Bombay Chronicles – The Day after…

I  woke up early morning after what was a surreal magical evening.. It was 5.15 am and I woke up Bhim to drop me to Mahalaxmi Race course. The sweet chap that he is, he told me he wouldn’t join me for the run but he would drop me and pick me up once am done.

Sleepily Bhim swaggered to the bike and we started off. It was still dark and we could see the Bombay lights, Haji Ali lit up in all it’s green glory and a few cars racing past us. The city was slowly waking up to get chaotic all over again.

I did my usual run and basked in the aftermath of it. There was a huge line for the foot masseuse so I decided to walk back to the apartment. Bhim would be in blissful sleep and I wanted to walk by the sea, it was just 1.2 kms away.

I walked along, the sun was not shining bright yet as I crossed to the other side  and saw  Haji Ali, the crows, people relaxing by the wall side, it was peaceful. To walk in silence is a gift, a present,you savour each and every moment of it and you do it without thinking..

I saw that the pathway to Haji Ali was already getting filled up by people. It reminded me of my city’s Dargah. Situated in the heart of Hyderabad, it was known as Baba Pir Dargah and my parents used to take me there every time they wanted some peace of mind.

We would sit after offering the ‘Chaddar'( a piece of cloth for the Baba’s tomb) and there would be a mullah or even a random person singing beautiful songs in Urdu.. It would make my mother’s eyes fill up with tears, that feeling of joy, happiness and sadness mixed into it..

It’s funny how such memories pop up like that out of nowhere and I realized why I stopped going there. It was my mother’s special place and after she passed away, I didn’t have the courage nor the guts to go there ever again, to relive all those memories of being with her was still painful.. Some things do take time to get over, don’t they?

I stopped at Haji Ali juice centre and decided to have something quick. While having Mosambi juice, I saw they had Sitaphal(custard apple fruit) and I asked if its available so the man said, it’s not really juice Madam, we add a little bit of cream but why don’t you taste it and decide? I did and I loved it! But I saw I was falling short of 50 Rs and this is where this country catches you by surprise..

When I told him I didn’t have enough to pay him he smiled and said No problem Madam, pay me later. I said later? I really don’t know if I will come here again so it’s ok, I won’t take it. But the kind man just said Aap aaram se baitiye Madam, koi baat nahin (Please sit, it’s no problem) and promptly gave me the Sitaphal cream.

The kindness, the paradox, the human nature of helping strangers happens only in India  my friends…And when you least expect it. In today’s times, these gestures are huge and I was touched by it.. Thanking the man profusely I enjoyed the Sitaphal.

I went back to the apartment with lightness in my heart and Bhim was groggily awake. We chatted a bit and got ready to meet Pankaj at Radio club for breakfast.

Pankaj had promised a swim for Bhim at his club. So off we went and while Bhim swam for some time at the club pool,  Pankaj and I chatted over breakfast, later Bhim joined us and we listened to some music and conversed.

On our way back to the apartment, we dropped Pankaj near to his office and rested for some time. Today was our last night in Bombay and we were already feeling withdrawal symptoms. Pushing those thoughts aside, we got ready to have a long leisurely lunch in a cool cafe in Bandra.

And yes so far if you have been reading, us eating meeting and drinking, well that’s what a vacation is all about isn’t it? 🙂

This cafe we were going to was something special. I was following this cafe on Instagram and I loved how the chef owner Kevin Cheung – a Canadian Chinese used fresh ingredients to make one of the most awesome menus.

I religiously followed every post of this cafe and in today’s age of processed food, his menu was refreshingly different, everything made in house without the use of wheat or maida or anything that came out of a can! It was Bastian Cafe. It is I must admit an upscale cafe and yet unpretentious in it’s offerings, very casual.

So Bhim and I got ready, actually stylishly dressed for a change and went for lunch 🙂 And here are a couple of things that pleasantly surprised me. It was a hot spot alright, with all the big clientele walking in and yet it was located in an almost obscure corner with a tiny hoarding jJust like how most of NYC hot spots are.

I compare it to my own city Hyderabad where a ‘hot spot’  means more garish, more gawdy sensibilities and huge spaces, I mean gigantic huge spaces with lights that will either blind you or make you totter in absolute darkness!

Bombay and it’s people had a huge respect for spaces, the lack of it made them use their spaces intelligently and make it aesthetically beautiful.

So it was a pleasant surprise when we walked into a narrow door with narrow steps and viola, it was a beautifully lit and well ventilated tiny and cozy cafe. And I mean really nice and cozy! We expected the prices to be a bomb and were pleasantly surprised to see that it was not that expensive. The food served around us was fresh, really fresh and new.

Bhim ordered one of their Signature Cocktails and I ordered a Sparkling wine – Rose. We truly let go and relaxed. It was trendy, casual and so easy.

We started off with a Mushroom Soup Bun and Sesame Lavaash(a thin crispy bread)  with peanut spicy sauce. We were Oohing and Aahing at every bite! Everything was awesome and worth the hype.

While Bhim went for an Asian Veg Bowl with spicy sauce, I had to have the Buffalo chicken salad! This salad was haunting me since I saw it in one of their instagram posts! And the portion sizes were huge!

But the piece de resistance was their bestseller dessert – Smores Cheesecake made with marshmallows, white chocolate, dark chocolate and graham cracker! It was filling and so delicious we went into raptures! If you think this is looking like some food review, what can I say?? One has to experience good food, good living once a while and we were indulging to the hilt!

We saw the chef talking to his staff and being really hands on, checking everything. Near to us was their food photographer clicking pictures for their social media posts. The best thing about all this was there was no hush hush, no artificiality about all this.

Business was going on, customers were being looked after and at the same time, the Chef owner was going about doing his meetings and all. That is Bombay for you! I know this might look trivial to you but for me this was like an icing on the cake. I haven’t seen even 10% of that kind of commitment in hoteliers in my city, there is no finesse.

We had to come out of our lethargy of eating such good food so we did some retail therapy near Kala Ghoda and made our way home. It was another relaxing day for us. After the high of last night, this was a good balance.

We hadn’t met Sid for the past two days and we did want to end the evening with him. So he invited us to Malabar Hill Club for dinner and drinks.

We reached there around 8 pm and Sid was already at the club. A beautiful old club, it had an air of nonchalant about it. We sat outdoors and ordered beers and chatted over Popcorn and other snacks. Sid wanted to know what all we did so in the past two days and we gave him an update.

We spoke about so many things, almost every aspect of life. It was fun, deep, intense to laugh out loud moments. Here was the real Sid to us. Witty, very caring and a sensitive soul. He made his life fill with lighter moments even if situations didn’t make it lighter. His laughter with that face is something I will always remember with fondness.

It was pretty late by the time Sid dropped us back. We gave him a big tight hug. I felt a lot of gratitude towards our friends, the way they took care of us with lot of love. Truly pampered.

It was indeed the last night in Bombay as we looked outside the big window facing the sea..



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