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Your Guide To Buying Comic Books In Mumbai

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YOUR GUIDE TO BUYING COMIC BOOKS IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY MEHER MIRZA

Most people seem to assume that, as a writer with two MAs in English Studies, I ring out my days with the works of Foucault, Genet, Pynchon, and such. For the most part, they would be right. But smuggled into my edifying literary library lies a filthy secret—a slab of beloved comic books, powder-fine from age.

Comics, I suspect, are still seen by people as being not quite the thing, old chap. To these people I say, “Go away”. Go away, and take your barren, strait-laced pleasures with you. There is a time for Jane Eyre and a time for Hawkgirl: comics are far too pleasurable to be sullied by the vapidity of a bunch of sanctimonious puritans. For many of us, Phantom, Mandrake, and Flash Gordon are the plinth on which our library of reading is raised. Which is why, every so often, you may catch me stapled to the comics section in your friendly, neighbourhood bookstore, dribbling over Art Spiegelman, surrounded by shambolic piles of Justice League Dark and Mister Miracle comics—in short, happy. Here is a smattering of stores that I frequent to get my fix of favourites.

Granth

Upstairs at Granth, cocooned from the bedlam of car horns on Juhu Tara Road, is a small sanctuary for superheroes. If you pan its shelves for glimmers of comic gold, you’ll find plenty of Watchmen, the luminous Mandela: The Graphic Novel, a watermelon-hefty Drawn & Quarterly anthology, and Black Hole (Charles Burns’s graphic novel about teen angst generously leavened with horror) together with a hank of DC, Vertigo, Dark Horse, and Marvel collections.

Granth, 30/A, HM House, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2660 9327

VL Nayak

What VL Nayak lacks in square footage it makes up for in density of choice. As a child, I teetered and tottered through the tiny shop, pillaging the shelves like a bandit, carting away heaps of MAD magazines, Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, and (as a tremendous treat), DC and Marvel singles. It is a river I continue to drink from—it still stacks a whole coterie of pulp writing.

VL Nayak, Plot No. 8126, Surajpati Bhavan, 1st Road, Opp. Rly Station, Khar (w), Mumbai 400 052. Phone: 022 2648 4082

Title Waves

Over at Title Waves in Bandra, you’ll find a sort of Top 20 hits of the comic world; nothing terribly esoteric, no Cable or Birds of Prey, just the usual Marvel and DC titles, Neil Gaiman, Peanuts, and Tintin. Title Waves also ventures into collectables territory, with a small shrine to memorabilia such as t-shirts, figurines, mugs, and other baubles.

Title Waves, St Pauls Media Complex, 24th Road, Off Turner Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2651 0841

Trilogy

Raghuvanshi Mills’ Trilogy store is scalpelled into two sections—the library and the bookstore. The collection at the store reads like a roster of high art comics, all beautifully rendered but haphazardly stacked. What can you buy here? Shigeru Mizuki’s bizarre, protean manga, Showa: A History Of Japan. Joe Sacco’s Journalism, a ferocious comic that scrapes at the wounds of the world’s worst war zones. And among many others, the extraordinary graphic novel based on Martin Luther King’s life, I See the Promised Land, written by Arthur Flowers and illustrated by a Patua scroll artist, Manu Chitrakar.

Trilogy, 1st floor, Building No. 28, Above Mercedes Service Center, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 080805 90590

Crossword

Once a fine bookshop chain of some stature, Crossword has now mutated into a sort of portmanteau of DVD toy/book store—a Frankenstore if you will. Still, it does venture briefly into the comic realm; a small collection (mostly DC’s Justice League) reposes on its shelves, an excellent gateway to those who came to the comics via their live-action movie versions.

Crossword Bookstores across the city.

Leaping Windows

It would be folly to leave out Leaping Windows, a space reverential of comics, packed with perfectly organised pages and pages of Neil Gaiman, plenty from the DC and Marvel multiverses, as well as the ubiquitous Tintin, Calvin & Hobbes and Asterix. All this, and a cheery café to boot.

Leaping Windows, 3 Corner View, Dr. Ashok Chopra Marg, Off Yari Road, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 061. Phone: 097699 98972

*Special mention: Kitab Khana, which has shelves heaving with Amar Chitra Katha, Asterix and Tintin, a collection hidebound by nostalgia.
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Your Guide To All Things Tamil In Chembur

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YOUR GUIDE TO ALL THINGS TAMIL IN CHEMBUR

WORDS BY RAMYA RAMAMURTHY

Even the most die-hard Mumbaikars often have a blind spot when it comes to parts of central and eastern Mumbai. Unless you travel by local train on the Central or Harbour lines, stations like Tilak Nagar and Chembur that comprise this Mumbai South Central constituency can seem remote. Chembur has, however, always been shorthand for all things South Indian – and more specifically Tamil – in Mumbai. It is where the molaga podi is never in short supply, and the filter kaapi decoction is bona fide.

FOOD

The original outpost of Mani’s Lunch Home is still in Matunga, but since January 2017, Chembur is also home to this South Indian joint. Run by Palakkad Iyers, what sets it apart is the authentic sambhar, unlike the sweet, syrupy sambhar you find in most Udipi joints in Mumbai. Come for the filter coffee and plantain bhajji but stay for the rava upma and four-course meals served on the banana leaf. For Rs. 400, a family of four can imbibe the most authentic Tamil vegetarian meal this far west of Chennai.

Mani’s isn’t the sole purveyor of fermented South Indian snacks – you can also sample the wares at Ayyappan Pure Veg., Geeta Bhavan, or Cafe Udipi – all of which have been around for longer. If you prefer non-vegetarian food, there are the famed Hotel Sunny and Hotel Navina, where the TV is set to Sun News as patrons consume chicken or fish with parotha.

Mani’s Lunch Home, Shop No.86, Komal Building, Road Number 2, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2402 1112

Ayyappan Pure Veg Hotel. Shop No.72, Shell Colony Road, Near Muthumariyamman Temple, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 098330 48505

Geeta Bhavan, 70/H, Geetmala Building, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Marg, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone:  022 2527 8948

Café Udipi, Plot No. 72, Hira Baug, Central Avenue, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2521 1121

Hotel Sunny, Shop No. 43, Shell Colony Road, Shramjivi Nagar, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2522 3549

Hotel Navina, Shop No.77, Shell Colony Road, Shramjivi Nagar, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 098332 66168

TAMIL STORES

Ratna Department Stores boasts of Rao’s molaga podi, Mysore Concerns filter coffee, home-ground idli and dosa batter (marked with an I or a D to distinguish between them), and various Tamil snacks and ingredients from appalam to til oil sourced straight from Tamil Nadu. Some of these ingredients are not hard to find in most grocery stores nowadays, but Ratna has an impressively vast spread of both Tamil and international/imported ingredients, which makes it a pantry staple. You can also find ready-made snacks such as appam, adhirasam, idlis, wadai, and madras onion pakodas.

Mysore Concern Coffee and Raos molaga podi at Ratna

Ratna, however, is not the only claimant to the throne of the Tamil store in Chembur. Valli Stores has been around for a year longer than Ratna, opened in 1964 by T. Chellaswamy who moved here from Tuticorin. His son Karthik, who has run the store since 1999, says nearly three-quarters of their regular customers are Tamil. Unsurprisingly, he adds that his most popular sale items are the coffee powder and Coimbatore butter, along with vadam, vathal, and pickle. Valli Stores is also the only store in Chembur that sells ayurvedic marundhu, the medicinal halwa consumed along with Diwali bakshanam/snacks by Tamils.

Madras powders at Valli Stores

Karthik’s brother, Alagesan, runs a store across the street called Valli Steels that sells stainless steel utensils, and puja articles, specialising in the Coimbatore wet grinder (for making dosa, idli, or wadai batters at home) as well as paniyaram and appam pans, filter coffee makers, brass lamps, and incense stick holders. Murugan Steel Emporium is another haven for those seeking stainless steel dishes for their kitchen.

Ratna Department Stores, Haware Parekh Chambers, Road Number 5, Ghatla, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2520 3389

Shri Valli Stores, 32/4, Sarvodaya Building, R.C. Road, Postal Colony, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2522 1146

Shri Valli Steels, 39/ 5, Neelkanth Shopping Arcade, Next to Vijaya Bank, R.C. Road, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2528 2162

Murugan Steel Emporium, Shop No. 2, Saideep Building, Plot No. 82 A, Near Indian Bank And Syndicate, Bank, Govandi Road, Chembur, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400071. Phone: 022 2521 1769

MARKET

The BMC vegetable market under the foot overbridge connecting east and west Chembur has nearly 180 stalls, the owners of most having moved to Mumbai from places in Tamil Nadu like Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, and Tirunelveli several decades ago. The vegetables here are also Tamil cuisine staples – from drumstick, white or yellow pumpkin, cluster beans, plantain flower, chayote squash, and various types of gourds and yams. Mamis or mamas flock here to buy the freshest produce as well as banana leaves and wild plantains, both of which are only available in this market. They will most likely stop to pick up flowers down the street at Padma Florist. From jasmine to tulsi and fragrant lamp oil to incense sticks, Padma florists are a one-stop shop for house pujas, wedding decorations, Ganapati, and Navratri flower arrangements.

Padma Florist, Laxmi Market, 4, Narayan Gajanan Acharya Marg, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 098199 60732

Lakshmi at Padma Florist

SHOPPING

Co-optex, a Tamil Nadu government initiative to promote handloom weaves, has had a showroom in Chembur for nearly 40 years, offering the finest saris – whether Coimbatore soft silks, Kanjivaram silks, Kanchi or Madurai cottons – at a flat discount of 20 to 30 per cent.

Cooptex1

Other shops like Kaveri Silk House or Sarvodaya Vastra Bhandar are run by Rajasthanis but cater to local demand with singudi cotton saris, kanchi silks, and even panchakachams (the dhotis worn by Tamil Brahmin men). The necessary bling to accompany a Kanchi silk – from fine gold to temple jewellery – can be found at Mahalaxmi Jewellers and N. Gopaldas Jewellers.

Co-optex, Hira Baug, Plot No 72, MDS Marg, Near Railway Station, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2521 1580

Kaveri Silk House, N.G. Acharya Marg, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2521 3424

Sarvodaya Vastra Bhandar 4 A, Narayan Gajanan Acharya Marg, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2528 2220

Mahalaxmi Jewellers, Bhairavkripa Building, N.G Acharya Marg, Near Flyover, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2528 8788 / 022 2528 0538

Gopaldas Jewellers, DK Sandu Street, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2529 2928

TEMPLES

The church, temples, and associations like Ahobila Muth, Shri Shringeri Shankar Muth, Muthumariamman Temple, Thiruchembur Murugan Temple, Bethel Tamil Church, and Marathi Tamil Sangam are a draw for Tamils who flock to the temple deities or church weekly and also during Margazhi (the Tamil equivalent of Lent, which takes place in December).

Ahobila Mutt0

They host functions all through the year – such as Tamil New Year, Rama Navami, or Pongal – which offer a chance for the community to not only mingle, pray, and seek blessings but also give back. The Ahobila Muth, for instance, offers free prasad to everyone at 7.30 p.m., which patrons can fund.

Ahobila Muth, Chembur East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400071. Phone: 022 2528 7183

Shri Shringeri Shankar Muth, Road Number 5, Basant Garden, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2520 6978

Thiruchembur Murugan Temple, Chedda Nagar Road Number 2, Temple Complex, Chedda Nagar, Mumbai 400 089. Phone: 022 2525 0303

Bethel Tamil Church, 296, 297 & 298, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Tilak Nagar, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 089. Phone: 098696 95453

CULTURE

The Chembur Fine Arts Society is really a mecca for Carnatic music and Bharatnatyam in Chembur. Started in 1962 as a cultural society, the FAS expanded into a cultural centre when the auditorium was added in 1993. Today, it’s the beating cultural heart of the suburb with its concerts during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December to January) and classes.

Chembur Fine Arts

Students flock to the FAS every Vijaya Dashami (the traditional start of the academic year for classical dance and music), and the expanded syllabus now includes Hindustani bhajans, Marathi abhangs, and Sanskrit kritis.

Chembur Fine Arts Society, Fine Arts Chowk, R.C. Marg, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2522 2988

All photographs by Ramya Ramamurthy except feature photograph by Superfast1111 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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A Personal History Of Shanmukhananda Auditorium

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A PERSONAL HISTORY OF SHANMUKHANANDA AUDITORIUM

Shanmukhananda Auditorium is one of Mumbai’s most premiere venues for live Indian classical music performances. Among the legendary artistes who have performed here are tabla doyen Ustad Zakir Hussain, mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer, and vocalist Kishori Amonkar. Shanmukhananda Auditorium, Plot No 292, Com. Harbanslal Marg, Sion (e), Mumbai 400 022. Phone: 022 2407 8888

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At a quarter to five on a wintry Friday night, I walked out of Sion Hospital – my college, where I’d spent the night – with a barely repressed grin on my face. That day, I’d know what it’s like to be the first to enter iconic Shanmukhananda Hall. Every February, tabla doyen Zakir Hussain organises an almost day-long tribute concert at Shanmukhananda in remembrance of his father Ustad Alla Rakha, featuring a galaxy of top-notch Indian and international musicians. Free passes are issued an hour before each session, the first of which begins at 6:30 a.m. Covering the half-mile distance in a few minutes, I was sure I’d get prime seating, front and centre. Only to find that the queue for passes had spilled out of the Shanmukhananda campus and onto the footpath. These mad folks must have taken the 02:35 from Karjat or the 03:25 from Virar, wrenched out of bed in the dark by their love for classical music. How I loved Mumbai that day! My impressions of that sleep-tinged dawn concert are hoary: someone called Sivamani opening with a short percussion set. A Mr. Louis Banks settling on his piano stool to sustained applause. A young fellow named Niladri Kumar whose zitar didn’t let me nap. And a pantheon of other classical gods jamming with such little-known singers as Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan. I am a fourth-generation patron of Shanmukhananda. My great-grandparents – migrants from Kerala – became members of the Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha (music association), whose kutcheris (concerts) were organised in the grounds of Don Bosco High School, Matunga. Convened in 1952, its inaugural performance featured pioneering vocalist Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, who defined the Carnatic concert format as we know it today. The Sabha went on to present every leading artiste of the era; since its membership exceeded the capacity of the venue, each artiste had to perform twice. Spurred by Nehru’s comment about the lack of a sizeable auditorium in Bombay, the Sabha collected around 27 lakh rupees to build one. Completed in 1963, it can now accommodate 2,763 persons seated across the ground floor and two levels of balconies. Carnatic vocalist and guru Radha Namboodiri, also my great-aunt, became a member when she started learning Carnatic Music at age 12. She gives me an example of the auditorium’s impeccable acoustic design: Mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer forbade the use of mics in concert. Both he and vocal deity DK Pattammal (whom he was accompanying) performed without amplification, yet his beats and her voice carried loud and clear to the last row of the second balcony! Radha Mutthashi (grandmother) retains the memory of an MS Subbulakshmi kutcheri in which the sound system’s failure did not come in the way of her divine music reaching every ear in the house-full auditorium.

If music is a religion, Shanmukhananda is its Mecca: always there, always beckoning, always rewarding.

Radha Mutthashi has herself performed at Shanmukhananda in the ’70s and ’80s and returned as principal of its music school from 2006 to 2017. She jokes that part of its draw is its canteen, run by the same caterer since inception. Elegantly dressed mamas and mamis would mark their presence in the concert, then slip away during the thaniyaavarthanam (percussive improvisation) to snack on the cannonball-sized batata vadas and filter coffee. My father remembers what he was told about Shanmukhananda even before he visited: “The view of the artistes from the second-floor balcony is like the view of cars on Marine Drive from Malabar Hill.” He remembers attending Radha Mutthashi’s concert. And being in the greenroom prior to the performance of vocalist Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (also Radha Mutthashi’s guru), watching my great-grandfather effusively greet the legend, with whom he was friendly, and share a paan with him. Ghatam wizard Vikku Vinayakram, known for tossing his earthen pot into the air at the end of the rhythmic cycle as a bit of showmanship, accompanied him that day. As did mridangam virtuoso Umayalpuram Sivaraman, who momentarily launched his much heavier instrument skyward as well! My own recollections are more recent: of Sonu Nigam’s then six-year-old son Nevaan, hoisted in the crook of his father’s arm, matching him note for note as they sang the soulful Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin. Of an octogenarian Asha Bhosle, prancing about with a stick, sometimes struggling to hit the high notes, until she hushed her band with a wave of her hand and enthralled us with a voice-only rendition of Mera Kuch Saamaan. And of being blessed by the ethereal melody of Kishori Amonkar at midnight, when her rendition of raags Sampoorna Malkauns and Basanti Kedar transported her adoring listeners for two hours, to a better world, in the deep, dark night. If music is a religion, Shanmukhananda is its Mecca: always there, always beckoning, always rewarding. I leave you with one final reminiscence: When my parents and I wanted to attend a members-only concert, I called the office, confessed that we weren’t members, and asked if we might come anyway. The kind gentleman on the line (who shall remain nameless) answered, “Oh yes, of course! If anyone asks, take my name and say I invited you. You are most welcome”. Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira

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Enjoy A Free Monthly Sunday Morning Concert At Ravindra Natya Mandir

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ENJOY A FREE MONTHLY SUNDAY MORNING CONCERT AT RAVINDRA NATYA MANDIR

A concert of Hindustani classical music featuring senior vocalists and instrumentalists is organised in the foyer of Ravindra Natya Mandir on the fourth Sunday morning of every month (except during the monsoons) by Pancham Nishad Creatives. Entry is free and on first-come-first served basis.

Ravindra Natya Mandir, Ground Floor, PL Deshpande Auditorium, near Siddhivinayak Temple, Sayani Road, Prabhadevi, Mumbai 400 025. Phone: 022 2436 5990

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At half past six on a Sunday morning, the municipal sweeper leans on his broom and watches laggards rush into the open foyer of Ravindra Natya Mandir. They are a motley bunch: silver-maned couples swaddled in mufflers and shawls, blank-faced kids rubbing sleep from their eyes, fitness freaks in headbands and shorts who jog to their seats in the Kala Prangan. “Kahaan kahaan se aate hain yeh log”, he mumbles perhaps, struck by the absurdity of people choosing to battle sloth and slumber at dawn.

Yeh log” come from Thane and Vasai and Walkeshwar and Kalyan – many by the first trains of the day – drawn by their abiding love for Hindustani classical music.

The first row of plastic chairs is occupied by musicologists and musicians. Others settle into seats near their “concert friends”. The younger, fitter lot sit cross-legged on the red carpet, right in front of the stage. They can all read the dedication engraved on the statue of polymath Pu La Deshpande: “tujhyaasaarkha tuch aanandyaatri”.

How does one describe the experience of listening to an early-morning exposition of an ancient, improvisatory form of music? Should I begin with how the vocalist blends his voice with the drone of the tanpura, then slowly, delicately, masterfully glides up the scale as he weaves an emotive tapestry of sound? Shall I mention how the harmonium player’s fingers dance across the keys, mirroring every expression and shift in voice? How can I leave out the tabaliya’s thoughtful, measured support, providing a rhythmic basis to an hour-long explication of a sombre melody? Did I even notice the first fine strokes of the sun’s brush on the night sky, broadening into lavish golden swathes that light up the heavens as the music builds into a magnificent crescendo?

I have been on an Anand-yatra of my own.

Feature photograph copyright juan_aunion – stock.adobe.com

 

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Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018 Takes The Green Route

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KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL 2018 TAKES THE GREEN ROUTE

WORDS BY KRUTI DALAL

Every February, almost half a million people make their way to Mumbai’s most aesthetic district to get an annual taste of art in all its forms. Since its inception almost two decades ago, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has expanded exponentially, both geographically and conceptually. This year KGAF is taking a fresh approach in terms of theme and team. The City Story spoke to festival co-ordinator Nicole Mody about the main attractions at KGAF 2018, the hurdles at organisation level, and being in the saddle seat for the first time.

Green Is The New Black

The theme for this year’s festival –“Hara Ghoda” (green horse) – is timely and apt, considering both the rising concerns surrounding climate change and dwindling natural resources as well as people’s preference for organic food and healthy eating. “We need to pay attention to nature right now,” says Nicole. “We need to take care of the earth so that the earth takes care of us, otherwise we will be at a standstill. And as one of India’s biggest and most popular street festivals, we have a responsibility to create awareness when it’s needed.”

Each of the 12 verticals will interpret and incorporate the theme in a unique manner. The wonders of nature and the five elements will be brought to life via performance and visual arts. The food section will host foraging workshops and urban farming for children. Fresh talent, including a host of comediennes, will take over the stage as part of “Haha Hara”, the stand-up comedy vertical. The cinema section will host “Hara Pheri”, a double-bill section that screens two films connected by a common theme, person, or era. Nicole is most animated about something that hasn’t been attempted before in the music segment. “We are doing a master class on opera,” she says, “and I am very excited about that.”

KGAF Nicole Mody_003

As part of the Hara Ghoda theme, the team is also giving space to other green initiatives at the festival. One such initiative is Green Yatra, which promotes tree planting across the city in order to create green belts to neutralise the impact of global warming. Roti Bank, started by former top cop D. Sivanandan, is another one. This month-old initiative collects and distributes basic meals for the underprivileged. Garbage Free India runs campaigns to create awareness about garbage dumping. “We’re trying to send a message to a larger audience about social and civic responsibility,” says Nicole. “About taking care of not just everything around you, but a little more than that.” She hopes that together they can create a message that carries forward even after the festival is over.

Taking Over the Reins from Brinda Miller

Though she has been involved with KGAF in various capacities since 2009, this is Nicole’s maiden run as the festival co-ordinator. She takes over from Brinda Miller, whose 15-year old track record at the helm and inspiring reputation as an artist could cause some nervousness. “Of course I’m nervous,” says Nicole, “because those are pretty big shoes to fill. Brinda’s still very much a part of the festival. I call her once a week to ask her questions.”

This prestigious position comes with its own set of challenges. “There are a lot of expectations that everyone else has about the festival and the way it should be run,” says Nicole. “I think managing people’s expectations is the most challenging thing I have had to face and will continue to face throughout the festival.”

At the same time, Nicole is excited pushing her own boundaries and seeing the different ideas that can be implemented. What’s also exciting is that the team has been infused with some new energy this year. “A few of our curators from previous years have taken a break this time,” says Nicole, “and we have brought on some new people. We are definitely going to have a bit of a change this year.”

KGAF Nicole Mody_006

Pushing The Digital Agenda

So what’s different this year? “There’s a lot of integration of the digital format,” says Nicole, going on to give us different examples. “In the literature section, we have tried to include a lot of digital programming, including talking about digital publication. We are running contests and doing a lot more digital integration. We’ve ramped up our digital engagement considerably this year. We are looking at doing live broadcasts from the festival, which I think is going to be super fun.”

The Fun (And Hard Work) Never Stops

The toughest part of Nicole’s job is also the most fun. “Coordinating with so many people on a large scale is challenging,” says Nicole. While her background in event management is an advantage, the sheer number of people involved can be quite overwhelming at times. “It’s a bit of a pain,” she says, “but it’s challenging to be creative. That is what I enjoy, and that is also what frightens me the most.”

The creative process begins eight months in advance, with the core team going over the previous year’s festival with a fine-tooth comb. “The actual work starts in June or July, and it gets very intense in October,” says Nicole. “We try and finish our programming by mid-December. But we’re always planning. I’m already thinking about things I want to do for the festival in 2019. That never stops.”

KGAF Nicole Mody_002

Even during the festival, Nicole is always on the move, jumping from one venue to the next, checking in with the curators, ensuring that there are no technical glitches. Though she’s a big fan of literature and music, she has no time to attend any performances. “Even if I do attempt to sit through an event,” she says, “the phone will keep ringing and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.”

Surging Crowds and Swelling Popularity

While some may consider the large number of people at the festival a hindrance, Nicole takes is as a sign of KGAF’s rising popularity. “It’s not really worrying,” she says, “because the festival isn’t on just one street. We have 43 different venues this year, spread out from Rampart Row and Horniman Circle to Cross Maidan. Those are the three major hubs. Then there is the museum, venues on the streets, NGMA, David Sassoon Library. Shifting the music and dance stage to Cross Maidan has actually helped dilute the crowd.”

Even the increasing number of shutterbugs and selfie-takers at the festival doesn’t perturb Nicole, who prefers to look at the silver lining. “We have students and photography enthusiasts come in early to take pictures when the festival is empty, and it’s wonderful to see their photographs. We have our own photography team, but the pictures that crop up online are phenomenal.”

KGAF Nicole Mody_004

Mapping the Future of KGAF

Nicole already has ideas about the evolution of KGAF, taking it to new heights while retaining its core essence. The festival provides a great platform for “young, unknown people” and will continue to encourage new talent, and Nicole wants to branch out. “I would like to increase the interactive part of the festival,” she says. “I would like to concentrate on interaction with not just the people of Mumbai, but from different parts of the country as well. We do have artisans coming in from all over India and setting up stalls, but we don’t have too many people from outside the city when it comes to dance, music, and literature. We would like to make KGAF a larger platform for the younger artists and performers to be heard.”

Quick Fire – Nicole Mody’s Kala Ghoda:

  • Best coffee in Kala Ghoda can be found at… Kala Ghoda Café
  • Samovar or Rhythm House. If one of these could be resurrected, which one would you choose and why? Samovar, for the view, the chai, and the parathas.
  • Your favourite heritage building in Kala Ghoda? CSMVS
  • Your favourite food stall at KGAF? Sadhana Tai, the fish lady at Cross Maidan
  • What’s the one thing we must take a selfie with at KGAF this year? The Kala Ghoda statue

Photographs courtesy the Kala Ghoda Association

 

KGAF-2018-band

An Insider’s Guide To The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018

SPACE
EXPERIENCE
PEOPLE
FOOD + DRINK
VIDEO
kala ghoda arts festival
 

AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO THE KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

February is almost upon us, and South Mumbai is gearing up for the most-awaited annual arts and culture event – the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. What started as a festival restricted to one street has today, 19 years later, expanded to include 20 venues across Fort that play host to programs under 14 categories including dance, music, theatre, cinema, food and more. What has remained unchanged all through these years is the simple notion behind Kala Ghoda: of promoting the arts and culture and giving back to the city.

The festival is centred on a theme each year, and this year’s theme is Hara Ghoda: to promote a sustainable future for our planet.

I’ve worked for the second consecutive year on organising the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, and this is my insider’s guide to the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2018.

Editor’s Note: The festival runs from February 3 to 11, 2018. Kindly check the festival website to confirm event times, which are subject to change.

Children

kala ghoda arts festival

We are handing our children a planet that has been abused beyond its capacity. And who better to save it from the clutches of decay than them

Agastya Foundation’s Faces of Gaia aims to help children build a relatable bond with the planet and to instil a consciousness that might just save the world. In this workshop, kids get to create a face for ‘Gaia’ or Mother Earth using her own elements like soil, pebbles, paints made with flowers, and more!

  • When: Sunday, 4th February, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Where: Museum Gardens

Bittu Sahgal (founding editor of Sanctuary Asia) and his team take children on an exciting journey through wild India through stories, nature games, animal sounds, and more with In Nature’s Wonderland.

  • When: Sunday, 11th February, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Where: Museum Gardens

Children’s Literature

kala ghoda arts festival

Isn’t it refreshing to know that a love for real books, the touch and feel kind, still exists and that too amongst the little ones? The Children’s Literature workshops are precisely what we need to feed the love of these little bookworms.

Amrita Sher-Gil is regarded as one of the most notable, avant-garde women artists of the 20th century, and yet not too many adults, let alone kids, know about her. With Amrita Sher-Gil, Beyond the Canvas, Anita Vaccharajani aims to instil a love for the artist in the hearts of future art-lovers and patrons.

  • When: Friday, 9th February, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Kitab Khana

The Best Baker in the World might not sound like an adaptation of The Godfather, but that’s exactly what it is. Author Raja Sen and illustrator Vishal Bharadwaj weave this popular novel into a kid-friendly one, making this a definite must-do!

  • When: Saturday, 10th February, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: Kitab Khana

Cinema

kala ghoda arts festival

With the price of going to the movies reaching near-criminal rates, free movie screenings sound like a gift from the heavens. At the Cinema section, you can not only catch both popular and elusive titles but also listen to the greats discuss cinema in India and all its nuances. This definitely wins over “Netflix and chill”.

It was only a matter of time before someone made a film on India’s favourite sexpert Dr. Mahinder Watsa who has been diligently replying to India’s (confounding) sex queries for many years now. Catch Ask the Sexpert and listen to the legend himself in conversation with Mayank Shekhar as he brings his acerbic wit and humour front and centre to field some more questions on sex and other topics.

  • When: Saturday, 3rd February, 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS

Set aside a full day for these cult films if you’re a true lover of the movies. There’s Angamaly Diaries, the brilliant Malayalam black comedy that has 86 debutant actors directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery; Thithi, a Kannada film with a cast of non-professional actors that has gained international acclaim at Locarno and made itself felt on the radars of Francis Ford Coppola and Wes Anderson; In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones, the 1989 film that sees Arundhati Roy as lead actress (and screenplay writer) and Shahrukh Khan in a bit role as a college senior, that went on to win two National Awards; and finally Local Kung Fu, India’s first Kung Fu film, all the way from Assam that has captured the imagination of film buffs.

  • When: Thursday, 8th February
  • Where: Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS, 2 p.m. onwards

Dance

 

The stage at Cross Maidan becomes the sacred ground for a celebration of dance over six days with both Indian and international acts holding court under the open skies.

If there is one performance that you watch make it that of MJ5 as they enthral you with 16 variations of the famous Moonwalk!

  • When: Tuesday, 6th February, 5:20 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

Food

kala ghoda arts festival

If you’re tired of scrolling through Instagram feeds full of food pictures, head to the Food section at the festival and get in on the action as chefs step out of the confines of their restaurants and teach you to whip it up in style.

In Exploring Hidden India, Chef Thomas Zacharias of the beloved The Bombay Canteen, takes you on a journey to explore the lesser-known Indian vegetables and how to cook them.

  • When: Saturday, 3rd February, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

And once you’ve learned how to cook like a Masterchef, you can click photos like one too with Food Photography 101 with Vinayak Grover. Time to seek revenge on all those who tortured you with their Insta feeds!

  • When: Sunday, 4th February, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Where: Artisans’

Literature

kala ghoda arts festival

Books > People. If you agree, the Literature section at the festival is where all your literary dreams come true. Here you’re not only exposed to the power of the word – both written and spoken – but you also have the opportunity to engage with your favourite authors – both Indian and international.

If you’re someone who has written their great novel but are struggling to get it published like all us lesser mortals, the session on What Publishers Want is just for you. Listen as representatives of Yoda Press, Oxford University Press, and Siyahi Literary Consultancy talk about what they look for in a manuscript as well as about the journey of the written word from manuscript to published novel.

  • When: Monday, 5th February, 7:40 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.
  • Where: David Sassoon Library Gardens

Granthali publishes original Marathi books and translations with an aim to promoting a love for books and reading. Founded in 1974, Granthali has been at the forefront of Marathi literature. At the festival, the founders and mainstay, including Dinkar Gangal, discuss their experiment of a new model in publishing and distribution.

  • When: Tuesday, 6th February, 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: David Sassoon Library Gardens

With a beautiful name like Hope Street Poets, this event promises a wonderful day full of poetry readings by the likes of Sahitya Akademi award winner Adil Jussawalla, Priya Sarukkai-Chhabria, Mustansir Dalvi, and more under the canopies in the gardens.

  • When: Wednesday, 7th February, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Where: David Sassoon Library Gardens

Music

kala ghoda arts festival

The music stage at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival brings together people who share the common language of music. As in previous years, this is unsurprisingly the most highly anticipated section. There are acts both big and small that’ll have you tapping your feet, swaying your body and humming away over five days.

ONEmpire is indubitably Mumbai’s favourite band with a fan following that cuts across age that has as much to do with Zarir Warden’s charm as with their music. Witness the band as they play old favourites as well as some original tracks in their renewed avatar.

  • When: Sunday, 4th February, 8:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

If you’re a lover of Bollywood classics, make sure to attend Beyond Imagination’s Tribute to Pyarelal. Beyond Imagination will throwback to the days of orchestra and live studio recordings as they belt out popular numbers composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

  • When: Monday, 5th February, 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Cross Maidan

An open-air venue + free entry + Ustad Zakir Hussain on his tablas. Need I say more?

  •    When: Thursday, 8th February, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  •    Where: Cross Maidan

Stalls

kala ghoda arts festival

If, like me, you enjoy the shopping opportunities that the festival has to offer, here’s an insider’s tip: come on a weekday before lunch, because that’s when you can browse and shop in peace without large crowds ruining the experience for you.

  • Greensole is a unique initiative that up-cycles old shoe soles into new shoes and donates them to kids in villages who have to walk miles to get to school. Luckily for us, you can get your hands on these pieces too. They will also have a donation bin where you can junk those old running shoes without feeling a pinch of guilt.
  • Bhomra Design Co. has dresses in pop colours that’ll make you feel like you’re the embodiment of spring. What’s more special is all the dresses at the store have been fashioned out of traditional Bengali weaves. J’adore! or better yet, Bhalo!
  • Last Forest works with indigenous farmers and employs fair trade practices to create the most divine honey, jams, herbs, spices, soaps, and more.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts are an often overlooked yet critical part of the festival. Besides bringing aesthetic value to the venues and providing the general look and feel, the installations present ideas of a few that can be interpreted by many in as many different ways. These installations are thought-provoking, engaging and reflective.

KGAF 2020 is an exhibit organised by a coalition of artists, architects, performers and filmmakers who will present site-specific architecture housing installations, performance art, sound art, sculptures, interactive utopias and dystopias, etc. to provide the audience with an idea of what the future might hold in store.

  • When: 3rd to 11th February
  • Where: Horniman Circle Gardens

Workshops

kala ghoda arts festival

Few things can parallel the joy of learning something new, and when that learning comes without a fee, why would anyone choose otherwise? The Workshops section at the festival is where you can pick up a new skill, engage in new ideas and, at the very least, kill a few hours productively.

Coffee addicts unite! Mithilesh Vazalwar, a former junior roaster at Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters, who turned his love for coffee into a career, will teach you how to Be Your Own Barista so you can actually enjoy good coffee in your home and save your salary that you’ve been thus far wasting on badly-made coffee.

  • When: Tuesday, 6th February, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Artists’ Centre

If you’re looking for some inspiration in life in general, come listen to Find Your Own Everest, a talk by Kuntal Joisher on how he built a healthy body and mind to become the first vegan to summit Mt. Everest from the South side.

  • When: Friday, 9th February, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Artists’ Centre

Nutrition in today’s day and age has become one of the most complicated areas in a person’s life. What’s needed is a simplification and a back to the roots philosophy. Rekha Diwekar’s Chemistry in the Kitchen aims to do just that with a talk on eating using the latest in nutritional science combined with traditional wisdom.

  • When: Sunday, 11th February, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Where: Artists’ Centre

For more information on festival programs and venues, log on to the festival website.

 

Matunga-Guide-band

The Essential Guide To Matunga

SPACE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE FOOD + DRINK VIDEO matunga

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MATUNGA

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

For the last 33 years, Dadar has been my home. In this protracted period, I’ve explored both Dadar and its neighbour Matunga, unearthing their many secrets and treasures. From temples to silk to – but of course – the mighty dosa, Matunga is a microcosm of South India. And it’s worth spending time here to experience all it has to offer.

SHOPPING

Matunga Market

Ask any middle-aged woman living in Matunga East what she wouldn’t be able to live without and you can expect the answer to be Matunga market. Why? Because Matunga market is a haven unlike any other in all of Mumbai.

Sunday mornings are the best (and worst) time to visit, because that’s when all of Matunga descends on this little strip to tick items off their weekly shopping list. Here you will find bhaajiwalas and fruit vendors hawking the choicest produce sitting cheek by jowl with a vendor selling a mind-boggling array of banana chips. Right next to him, you will find a person sharpening the knives of aforementioned middle-aged women as they catch up with each other.

Matunga Market, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019

matunga

Chheda Stores

Chheda is where the action is most concentrated because they sell everything from Kraft cheese to khandvi. The two adjacent stores run by brothers are, between them, the answer to all things food-related. Here you will find everything an Indian kitchen needs, whether it’s bajra atta, homemade pickle, imported chocolate, grains, spices, papad or just a packet of bhel.

Chheda Stores, 292, Bhanu Jyoti, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 4245

Manjushree Chips

Who needs Pringles when you have Manjushree? This tiny store on Chandawarkar Road sells freshly-made chips in all varieties and flavours. Yes, even sour cream and onion. And they taste much better than the mass-produced, pre-packaged stuff that passes for potato chips.

Manjushree Chips, Shri Rang Building, Chandawarkar Marg, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098337 83213

Matunga Flower Market

The Tamil presence has given the neighbourhood its temples, Kanjeevaram idli, and filter coffee but the most significant contribution is perhaps the row of Tamil-owned flower shops that make Matunga’s very own phool gully. A number of these little shops – some as old as 50 years – line the footpath at the intersection of Bhandarkar and Telang Roads. These shops sell gajras to adorn the ladies of Matunga and garlands for every occasion from birthdays and weddings to funerals.

Matunga Flower Market, Bhandarkar Marg, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019

matunga

Mysore Concerns/Quality Tea and Coffee

Before there were Blue Tokai and Koinonia, there were Mysore Concerns and Quality Tea and Coffee. The freshly ground filter coffee powder available at Mysore Concerns is perfect for a Sunday pick-me-up when you aren’t in the mood to brave the crowds thronging the eateries in Matunga. At Quality Tea and Coffee, next to Ram Ashraya restaurant, you can buy beans or coffee powder and brand yourself a coffee connoisseur.

Mysore Concerns, Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2402 5339

Quality Tea and Coffee, Shreeji Sadan, Bhandarkar Road, Matunga, Mumbai – 400019. Phone: 98210 19823

Gomathy Moorthy/Jain and Iyer

For super soft idlis that you can whip up at home, head to Gomathy Moorthy at Noor Mahal Building, Maheshwari Udyan or Jain and Iyer at Shankar Niwas, Brahmanwada. Their idli and dosa batters are as authentic as it gets. You can also buy a ready pack of ingredients for coconut chutney, malagapoodi to be mixed with oil, and sambhar and rasam pastes for the fastest and most delicious South Indian meal you will ever make.

Gomathy Moorthy, Noor Mahal Building, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King Circle Garden, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2418 5375

Jain and Iyer, Shankar Nivas, Brahmanwada, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098194 61778

Lakshmi Silk House 

The go-to place for handwoven Kanjeevaram sarees, Lakshmi Silk House claims to be the oldest shop in Mumbai for these traditional sarees. Whether or not this is true, it’s where you should go to invest in an heirloom piece that you can dream of handing down to your granddaughter some day.

Lakshmi Silk House, Bhiwandiwala Building, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 3085

matunga silk sarees

FOOD

Arya Bhavan

Arya Bhavan opposite Matunga Central station is run by Muthuswamy, the king of South Indian catering in Mumbai. It’s where you should go for your fix of Muthuswamy specials – appam and stew and curd rice that no one else does right.

Arya Bhavan, Shop Number 9 And 10, Bhanujyoti Building, L.N. Road, Opp. Matunga Railway Station, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2415 9449

Ram Ashraya

Ram Ashraya has a wait time of at least 20 minutes at any time of the day, on any day of the week. But that just means that its food is finger-licking good. The sambhar is not sweet, the dosas are crispy, and the rasam will open up your sinuses. Wash all that food down with a filter coffee, and you’ll be in a food coma.

Ram Ashraya, 24, Shreeji Sadan Building, Bhandarkar Marg, Opp. Matunga Kabutar Khana, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2410 2369

Matunga Guide_005

A. Rama Nayak

A. Rama Nayak’s Idli House boasts the widest variety of idlis including pepper idli, butter jackfruit, khotto, kancheepuram, and more. Paired with coconut chutney, red coconut chutney, malagapoodi, and green mint chutney, these pillowy soft clouds are great for a lunch as long and leisurely as Udipi service allows.

A. Rama Nayak Idli House, Idli House, #462, Ram Bhavan, Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai – 400019. Phone: 2401 2422

Sharda Bhavan

This quaint little eatery hasn’t changed since it opened in the 1950s. With its vintage tiled flooring and inlaid wooden tables, the ambience is as charming as the food is delicious. Order everything from their limited menu and eat it in your personal patch of sunlight.

Sharda Bhavan, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 1271

Koolar & Co.

There are more Irani cafés in Dadar and Matunga than anywhere else in the city. For your dose of these corner side eateries, head to Koolar & Co. at Maheshwari Udyan where you can dig into a six-egg Irani Wrestler Omelette with brun maska and wash it down with milky, sweet Irani tea.

Koolar & Co. Doctor Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098203 01842

Matunga Guide_004

EXPERIENCE

Aurora Talkies

Rajnikant enjoys God-like status in Matunga, and nowhere is this more evident than at Aurora Talkies on the Friday of a movie release. It’s where giant-sized cutouts of the superstar are bathed in milk and 3 a.m. shows are sold out. If suspension of disbelief is not your thing, head here to marvel at the building’s art deco architecture instead. Yes, there is another cinema besides Regal that can boast of this style.

Aurora Talkies, Near Maheshwari Udyan, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King Circle, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2409 6666

Architecture

In fact, all of Matunga hides a treasure trove of art deco buildings that are perfect for an afternoon of ogling while ambling along wide, tree lined roads. Unfortunately, these buildings are fast disappearing since none of them have received heritage status yet unlike their South Mumbai counterparts. Carry your camera and get trigger happy before they’re reduced to rubble.

 

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Juhu-Guide-band

12 Hours In And Around Juhu

SPACE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE FOOD + DRINK VIDEO juhu guide

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND JUHU

WORDS BY KRUTI DALAL

When someone says Juhu, you immediately think of the eponymous beach that beckons hundreds of tourists to its shores and stalls. While that image is authentic, what is also true is that these crowds thin out the further inland you travel. By the time you reach the leafy lanes of JVPD, you’ll see few people on the sidewalks but many models of the latest BMW or Audi. This largely residential area is home to many famous families, but it also houses some cultural delights, themed eateries and shopping gems that will take up your entire day. But first, you have to hit the beach.

Early morning

Juhu Beach

If you wake up an hour early, you live an hour more. This especially holds true if you’re planning to visit Juhu Beach. Land there after 8 a.m. and it’s impossible to walk 100 metres without running into people or tripping over dogs. Get there just before the sunrise, and you can join other dedicated joggers for a brisk run along the shoreline. The southern end of the beach is relatively quiet. Enter from the lane next to Granth Bookstore and make your way upwards towards all the action.

8:30 a.m.

Option A – Aromas Cafe

Every early morning run (jog/walk/crawl) deserves a hearty breakfast, and at Aromas you’ll find food for all kinds of souls. From muesli and berry yogurt parfait for the calorie conscious to the Big Breakfast (eggs, hash browns, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms) for the indulgent, Aromas has it all. Portions are generous and the rosti with cheese and jalapenos is a meal by itself. Even if you aren’t particularly peckish, go for classic coffee and croissant combination and it will linger in your memory for the entire day. Aromas Cafe, Ground Floor, 52, Gazebo House, Gulmohar Road, Below Country Club Fitness, Cross Road Number 7, Juhu Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6022 6262 juhu breakfast

Option B – Fable

Fable is charming and quirky in just the right measure. Whimsical pictures painted in black across open yellowed books mounted on the, vintage telephones, and mismatched cutlery are the standout features of this fairytale setting. The breakfast menu is concise, and their bagel with cream cheese, avocado, and sun-dried tomatoes is the hero of this short story. The barley and quinoa upma comes as a surprise, while the French toast with blueberry compote makes for a happy ending. Fable, Shop 3, Ashiyana Apartment, N.S. Road 13, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6022 6400

11:00 a.m.

Option A – Helicopter Tours

After breakfast, let the party continue 700ft up in the air. A host of companies offer aerial tours of the city, with helicopters taking off from the Juhu Aerodrome. You can fly above the now-iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link, wave to tourists and locals on Chowpatty, or spot your reflection in the Golden Pagoda at Gorai. With a variety of options in terms of routes (North, South, East or Complete Mumbai) and durations (from 10 to 60 minutes), you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy, and hopefully your budget.  Juhu Aerodrome, Vile Parle (e), Mumbai 400 056. Phone: 022 2661 6738

Option B – ISKCON Temple

If you want to soar without breaking the bank to pay for the flight, then your best bet is a spiritual high at ISKCON Temple. Like most temples built by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the one at Juhu is not just an architectural marvel but a hotbed for religious activity that is especially vibrant during festivals. The intricate marble facade and vivid paintings depicting scenes from the Mahabharatha are enough to keep even atheists interested. Apart from housing a research and education centre, a library, an auditorium, and a guesthouse for visitors, the compound also houses a vegetarian restaurant. ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 6860 juhu iskcon temple

1:00 p.m.

Option A – Govinda’s

Any trip to ISKCON is incomplete without a meal at Govinda’s. When the words vegetarian, temple, and food are strung together in a sentence, they conjure up an image of a rather bland and boring meal. Govinda’s surprises patrons with its massive food spread and rich Jain preparations cooked in pure desi ghee. From aam panna and salads to kaju paneer and shrikhand, they’re all on the buffet table. You can also order South Indian dishes from the menu, though you may change your mind after one glance at the buffet spread. Govinda’s ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 6860

Option B – Dakshinayan

If all your heart desires is a South Indian meal, you can head to Dakshinayan for the nine types of white, fluffy orbs of guilt-free heaven they offer. If you can’t choose between Ambassador Idli (mini idlis in sambhar, topped with raw onions and coconut), Nei Idli soaked in ghee, and Tayir Idli dunked in curd, you’ll have to go with a large group. But you must go. If not for the idlis then for the crisp rava masala dosa and onion uttapam. Dakshinayan, Gandhigram Road, Near Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 8812

 3:00 p.m.

Option A – Chandan Cinema

If you’re lucky enough, your day out in Juhu may just coincide with the release of a highly anticipated Hindi film starring one of the superstars. You should book Stall tickets at Chandan and reach early to just soak in the atmosphere. You still have people whistling and cheering every time the hero enters, standing on seats during fight sequences, and dancing to songs along with the actors on screen. With its folding wooden seats, popcorn packets, and samosas in white paper bags, Chandan Cinema still holds on to some traces of its glorious days. Chandan Cinema, S Dnyaneshwar Marg, Near ISKCON Temple, Sainath Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 0437

Option B – Granth Book Store

The eternal debate about films vs. books will manifest itself in your itinerary as well. If you had to pick between three hours of watching Shah Rukh Khan serenade PYTs on screen or three hours reading George RR Martin while sipping on coffee, what would you decide on? If you have literary leanings, then Granth is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon. This two-storey bookstore stocks bestsellers and better-known titles in chic monochrome shelves and plays soft jazz in the background. Pro Tip: Grab one of the tables by the glass windows overlooking the upscale neighbourhood, and don’t leave until you absolutely must. Granth Book Store, 30/A, HM House, Juhu Tara Road, Opp Rotary Club, Santacruz (w), Mumbai 400 049. Phone:  022 2660 9327

Option C – Juhu Shopping Centre

The one-stop shop for all your miscellaneous needs and desires, Juhu Shopping Centre is actually a row of different buildings spread out over 200 metres. Shops inside these old buildings span all genres between general store and bridal studio. If you need a gift for your four-year-old nephew, you’ll find a mini car with flashing lights and a Pokemon bonet. If you need a fancy saree blouse by next week, you’ll find a boutique where you will also pick up clothes for the other wedding functions. If you need a snack, you’ll find the jhaal muri uncle a few steps away from Quality Stores. Vaishali Shopping Center, Shop No. B-1, next to Sahakari Bhandar, Plot No.5, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049.

5:00 p.m.

Option A – Jhaal Muri

At around 5 p.m. every evening, a man will set up his steel tins around him like a drum set and then play the same melodious tune throughout the evening, churning out packet after packet of Calcutta’s favourite snack. Jhaal muri, or spicy puffed rice, is a Bengali specialty rarely found outside of East India, and almost never found in its true form. The man slicing the chillies and raw mango may change every week, but the ratio of kala chana to aloo or the quantity of mustard oil never alters. Be warned though, this sniffle-inducing snack is not for the faint hearted. juhu jhaal muri

Option B – Stalls outside Mithibai College

For a more substantial (and less fiery) snack, follow the college crowd to the food stalls opposite Mithibai College. On the “must try” list: Schezwan vada pav from Shivaji Vada Pav Stall, Andar Bahar cheese grill sandwich from Mithibai ka Famous Sandwich, and pizza dosa from Anand. Purists better sit this one out. North South Road Number 1, Suvarna Nagar, Vile Parle (w), Mumbai 400 056.

Option C – Aleph

Unlike other cafés where the staff drops subtle hints and serves not-so-subtle stares if you’ve been occupying a table for far too long, Aleph actually invites you to lounge on their mattresses for as long as you like. Coffee at this hipster café is a good idea for other reasons as well. One, they have a rooftop. Two, they have fairy lights. Three, they have a dog. They also have Madagascar vanilla coffee and six different types of tea. Aleph, 7-28/29 1st floor Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 099303 84641

Option D – Tea Villa Café

An open courtyard, green window shutters, and wall garden lend Tea Villa Café some fantastical charm. This could be the house of any one of the characters from the fairy tales our grandmothers told us when we were little; a character that drinks copious amounts of tea. Tea Villa Café offers over 70 different types of tea and has three pages dedicated to just chai. Brews from across the world are represented on the menu with Kashmiri Kahwa, Luang Ching Tea, and Japanese Sencha being some of the favourites. Tea Villa Café, 32, Juhu Church Road, Near Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 8080850000

6:30 p.m.

Option A – Juhu Joggers Park

Juhu is dotted with small garden, jogging tracks, and play areas, but a particularly charming space is the Juhu Joggers Park. In the morning, you can see residents practicing yoga in the gazebo and hear the hearty guffaws of the local laughter club. In the afternoon, people lie down on the closely cut grass at the fringes and take a long snooze. In the evening, the park is a favourite for children and lovers who find solace in the jungle gym and on the benches respectively. Walkers, joggers, and runners can be found throughout the day, using the dedicated mud and paved tracks in the centre of the park. Joggers Park, Vaikunthlal Mehta Road, Ashok Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049.

Option B – Prithvi Theatre

A suburban mecca for lovers of arts in all its forms, Prithvi Theatre remains the preferred venue for a cultural night out in town. If you don’t get a ticket to one of the experimental or smaller productions on the main stage, you may be able to attend a film screening or a talk in the adjoining building. The tiny bookshop stocks some lesser-known titles on theatre, the front courtyard is always lit with strings of yellow bulbs, and the Irish Coffee at the café still maintains its untarnished reputation. Keep an eye out for familiar faces, both onscreen and off-screen. Prithvi Theatre, 20 Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2614 9546 juhu prithvi theatre

Option C – Amrapali Jewels

From Diane Kruger in Troy to Deepika Padukone in Ram-Leela, many a famous figure have been adorned by Amrapali’s jewels. If you want to add your name to that list, head to the Jaipur-based jeweller’s Juhu store and spend some time admiring their intricate pieces. Funky, neon necklaces designed by Manish Arora, bracelets inspired by Turkish Kilms, and chunky, gleaming jewels from Hyderabad glitter on the glass shelves. Prices are clearly on the higher side, but here’s some perspective: Amrapali may be your only chance to own a Manish Arora design. Sold. Amrapali Jewels, Phoolwari Cottage, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2612 5001

Option D – Bhaidas Hall

Bhaidas Hall is a landmark in Juhu. This multipurpose auditorium hosts plays, music performances, school functions, college convocations, and even transforms into a wedding reception venue. All long-running Gujarati plays make repeated appearances at Bhaidas. You know it’s show day when you see cars outside the gate holding up traffic, and theatre patrons getting off from their vehicles straightening their jackets and smoothing their cotton sarees. Don’t forget to sample their famous samosas during the intermission. Bhaidas Hall, Gulmohar Road, Near Mithibai College, Vile Parle (w), Mumbai 400 056. Phone: 022 4219 9924

8:00 p.m.

Option A – Gadda Da Vida

A drink at Novotel’s sea-facing bar is the best beginning to the end of an eventful day. Watch the sun dip into the Arabian Sea while sipping on a chilled beer or one of Gadda Da Vida’s signature cocktails. As the sun rays fade, the candles on each table come alive to cast shadows and create an atmosphere conducive to romance and intimate conversations. If you’re looking to earn some brownie points with your partner, Gadda Da Vida’s your place. Gadda Da Vida, Lobby level, Novotel, Balraj Sahani Marg, Juhu Beach, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6693 4444

Option B – Silver Beach Café

If (like the writer) you consider yourself too old for such shenanigans and real-time social media updates, make your way to a quaint restaurant in one of the JVPD back-lanes. With its French windows, leather seats, and dim lighting, Silver Beach Café is every first-date dream, but it’s also the perfect spot for a cosy catch-up with close friends over some wine and pasta. You can’t go wrong with the spinach and cream cheese ravioli or the roasted vegetable risotto. Silver Beach Café, Jaldarshan Building, Near Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 3996 7496

Juhu Guide_007

Option C – On Toes

On Toes is like a blast from the past. With its ’90s interiors and the club above playing retro music, it transports back to the early days of eating out. Staple starters such as hara bhara kababs and spring roll remain popular, but it’s the locha naan that has patrons licking their fingers. A thick naan stuffed with cheese, garlic, butter, and coriander, this dish can be spotted on almost every table in the restaurant. Apart from the standard Punjabi fare, On Toes also serves the most delicious dal khichdi with palak raita. All meals end with sauf and sugar. On Toes, No. 7 Mithila Shopping Centre, V Mehta Road, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6627 6464

Option D – Facing East

The only restaurant in the vicinity serving authentic South East Asian cuisine, Facing East is known for its extensive menu and generous portions. The dim sums here are soft, not doughy, and the lemon coriander soup is packed with subtle flavours that linger on even after dessert. The indoor and outdoor seating arrangement is authentic and intimate, with tables sometimes falling short of space to accommodate entire orders. Best to ask for a bigger table while reserving in advance. Facing East, JVPD Scheme, Opposite Lotus Eye Hospital, 13th Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2625 1199

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Fort-Guide-band

12 Hours In And Around Fort

SPACE
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fort
 

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND FORT

WORDS BY KRUTI DALAL AND SADIYA UPADE

It’s the original business district. Art capital. Heritage central. The bustling area, which derives its name from British fortifications around the harbour, best showcases the transformation of Bombay into a cosmopolitan city. The colonial facades and the lanes within Fort abound with stories of the grand past, migration, and a city made one’s own and its ever-changing nature.

9:30 a.m.

Option A – Yazdani Bakery

One of the oldest bakeries in Mumbai beckons you to step in for brun maska and chai. Take in the vintage frames, blackboard menus, old fixtures, and the humongous clock from one of the four wooden benches. See the old-style bread cutter in action, even as the round bruns, loaves, and pavs disappear at lightning speed. For a heavier breakfast, you can choose from mushroom puff, apple pie, carrot cake, and muffins. Regulars also swear by the ginger biscuits.

Yazdani Bakery, 1/11A, Cawasji Patel Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2287 0739

yazdani fort

Option B – The Nutcracker

Among the newer breed of breakfast options is The Nutcracker, whose corrugated steel sheets, wooden windows, and bright bougainvillea make for a pretty picture that you’ll want to capture for your Instagram account. The urge to document everything continues inside. One look at the Belgian waffles with salted caramel and blueberry compote and your fingers will itch for another photo. The Emmanthel and Truffle Oil Scrambled Eggs will probably go cold by the time you get around to eating them. But the good thing is that the food here tastes just as good as it looks.

The Nutcracker, Modern House, Dr VB Gandhi Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2284 2430

11:00 a.m.

Option A – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

If it’s relics from ancient India that pique your interest, there’s no better place than CSMVS. With 50,000 artefacts, the museum has an outstanding and diverse collection of sculptures, bronzes, excavated artefacts, miniature paintings, porcelain, and much more. Get your audio guide and traverse the floors, exploring the regular and new exhibits. It’s an exercise that will take the best part of the day without you even knowing it. Our advice is to take the photo pass, for some artefacts will really speak to you.

The museum has lately started guided tours and workshops especially for kids. But even as an adult, there’s joy in printing your own bookmark or a coin. Explore small activities like these along with the museum shop and come back richer.

CSMVS, 159-161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 032

fort prince of wales museum

Option B – Art @ Street

If it’s art you are looking for, you don’t have to look beyond Kala Ghoda. With the famed Jehangir Art Gallery, NGMA, and a clutch of smaller galleries, it’s rightly called the city’s art district. But art doesn’t always have to be an expensive affair. Right outside Jehangir Art Gallery (and around the corner from CSMVS) are a line-up of artists selling paintings, hand-painted bookmarks, and cards. Right from abstracts to watercolours, tribal art, and landscapes, the diverse array of work comes at just the right price to take home. These talented artists will also sketch you a portrait or draw a caricature in a matter of minutes – just that little pin-up version to cater to your inherent strain of vanity.

Jehangir Art Gallery, 161B, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001

Option C – ARTISANS’

Sam Kulavoor’s mural in Kala Ghoda pulls you all the way to the gallery housed behind the black, white, and yellow walls. With its wood interiors and warm lighting, ARTISANS’ is the antithesis to white-walled, impersonal art galleries that dot South Mumbai. The focus here is on indigenous art, craft, and design, but the handicrafts at ARTISANS’ go beyond what is usually exhibited in government emporiums. Here you have equal chances of finding intricate pichwais from Rajasthan, Dhakai jamdanis, and collections made in conjunction with handloom weavers. The regular workshops, lectures, and film screenings are a bonus.

ARTISANS’, 52 – 56, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, 400 001. Phone:  098201 45397

1:00 p.m.

Option A – Pancham Puriwala

If there’s one word to describe Pancham Puriwala, it’s “legendary”. The story of how the founder Pancham Sharma walked to Bombay from Uttar Pradesh in the 1840s to set up shop is legendary indeed, but what’s truly epic are the puris at this iconic institution. Patrons travel miles for these perfectly round, fluffy, hot puris that emit steam when the top layer is poked. Plain, masala, palak – there’s a puri for all tastes. Pair these with chhole, aloo, kadhi or aam ras, grab a glass of their frothy chaas, and you’ve got yourself a nap-inducing meal.

Pancham Puriwala, 8/10, Perin Nariman Street, Borabazar Precinct, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 090041 88052

 

Option B – Cafe Military

Cafe Military may be the only Irani restaurant in the city that doesn’t have tea on its menu, but the chilled beer certainly makes up for this glaring omission. The single-paged menu is concise, with separate specials for each day of the week. You can start your week with chicken cutlet and gravy and end it with mutton dhanshak. Kheema of all kinds is available daily, along with other traditional Irani egg, chicken, and mutton preparations. Caramel Custard is listed in the “extra” section of the menu, so don’t get unsettled if you don’t spot it at first glance.

Cafe Military, Ali Chamber, Nagindas Master Road, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2265 4181

Option C – Taste of Kerala

The banana leaves fly off the counters at this no-frills eatery on Pitha Street. Waiters move about with heaps of rice and swirling bowls of chutneys, cabbage thoran, pickles, rasam, and sambhar for the sadya. That’s not to discount their non-vegetarian fare. Taste of Kerala’s chicken nadan curry and porottas have earned it the patronage of even the most ardent Keralites. As has the pollichathu, a special banana leaf preparation in which fish is wrapped with onions and tomatoes. It goes without saying that meals here wouldn’t be complete without extra papadams and bowls of payasam.

Taste of Kerala, 6/A, Prospect Chambers Annexe, Pitha Street, Near Citibank, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 098921 21538

 3:00 p.m.

Option A – CST Heritage Museum

CST station, used by all and sundry, is not only one of the busiest stations in the country but also a defining landmark in the city. If, like us, you have always wanted a peek inside, this heritage tour is your cue. Head to the right wing of the station, close to the bus stop, and you will see the sign. The guided tour will take you through the history of Railways, from the shift to electric trains and more. But it’s the moment you lay your eyes on the central dome that you will get transported to a different era. Soak in the wide staircase, with the lion holding the crest, stained glass, starry ceiling, gargoyles, and peacocks, and you can almost imagine walking down the red-carpeted stairs in a Victorian gown for the Ball.

The tour is open from 3 to 5 p.m. on weekdays at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Area, Fort, Mumbai 400 001.

Option B – Bombay Heritage Walks

Now that you’ve broken the fast and tackled social media, it’s time to get those feet moving. Walking tours of South Mumbai can be found a dime-a-dozen, but you’re a sucker for anything Bombay (just like us), you’ll be instantly drawn towards Bombay Heritage Walks. They’ve been conducting heritage walks long before heritage walks became a thing. Now in their 18th year, BHW offer three route options. You can choose between the Kala Ghoda walk, the Horniman Circle trail, or the longer combination of the two. If you want to know the juicy titbits about Asiatic Library, Old Customs House and Flora Fountain without having to bury your nose deep into guidebooks, this is a good option.

For more information on the walks, you can visit their website.

horniman circle

Option C – St. Thomas Cathedral

Though we don’t advocate sleeping in churches, St. Thomas Cathedral is a rather serene space to rest your tired feet after exploring the area. The lush garden, towering steeple, and marble fountain make for an oasis in the middle of the bustling financial district. But before you switch on a rickety fan and sink into the pew, take a walk around the nearly 300-year-old church to find ornate marble memorials and plaques for surgeons, soldiers and sailors.
St. Thomas Cathedral, Horniman Circle, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2202 4482

4:30 p.m.

Option A – Aram

If you are hankering for an early evening snack, there’s vada pav. Even better, there’s Aram vada pav. The latter can only be eaten at leisure, because its size and spice quotient makes it impossible to chomp it down in mere minutes while on the move. The original Aram, which started over 75 years ago as a milk bar, is still housed in the Capitol Cinema building opposite CST, but the newer outlet at Fort is popular as well. The gigantic portions, generous amount of garlic chutney, and the absence of turmeric in their potato mixture set Aram’s vada pav apart from the rest. If for some reason, you’re still hungry after your vada pav, try their sabudana vada, and kothimbir vadi.

Aram Restaurant, 126, Capitol Cinema, Dr. DN Road, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001. Phone:  022 2207 3947 and 42, Mint Road, Opposite GPO, Fort, Mumbai 400 001

 

Option B – Moti Halwai

Set up by a Punjabi family that migrated from Karachi during Partition, Moti Halwai goes back to the 1950s. Stop by for some home-style food, especially the Sindhi chaap, samosa chole, and dal pakwaan. Join the queue of people standing outside having thick creamy lassi topped with chunks of malai or find yourself some parathas and thalis at this unassuming little place close to Yazdani Bakery.

Moti Halwai, Salva Chambers, 40, Cawasji Patel Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 098200 58249

6:00 p.m.

Option A – Mulji Jetha Fountain

Your Fort walk won’t be complete till you walk through Ballard Estate, with its wide tree-lined streets and European-style architecture. Stop by the Mint Road junction and look up at the boy who refuses to look up from his book: the Mulji Jetha Fountain, a memorial by a grieving father for his 15-year-old son. Newly restored, it also boasts of 42 sculptures of animal heads, with alligators, elephants, iguanas, and lions included. It’s fitting the fountain is located in Fort, home to some of the city’s best bookstores.

Mulji Jetha Fountain, 311, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai 400 001

Option B – Wayword & Wise

Speaking of books, you can’t go wrong with possibly the best bookstore in Fort. With books spanning music, performing arts, and food besides some lovely fiction by little-known authors, Wayword & Wise is the perfect place to pick up some literary gems. Like Kurt Cobain’s Journals that includes poetry, doodles, and letters by the musician. Or Vladimir Nabokov’s lectures on literature. There’s plenty for graphic novel lovers too. And as always, there’s owner Virat Chandok to help out with the recommendations.

Wayword & Wise, Strategic house, 44, Mint Rd, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001. Phone: 022 6634 9946

wayword and wise fort

8:00 p.m.

Option A – Burma Burma

The distance between Mangalore and Myanmar is only a few streets. Walk down a narrow alley, push open the heavy wooden door to Burma Burma, and you will apparate to Naypyitaw in seconds. The samosa soup will tickle your fancy and your taste buds. The khao suey will leave you licking your lips for traces of any remnants after the bowl has been wiped clean. Dessert might turn into a battlefield with friends, families, and colleagues wrangling over the last bite of smoked avocado ice-cream. But everyone will leave a winner.

Burma Burma, Kothari House, Allana Centre Lane, Opposite Mumbai University, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 4003 6600

burma burma fort

Option B – Apoorva

Apoorva is a haven for Mangalorean coastal fare. The dim lights may not seem alluring at first, but a bite of their prawn gassi is enough to convert you. The classic coconut-milk gravy paired with neer dosa is a favourite of office-goers and food critics alike. Apoorva is part of the Fort seafood triad that includes Trishna and Mahesh, so it’s not surprising that seafood specialties run the whole page. Go for the surmai fry and prawns koliwada or choose a preparation of your liking. Appams work on the side of everything.

Apoorva, Vasta House, Noble Chambers, SA Brelvi Road, Near Horniman Circle, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2287 0335

 

 
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