 'Residence' too - it's exactly 27 steps up the hill!

  3. So, here's my list of Top 15 Small Pleasures in Mumbai ("in no particular order"- you can't imagine how long I've waited to use this phrase, because I always wonder why the writer couldn't spend an additional minute in sequencing the points in some particular order!)

    Absolutely hilarious. It didn't just bring me a mere chuckle - "you can't imagine how long I've waited to use this one." It has the broad, open-ended French-like meaning to it which doesn't even point you to what "it" did really bring to me.

    Kudos for acknowledging that TDC is a real concept and not a fragment of imagination in the minds of non-delhites (non-TDCs, recursive definition). What with Dipish and Hari being my two best friends from IIT, I so regret the lack of TDCs in my life at present.


  4. Even though I consider myself a Mumbai expert, you've got a whole new list for me to explore. My list would be spending hours undisturbed at India Tea Centre, 4 a.m. trip to Sassoon Docks, a garden above Pearl Of The Orient (Ambassador) for a 360 deg view of South Mumbai, Bandra Fort and some more.

  5. Mine is here -