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Late-Night Coffee And Conversations At Elementaria

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LATE-NIGHT COFFEE AND CONVERSATIONS AT ELEMENTARIA

Elementaria is a direct contrast to the reservation-only fine-dining restaurants at BKC. Patrons can linger over coffee, nibble croissants, or chat till 1 a.m. at this cosy cafe that serves a host of delicious desserts and beverages. They also have an outpost at Lower Parel.

Elementaria, Shop 1A, Godrej Jet Airways Building, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051. Phone: 077380 73812; Shop 10, Khimji Nagji Chawl 1, Opposite Phoenix High Street, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 077380 99212

READ KRUTI DALAL’S STORY

It’s one of those nights when dinner just isn’t enough. The steady stream of overlapping exchanges over fluffy poee and cashew-infused tipples has failed to satiate us. We could do with coffee, but neither our taste buds nor our wallets are tempted by the options at hand. After much dilly-dallying, we call our respective taxis and start departing in ones and twos. When our party dwindles to four, we decide to take a wee walk around the block. Ten steps into our midnight stroll, I spot warm lighting, wooden interiors, and a coffee machine.

Ten minutes later, we’re staring at the delectable display at Elementaria. Not so long ago we were bursting with stories, now our priorities seem to have shifted from coffee and conversation to chocolate and more chocolate. How does one choose between an intense chocolate tub cake and whisky cupcake? Or between a Snickers pastry and a Ferrero Rocher brownie? One doesn’t.

Then there’s the stuff that’s not on display. The Cutting Dessert is an assortment of mousse, cakes, and cheesecakes set and served in cutting chai glasses. The Ele Pots have ice cream, waffles, fudge, cupcakes, choco balls, jelly beans, and sprinkles. Maybe even unicorns and rainbows. The staple sandwiches and wraps seem boring in comparison, but there’s a list of dessert croissants that we vow to demolish on our next visit. Then we have a chocolate tart to celebrate the discovery of our new 1 a.m. coffee and dessert haunt.
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A Goan Girl’s Guide To Goan Food In Mumbai

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A GOAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO GOAN FOOD IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY JOANNA LOBO

Goan food is the new flavour of the season in Mumbai. Tourists who travel to the sunshine state clearly can’t get enough of the food – the choris or cutlet pao; the Portuguese-influenced rissois, vindalho, and sorpotel; the coconut and amsol-filled curries; and the coconut-milk based dodol and bebinca.

It’s an experience that is now possible to avail of – sometimes at a price – in the city. There’s no feni or shack, and the sunshine and sand are missing, but a few restaurants in the city are doing their bit to provide a feel and a taste of Goan cuisine.

Gables

This eating house is often ignored by those seeking out the more popular New Martin around the corner, but a visit to this four-seater restaurant will surprise you. Gables – which offers free WiFi – has a faux tiled roof inside and two glass-fronted stands showcasing chops, cutlets, and other fried snacks, and even a bookshelf filled with old magazines and the odd cookbook.

Mel, the in-house cat, will keep you company you while you eat. There are also a few Italian dishes on the menu, but skip those and opt for the sorpotel (with chunky bits of pork) or sausage chilly fry mopped up with fresh pao. The prawn rava fry or calamari fry will satiate your seafood cravings.

Gables, Glamour Building, Colaba Causeway, Opposite Shiv Mandir, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005. 092242 69773

Snowflake

Walking into Snowflake is like going back in time. Nostalgia oozes out of the marble topped tables, sepia-tinted photos stuffed in dusty shelves, and creaking fans. The day’s specials, a stock list of about 10 dishes, can be found scrawled on a whiteboard in the corner. The cats at the entrance all seem to embody the susegaad feeling of the place – you may sometimes feel like stretching yourself out and curling up into a ball after a good meal here. It is here that I find food that comes closest to what my mother prepares at home – offal laden sorpotel; the tangy fish curry, ambotik; tongue roast with browned onions and just a hint of gravy, and quite the best fish cutlets I’ve eaten in the city.

Snowflake Restaurant, 18, Ribeiro Building, Ground Floor, 1st Dhobitalao Lane, Mumbai 400 002.

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Soul Fry

Soul Fry is 20 years old and enjoys iconic status in Bandra, not the least for those weekly karaoke nights that, I’m told, also serve as good matchmaking venues! Festivities apart, Meldan D’Cunha, the affable owner the place, loves experimenting with food. This finds the form of lesser known Goan, East Indian, Koli, and Manglorean food. Here, the cafreal, prawn recheado, and sausage fry find place with the Portuguese-influenced crab xec xec, caldeirada (Portuguese fish stew) and Guisado De Galinha (chicken stew). These are best washed down with pints of beer for that perfect laidback vibe.

Soul Fry, Ground Floor, Silver Craft, Opposite Pali Sabji Market, Pali Mala Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2604 6892

Sushegad Gomantak

Sandwiched between shops selling Keralite fare and kebabs in Mahim, Sushegad Gomantak isn’t easy on the eyes. What it lacks in appearance it makes up for with delicious food and warm service. The only wall décor here is a chart showcasing the fish in the Indian Ocean with their local names, a blown-up clipping of a newspaper article mentioning the place, and the day’s specials. There’s a menu of course, but everyone comes here for the fish – eaten fried or in a curry.

It is here that I always manage to find xinanio (mussels), best eaten fried and piping hot; kalwa (oysters), typically had in a thick curry; and muddoshi (lady fish), also eaten fried. The restaurant’s cooking style is Goan Hindu and is heavy on curries, many of which don’t feature coconut. The fried fish comes with a thick coating of rice flour and rava and isn’t oily. Other stand out dishes include prawn cutlets accompanied by a thin, green chutney; tisrya sukhe – shellfish served with a garam masala and coconut mixture; and a crab thali featuring one huge crab in a spicy red curry.

Sushegad Gomantak, Shop No. 1 – 11, Shiv Sagar Coperative Housing Society, Lady Jamshedji Road, Opposite Crown Bakery, Mahim (w), Mumbai 400 016. Phone: 022 2444 5555

goan food mumbai

New Martin Hotel

This iconic institution in Colaba is a simple, no-frills place. The formica topped tables, high seating, two blackboards announcing the day’s specials – the interiors may not have changed even if the owners did. “Goan meals served here” is proudly painted on the door shutters and on a small board hanging outside.

The hotel now has Manglorean owners, but the food is still Goan, heavy on the spices. The beef chilly fry is succulent and spicy, prawns pulao has golden long grained rice heaped over a masala prawns, and pork sorpotel is adequately greasy and flavourful. Their specialty is beef steak, cooked until tender and served with generous helpings of onions and potatoes. Here, just like at Udupi restaurants, you might have to sometimes share a table with strangers. There’s no need for conversation, everyone is too busy eating.

New Martin Hotel, 11, Glamour House, Strand Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005. Phone: 022 2202 9606

Fresh Catch

A pelican with his catch of the day greets you at the entrance of Mahim icon Fresh Catch. It’s an indication that, if nothing else, you can get good fish here.

The interiors remind me of an old aunt’s home – patterned napkins, red checked tablecloths, black chairs, sepia-tinted photos on the wall, and music from the ’70s and ’80s. The service is warm and the food homely. Best known for its butter garlic crab, Fresh Catch also dishes up stellar bangda jeera meera, a spicy and tangy balchao, prawns sukka, and a wholesome seafood pulao filled with juicy prawns, crabmeat, and shellfish. The prices may be a tad expensive for Goan grub, but the food is delicious, which makes it worth it.

Fresh Catch, 144/C, Diamond Court Chawl, PN Kotnis Road, Mahim (w), Mumbai 400 016. Phone: 022 2444 8942

goan food guide bombay

Mangoes

Mangoes, a rooftop restaurant in Orlem, gets its name from the fact that the owners are Goan and Manglorean (they serve both cuisines). The décor here is spartan with plastic chairs and tables. It doesn’t matter, because Mangoes serves some hearty Goan fare, largely focuses on non-vegetarian food. There’s both beef and pork roast – both of which are so popular, people freeze them and take them abroad; tongue jeere mere, caldin, the street staple rice omelette, cutlets, and potato chops.

Mangoes, 601, 6th floor, Almar Arcade, Near Punjab National Bank, Orlem, Malad (w), Mumbai 400 064. Phone: 022 2801 5552

O Pedro

The food here isn’t Goan the way I’ve grown up eating it, but it is delicious and inspired by Goan food, which makes for some interesting dishes. There’s rissois stuffed with crab (rather than prawns) and coated with Panko crumbs; kalchi koddi served as a sauce with boiled eggs, kismur with raw papaya and shrimp, red rice sannas, and serradurra with orange segments. There’s even a sourdough poee, best paired with chorizo butter. The best dish is the veal tongue prosciutto, a take on salted tongue with pickled cucumber and a garlic-mustard aioli.

The interiors – some call it granny chic – are filled with knick knacks and elements expected in an old house: cane backed chairs, hanging creepers, red tiles, and plates on the walls. A good place to hang out at is at the polished wooden bar, sipping on the homemade Vasco Sour with its hit of Goan toddy vinegar while tapping your feet to the music.

O Pedro, Unit No 2, Plot No C-68, Jet Airways – Godrej BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051. Phone: 022 2653 4700

o pedro goan food guide mumbai

Photographs:

  1. Feature photograph copyright manubahuguna – stock.adobe.com
  2. Snowflake photograph by Suruchi Maira
  3. Sushegad Gomanak photograph by Suruchi Maira
  4. Thali photograph by Praveen (originally posted to Flickr as Fish curry rice) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  5. O Pedro photograph courtesy O Pedro

 

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Get A Room

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GET A ROOM

WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

A furtive glance. A stolen kiss. The electric touch of a grazing hand. That’s about the sum of the action you can get in the big, bad city.

Mumbai is a city for everyone – entrepreneurs, bright-eyed students, wanna be film stars, makers and doers of all sorts, but a city for lovers it is not. In this megapolis starved for space, an opportunity for intimacy is as elusive as a day without traffic. But it’s Valentine’s Day, dinners have been done to death, and teddy bears are too cheesy. So bring out the blindfolds, light up the scented candles, crack open a bottle of champagne, and check into one of these hotels for a day of love (or lust) because we’re ready to kiss and tell.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC

While Bandra-Kurla Complex with its glass facade buildings and cold hearted business vibe may not seem like the ideal place to get hot and heavy, you’ll change your mind once you’re inside. Think Gatsby manor rooms that will set you on the path to hedonism. With a bathtub and mirror facing bed, we suspect that won’t be too difficult; just remember to close those blinds beforehand to keep out the dreariness and peeping toms.

Tip: Be nice enough to the person at the reception and they may offer you an upgrade for a nominal additional charge. The hotel also offers happy hours at the bar (with certain room deals) in the evening: which means free drinks and an alcohol fuelled evening.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC, C 57, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (e), Mumbai 400 051

Hotel Harbour View

What was once a seedy hotel with a notorious reputation has now turned into an adorable boutique hotel with nautical themed rooms. If you’ve ever fantasised about a sailor on a ship, this hotel is the answer. Throw caution to the winds, open the windows, and spend an afternoon of love making as the sea breeze and your lover caress the salt on your skin.

Tip: The hotel has a rooftop bar for when you want to take a break and look at the stars or into your paramour’s eyes.

Hotel Harbour View, 25 PJ Ramchandani Marg, Apollo Bandra, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001

Sahara Star

What this hotel lacks in taste, it makes up for with its discretion policy. Perfect for when you’re in the mood for a quickie and want to be in and out (pun intended) in a few hours, no questions asked. The rooms are categorised by planet names, and we recommend the Venus Premier rooms that have a sky facing glass roof so you can see stars, both literally and figuratively.

Tip: While we don’t condone exhibitionism, we do recommend a bit of mischief to up the ante. Sneak in a bit of PDA at the hotel’s pool that lies at the centre with rooms overlooking it before heading up for a more adult version.

Sahar Star, Opposite Mumbai Domestic Airport, Mumbai 400 099

Four Seasons Hotel

We’ve all been to Aer for its expansive views and sunset happy hours. Now imagine that in your own private cocoon. Get a room on a higher floor, order in martinis, and make love pressed up against the windows as the sun melts into the sky behind you.

Tip: Check in late at night and sneak out early for an added bit of thrill (and if you want to avoid running into a known face), though getting caught is half the fun.

Four Seasons Hotel, 1/136, Dr E Moses Road, Gandhi Nagar, Worli, Mumbai 400 018

Grand Hyatt

It’s buzzing with activity at any time of day or night, so privacy is something you can’t get when you’re outside your room here. This is your cue for some role-play action as you sit at the bar, surrounded by strangers. Pretend like you don’t know each other and indulge in some dirty talk before heading up to your room to sublimate your passion down to the last detail.

Tip: The hotel doesn’t entertain walk in reservations so make sure you book your room in advance so it doesn’t put a spoke in your plans.

Grand Hyatt, Bandra Kurla Complex vicinity, Off Western Express Highway, Santacruz (e), Mumbai 400 055

Mischief Managed.
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Go From Goa To Portugal At O Pedro

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GO FROM GOA TO PORTUGAL AT O PEDRO

O Pedro is a Goan-inspired restaurant in BKC by the team behind the popular Lower Parel restaurant The Bombay Canteen. It serves well-known Goan dishes such as Xacuti, Sorpotel, Vindaloo, and Cafreal along with lesser-known dishes such as Veal Tongue Prosciutto, Red Snapper Poke, and Roasted Cauliflower Caldeen. There is a wide variety of options for vegetarians as well as meat eaters. O Pedro, Unit No 2, Plot No C-68, Jet Airways – Godrej BKC, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051. Phone: 022 2653 4700

READ MEHER MIRZA’S STORY

On a Tuesday afternoon at O Pedro, we order — voluptuous sweet potato Peri Peri larded with Goan cheese fondue; buffalo milk cheese and roasted peppers with parsley vinaigrette with toast; duck Feijoada, slow-cooked slabs of duck resting on a floor of coconut-inflected Goan pink beans. And to finish, Aunty Li’s Serradura with a shiver of orange running through it. And it’s not just the food that is an homage to Goa. The decor at O Pedro suggests an allegiance to everything from old Panjim bars and Goan villas thick with bric-a-brac to the bustling Mapusa market. Even its picture windows with the light summering in evoke languid days on Goan beaches. o pedro O Pedro was opened by the same team that steered Bombay Canteen to its heights, i.e. Hunger Inc Pvt. Ltd. partners Sameer Seth, Yash Bhanage, and Chef Floyd Cardoz, who himself has deep roots in Goa. Some of its menu is taken up by the more traditional dishes like choriz chilli fry and fish curry that Mumbai expects out of a Goan restaurant, but the remainder is restlessly cosmopolitan, cleaving to familiar Goan flavours while inflecting them with a touch of whimsy. For instance, Crispy Pork Chicharones Ambotik dressed up with a chilli and chatpata spice mix; mackerel, wallowing in a coconut gravy that is infiltrated by vivid chilli and green mango with a tousle of crunchy puffed rice, becomes an homage to the Hawaiian poke while simultaneously harking back to memories of Goan fish curry and rice. The team worked to shine a spotlight on Goa’s myriad food traditions. “We experienced Goa’s rich diversity in cooking styles,” says Sameer, “from the Catholic, to the Hindu Saraswat, to the Portuguese influences, to its baking traditions. We saw the culture of brewing that exists till date in Goa that has inspired all the infusions we do behind the bar… While researching, our travels started in Goa, eventually leading us all the way to Portugal.” In Portugal, a careful study of the cuisine led them to range all across the country, travelling to Lisbon, Porto, and a clutch of small towns. “Mealhada is famous for restaurants serving Leitão or suckling pig,” says Chef Hussain Shahzad, “and it really did live up to its porky reputation. While we all ate our way through Portugal, I also worked at a few restaurants that gave me a deeper understanding of the cuisine, the ingredients used and the techniques involved.” o pedro Consequently, the food makes forays into Portugal’s more demure flavours like the cataplana – the lobster, red snapper, shrimp and squid sluiced with a bright shellfish and tomato broth with roasted peppers. Or the celebrated pasteis de nata, the Portuguese custard tarts with burnished crusts. Or the Portuguese doughnuts in which water supplants milk to make a fluffier, blither doughnut, soft as goose down. The menu also offers wood-fired seafood roasts that are fuelled by mango and jackfruit wood, but the oven, looming in a corner of the restaurant, is operational only at night. “Cooking over open fire and coconut wood is deep-rooted in Goan culture,” says Chef Hussain, “from the hot smoking of choriz in Velha Goa to the beach barbecues at Baga and Calangute. In fact, even on our travels to Portugal, one of the best dishes we tasted was the grilled sardines cooked over an open fire in a small seaside town near Porto. More importantly, we wanted to celebrate the bread baking tradition from Goa at O Pedro and that is also done in wood-fired ovens. So when we were designing the restaurant, it was a no-brainer to have a wood fired oven built into the kitchen.” From the oven comes Goa’s beloved poee as well, served here (thankfully at both lunch and dinner) with a variety of butters warmed by choriz, pork fat, cheesy black pepper, and balchao flavouring. I would return for the poee alone. O Pedro_003 At O Pedro, drinks are accorded equal importance to the food, the alcohol also acting as emissaries from Goa and Portugal. Take the Ginja, Lisbon’s sour cherry liqueur. “Since we don’t get Ginja here, we made our own,” says Beverage Manager Rahul Raghav, “where we infuse maraschino cherry and brandy along with spices and use this in the Lisbon Cooler cocktail on our menu.” Excise laws stifle O Pedro from bringing in local alcohol from Goa; the staff get around this by working on various infusions — kokum-infused rum, a tirphal tincture, and an aamchor syrup, amongst others. “One of the things I noticed in Goan homes was how people infuse seasonal fruits and spices to mellow the harshness of the local alcohol,” says Rahul. “Infusions, therefore, became a great way to bring the flavours of Goa into the drinks.” But in the end, we finish our afternoon with three beers: IBC’s Belgian Wit and Four Grain Saison and Pedro’s Naariyal Pani, which blends beer with coconut water — artful, intriguing and proudly local. Just like the food. Chef Hussain Shahzad’s Menu Recommendations I would recommend they eat the Raw Papaya Kismur or the Silgardo’s Bean Hummus to start with and follow that with either the Nishte Rawa Fry or Grilled Pumpkin Foogath Toast, as these would be a nice mix of what is traditional and what is inspired on the menu. For mains, I would suggest the Panji Green Watana Rassa with a side of the Goa Bun or the Portuguese Tomato Rice with House-made Buffalo Milk Cheese. And of course you can’t go wrong with the Beryl’s Fish Curry with a side of the Goa red rice. For desserts, it’s either the Lisboa Pastel De Nata or the Bebinca. Rahul Raghav’s Favourite Places to Drink in Goa Curlies Beach Shack near Anjuna and Joseph’s in Panjim, where Uncle Gundu behind the bar, plays songs from his phone, and serving small bites made by a neighbour. Sameer Seth on his Favourite Places to Eat in Goa Bhatti Village and Anand Bar for typical Goan fare, Pinto’s for their tongue sandwiches, Ras Omelet at the Mapusa bus stand, the seafood thali at Ritz, Ashok Bar for the best Xacutti, and Nostalgia for Portuguese influenced Goan food. For non-Goan food, Gun Powder for South Indian food in a beautiful setting, and Bomras in Candolim for modern Burmese food. Photographs courtesy O Pedro (except Cataplana photo by Shivani Shah)

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Gaurav Kapur’s Guide To Weekend Cricket In Mumbai

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GAURAV KAPUR’S GUIDE TO WEEKEND CRICKET IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY GAURAV KAPUR

Gaurav Kapur is an actor, television personality and self-confessed cricket freak. He’s the presenter (and additional vowels) in Extraaa Innings T20, a talk show dedicated to pre and post-match analysis of the Indian Premier League telecasts. Gaurav tells us everything we need to know about weekend cricket in Mumbai.

Weekend Cricket Guide_005

For the super enthusiastic, stadium loving cricket freak

Mumbai is a cricket city. Spaces are carved out in parking lots, building driveways, and it wouldn’t be strange to see a Sunday gully cricket game on a main road. You can catch hundreds of amateur cricketers playing on the road and amongst traffic, but there are many proper stadiums to appreciate the sport in Mumbai as well.

• DY Patil is a great sports facility, but the fact that it is half way to Pune can be a dampener.
• The Wankhede is definitely the most energetic (or noisiest, depending on how old you feel), but for an international fixture or an IPL game it can be a chore to line up along Marine Drive before you eventually get in.
• I would recommend CCI (Brabourne Stadium) for the best viewing experience. Especially if you can smooth talk a member to take you in. Then you’re aboard the old-school express, with food and drink on the balcony while you watch the cricket. No big ticket matches here, but you can still see quite a few engaging games. This is a cricket-watching experience from the colonial era.

DY Patil Sports Stadium, Sion-Panvel Express Highway, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706.

Wankhede Stadium, D Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

Brabourne Stadium, The Cricket Club of India, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For a lazy afternoon spent people watching (as well as cricket watching)

Shivaji Park is considered the cradle of Bombay cricket (from the pre Mumbai era). Many modern day greats have learned their skills on the hallowed turf of this historic ground. Sitting atop the low boundary wall trying to spot the next Gavaskar or Tendulkar is still heaps of fun. There’s an idli vendor on a cycle who used to park himself along that wall, and that chutney was good enough to use as a face pack. If he’s still there, apply it on your face, stretch out on the wall, soak up the sun and avoid the boundary balls. Or you could just eat the idli and watch the cricket if you don’t want to get as immersive an experience as me.

Shivaji Park, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028.

Weekend Cricket Guide_007

Photograph by Suruchi Maira

For the pub lovers

There’s a real shortage of good sports bars in the city. There used to be a fair sprinkling a few years ago: the screens, the pool tables, the familiar faces. But now a few beers and your buddies in someone’s TV room has become “my local”. Also, unless it’s a T20 game, sitting in a bar for a full day (or five) is not really encouraged (by friends and family).

For the stalkers hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers, security/high walls/barbwire notwithstanding

The international cricketers are on the road for most of the year, but the MCA club in BKC has the most up to date practice facilities favoured by the modern lot. When in the city, the local Indian cricketers are to be found here. The walls are high, the security is tight. But that shouldn’t stop you.
Disclaimer: if you get caught, the CIA and I will deny any knowledge of your existence. Godspeed.

Mumbai Cricket Association, RG-2, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051.

For the visitor aching to play a spot of cricket

A few years ago, I had filmed a small feature for CNN in which I took the crew to the cricket grounds of Mumbai in the monsoon. We wanted to capture the love for cricket this city has always had. Where even the monsoons and knee-high grass can’t stop cricket games. In fact, the Kanga League is the only wet weather cricket tournament in the world and has been on for almost 70 years. Come rain or shine, there’s always some cricket being played in the city. So there is plenty to watch, but you can’t just join a game willy-nilly. With so many clubs and small leagues competing for space with real-estate builders, you might need to carry a club to force your way into a game (aforementioned disclaimer applies). There are a few indoor simulators that can be a bit of fun. They’re not a patch on the real deal like Azad Maidan, but as far as synthetic experiences go, this virtual game is a happy quick fix.

Bonus

Another spot I quite enjoy is the stretch of gymkhana grounds running along Marine Drive. Some are used for weddings these days, but on a weekend you could see four or five games happening along that half kilometre stretch. Each major religion seems to have their own gymkhana, but the cricketers and viewers needn’t have any religious affiliation. Cricket is the principle religion in these parts, one that this entire city is on the same page about.

Marine Drive Gymkhanas, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, Mumbai 400 002.

Weekend Cricket Guide_002

Photo by Anne-Mette Jensen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 
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