THOSE SOMETIMES…

Moments of silence
Moments of solitude
No clock, no companion
Moments in a pensive mood

Sometimes noon and sometimes night
Moments when the mind’s a maze
Cup of coffee by my side
Ceiling, window, idle gaze

Moments during a walk alone Continue reading →

A Father’s Fears

Today, I am afraid of sending my child to school
Not knowing what she will learn
From books that oft teach false gospels
From teachers who know no better

Today, I am afraid of taking her to a place of worship
Not knowing whom she will bow to
The all-conquering neon-clad god of rampant consumerism Continue reading →

THE CHOW HOUND CHOMP

Times, things and tastes change but this one’s from the ’90s. Many of these cherised spots have long been put to rest, some survive. A toast to all of them!

“I am a junkie.”

How many people you know will readily admit to that? Well, I do. I have a food fetish and if you too think of your salary every time you see moongphali, have a cast iron stomach and are the enterprising kind, this piece is dedicated to you. Or you can stick to your home-cooked DBRS (daal, bhaat, roti, subzi) and be happy, though dreadfully dreary.

It being July and the monsoons, have you been to Café Naaz near the Hanging Gardens? Drink a beer in a light drizzle while you languidly gaze at Bombay from the terrace. Or in a sudden burst of inspiration, grab a tissue and compose poetry. Lord! If mere thoughts can make me go near-beserk, imagine what would actually being there do? All this, for a cover charge of just five rupees!

If it’s really pouring, check out Gallops at the Mahalaxmi Race Course and have the spicy chilli-cheese toast and a cold coffee with ice cream, as you take in sheets of rain blinding your view of the verdant expanse, or make conversation with your companion du jour. Or head for Samovar at the Jehangir Art Gallery, which overlooks the vast gardens of the Museum, for their stuffed parathas with pudhina raita and chutney.

And if fish is not temporarily off your menu, Mahesh Lunch Home at Fort is your goal. You have a drink – or three – of course, but the real reason you’re there is for the steaming, succulent tandoori pomfret (or three!). Nothing like it. Or the the aloo chaat at The Silver Plate at Hotel Diplomat (behind The Taj), served complimentary with the drinks. Both courteously provide forks, but avoid, what are hands for? To borrow Col Sanders’ line, “it’s finger lickin’ good.”

Then there’s Café Mondegar of the decrepit jukebox and chilled draft beer fame on Colaba Causeway. For only a buck, you get Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini or Cocaine. Or Leopold, whose chicken tikka at 44 rupees a plate can’t be beaten. It’s probably the best known café among the seedier firangs on Bombay’s streets – and I believe is listed in the ‘must visit’ section of their tourist brochures. Whether it’s for the food or the ‘other attractions’ upstairs, I wouldn’t know.

There’s also Anand Ashram, located down a non-descript lane in Girgaum, for Malvani food. You wait in line for your turn and when it comes, you get to sit on your own small, private table. The solkadhi they serve is a digestive for their shellfish and the owners’ surliness. At Ballard Estate is Britannia, for Parsi patra ni macchi and awesomely authentic berry pulao, and George Restaurant opposite Horniman Circle for its biryani with pickles and onion on the side.

You know KC College? Well, just opposite, on the footpath outside the SOTC office is this guy and his cart with chhole-bhature. Or there’s the sukha (and teekha) bhel-wallah outside St Xavier’s College. There’s also Solly, who runs a pav bhaaji stall outside the Lop Stop at Haji Ali Circle. He’s lesser known then Sardar’s at Tardeo, but probably better tasting, especially when accompanied with garlic papad. There’s RR Plantain Leaf Andhra Restaurant at Navjivan Society, guaranteed to set your taste buds aflame but not leave you cold when faced with the bill.

If you’re at Dadar Station on the Central side, at an unearthly hour and your tummy’s rumbling, there’s a guy on a cart who makes egg-bhurji, with a chai-wallah situated next door to dip your pao in.

Now I’m not religious – I can identify more with Bakasura than Bajrang Bali – but I’m ay Babulnath pretty often. Close to The Bombay International School is this dosa-wallah, known for the way he flips the dosa onto your plate and his mmm-Mysore masala. If your’e at Little Gibbs Road, try this bhel puri-wallah who is the only one who doesn’t complain when you flick a few more puris to munch on while you wait. Whereas others invariably moan about the cost of each bite, he’s only too glad when you nibble for free, and that’s not only because he knows me!

Worli Sea Face, I know, can get crowded in the evenings. But near the entrance to the dairy is a Mafco booth, besides which are two sandwich-wallahs. The one closer to the booth has the most delectable toasted veg sandwiches, garnished with butter, sauce, chutney, masala and coal dust this side of Bombay 400016.

You might remember the now defunct Pastry Palace on Napeansea Road. In its place stands Papa’s, with new décor. But you still get the same chicken roomali, albeit at Rs.18 now, with the special mint chuntney. Bachelor’s on Chowpatty Seaface has strawberries with cream. And strawberries with cream and cream. And strawberries with cream and cream and cream… You get the idea? A parking spot there is harder to get!

So, gourmand, “bhukkad”, “haurat”, call me what you will. I say if you’re still reading without salivating, you’re probably impotent. In your tastebuds.

WTF

WTF is it with Gen Y conversations nowadays? What was earlier spoken English bastardized with Americanisms and Bollywood Hindi, is now abbreviated unintelligible garbage, especially to the language-challenged 40 year old parents of the speakers of this new language. Sure, even we had slang in our days – some of which I’m sure had our folks confused – which we use even today, but it’s no longer “cool”.

IMO, this new language, is a combination of sms and on-line related terms that makes it so confusing, almost like the shorthand squiggles that stenos wrote with back in the days they took dictation, and which had some of us LOL.

Writing in long hand is AFAIK utterly, completely passé with all the multi-tasking that today’s kids do – talk on the phone while surfing while eating while listening to music even while pretending to hear what dad has to say. And is further complicated by the surfeit of attention-seeking, sense-activating gizmos at hand. So focus on communication beyond a few seconds is impossible. No wonder the twats tweet!

It’s not just texting that’s seeing this trend, but emails, too. No longer is a reply in the form of a letter; it’s literally a single letter. Because even a two letter word like OK, itself the short form of okay, has further been circumcised to K. And questions are asked simply by punching in a “?”. No more does an “x” suffice for a kiss; emoticons are used to express feelings and sentences are punctuated by parentheses and semicolons coming together cleverly to make faces.

Makes me think, OMG, what next?

Dunno, dude, but I gotta go… TTYL, TC!

BABA AA GAYA!

The title of the essay can be read as “THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL”, although it literally means ‘The Lad Is Back.’

September 25, 1989. As you descend through the shimmering heat haze, you close your eyes and think “…aah, I’m home!”

You alight onto the tarmac and are assailed by the familiar smells of Mumbai. You enter the terminal and your jet lag vanishes amidst the cacophony of touts badgering you to jump queues and offering you a ticket through Customs. For what, you ask, the couple of pairs of jeans you’ve brought back after penny-pinching on your student allowance? But kismet, karma and all that Eastern jazz plays its hand, and as you pass your bags through the X-ray machine, the bottle of Continue reading →