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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

 

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Drink Up: A Beer Lover’s Guide To Andheri

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DRINK UP: A BEER LOVER’S GUIDE TO ANDHERI

WORDS BY KASTURI GADGE

The rise of the microbreweries has been good news for connoisseurs of craft beer in the city. Taprooms have mushroomed across town over the last couple of years, but it’s safe to say the trend is especially tight in Andheri.  Here’s a list of locals you can hop on over to, say ‘Prost’ to a fresh brew, and skip wearing the lederhosen.

Woodside Inn

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Woodside Inn opened its second outpost in Andheri way before the beer revolution hit the town, and its beer and burgers bring all the folks to the yard (They’re so good they have an annual beer and burger festival). A reliably good playlist, great crowd, and extensive beer list make this a great choice whether its Oktoberfest or not. On tap, they serve beers by Gateway Brewing Co, Great State Al,e and some local and international names. If you’re adventurous, keep an eye out for their beer infusion nights where they bring out the Randall for some extra fun with the brews.

Woodside Inn, Shop No. 11 & 12, Link Plaza Commercial Complex, Bhau Tatoba Toraskar Marg, Mhada Colony, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 102. Phone: 022 2632 8963. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 200

Brewbot Eatery & Pub Brewery

Brewbot

We don’t know if bots actually brew the beer, but if they are, they’re doing a great job.  The pub imports all the ingredients from beer capitals like Germany, Belgium, and Australasia, and the beer on offer includes pints of German Kolsch, a French-style Apple Cider, a crowd-pleasing Hefeweizen, and a full-bodied British-style stout. Put that down on a table in a fun space that has natural light by day and plays with Edison lights at night and who wouldn’t say ‘ja’ to that?

Brewbot Eatery & Pub Brewery, G-01 & 101, Off New Link Rd, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 93260 72768. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 175

The Finch

Their tagline is ‘Rhythm and Brews’, and The Finch has been on every music lovers radar since they opened. Live music performances by performers – fresh, familiar, and sometimes famous – have always drawn the crowds in, but the latest draw is a microbrewery that’s been on the cards right from the start. Their craft beer menu includes a Belgian Wit, an Indian Pale Ale, a Nitro Stout, a Cider, and a Hefeweizen.

The Finch, Shah Industrial Estate, Opposite to Huntsman Building, Saki Vihar Road, Andheri (e), Mumbai 400 072. Phone: 080559 92993. A pint of beer: Starting Rs. 355

Independence Brewing Company (IBC)

Independence Brewing Co

On a more serious note, the beers on offer at IBC are seriously good. One of the country’s first craft beer companies, the Pune brewery came to Mumbai at the behest of city fans who sampled their beers and wanted more. It was initially available only in a couple of neighbourhood bars, and this is their first stand-alone taproom. Expert advice: one trip won’t be enough, as they have an elaborate selection that’s worth exploring. Start off with an easy going Belgian Wit, move on to a Pilsner, get a little heady with the Four Grain Saison, and call it a night with the creamy nitro stout Ixcacao.

Independence Brewing Company, 41, Citi Mall B, 001 & 101, Link Rd, Veera Desai Industrial Estate, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 022 2639 9065. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 175

The Stables

This equestrian-themed pub promises to add a little glam to the life of office goers in Andheri East with its luxe interiors and free popcorn. They don’t horse around with the beer menu either. An elaborate list of craft beers from the city are available here in 330ml to a 3-litre serving option, and they’re opening an in-house beer garden very soon too.

The Stables, The Peninsula Redpine, Near Airport Road Metro Station, Andheri (e), Marol Mumbai 400 069. Phone: 9820647072 Drinks for two: Starting Rs. 300

Doolally Taproom

Doolally- Belgian Witbier - India Pale Ale IPA- Pic Credit Kavita Narwani

Doolally, Pune’s first microbrewery, had become the Mumbaikar’s weekend pilgrimage, so news of them opening outposts in Mumbai was greeted with great cheer. On their opening night, the taps ran dry. Today, there’s a Doolally in pretty much every neighbourhood.  The brightly lit décor, comfort food, and good selection of board games cater to a troop of happy regulars. We recommend sampling  their Weitber, Pale Ale, or Oatmeal stout to begin.

Doolally, C18-21 Dalia Industrial Estate Near, Fun Republic Road, Off New Link Road, Veera Desai Industrial Estate, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 074001 71674. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 300

Sammy Sosa

When Sammy Sosa opened in 2008, a big draw was their beer menu that featured 45 international beers. This Mexican restaurant remains popular with families, and it’s bright, cheery, and a great place to clink glasses across generations. Their beer list will have something for everyone. There’s a tequila-flavoured Mexican beer Amigo, an intense one called Shepherds Neame, and the Leffe Fruitesse that is a hit with non-beer drinkers.

Sammy Sosa, Meera Tower, Shop No 18, Link Rd, Oshiwara, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 058. Phone:  098336 66555 A pint of beer: starting Rs. 175

Barrel & Co

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Barrel & Co is only a year or so old and a little different from the rest. Launched by a bevy of Bollywood stars, it’s known for its happening parties and an aura of glitz. If you want a change from your usual, this is the place. Their in-house brewery offers a medium bodied Bavarian brew. They also have a selection of beer cocktails where mixologists use house beers and get adventurous with their recipes.

Barrel & Co, 2, Link Rd, Industrial Area, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 047. Phone: 098838 34567. A pint of beer: starting Rs. 250

Feature photograph copyright puhhha – stock.adobe.com. All other photographs courtesy the restaurants.

 

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A Non-Vegetarian’s Guide To Restaurants In IC Colony

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SURF AND TURF IN BORIVALI (W): A NON-VEGETARIAN’S GUIDE TO RESTAURANTS IN IC COLONY

WORDS BY MAULIKA K. HEGDE

As a suburb, Borivali is generally regarded as a lollapalooza for all things vegetarian, including Mumbai’s best vada pav offering. Most eateries in Borivali are vegetarian friendly with immense potato-entialities and generous portions of paneer chunks. There is no skimping on grated cheese or melted cheese accompaniments.

However, for this ’90s kid whose family was accustomed to a healthy dose of kori rotti, restaurants which offered meat and seafood were held in high regard. Here’s a breakdown of Borivali’s establishments offering lip-smacking, maasahari chow.

For Sea Food

Over the years, several eateries have opened up in Borivali to cater to pescatarians. But two establishments stand out (mainly on account of the nostalgia factor and alcohol availability): Majestic NX and Silver Coin.

Located close to the junction between IC Colony and LIC Colony, Majestic NX is a casual dining restaurant with an outdoor seating area. Apart from their specialities in tandoor, Majestic delivers a sumptuous feast via the Seafood Platter, Jumbo Pomfret, and Fish Fry (Seer fish or Pomfret). With a fresh catch and flavours heavily influenced by Udupi-Mangalorean cuisine, the fare is rich and delectable. To help you make the crucial decision of what to eat, the floor manager (who usually takes the order) gives you a lowdown on what flavours and styles will mesh well with your selection: green masala, red masala, gassi, curry style etc.

Majestic NX, Rakesh Apartments, LIC Colony Road, Vallabh Nagar, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 022 2890 8667

 

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A 25-year-old establishment, Silver Coin still maintains the vestiges of the ’90s fine dining restaurants: a doorman and a motorised elephant for kids to sit on. It also has a website that allows you to make reservations and take a quick gander at its food, and it prides itself on its take on Mangalorean specialities. Multiple variations of sea food are available, predominantly in Oriental and Indian styles. From classics such as Meen Pulli munchi to the exquisite Lasooni Machi, trusted Fish Tikka, and Surmai Tawa Fry, Silver Coin has its patrons covered.

Silver Coin, RSK Apartment, Ground floor, Cross Road No 4, IC Colony, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 022 2895 1410

For Chicken and Mutton

When biryani is bae-ryani and money is dear, head to Lazeez for your mutton/chicken biryani fix. Smack in the middle of IC Colony, this hole-in-the-wall also has kebabs and tandoor items to offer. Lazeez boasts of succulent pieces of chicken/mutton (doused in a top-secret marinade) enmeshed in a mildly flavoured basmati rice with slow cooked chunks of potato, preferably eaten with their in-house raita. If your plan is a stay-in Saturday with friends, Lazeez can also help you out with a party order.

Lazeez, Shop No-5, Tone Compound, Near IC Church, IC Colony, Borivali West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400103; T: 022 2890 6116

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If you’re not too taken up with biryani, walk towards Holy Cross Road for your shawarma fill at Al Falah Shawarma. Apart from the usual Lebanese shawarmas, it also serves Mughlai and Mexican style shawarmas, open shawarmas, and salad shawarmas. While traditionalists might choose to chomp on the classic chicken/mutton shawarma, the masala-craving gourmand can sample the spicy chicken shawarma with a glass of 7Up or Coke.

Al Falah Shawarma, Eugenie Building Apt, Holy Cross Road, IC Colony, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 075068 72070

The Fusion Kitchen is a new kid on the block that shows a lot of promise. Couched in the niche of ‘fusion’ food, it matches step with its millennial clientele. The Chicken Paprika is a highly-recommended hot mess of chicken dunked in a cheesy paprika sauce with bell pepper rice and sautéed veggies for accompaniments. The portions are generous and the flavours are spot-on. The Poulet Farci Aux Champignons (beaten chicken breast with a filling and mushroom sauce) is also an excellent bet.

The Fusion Kitchen, Shop No. 1, Opp Veda Building, Off Link Road, Holy Cross Rd, IC Colony, Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 022 3383 6003

For Eggs

If you’re easily egg-cited, head to Café Blue Bliss for their Chorizo Omelette and Scrambled Masala Cheese. The former has generous amounts of the spicy sausage, onion, and bell peppers; the latter is not as spicy as the omelette, but it is tempered well. Bacon and sausages are also available as add-ons. To wash down your meal, the menu offers a vast array of coolers and chilled coffee. For those who are willing to sit down for a hearty meal, this café also offers Mangalore style Pork Bafat, Pork ribs, Sorpotel for mains and Gadbad for dessert.

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Café Blue Bliss, Shop No.2 & 4, Ektha Angan CHS, Holy Cross Road, IC Colony, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 077383 20678

If you fancy an anda bhurji or a Chilly Garlic French Toast, Café Jecevel is the place to be. The Local Scrambled (bhurji) is unpretentious with its substantial serving, and the Chilly Garlic French Toast is flavoursome. The Omelette is a big draw too. The big plus about this café is the value for money – large servings that come with unlimited ketchup and mayonnaise at no additional charge.

Café Jecevel, Shop No 1, Sabita Apartments, IC Colony, Borivali (w), Mumbai 400 103. Phone: 075068 19123

 

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The Madh Island Staycation Guide

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THE MADH ISLAND STAYCATION GUIDE

Madh Island is home to aboriginal islander villages, celebrity hideaways, and everything in between. The salty ocean air, decent beaches, hotel options, and the fabulous 15th Century St. Bonaventure Church make it the perfect place for a staycation.

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAMYA RAMAMURTHY

Until a few years ago, most corporate offsites would succumb to the lure of the Madh Island’s Retreat Hotel and its ersatz resort vibe. The area was one of Mumbai’s dirty weekend haunts as well as the location for film units to shoot “bungalow scenes” at the local holiday homes. As high-rises begin to dot the landscape, Madh Island is slowly turning into a suburb, which means it is also more accessible by road and by sea.

If you want to escape manic Mumbai over the weekend, it remains one of the easiest options.

Getting There

The road trip is now an obstacle course courtesy the Metro construction and near perpetual bottlenecks on the Western Express Highway. It’s cheaper and far quicker to get to the Versova jetty and take the ferry across. A ticket on the junta ferry costs only Rs. 5. The slightly better maintained ferry is a princely Rs.10. Both will deposit you across at the Madh Island Jetty in a couple of minutes, but you will have to brave the putrid stench of the polluted ocean on this stretch.

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Once you disembark, you can catch a rick, but be warned: they don’t ply by the meter. The starting price for any distance is Rs. 80, and you can try to bargain but there is really no option, so you’ll have to quit haggling and give in. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle from one of the local shops at Versova before you take the ferry across.

Beaches

Marve and Aksa beaches heave with tourists on weekends but have plenty of street food stalls and the typical Mumbai beach paraphernalia. The lesser-known beaches of Erangal and Dana Pani are less crowded and, if you time your visit right, you could have the entire beach to yourself. These beaches are mostly clean and easy to access but don’t have food stalls or facilities on the beach so they are as bare and basic as it comes.

Stay

While you could stay at the Retreat or the Resort at Madh Island for a weekend staycation, there are plenty of bungalows that offer the Airbnb experience like Shubham, Aashiyana Villa, Arpita’s bungalow, or Umesh’s Villa. Apartments at Raheja Exotica also show up on Airbnb, and if you choose a higher floor the sea view is guaranteed. Andy’s 1979 Boutique Hotel on the Madh Marve Road is an option if you want to rent an upscale cottage. They also offer dining on site.

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Lunch

As its name suggests, the Retreat Hotel and Convention Centre near Erangal Beach is more of a convention hotel, and a recent visit suggests its glory days are perhaps in the past. The hotel’s all-day dining café, Tangerine, and its Chinese restaurant, The Oriental Bowl, have poolside views that rank higher than the quality of the food.

You could also try the themed cafés (High Tide, Bay Watch, and Pool Side) at the Resort Hotel in Aksa Beach, Madh-Marve Road. While the food is standard café fare, the views score one up over the Retreat, as you can see the beach from here.

Standalone restaurants such as Café Laguna near the Raheja Exotica buildings make up for a lack of a view with their ambience and menu.

See

St. Bonaventure’s Church is a Portuguese era Franciscan church built in 1575 AD. It is right on Erangal beach and hard to miss as it’s painted a bright white with blue trim and has squawking parrots perched on its window sills. This imposing church was in use until the Maratha Invasion of 1739. After the invasion, when the church was in ruins, annual celebrations were held only once a year. It was only in 1976 that the Madh Church parish priest had the church renovated and regular church services resumed. On the second Sunday of every January, the Ergal cha Sann (or Erangal Festival) sees thousands gather for food and celebrations as the native East Indians venerate St. Bonaventure. Born in 1221, in Italy, he was known as the prince of mystics, made a cardinal in his lifetime, and was canonized a saint shortly before this church was built.

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Madh Island offers the perfect low commitment dial-down from the big city. After a weekend of long beach walks and stirring seaside views, returning to Mumbai may prove hard. But you can always return the next weekend.

 

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A Vegetarian’s Guide To Maharashtrian Restaurants In Dadar

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A VEGETARIAN’S GUIDE TO MAHARASHTRIAN RESTAURANTS IN DADAR

READ KETAKI SAVNAL’S STORY

Dadar is perhaps best known for the sea of bodies that flow in and out of its train station daily, even inspiring one-line poems such as “Darr ke aage jeet hai, Dadar ke aage seat hai, but for me, Dadar is all about the food. The busy marketplace in Dadar West, known for its aromatic flower stalls and colourful sari shops, is also peppered with small Maharashtrian restaurants, some of which have been serving quick vegetarian snacks to the hordes of hungry travellers for over a century. If you’re not planning to shop, visit on a Monday when the market is closed, so you can enjoy a plate of missal pav or a pair of batata vadas in relative solitude.

Mama Kane

Mama Kane is a no-frills eatery just outside Dadar Station. It’s always busy, which means that the fried food is always hot. Try the aluvadi (patra), the sabudana vada, or the dahi vada with a glass of kokum sharbat. The missal is as authentic as it gets – served with an oily, guilt-inducing potato mixture. They’ve retained their vintage charm while introducing newer dishes like the aloo vada sambar, a pair of potato vadas dunked in a bowl of sambar and served with pav, apparently created for their growing South Indian clientele.

Mama Kane, 222, Smruti Kunj, Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 1161

Panshikar and Co.

I make a trip to Panshikar every year to buy my father a tub of shrikhand for his birthday. With a hint of saffron and the perfect amount of sourness to the curd, it pairs perfectly with the rajgira puris, which are thicker and crunchier than regular puris. The farsaan in the missal is too delicate and disintegrates into mush, so try the faraali missal (missal made with peanuts and potato salli) instead, the mug bhaji (mung bean fritters) or the vada usal (a pair of batata vadas dunked in missal rassa) if you’re feeling adventurous.

Panshikar & Co., Gananath Building, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lokmanya Tilak Colony, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 9526

Tambe Arogya Bhawan

The gulpoli (crunchy roti stuffed with jaggery and sesame seeds) sold here is the Maharashtrian answer to khakra – I once met a man who was here to pack Tambe gulpoli for a trek. The missal has more sprouts than potato (a welcome change) and deliciously spiced rassa with unlimited refills but not enough farsaan on top. The most memorable flavour is that of the garlicky chutney made with red chilli and coconut that’s served alongside the batata wada and the thalipith.

Tambe Arogya Bhavan, NC Kelkar Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2432 5611

Shree Krishna Batatawada

The biggest faux pas you can make here is to ask for a pav with the batata vada: Shree Krishna prides itself on its vada and doesn’t believe in dampening the flavours – lots of ginger and curry leaves that pack a punch – with a pav. It’s a takeaway joint, so I like to grab a crunchy dal vada or kothimbir wadi and browse through the bookstores nearby. Pro tip: keep an eye on the vat of oil and order what comes out of it first – none of the stuff tastes particularly good when cold.

Shree Krishna Batatawada, Radha Nivas, Chhabildas Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028 Phone: 022 2430 7416

Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra

Prakash is one of those old restaurants that has achieved legendary status over the years. What it lacks in service and ambiance, it makes up for with its flavours. The missal here is slightly sweet, topped with grated coconut, and ideal for those who prefer mild flavours. The piyush (sweetened yoghurt drink) is has contributed to Prakash’s fame but is probably enjoyed best only by those with a really sweet tooth. I’d rather stick to the puri bhaji and take home some pohe chiwada and dink ladu (fenugreek aadoo).

Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra, 9/10, Horizon Building, Gokhale Road North, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 6095

Aaswad

Aaswad is perhaps best known for its missal pav. Unlike most missal, theirs is so mild it feels censored for the unfamiliar tongue, but the generous bed of potato bhaji on which it is served makes it a filling snack. Other interesting dishes here are the omelette (chickpea flour, no eggs) served with toast and the thalipith served with white butter. Wash it all down with the fresh grape juice, which can be made (and tastes much better) without sugar. The hidden gem on the menu is the varan bhat (dal rice with ghee and jaggery), comfort food for most Maharashtrians, best eaten along with the crunchy kurdai (fermented papad). For dessert, try the puran poli ice cream or malai ice cream topped with a cardamom-laced jaggery sauce.

Aaswad, 61, Sadanand, Opposite Amar Hind Mandal, Gokhale Road (North), Opp. Chandrika Automobiles, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 1871

Gypsy Corner

Gypsy Corner is a great place to visit for a home-style Maharashtrian meal. Try the pitla bhakri thecha (a besan sabji, roti, and dry, fiery chutney) and aamti bhaat toop (spiced dal rice with ghee) for a full meal. The restaurant also offers daily specials such as surnache kabab (yam), matarchi karanji (fried dumplings stuffed with green peas), and kaju mutter ussal (cashew and green peas).

Gypsy Corner, 120, Keluskar Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 097570 73213

Feature photograph copyright RealityImages – stock.adobe.com

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Take A Breather At Sanjay Gandhi National Park

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TAKE A BREATHER AT SANJAY GANDHI NATIONAL PARK

In the northern suburb of Borivali lies the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). It’s often sneeringly compared to the most famous urban parks in the world, but at 103 sq km of actual forest, SGNP dwarfs New York’s humble Central Park (3.41 sq km) and London’s modest Hyde Park (1.4 sq km). Filled with 1,300 species of flora and fauna, parts of the park date back to the 4th Century BC.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai-Gujarat Road, Borivali (e), Mumbai 400 066. Phone: 022 2886 0389

READ RAMYA RAMAMURTHY’S STORY

It’s a pity Mumbaikars forget about this massive forest in our backyard. It takes a leopard venturing into a nearby residential area for us to sit up and take notice of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, aka “the lungs of Mumbai”. But the 103.83 sq km of forest is home to 1,300 species of flora and fauna, ancient Buddhist Kanheri Caves, a butterfly garden, and seven hiking trails. You can go boating on the lake, take a tiger and lion safari, or ride the mini train. The real draw, however, is once the monsoons arrive and the park starts welling up with rivulets and waterfalls. It is perfect for a picnic or a trek.

You’d be trekking through what, in the 4th century BC, was the route between Sopara and Kalyan, important ports that traded with the ancient civilisations of Greece and Mesopotamia. By the 1st Century BC, the Buddhists also made Kanheri their home, sculpting caves out of massive basalt rocks and settling in to create a renowned learning and religious centre.

The forest began its transformation into the park only when the British took over. First, in 1870, the British created the Vihar and Tulsi lakes to supply drinking water to Bombay. In 1942, they added the catchment area of these lakes and acquired some land from Aarey to create the park as we know it. From a 20 sq km park known as Krishnagiri National Park in 1950, it grew to the 68 sq km Borivali National Park in the late 1960s. Then the government added some more land from Thane district and finally christened it Sanjay Gandhi National Park in 1981.

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How to get there: Borivali is a major station on the Western Railway line, so you could take the train. You can also drive down to Borivali via the Western Express Highway.

You need to purchase tickets for entry to the park, which can be done online. Cars are allowed inside, where there is parking space.

The park opens by 7:30 a.m. Get there early, and you can walk the 7km from the park gates to Kanheri Caves. It will take about an hour and a half or two, and you can break for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, you can also take the BEST bus number 188 Ltd, which plies through the park. The bus trip from the gate to the caves takes just about 20 minutes. The advantage of taking the scenic route or walking is you get to see the weirdly shaped trees, spot langurs en route, or buy the cucumber, raw mango, berries, watermelon, and star fruit that women sell by the road. Remember to keep any food either in your car or safely packed, because if the monkeys can spot it or smell it, they will come for it!

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Separate tickets are available only for Kanheri Caves, or the mini train (called the Vanrani) that runs through the park, or the 30-minute lion or tiger safari, or a 15-minute pedal boat ride around a small man-made lake. These parts of the park are open from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and if you plan to spend a whole day in the park, be sure to wind up by then, as the park closes by 6:30 p.m.

You can explore the hiking trails in the park on foot or rent a bicycle, which cost extra and must be booked in advance by calling the Information Centre. If you are a complete SGNP novice, it may be a good idea to go with BNHS or INTACH that organise walking tours of the park. If you are brave enough to camp in the park, the website has details on the kind of tents it offers.

Gandhi Smarak

On your way to the caves, a diversion leads to a quick climb up to Gandhi Tekdi, a small memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Take this detour to log more miles on your FitBit, and you’ll be rewarded for your effort with gorgeous views of the forest and the city. Those who don’t want to take the stairs can also drive up to this point.

Kanheri Caves

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The Kanheri Caves are the highlight of the park. With 109 caves to pick from, it can be overwhelming to cover them all, so stick to the first set of caves that are the best preserved. The caves were built for monks to live, study, and meditate in. They are several viharas, i.e. monasteries, with domed meditation halls, dining halls, and even plinth-like rock beds in the sleeping quarters. Cave 1 is a vihara that seems unfinished. Cave 2 is a series of caves with a stupa and one of the most iconic images of the caves. Cave 3 is a large chaitya hall with intricately carved pillars and a domed stupa inside. There are two imposing Avalokiteshvara statues of Bodhisattva guarding this cave as well as a series of damsels wearing Satakarni jewellery marking it out as one of the most important caves. The views of the forest and the encroaching city from the cave’s vantage point are unbeatable!

A little dhaba outside will provide you with a cool drink or snacks to refresh you before or after you explore the caves.

The Safari

While the big cats can be elusive, the tiger and lion safaris still come highly recommended. Apart from the mini train and pedal boats, these are the most family-friendly parts of the park and also its biggest draw. The lion and safari cages are large enough to simulate a wild landscape, and you can get quite close to the cats from the safety of the buses plying you there. Each ride is 30 minutes long, so if you don’t spot a big cat on your first attempt, you can go again.

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Every now and then, SGNP seems threatened by the very city it replenishes. An ancient forest so close to you is a privilege few around the globe can enjoy. Reconnecting with SGNP won’t just fill your lungs with clean air and lower your anxiety – it will show you how important it is to have this environmental sanctuary in Maximum City. Don’t wait for the leopards to remind you.

 

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An Insiders’ Tour Of CSMVS

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AN INSIDERS’ TOUR OF CSMVS

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) is an art and history museum in Colaba. It was founded in 1905 as the Prince of Wales Museum and is a Grade I Heritage building filled with beautiful ancient artefacts from around the world.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), 159-161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400023. Phone 022 2284 4484/2284 4519

READ KETAKI SAVNAL’S STORY

One of my favourite places to visit for a spot of culture is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. One of the finest examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture in Mumbai, it has winding staircases and labyrinthine rooms filled with objects spanning centuries and from around the world.

The sheer breadth of the collections can often make it hard to appreciate the intricacies of the objects and, surprisingly often, the humour the artists have worked into their creations. Luckily, I was able to get a few people who work there and know the collections inside-out to tell me about their favourite objects so I can keep an eye out for them on my next trip.

Nilanjana Som: Assistant Curator (Art)

Favourite object: Dvarapala Yaksha from Pitalkhora, on display in the Sculpture Gallery on the ground floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“I am sure this object comes to life at night. It is probably the most alive sculpture in the Museum. This gigantic Dvarapala Yaksha, who at his time was guarding cave no. 3 at Pitalkhora in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, is one of the finest icons of early Indian art. Pitalkhora, Elephanta, and other cave and temple art from this region may never get their due credit in the chapters of Indian art history, but one can see these fine sculptures of Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu art at CSMVS.”

Divya Pawathinal: Senior Curatorial Assistant

Favourite object: Suzuri Bako (writing box) from Japan, on display in Japanese Art section of the Chinese and Japanese Art Gallery on the second floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“Spread in showcases in the Chinese and Japanese Art Gallery, these writing boxes are my favourite. Made of lacquer, these were boxes made for storing writing materials. The decorations of landscapes, animals, or trees on these are very skilful. The most curious thing is that the cover image will not be similar to the interior images. The small water pots in these boxes have most intriguing shapes. Being a curator, whenever I get to hold these it is always awe-inspiring and I always find a new detail.”

Vineet Kajrolkar: Project Assistant

Favourite object: David and Abigail by Erasmus Quellinus II, on display in the Dorab Tata Gallery on the second floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“This mesmerising painting has small surprises hidden in it: the sleeve of a soldier looks like a goblin’s face, David’s shoe is embroidered with a lion’s head, and his helmet has a beautiful swan on it. But the most appealing, to a foodie like me, is the variety of meats and freshly baked breads fallen out of Abigail’s basket.”

Vaidehi Savnal: Coordinator, International Relations

Favourite object: Snuff Bottles from China, on display on the second floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“While walking into the gallery of the Far Eastern collections, one cannot but help pause at the entrance to look at two cases filled with little snuff bottles of every colour, design, and material imaginable. These bottles, that would fit in the palm of your hand, date back nearly 300 years to when court officials of the Qing dynasty and the common people alike would have carried them around for an occasional whiff of snuff. What makes these snuff bottles utterly fascinating are the sheer variety of designs – common symbols derived from legends, religion, or superstition and still others that are, well, just plain kitsch – like the one in the image, which is my favourite.”

Renuka Muthuswami: Project Coordinator

Favourite object: Assyrian reliefs from the palaces of Ashurnasirpal II and Tiglath Pilsier III, on display in the mezzanine floor near the Pre and Proto History Gallery of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“I always stop dead in front of the Assyrian reliefs. The incompletion of the fragments creates a sense of a certain uneasiness that I cannot resist. One knows why one must value the mysteries of all that is historical, but not quite why one is drawn to it.”

Bilwa Kulkarni: Education Officer

Favourite object: Mahishasuramardini from Elephanta, on display in the Sculpture Gallery on the ground floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“Even though the top portion of this sculpture is missing, the rest is exquisitely carved. What draws me most to it is the stark juxtaposition of delicate femininity represented in the curvaceous body of the goddess and the sheer power that she exudes with her foot placed firmly on the demon and her vice-like grip on his jaw. To me, it is the ultimate symbol of feminine energy that can be just as gentle and nurturing as it can be aggressive and brutal if messed around with!”

Kinjal Babaria: Senior Education Associate

Favourite object: Head of a Damsel from Akhnoor, Kashmir, on display in the Central Foyer.

“I find this head of the damsel to be the most beautiful object in the museum’s collection. The finesse with which the artist has sculpted this head is marvellous. Her curls and the crocodile hair ornament she is wearing are the cherry on the cake!”

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Krutika Chaudhari: Museum on Wheels Associate

Favourite object: Ivory carvings from the 18th century, on display on the second floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“I like ivory carvings. This one is unique in its composition with metal, stone, and ivory, all used together to form a musician.”

Bhavdatt Patel: Administration Officer

Favourite object: At the Crossroad by Emil Rau, on display in the Ratan Tata Gallery on the second floor of the Heritage Wing of the Museum.

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“Not being from an art background, I can only give a layman’s perspective. I often go back to this painting because I find the composition and the intensity of it very captivating.”

Rajesh Poojari: Conservator

Favourite object: Ashokan Edict (No. 9) from Sopara near present-day Mumbai, on display in the Sculpture Gallery on the ground floor of the Heritage wing of the Museum.

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“This edict is important to the world because it is one of the earliest references of the rules bestowed by a king of ancient India. The edict is written in the Prakrit language and Brahmi script. It is also close to my heart because I was lucky to work on the conservation of this treasure.”

All photographs courtesy CSMVS except feature photograph by Bernard Gagnon [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

 

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A Handy Guide To Tiffin Services In Mumbai

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A HANDY GUIDE TO TIFFIN SERVICES IN MUMBAI

One of the most iconic images of the city is of the dabbawalas carrying bags of steel tiffins filled with a piping hot lunch to feed hungry people across the city. Chances are that every tiffin is different in terms of quantity, quality, and menu. These days, you can find tiffins catering to every whim: ghar ka khana, regional, breakfast items, healthy and diet-conscious meals, modern cooking, and so on.

So, how do you choose from this variety? Joanna Lobo did a trial of some of them, exploring a variety of lunch options. Here’s her verdict.

WORDS BY JOANNA LOBO

Healthy Meals: Calorie Care

Calorie Care caters to different requirements, such as weight loss, muscle gain, and even recovering TB patients.

The food comes inside a box, packed in plastic containers* with bio-degradable cutlery, salt sachets, and the menu. It’s a complete meal that includes a soup, salad, dal, rice, and curry. My one-day lunch trial had small portions of a chunky and filling creamy soup, a lightly seasoned methi dal, Parsi brown rice (a pulao with onions) and a Parsi veg stew – slightly sweet and filled with chunky of carrots and potatoes. There was a handy little note about the nutritional content of the tiffin: mine had 540 calories, 13gm fat, 4gm fibre, and 15gm protein.

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You can choose between low, medium, and high calorie meals, depending on your requirements. They also try to customise the meal; on request, the food they sent was low on spice.

Call 022 2412 2100 or book online. Cost starts at Rs. 179 (breakfast), Rs. 215 (lunch) and Rs. 225 (dinner); trial meals cannot be ordered online.

Coastal Treats: Round the Plate

Round the Plate is a small operation in Khar that serves Goan and Malvani food (with a heavy emphasis on the latter). I chose the non-vegetarian (fish or chicken options) tiffin. The trial tiffin had dal, rice, fluffy rotis, and two chicken dishes. The Malvani curry was fiery red and coconut heavy, and the chicken fry was probably the best I’ve tasted, coated in masala, with a few charred bits, and cooked just right. The dal was satisfactory, mushy, and without any tadka. They also have a vegetarian tiffin option.

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There’s also a limited menu of fried fish and curries (orders to be placed 48 hours in advance), biryani, and chicken preparations. This was the only meal that came in a steel tiffin.

Call 84337 63437. Cost ranges from Rs. 120 (veg, full) to Rs. 150 (non-veg, full); delivery in Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, Vile Parle, VT.

Vegan Fare: Vegan Bites

As the name would suggest, Vegan Bites’s food has no dairy or meat, is plant-based, and is oil-free.

My meal consisted of coleslaw salad, jacket potatoes, masoor pulao, vegetable and tomato curry, masala chaas, and bottle gourd soup. The masoor pulao was delicious (although the dal and rice were served separately); the jacket potatoes were cut in half and stuffed with a cashew-cheese corn mix; and the coleslaw salad was crunchy and lacked dressing. Vegan Bites are the only tiffin I received that serve a drink.

The food is a mix of Indian and world cuisine and is extremely filling. Their quantities are generous – it’s like having a thali.

Call 76665 86430 or email info@veganbites.in. Cost is Rs. 396 (one-day trial) and Rs. 3360 (10-day trial); delivery is extra, and there’s a security deposit of Rs 650. Delivery is across the city.

Good VFM: Spice Box

The most recommendations I received were for Spice Box’s tiffin. It has just two meal plans, making ordering an easy process. The Non-Veg Standard Meal offers rice, rotis, one chicken or egg dish, dal, and a dessert or salad. The trial tiffin, like most others, was packed in plastic containers, with cutlery and a little sachet of pickle. It being a Friday (they have “special items” on the day), there was chicken biryani, raita, and sheera. The flavours reminded me more of restaurant food than ghar ka khana.

The food is, and has always been, spicy, and it’s not very healthy. But it is tasty and affordable.

Visit the website to order; monthly meal plans start at Rs. 85 (veg, mini) and go up to Rs. 105 (non-veg, standard), per meal. They offer a one-day trial.

The Gourmet Option: Savor

Savor’s gourmet lunch subscription promises a culinary exploration of different cuisines – Thai, Indonesian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc. They take dietary preferences into consideration as well.

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The meal – a main, a side, a salad, and dessert – came in a neat brown paper bag with a wooden clip that contained a menu and cutlery. The sample meal had a distinct Japanese flavour with Okonomiyaki – a grilled (and slightly dry) savoury pancake with noodles and chicken mince as well as a sesame-studded sweet chocolate. Other dishes were steamed green peas with salt and a soft-boiled egg. As a meal, it tasted satisfactory but was not very filling.

Call 70454 51777 or visit their website. Lunch plans start at Rs. 575 (one meal) to Rs. 9,500 (20 lunches monthly). Delivery in Bandra and Colaba only.

Keto: Food Darzee

The low-carb, high-fat Ketogenic (Keto) diet has become so trendy there are dedicated delivery services catering to it. Food Darzee is one such place, offering nutritionist consultation, a tailored meal plan, and four meals a day.

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Everything is made in-house, from nut flours to bread. You can’t choose your menu, but they don’t repeat a dish for at least 25 days, and their cuisine spans Indian, Continental, and Asian. The food comes in microwavable plastic containers and is adequately greasy – there’s lots of cheese and ghee – but delicious. Though heavy on the masala, it is tasty. Of note are paneer makhani, grilled chicken, and innovative dishes like mushroom cheese zucchini vada and vanilla almond flax custard.

Call 095905 10520 or visit Food Darzee. The cost is Rs. 1,000 (one-day trial), Rs. 9,200 (10-day plan). Delivery is done twice a day across Mumbai and some areas in Thane and Navi Mumbai; beyond that is an additional Rs. 100 charge.