Kandivali-band

Growing Up In Bombay

kandivali
 

GROWING UP IN BOMBAY

WORDS BY ALOK HISARWALA

It was the year 1991, and after 10 years of battle, my mother had won. My father left everything in Hisar. With help from friends and family he started a small transport business in Bombay. Soon after, he managed to buy a tiny apartment in a new residential colony called Lokhandwala. Our conception of Bombay, built over multiple summer holidays, was always of Santacruz. So, as we got in the taxi from Bombay Central after our chair-car Rajdhani journey — sitting at an awkward angle for 16 hours, brimming with excitement over our new life — we were in for a heavy surprise. Well, more a shock.

It was mid-June, and Bombay was railing with the first big wave of monsoon showers. The taxi passed through Mahim and shortly afterwards crossed Bandra and Santacruz. Beyond this was a territory I had never heard of. My father allayed all building fears. “Just another 5-10 minutes, and we’ll be there”. Ten minutes passed and soon turned to 60. My mother and I knew now that this was not Lokhandwala in Andheri. We were going to stay in the new Lokhandwala in Kandivali East. A vast barren suburb at the edge of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park with a large Mahindra Tractor Division factory and the second largest slum colony after Dharavi — Hanuman Nagar.

The new buildings, imitating the skyline of Singapore and Dubai, emerged as towers in the smack middle of nowhere. We could climb to the 21st floor of the tallest buildings for the suburbs at that time and not even see Andheri. We were really far. We were not in Bombay. We were trapped. We were fully cheated by my father.

As time went on, we settled into our new life. Every wing — the alphabetic A, B, Cs each with its own Otis elevator — was an independent microcosm of pan-Indian diversity. While we were the new immigrants to Bombay, old 'migrants', who sold and separated from family homes in South Bombay, also moved to Kandivali with their share. The old guided the new in the ways of Bombay. We each found our mentor to the great city, and mine was Murtaza.

After two weeks of struggling in my Marathi class in school, Murtaza finally deigned to sit with me. He opened his note book and let me copy the entire test. He had a neat, cursive way of writing in complete contrast to my scrawl. We soon began to sit, travel to school, do our homework, and spend all our time together. Despite our handwriting, we had much in common. We both did not like sports. We loved hanging out with all the girls in the school. We loved talking for hours and dreaming of the future — away from Kandivali. They were our formative years; we were teenagers teeming with hormones and new feelings we didn’t know how to communicate to each other. We just knew that, however different we were to the world outside, we were the same to each other.

Murtaza’s mother was from a small village in Rajasthan and mine was from Haryana. We ate vegetarian, and his mother made the deadliest shami kebabs. I ate my first non-veg meal in his house, and Murtaza learned to make the perfect rajma from my mother. We were both deeply attached to our mothers as we watched our middle-class fathers struggle with life. His father had lost his small corner shop in Kuwait after the Iraq invasion and was trying to reinvent the magic in Kandivali, while mine was struggling on his own. We loved our fathers, but they offered little hope to us then for the future. Our future had to be away from Kandivali and hopefully together.

The new buildings, imitating the skyline of Singapore and Dubai, emerged as tall towers in the smack middle of nowhere.

Until then, Kandivali shielded us with an enormous sense of community. Lokhandwala was our little bubble. We went to tuition at a Jewish-Konkani woman’s house, played carrom with our incredibly handsome Cantonese-Indian neighbour, celebrated Ganpati with the entire building, and played and won every dandiya contest. In that way, Murtaza had helped me graduate into a Bombayite. I began to celebrate everyone’s festivals as mine. He taught me how to get excited for Christmas, Diwali, and Id. It was only when my grandmother came to visit me for the first time, and asked me why I was hanging out with a Muslim person all the time, that I foolishly realised that Murtaza and I as Muslim and Hindu carried a bigger weight then everything else that happening to us as teenagers.

My grandmother, who had witnessed the partition first hand, was forever terrified of the other and carried that fear her entire life till she came to visit us. But for Murtaza and I, teenage priorities took precedence over all else in the world. We had an action plan to escape our lives: pass with the best marks in school, get into Xavier’s, score an advertising job, move to Bandra, and find love, or maybe many lovers.

Just like my grandmother disapproved of our friendship, Murtaza’s father, now doubly scarred by the Bombay Riots, where they spent a week hidden inside a neighour’s flat, had a totally different escape plan for him. With a year still left for us to finish school, Murtaza’s father packed him off to Kuwait. I had never felt a sense of loss before that. He left in a cab for the airport one rainy night. My face was wet, but there were also tears. I knew I would never see him again. Except for advertising, I crossed everything off our list, albeit without him.  I lived our life for both of us. Sometimes you just have to.

Kandivali for me is the memory of my teen years, where I grew to be a strong person. So strong that while I managed to challenge and come out of all my demons, I buried the very memory itself, and Murtaza with that. I secretly stalk him on Facebook now, just as I secretly look up from my Kindle when my car crosses Kandivali on the Western Express Highway. And each time, I notice with great fascination and love, how Kandivali flourishes. And I hope so does Murtaza as a grown man with his wife and children.

Feature photograph by Superfast1111 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 
Farid-band

Eat, Pray, and Love the Kababs at Farid

 

farid seekh kabab

EAT, PRAY, AND LOVE THE KABABS AT FARID

Farid Seekh Kabab Centre at Jogeshwari has just one thing on the menu — a seekh kabab/paratha combo. The lack of variety isn’t a deterrent. Farid’s seekh kababs are mouthwatering, it’s parathas soft and flaky, and the restaurant is always packed.

Farid Seekh Kabab, Shop No. 13 Kismat Compound, Jogeshwari (w), Mumbai 400 102.

READ MRIGANK WARRIER'S STORY

Farid Seekh Kabab Centre is the budget gourmand’s mecca, housed in what must once have been a public toilet for giants: serial rectangular cubicles pretending to be dining halls, walls tiled up to ye high, a sloping tin roof, and a floor you shouldn’t inspect too closely.

When a band of kabab-laden stomachs staggers out, we are directed to their recently vacated table with a polite ‘Aap log baith sakte hain’. The aroma of searing meat is appetiser enough, and ambient music is provided by the chomps of our fellow diners. At Farid, conversation is superfluous and interferes with one’s appreciation of the only item on the non-existent menu — seekh kabab.

Its arrival is preceded by a procession of accompaniments: quartered lemons, raw onion rings soaked in a spicy green chutney, and more than enough sprigs of fresh mint to spark fears of genocide in the pudina community. The paranthas follow, and are not, much to my relief, the usual leathery, rubbery sheepskins that require iron claws for consumption. They are fresh off the griddle, soft and flaking under my fingers. Bringing up the rear are two seekh kababs, which are slid off a greasy plate onto our soon-to-be greasy plates. ‘Outside food not allowed’, warns a sign on the wall; in a moment, we will find out why every heretic sneaking in manna not produced in the heaven of Farid should be taken outside, set in stocks and displayed to the jeering public of Behram Baug, who may mete out corporal punishment by allowing him to only sniff, but not devour the kababs, as we proceed to do.

First, wring the juice out of a lemon to anoint a tukda of kabab. Tear off a piece of parantha to garb its mortal shell. Line the piece with a few pudina leaves; let an onion ring or two hang rakishly out. Swaddle the kabab in these humble robes, and let it pass through the pearly gates of your mouth.

And from your lips it’ll draw the Hallelujah.

Feature photograph copyright Andrey Starostin – stock.adobe.com

 

 
Miss-T

Mixology, Mystery, and Martinis at Miss T

 

miss t colaba

MIXOLOGY, MYSTERY, AND MARTINIS AT MISS T

Miss T is seductive, intoxicating, and downright mesmerising. Housed in a beautiful bungalow on a quiet street in Colaba, the restaurant boasts an innovative Asian menu and creative cocktails that showcase fresh ingredients and premium spirits. The ambience is chic, and the vibe is sexy, perfect for #datenight with bae.

Miss T, 4, Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2280 1144/022 2280 115

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

The setting is perfect. We’re in the ‘secret room’, tucked away on the first floor of Miss T. The glimmer from the tea lights bounces off the clear liquid in my mini goblet and multiplies many times over as it reflects on the mirrored walls. The room smells of spiced gin and orange. The conversation swirls around alcohol, entrepreneurs, and puppies.

The drink is the “greatest in the world”, a Gibson Martini prepared by the two acclaimed mixologists sitting across the table. I nurse my cocktail, well aware I look less Brosnan and more Bullock from The Net. I’m wondering if I need to drain my glass quickly before I can get to the pickled onion when Dimi and Meagan* tell me that that is, in fact, the correct way to drink a martini; while it’s still cold.

I don’t need to be told twice.

I bid adieu to the master mixologists and get ready to explore other facets of the mysterious Miss T. Gliding down the stairs, feeling more Brosnan than before, I let the sequinned storks guide me to the ground floor.

Once below, I gravitate towards the lit T-shaped community bar, where Feruzan and Jeremy* hold fort on either side. I join the captivated cluster and watch Jeremy prepare my second drink of the night, a herbaceous gin tipple with a refreshing touch of cucumber, kaffir, and lime. As he talks about the balance of flavours, I notice that the fragrant mixture that fills the glass is just the right quantity. Jeremy uses a tweezer to place a sprig of green aniseed and an edible garnish with a tiger print on the thin layer of foam. This astute attention to detail is the common thread that binds different aspects of Miss T.

The chic interiors evoke a sense of intimacy and set the mood for a sophisticated evening. The spectacular skylight, which streams in diffused light through the leaves during the day, opens out to glowing Chinese lanterns at night. The cosy booths near the entrance can be used as a waiting area but seem ideal for coy conversations and flirtatious knee-touching. The soft lighting, metallic accents, and flickering tea lights at every table create an atmosphere that’s equal parts playful and provocative.

The kitchen runs like clockwork under the watchful eyes of Chef Nikhil, with each plate being executed to perfection. Locally sourced ingredients are used to create Asian dishes with an innovative twist. The crunch of the vegetables in the Vietnamese rice rolls can be heard over the hum of candid conversations. The black sesame ice cream slices through the citrusy flavour of the yuzu tart. I couldn’t possibly eat any more, but my eyes still rove lasciviously over culinary assortments as I walk past a row of occupied booths and tables on my way back to the buzzing bar.

I know it’s the beginning of the end of the night. But it’s also the beginning of a potential long-lasting love affair, one that grows more intense over time and many handcrafted cocktails.

I like Miss T. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.

*Dimi Lezinska is the Beverage Manager at KOKO. Meagan Ashley is a renowned New York-based mixologist. Feruzan B is an acclaimed mixologist and the brand ambassador for Stranger & Sons. All three were present at Miss T for a special event. Jeremy Buck, the Beverage Director at Miss T, leads the team behind the bar and is responsible for creating the unique cocktail menu.

Feature photograph courtesy Miss T

 

 
KGAF-2019-band

An Insider’s Guide to the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2019

kala ghoda arts festival
 

AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO THE KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

If the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival were a person, it would turn 20 today. That’s as old as a University student — a person old enough to vote and drive. I say this to drive home the measure of time that has passed, making KGAF India’s oldest festival. From a handful of venues in 1999 to over 30 venues today. From 20 programs in 1999 to over 500 programs across 15 sections in 2019. From an eclectic festival to a festival for the people, by the people, KGAF has come a long way. And in its 20th edition, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Editor’s Note: The festival runs from February 2 to 10, 2019. Kindly check the festival website to confirm event times, which are subject to change.

Literature

KGAF Guide_002

Venue: David Sassoon Library Gardens

The Bombay Plan, Sunday Feb 3, 6:45 pm to 7:55 pm

The Bombay Plan was the name given to a set of proposals made in 1944 by leading industrialists of the time — including Jamshedji Tata, Ghanshyam Birla, and Ardeshir Shroff — that detailed the post-Independence economic development for the country. Lord Meghnad Desai, Sanjaya Baru and R. Gopalakrishnan will speak on this unique plan for development in India.

Gandhi Between the Wars, Tuesday Feb 5, 5:10 pm to 6:10 pm

As KGAF commemorates 20 years, we also pay tribute to the Mahatma on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary, with Srinath Raghavan expounding on the American interest in Gandhi between WWI and WWII.

And Justice for More – Section 377, Saturday Feb 9, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Justice Chandrachud, known for his momentous and eloquently written judgement on Section 377, discusses the implications of Section 377 and the power of the Indian Constitution in safeguarding society.

Children’s Events

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Venue: CSMVS Lawns

Ooey Gooey by Nutty Scientist, Sunday Feb 10, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

If your kid is nuts about slime, bring them to this hands-on workshop where they can get down and dirty making slime, conduct fantastic experiments, and maybe even make some toothpaste while they’re at it! If you as a parent are cringing, remember: Daag Achhe Hain.

Know Your Art presents SH Raza, Sunday Feb 10, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Since you’ve already managed to drag the kids out, it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about one of India’s foremost artists SH Raza, using concepts of math, geometry, shape, and colour to create their own unique masterpiece.

Cinema

KGAF Guide_004

Venue: Various (see below)

Hamid, Saturday 2 Feb, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS

Catch the public premiere of Hamid, the heart-wrenching story of a Kashmiri boy who tries to call Allah on the number 786 after his mother tells him that his father is now with God. The screening will be followed by an interaction with the cast and crew of the film.

Zoo, Sunday 3 Feb, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS

Shot entirely on an iPhone 6, Zoo is a dark, edgy film that is a must-watch for every film buff. And if you’re an aspiring filmmaker, you should stick around for director Shlok Sharma’s talk on mobile filmmaking.

Actor in Law, Sunday 3 Feb, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm, Visitor Centre, CSMVS

Actor in Law, made in Pakistan, is veteran actor Om Puri’s last film before his death. After the screening, his wife, Nandita Puri, will look back on the stalwart’s decades-long career.

Food

burma burma vegetarian restaurant fort

Venue: The food section at KGAF this year has moved from stalls vending food to restaurants dishing out a special KGAF menu. From Woodside Inn to Burma Burma, 31 restaurants will partner with the festival to ensure no one goes hungry!

Irani Chai!, Saturday, Feb 9, 9:30 am onwards

If you want to whet your appetite before you gorge, register for Irani Chai! a culinary walk curated by Roxanne Bamboat that will take you on a deep-dive into the Irani cafés in the area. Want more? The walk will end at Coomaraswamy Hall where you can catch the screening of The Last Irani Chai, a filmy ode to Mumbai’s iconic cafes.

Heritage Walks

Churchgate Guide

KGAF has become a pilgrimage of sorts over the years with people from across the country making their way to its hallowed grounds and taking from this the heritage walks this year will all culminate on the main festival street!

Get your walking shoes and get set to explore Mumbai like never before. From Dockyard Road to Dalal Street and Hutatma Chowk to Oval Maidan, the stories on each corner of this city are waiting to be discovered.

Music

KGAF Guide_005

Venue: Various (see below)

Sounds of Vrindavan, Monday Feb 4, 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Cross Maidan

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia will banish all Monday blues as he performs with the students of his Gurukul.

Apache Indian, Saturday Feb 9, 7:55 pm to 8:35 pm, Asiatic Steps / Shaan, Sunday Feb 10, 8:15 pm to 9:45 pm, Asiatic Steps

If you’re a ’90s kid from India, these two names are sure to evoke nostalgia and memories of the Golden Age of pop in India. We all danced to Love-o-logy and Chok There, and it’s time to dust off your dancing shoes from two decades ago and relive the glory of Indian pop music.

Workshops

KGAF Guide_006

Venue: Various (see below)

One of KGAF’s most underrated but most engaging section, the workshops are always somewhere you should visit to complete your festival pilgrimage.

Monday Feb 4, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm, Somaiya Centre

If you’re stressed and need a breather go learn the original art of t’ai chi.

Wednesday 6 Feb, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, Artists’ Centre

Looking to be the next TEDx speaker? Get some tips from Siji Varghese as he shares insights on how you can be the next one up there.

Thursday Feb 7, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, Artists’ Centre

Get a slice of the drone pie as Gaurav Singh teaches you how to make your own drone. Then you can plan how to build your own drone army and take over the world.

Sunday, Feb 10, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, Artists’ Centre

If you’re looking to expand your sensory capabilities, learn to create your own piece of art while being blindfolded and, in the process, how to value the use of all your senses.

Feature photograph courtesy the Kala Ghoda Association

 
The-Quarter-band

Live A Little At The Quarter

 

the quarter royal opera house mumbai

LIVE A LITTLE AT THE QUARTER

The Quarter at Royal Opera House is divided into four distinct sections – an al fresco restaurant, an elegant bar, an all-day café, and a live performance space. The menu is mostly Italian and Mediterranean, and the bar serves a host of signature cocktails made with fresh ingredients. Carefully curated nightly gigs include rock bands, jazz legends, and live acts from across the world.

The Quarter, Mathew Road, Royal Opera House, Girgaon, Mumbai 400 004. Phone: 083291 10638

READ KRUTI DALAL'S STORY

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair

I walk briskly past shuttered shops, away from the railway tracks. The road is deserted, dotted only by strays and the occasional scooter. But up ahead in the distance, I see the shimmering vestiges of an era gone by. I turn left and step through the gates of the splendid Royal Opera House.

There were voices down the corridor

Classic chandeliers beckon through the glass, enticing aromas tantalise my nostrils, but I’m already swaying in anticipation of the music. As I wait behind a renowned plastic surgeon and his patient wife to get my pulse point branded for the night, I hear soft strains, melodic murmurs, and then the opening riff of “Mustang Sally” roaring down the corridor. I’m in for a ride.

Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

I waltz back into the 1950s. Plum-coloured velvet chairs, plush couches, square table tops, chic candle holders, mirrored walls – all that’s missing is Duke Ellington on a vintage piano. But all that jazz doesn’t matter tonight. All eyes are fixed on the elderly gentleman on stage as he speaks tentatively into the mic. It’s working, we say. Then I’ll begin, he says.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

The next few hours are a blur of blow-dried hair, pearl necklaces, and floral blouses. A Bejan Daruwalla lookalike in a Hawaiian shirt twirls his wife in the narrow space between tables. A saree-clad, silver-haired lady jives with her grandson up front. The trio of chorus singers moves in unison, swaying their hips in time with the maracas and tambourine. I feel like I’ve tripped into a gymkhana soiree on steroids.

Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice  

The high doesn’t wear off as the night veers on, the impact of the music and ambience compounded by the potent tipples. My chilled Gateway draught gives way to a herbaceous Quarter G&T before I draw the drinking curtains with a punchy Negroni Frappe. I haven’t even looked at the extensive wine list. I know I have to come back.

You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave

The lead singer belts out Folsom Blues in a faux baritone. Almost-Mr. Daruwalla mops his head and takes a sip of his whiskey. The ladies take a breather before the next dance number. It’s late, and I have a long way to go. I move towards the back of the room to return my glass, but I’m intercepted by an acquaintance who stares at me in disbelief. “It’s only a quarter past 11,” he says. “You can’t leave.”

I only protest once. Then I accept my Old Fashioned and retreat to the shadows to watch Almost-Mr. Daruwalla strut his stuff, patting myself on the back for this risky Friday night move.

What a nice surprise.

Feature photograph courtesy The Quarter

 

 
TARQ-band

In Conversation with Hena Kapadia of TARQ

tarq gallery colaba
 

IN CONVERSATION WITH HENA KAPADIA OF TARQ

Built by architects Gregson, Batley & King in 1938, Dhanraj Mahal in Colaba is an art deco marvel. After you are sufficiently enchanted by its phenomenal architecture, tranquil courtyard, and charming bougainvilleas, you should find your way inside to TARQ, a contemporary art gallery launched by Hena Kapadia in 2014. Over the last four years, TARQ has not only focused on showcasing works by young, emerging artists but has also made itself a highly interactive space by hosting events, workshops, and talks. We spoke to Hena about her experiences at TARQ.

TARQ, F35/36 Dhanraj Mahal, C.S.M. Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Tel: 022 6615 0424

WORDS BY PAYAL KHANDELWAL

The City Story: In terms of the location of the gallery, was Colaba your first choice?

Hena Kapadia: When we opened in 2014, a lot of galleries were already in Colaba. I did investigate the possibility of opening in Lower Parel or Bandra, but commercially it was more affordable to open a gallery in Colaba, especially for the type of property we have. Also, logistically it becomes easier to do a lot of things in Colaba, because there are a lot of galleries in the neighbourhood. So we can be a part of things like ‘Art Night Thursday’, for example.

Getting the space in Dhanraj Mahal was by chance, as I was entirely at the mercy of my realtor. But I did love the building, and everything that came with the space – including my one parking spot.

TCS: TARQ is spread over two floors – is there a particular show where you were able to use the aspect interestingly?

HK: Yes, there was a show earlier this year where the space worked really well. This was ‘Wasteland’ curated by Birgid Uccia, in collaboration with the Swiss Consulate. The curator wanted to explore the gallery space spread over two floors, so we had an installation that combined both the floors.

To be honest, when I chose the place, I was a bit worried because of it being on two floors. We are used to galleries that are single floor, wider, industrial spaces. But somehow, it has worked quite well for the shows we do.

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TCS: What were some of the challenges when you were starting out?

HK: Initially, logistical stuff like packing and shipping were a major headache, but we have figured this out over the years. Another thing we have hammered out is our catalogues. We always wanted to do catalogues for each exhibition, especially because we work with young artists and feel that we need to develop that writing for them. So what we do is commission these catalogues. Initially, with the catalogues, each artist wanted a different kind of catalogue which was very difficult, but now every year we do a series, and each catalogue fits into that.

TCS: It’s interesting that you are developing an identity for the gallery instead of for each artist, so at the end of the year, you have this cohesive set of catalogues. Was this a conscious decision?

HK: This was a conscious decision because every time we had to design this, I would pull my hair out. It wasn't about gallery identity versus artist identity. We privilege our artists in many ways. Having a unique design for each catalogue was just impossible logistically, especially because these are small-scale publications. Now it has become a much more streamlined process. However, we make sure that artist is comfortable with what we are doing, with who's writing the essay, how the catalogue is designed, which images are included, etc. It is still very much a dialogue, just better formatted.

tarq gallery colaba

TCS: You have been doing a lot of interactive events like workshops, talks, etc. Was that always integrated into the gallery program?

HK: Yes. I wanted new people to come into the place and was looking for ways to engage them. One of the earliest events we did was a poetry club called ‘Canvas Kavita’. We would send images of the current show to amateur poets so they could respond to it in verse. The whole impetus behind doing the programming can be find in the name of the gallery – TARQ, which means dialogue or discussion. I always wanted it to be a space where conversations can happen, and I think we have managed to do that.

TCS: What’s the most fun and the most tedious part about running a gallery?

HK: I love working with my artists. I enjoy the fact that I am constantly in conversation with them, the back and forth that goes on. I enjoy that closeness. I also like the fact that I get to talk to strangers who visit the gallery.

I don’t dislike anything about being a gallerist. I just really, really love my job.

TCS: A lot of people in the industry say that you are quite a workaholic. How true is that?

HK: Yes, it is true (laughs). Though I have now been consciously trying not to go crazy. Last year, we did seven shows, but the year before that we had done 10 shows. That’s when I killed myself a little bit. We are now in groove with the space and the artists, so it’s very comfortable. But I feel that anyone in this business has to be a bit of a workaholic, at least for the first five years, because there is a lot to figure out.

tarq gallery colaba

TCS: What’s been your most challenging show – conceptually or logistically?

HK: We did a show in 2016 called ‘In Letter and Spirit’ which had works from three artists – from India, Pakistan and the USA. Just getting everything together was a bit of challenge for that show, but we have now figured this out. We are doing solo shows with those artists. Conceptually, there has been no difficult show so far. I also feel that when a show is tough, intellectually or logistically, it’s a challenge to learn and grow from.

TCS: Apart from your regular programming, do you have anything particular planned for 2019?

HK: We are participating in two art festivals – Art Basel in Hong Kong and India Art Fair. Since 2017, we have been holding workshops for our artists to celebrate our anniversary. It’s like a weekend or a three-day get-together in the gallery. We are trying to make this meaningful for everyone. So last year, we did a writing workshop with Skye Arundhati Thomas where the artists got to workshop their Artist Statements, which has been a bit of a struggle for us as we are constantly editing the statements. Also, most artists are reluctant to write these. I understand that, and that’s exactly why we needed to have this conversation. It became a very productive dialogue. The artists also got to interact amongst themselves, which led to exchange of ideas and stuff.

Photographs courtesy TARQ

 
Seefah-band

Savour Sublime Asian Flavours at Seefah

 

SAVOUR SUBLIME ASIAN FLAVOURS AT SEEFAH

For erstwhile fans of The Blue who began to notice that something was missing from the food (and from the folk in the kitchen area) and were beginning to mildly panic, 2019 brings excellent news. After the successful launch of Soi69, Chefs Karan and Seefah’s little jewel in Breach Candy, the couple have, without any fanfare, opened a new eponymous space on Hill Road. It’s called Seefah and it is wonderful!

Seefah, 3rd Floor, Khan House, Next Time Square, Hill Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 089288 95952/089288 88710

READ GENESIA ALVES'S STORY

Important things first.

The menu at Seefah features almost* every single one of your absolute favourite things at The Blue. As a recap, the focus is very much on Thai and Japanese cuisine with crowd pleasers and palate teasers.

The papaya salad, fried chicken, sushi, and sashimi (the tobikko – the roe’s tiny, briny, orange orbs with their firm pop) are all still sublime. That seasonal mango salad, with or without the crisp squid, has taken permanent residence on the menu. That green Thai curry is as aromatic and complex, and the steamed fish in its piquant, citrusy, sinus-blasting glory is even more perfect that before.

And now comes the better news.

The restaurant, on the third floor above the McDonald’s (and the inexplicably popular Kaitlyn’s Beer Garden) is large and can accommodate 50 covers as opposed to The Blue’s mere, table-hustling 20.

Seefah_004

There is a little terrace that the place overlooks suffusing the interiors with light at lunch time and with a rare (for Bombay) sense of space at dinner. The interiors are beautiful and unpretentious; blue walls with a few cherry blossom sprigs painted here and there, furniture and décor in cane, wood and velvet, tables for four set up around the large dining room, and an island of high-bar chairs and an elevated table in the centre for larger groups or many individuals.

Chef Seefah says the kitchen is much, much bigger than the one at The Blue, and it features gas cooking rather than induction, which she says will only improve the deep flavours of what they serve. (I personally cannot imagine how it could be better, but I take her word for it.)

Those familiar with The Blue will also be delighted by the familiar faces at Seefah, because almost all her staff came to work with her at the new venture.

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Children are allowed in the evenings as well, because the chef says she would like to watch her customers enjoy their food with their entire families.

In the few days since she opened, Chef Seefah herself has been walking to say hello from table to table and smiling at those who are thrilled to have finally found her again after she ‘disappeared’. “I wanted to do it quietly and properly,” she says, “and make sure everything was perfect before we started telling people.” Her generosity and sweetness seem to suffuse the space with a warmth that is as authentic and addictive as her flavours.

And people are talking.

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Just via word of mouth, all the tables are full on a Friday night, four days since they opened their doors. This is fine for fans of Seefah. We know good things come to those who wait.

*Seefah the restaurant has replaced the pork dishes with other meats in acquiescence to the landlord’s religious dietary rules.

(It’s a New Bandra thing.)

Photographs courtesy Seefah

 
Ranvir-Shorey-band

42 Questions with Ranvir Shorey

 

42 QUESTIONS WITH RANVIR SHOREY

In this series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – how to make good coffee, the best websites for hypochondriacs, and the saddest song ever.

This week we talk to film and theatre actor and ‘ninja-worrier’ Ranvir Shorey, one of the industry’s finest (and most underrated actors). With a prolific career that includes a range of characters from pompous ’70s alpha-male to volatile car-jacker to a tender portrayal of a man stuck in time, he also reveals that he dabbles in the art of the risqué ditty.

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

1. How are you? 

Sorry I’m a bit late.

2. What was one thing you learned from selling typewriter daisy wheels on your first job? 

You can, if you try.

3. What’s the oddest job you’ve ever had? 

My current one. It's a life full of unpredictable turns, ups and downs, and a helluva lot of waiting.

4. How many musical instruments can you play? 

About three and a half.

5. Which musical instrument do you want to master next?

I gave up the will to master anything a while ago. I just like to play now.

6. Have you uploaded any of those rude/funny songs you improvise online?

Yes, our masterpiece 'Nangi Manju' is on my YouTube for all to enjoy.

7. Where do you go to just hang out with your friends? 

Their place or mine. Or any place with good food and cheap booze is fine.

8. Whose face is on your punching bag right now? 

Most people who aren’t civil while driving in traffucked Mumbai.

9. What do you do to keep fit?

Swim & yoga is my staple. I throw in a bit of strength training when I can.

10. Free will or destiny?

Free will is overrated.

11. What’s the most cliché Punjabi thing about you? 

Cussing.

12. What physical aspect of you has your son inherited?

Long limbs.

13. Can he speak any Punjabi? 

No, but he speaks some Bengali. It’s his "mother tongue", so it’s as it should be.

14. What’s the last thing that made you cry?

Some silly baby animal video on the internet.

15. What’s the last thing that made you cry with laughter? 

Something Colbert recently did on the Late Show.

16. What’s the best online medical resource for a garden-variety hypochondriac?

WebMD

17. Which is your favourite cuisine?

Asian. Anything East of Mumbai, I love.

18. Which is the best place in Mumbai to eat your favourite food?

There are a few. All I’ll say is that they’re all Asian.

19. What’s been your greatest adventure in the kitchen?

Learning to double cook. It’s amazing what nuanced results one can get by mixing two processes of cooking.

20. What are you learning to cook right now? 

Trying to get double cooked pork right.

21. How do you like your coffee made? Moka-pot, French-press, or Starbucks?

Moka-pot is good. French press would do too.

22. Politics at the dining table – yes or no?

No! Please, no! That would remind me of my family at the dinner table.

23. What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever received from a fan? 

One guy made me talk to his wife and family on the phone. Awkward!

24. What’s the saddest song you’ve ever heard?

Jolene.

25. What’s the best sort of music to get a party going?

Funk, baby! Soul & Funk fur sure.

26. Where do you like to go out to party? 

I’ll go anywhere with good loud music once I git my boogie on.

27. What do you do to detox?

Apart from obviously laying off the toxins, a swim, yoga, and massage do it for me.

28. Which film set/location has been the biggest eye-opener for you? 

Every set/location is a learning experience.

29. Which is most fulfilling – theatre or film or web series? 

Film, done right.

30. Which is your favourite performance space in Mumbai? 

Prithvi Theatre.

31. Tell us a secret but don’t tell us whose it is… 

Welcome to a generation of Bollywood stars that start their careers with hair weaves.

32. If you were a superhero – which one would you be and why? 

The Shadow, because he battles the evil in his own heart.

33. If you were PM tomorrow, three decisions you’d take immediately.

  1. Stricter punitive measures for civil offences like littering, not following traffic rules etc.
  2. Make all industry take an immediate turn to green tech.
  3. Reclaim the Indian State from the wretched grasp of religions.

34. Are you single? 

It’s complicated.

35. What’s a great place for a lo-fi first date now that you’re a grown up?

The beach is always nice. Also, it’s sad there aren’t any drive-in cinemas left.

36. What has been the best present you ever gave anyone? 

Recommended a good yoga teacher to a friend. They still thank me for it.

37. Is there a restaurant you’ve been going to for more than 20 years? 

Janta, in Bandra, is one.

38. Favourite Hollywood director?

Clint Eastwood is one.

39. Favourite Bollywood director? 

Rajkumar Hirani is one.

40. How can people show Ranvir Shorey some love? 

By watching the films in large numbers, preferably in theatres.

41. What is one thing all men should know how to do?

Cook and clean.

42. What is one thing all women should know? 

All men are not assholes. All assholes are not men.

Photograph by Amit Asher (courtesy Ranvir Shorey)

 
Jerry-Pinto-band

42 Questions with Jerry Pinto

jerry pinto
 

42 QUESTIONS WITH JERRY PINTO

In this series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – like unlikely romantic trips and fading, melancholic divas.

This week we talk to Jerry Pinto, award winning poet, journalist, and author. He talks about #377, #metoo, Helen vs Leela, the Chinese takeaway guy in Em and the Big Hoom, and reminds us of that heady, heavy word "thalassa".

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

1. Are you a bad boy, Jerry Pinto?

I wish.

2. What is a Mahim boy trope?

His is the lament of the belly. Pao from Police Bakery. Chicken puffs from Crown. Plum cake from Bonita’s. Vadas from the cart outside Navjivan Society, Mori Road. All gone, all gone.

3. How many languages are you fluent in?

Zero. I claim English as the language of dream, Marathi as the language of pilgrimage, Konkani as the language of gilt and guilt, Hindi as the language of aspiration, and Urdu as the language in which it is possible to believe in words like panache, even if it is a word we borrowed from Latin where it meant a tuft of feathers.

And I am not saying this with false modesty. I was just reading Conversations with Borges (Seagull Books; Volume 1), and he was talking about how blanco-blanche (white) is the root word for black in English. How can one know any language? It fair drives me to despair when I consider how my day is near spent, and I still don’t know so much about English, the language my mother spoke to me in, the language in which my fantasies are born, the language in which I am most comfortable. So what chance have I with any other languages?

4. You’ve published translations of four books so far… Cobalt Blue, Baluta, I, the Salt Doll, and I want to destroy myself – which was the hardest?

Hello? I’ve published translations of Eknath Awad’s Strike a Blow to Change the World and Baburao Bagul’s The day I hid my caste and other stories since.

Cobalt Blue was the toughest because it was the first. Baluta was the toughest because it had poetry in it and words that don’t appear in Marathi dictionaries because they tend to be Brahminical. I, the Salt Doll was tough because it was a woman’s voice…you get the picture? It’s all just hard work but it is rewarding labour.

5. What was it like translating ‘Cobalt Blue’ under the shadow of Article 377?

Article 377 was the kind of law that does exactly the opposite of what a law should do. It turns people into criminals and tempts the police to venality. But when I was working on Cobalt Blue, I was simply wrestling with the language. The law and its animadversions were far from my mind.

6. What’s one of the hardest things (emotion, idiom etc) to translate?

Little grace notes. There’s ‘re’ in Marathi. What do you do with a ‘re’? We have a ‘reh’ in Konkani but it’s not the same. ‘Re’ has some measure of affection but a tiny hint of exasperation as well, at least in the way it is used to me. Consider ‘Vhaaychay’, the word in Mallika Amar Sheikh’s title. I want to destroy myself would have been a good translation of ‘vhaaycha’. ‘Vhaaychay’ is ‘I absolutely insist on destroying myself’, but then there goes the rhythm of the title.

7. Different places mean different things to different people but is there a part of Mumbai that reminds you of Goa?

Thalassa, thalassa.

8. Which was your favourite part of Mahim while growing up?

Thalassa, thalassa.

9. What’s changed irrevocably?

Me.

10. What hasn’t changed that you still love?

Thalassa, thalassa.

11. “People, even those who are in love with each other, can bore each other.” – Surviving Women (2000). Do you have a plan/advice for when this happens?

Remind yourself that the other person is also probably bored of you but the option of finding someone new, getting used to their quirks, working out a new equation, is infinitely more tedious.

12. You also said that going to the post office can be romantic. Give us three other unlikely (for most) romantic trips you can take in Mumbai.

  • Take a double-decker bus ride from Cuffe Parade to CST.
  • Take the ferry to Alibag and then come right back. Be silent and let the sea work.
  • Walk from Borivali National Park to Kanheri Caves. Walk slowly. Talk.

13. Do you get mail from fans about Em and the Big Hoom?

Yes. It humbles me.

14. How long did it take you to write it?

I say 25 years, but it took me all my life, all 45 years of living and learning my craft.

15. At the end of the book, there’s a man from whom you/the protagonist buys Chinese takeaway. Is he real? And does the place still exist?

Yes. He has warned me not to reveal his name because he says, “Now everyone will say, give us free, my Nana died, my Chacha died”.

16. We left our copy with a love note to a stranger in Florence. What’s the farthest the story has travelled?

A young man I met said he bought one of the early copies and tucked it into his backpack and read it on the way home and has never taken it out of his backpack, but he reads a little every day. I said, “Let me know when you finish?” He said he would. He hasn’t. So that copy may still be in motion. Or the young man may have forgotten that he said he would tell me, and it is now in a cupboard somewhere.

17. On a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in fading, melancholic divas?

Naughty, naughty. But on a scale of 1 to 10? About 23?

18. How does Mumbai treat folks who are getting older?

Like you treat shit on your shoe.

19. If you had to pick one – Helen vs Leela?

Must I? Well then, Leela, because we became friends, and when she died, I took her ashes to the sea with Selvam, the major domo who was with her at the end.

20. What’s one thing that surprised you while researching your book The Life and Times of an H-Bomb?

That Tamil film viewers thought she was a Tamil film star.

21. Could you recommend a book that talks about the people who walked back to India from Burma during WWII?

Yvonne Ezdani’s New Songs of the Survivors: The Exodus of Indians from Burma (Speaking Tiger), and not just because I have an essay in it.

22. Who is your favourite Indian film actress of all time?

I don’t believe in favourites. Or actresses. Aren’t they all actors now? But a good actor in a good role which fits her right is a delight. I’m thinking Meena Kumari in Pakeezah, Nargis in Mother India, Waheeda Rehman in Guide, Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met, Kangna Ranaut in Queen, Shabana Azmi in Ankur, Smita Patil in Umbartha, Suchitra Sen in Aandhi, Rekha in Umrao Jaan, Jennifer Kendal in 36, Chowringhee Lane, Konkona Sensharma in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana…my list is endless.

23. Three words to describe Bollywood in 2018.
Going, going, gone.

24. Are you familiar at all with internet poetry? Is that what inspired Some Ways Not To Write A Poem?

What inspired Some Ways Not To Write A Poem was the hubris of believing that I can write a poem. I apologise for it.

25. What’s the most common mistake people make when writing a poem?

See answer 24.

26. Who is your favourite modern poet?

I have no favourites. I am several multiple thirsty selves whose thirsts can sometimes only be assuaged by Emily Dickinson, or by Ted Hughes, or by Nissim Ezekiel, or by Sylvia Plath, or by Ikkuyu (who was very, very modern) or by Basho or by Adil Jussawalla or by Muktabai (ditto).

27. What sort of music do you listen to?

Bollywood from 1950 to 1980, though I am beginning to have a sneaky appreciation for classical music, but I will not talk about that because that is to open yourself to the contumely of everyone who knows their ragas from their sagas.

28. What’s the cheesiest song you know all the words or dance moves to?

The cheesiest song: Happy birday to Pinkie, Pinkie.

29. Can you do the birdie-dance?

Only birdies can’t do the birdie dance because they have too much brain.

30. What about the Macarena?

Do I look that retro?

31. Which is your favourite bookstore in Mumbai?

Kitab Khana and Wayword & Wise

32. And your favourite cinema?

I don’t go to the cinema because other people go to the cinema and they behave as Indians behave everywhere.

33. What’s the best way to people watch in the city?

I don’t like people watching in the city because it confirms me in my worst nightmares.

34. What’s your favourite city in the world?

The one whose name is poison on the tongue.

35. Do little children like you?

Little children have great good sense.

36. As a teacher and professor, what’s the best thing you’ve learned from your students?

I have learned that if I tell them to do it, I should do it and as a result, I am, I think much more disciplined and much more rigorous than I used to be before I started teaching.

37. With writing, what’s your ratio of inspiration to perspiration?

I only perspire. One per cent of it dries into hieroglyphs. One per cent of the hieroglyphs can be saved. One per cent of those are saved.

38. Any tips on how to beat writer’s block?

Ask yourself: if your cook came to you and said, “I can’t cook today, I have cook’s block”, how would you respond? And if your work is not as important as cooking, why are you doing it?

Get thee to thy table and write badly, write through the ice floes, write even when you collide with the iceberg, keep writing even as you drown, and suddenly, you will be out into the clear water.

But you won’t come out into the clear if you don’t keep putting the bad stuff down on paper. Once you’re in the clear, ignore the bad stuff.

39. It’s in the news – so tell us what percentage of men you know are freaked out by #metoo because they don’t understand it.

One hundred per cent.

40. Would yesteryear women from Bollywood have been spared some trauma if the movement had come earlier?

Is that a question? Of course, they would.

Read Manto about walking into a producer’s room and seeing him pumping the breast of an actress.

The women from the Bollywood tomorrow will be spared some trauma if the movement continues.

41. What’s one thing you know about women?

Men can’t do without women; women can do very well without men.

42. What’s one thing you wish you didn’t know about men?

Men can’t do without women; women can do very well without men.

Photograph by Vedika Singh (courtesy Jerry Pinto)

 
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Pop by Crawford Market for A-maize-ing Popcorn

 

popcorn crawford market

POP BY CRAWFORD MARKET FOR A-MAIZE-ING POPCORN

Sour cream and onion, Manchurian, peri peri, and more – the humble butter popcorn gets an exciting makeover at Mr. Vinay Thari Jayswal’s stall in Crawford Market. 

Vicky’s Popcorn, Near Dharamjyot Electricals, 79, Kerawala Mansion, Mangaldas Road, Lohar Chawl, Kalbadevi, Mumbai 400 002

READ SIMRAN AHUJA'S STORY

I was in the middle of my usual 5 p.m. hunger pangs when my colleague offered me her popcorn. "Try it,” she said, “it's sour cream and onion flavoured." Two minutes later, my nose was dusted with the seasoning as she tried to pry the packet away from me. 

The source of this magical snack was Mr. Vinay Thari Jayswal’s 40-year-old stall in Crawford Market (located at the beginning of the lane next to Bata). Of course, I visit for myself. The first thing that catches my eye is the signboard on his cart – Vicky's Popcorn and Yeh cheez badi hain mast mast (10 points for the Bollywood cheesiness). Displayed below that is the array of flavours on offer: caramel, cheese, sour cream and onion, chilli cheese, chilli tomato, Manchurian, Szechuan, and chatpata. 

Since cheese and caramel popcorn are longer a novelty, I go with three others: sour cream and onion, Manchurian, and peri peri. He promptly scoops plain popcorn into a transparent plastic bag, sprinkles in a generous serving of the flavoured seasoning, and shakes it all together into utterly, butterly deliciousness. Oh, and each of the variants costs only 30 rupees. When I ask Mr. Jayswal which is his favourite flavour, he smiles. No answer. They’re all unique, he tells me.

Well, that settles it. If he can't pick, why should you?

Feature photograph copyright Brent Hofacker  – stock.adobe.com