I *heart* Bombay (and well..Boston)

I'm urban..in the way other people are mountain-people or tunafish junkies. I love city life...something about dreary concrete blocks and grumpy people totally gets my juices flowing. Ergo, this will be a blog about me, my two favourite cities (Bombay and Boston), my addiction to Vietnamese coffee and my views on Gregorian chant and it's efficacy in curing some types of tympannic membrane rupture. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thinking about my future..

Contemplating life at Bandra Land's End
Twilight, October 18th 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why I love my city..a photo blog

A collection of pictures of Bombay stuff that I've taken over the last year or so...This is what keeps me a true blue Bombayite. However much I may bitch and moan about how stressful this city is, how expensive it is and how dirty it can be, I just look at these pictures I've taken and love it that teeny-weeny bit more.

I clicked this awesome Photoshopped image of Bombay life at the Kalaghoda festival in Bombay last year. I really think it captured the regular images of South Bombay that we see on the way to work everyday...

Flora gazing at the monsoon sky. I just caught this giant black cloud moving accross the sky as I was looking up at the top of the fountain.
(Flora Fountain monsoon 2005)

Burkha clad women dodging traffic in Mahim. View from my taxi window on the way back home to Bandra.

The walls of the Bombay Naval Dockyard. Notable ships built here include the ship that the Star Spangled Banner was written on and the HMS Trincomalee - the largest timber vessel built. (The Naval Dockyard also hosts some of the last walls of the original Bombay Fort)

A Sunday afternoon on Juhu Beach. This is the view from the Vie end of the beach (for you clubbing types) looking towards Versova. I love the incredibly over-dressed beachgoers.

G-d is a Bombaywallah.
And He will argue with an imposter.

Lund and Blockey Opticians at Kalaghoda...right next to the David Sassoon Reading Room (Members only, please do not spit)
I love this picture because it could easily be the 1890's. Except for this taxi that passed by just as I was clicking the picture.

Gazing up at the Rajabai tower at Bombay University. Since they've just opened it up for visits again, I'm sure I'll get some great pictures of Bombay from up there.

Looking out from one of the balconies of Victoria Terminus towards the Municipal Corporation building. Or as it is today, looking out from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.

Flora contemplating her city..Flora Fountain, South Bombay. I love the old-world, mossy look that the fountain has during the monsoon.

The corridors at Bombay University. You've got to hand it to the British architects...they sure knew how to make a place look hallowed..

Just another lazy evening at the Gateway of India..This is what the ordinary Bombayite does on a holiday evening. Gasp for breath at one of the few open plazas in the city...this one right by the sea.

Graffitti was never truer.
Kalaghoda Art Festival, 2005.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Gastronomic delight

Friday nights and the lights are low..
Looking out for a place to go..

It's been 4 Fridays in a row I've been at Hawaiian Shack, and it's getting a bit old. The music is the same (well, the music is great, but the DJ plays them in the same order even!), the people are the same - the white guy drinking his scotch and smoking a ciggie at the end of the bar seems to have been welded there!

So when Shailen asked me if I'd like to join him and a few friends to head over to Mohammed Ali Road in South Bombay for post-Ramadan fast revelry, I jumped at the offer. I did have to clear up a few misgivings from assorted friends and family - It's the ghetto! You're going there that late? You know "those people" don't like us! They slaughter cows right there! What if there's a riot or a bomb blast there? Anyway, me being the cosmopolitan secular street-wise Bombayite cast all these canards and fears aside and headed off with 6 fags to experience the delight that is the Muslim quarter of Bombay.

It's Ramadan and every Muslim - except the booze-swilling, joint-smoking, unnatural sex-having ("He puts what in where?") ones I know is fasting from dawn to dusk and eating what looks like insanely colored and smelling food all night. The 7 of us met up at Bohri Mohalla just off Mohd. Ali Road and headed into the tiny bylanes that snake through the area like veins on an old auntieji's hand (That was a "simile"- for people who studied Wren and Martin like the gospel when they were younger). We stopped at this place called "barahandi" (Twelve pots) where there were GIANT pots full of assorted parts of goat simmering and bubbling away. We picked up a few table-mat sized naans and ordered a plate of paayaa (trotters) and nihaari (marrow) so we could try out what in my Brahmin house is considered food that sends you straight to hell. I couldn't bring myself to try either but the consensus at the table was that the paayaa was quite melt in the mouth but the nihaari was the true breakfast of champions in this duel.

We wrapped up the rest of the naan and walked past the Syedna's mausoleum in the heart of the Bohri Mohalla. It's this very Mughal looking marble tomb towering high above the ghetto-y architechture of the nouveau-riche Muslim. Quite pretty actually when they light it up. We passed scores of Bohra men running into prayer (I never really realized this, Bohra men wear a white muslin jacket over their clothes when they pray) while their womenfolk stood around window shopping (It was 10 pm at night and the stores were all open!) Anyway, we found this kebabchi who had tables all along the side of the road and we ordered boti and seekh kebabs and chicken tikka for po' ol' me. Some of the guys wanted to try out the khiri (cow udders) but the thought of me passing out watching them eat it made them rethink the idea. Anyway, the total bill - 7 of us remember! - came to Rs. 188!! That's less than what I pay for a medium Pizza! OMG! I am eating here from now on. The kebabs were good - a bit spicy for my taste but then again, the years of living on a butter and cream diet in the States have altered my Indian taste buds.

We then chose to eat dessert..cause nothing says Indian festival than hours and hours of stuffing vast quantities of milk and sugar based food down your throat! A longish walk later, we found ourselves at Suleiman Mithaiwalla and in the midst of what has got to be the greatest frikkin' population density EVER. I swear there were like 200,000 people crowded into about 5 city blocks. I broke away to go get some malpuwa - this pancake like deep fried dough bound with egg and doused in sugar, typically eaten smothered in malai (cream). It was big enough for all of us to share..and just out of the deep fryer, so it was also about 5000C and dripping oil. Deep fried, coated in sugar and dripping with oil. I'm almost having an orgasm typing this...

The others ended up with eating tons of phirni, some very weirdly colored milk desserts and a chocolate and pistachio covered malai roll that almost brought me to my knees. I discovered stuff about myself last night.
1. I love sweet stuff.
2. I will eat tons of it given the chance and if no one's looking.
3. I will secretly pack some away so I can spend the rest of the night (I ended up sleeping at 4 am) eating it.

After all this, none of us was in the mood to brave the crowds to get some kheema-pau (spicy mincemeat in bread) or some teetar (partridge) so I just hopped into a cab with 3 of the guys and headed back to Shivaji Park for some coffee and a whole lot of conversation.

All in all, it was a splendid evening. I got to see a culture and a side of Bombay that I'm most ignorant about. Women in veils, men with beards, kebabs on every street corner, mosques everywhere, shops open way after the rest of the city shuts down, cheap tasty food, old men selling ittar at the street lights, beggars, tumbledown highrises with an occasional gem of a building sandwiched, burkhas on sale, two-wheelers everywhere, giant cauldrons of assorted meats and rice, lights, noise, smells....It was an experience!

Can't wait for Eid so I can actually experience this on a scale about ten times greater. Any volunteers to join me then?

Current Music:
In Aankhon ki masti ke - Umrao Jaan

I wonder if there's any kothas left in the old quarter..maybe I can actually get to see someone who's not a gay man dance a mujra to this song?