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Mockingbird Café Bar Is Churchgate’s Bestseller

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MOCKINGBIRD CAFÉ BAR IS CHURCHGATE’S BESTSELLER

With its wordy décor, eclectic menu, and library under the stairs, Mockingbird Café Bar attempts to stimulate the mind while tingling the palate. From Thai curry to twisted thrillers; potent coffee to pretty paperbacks; classic cocktails to handy compendiums; you’ll find it all behind the glass doors of Mockingbird.

Mockingbird Café Bar, 80, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 6022 6023

READ KRUTI DALAL’S STORY

I’m attempting to read my first digital book, index finger tapping down every 30 seconds to turn the proverbial page, eyes darting up from the phone more often than they should. I look over to the writing on the wall, a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird next to the tire swing from the Radley’s front yard. I glance at the famous words of famous men and women sprinkled over a cluster of posters. I twist back on my surprisingly comfortable high stool and face the bookshelf where Zadie Smith sits spine to spine with Vikram Seth. I turn back and put my phone into my pocket to prevent further sacrilege.

At Mockingbird, there’s no escaping from phrases, pages, and puns. From the cozy décor and witty cocktail names (care for a Bloody Carrie?), to the eclectic, yet carefully curated menu, everything here has a literary connection. The youngest café and restaurant on Churchgate’s busy thoroughfare, Mockingbird has become an oasis for those seeking a cup of cappuccino and some quiet. Here, America croons at just the right volume, the cookie accompanying the coffee is chocolate chip, and the herb garden patch out front is a breath of fresh air.

Not everybody who walks in is seeking company in the pages of a classic. Kitty parties, family dinners, and romantic dates are more common than solo meals. But if you’re a reader who appreciates the typewriter in the corner just as much as hearty breakfast menu, Mockingbird is one for the books.

Feature photograph copyright George Dolgikh – stock.adobe.com

 

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Saboro Lounge Makes Eating Healthy Easy

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SABORO LOUNGE MAKES EATING HEALTHY EASY

Saboro Lounge is a new health-food restaurant in Churchgate. It serves cold pressed juices, smoothies, fruit bowls, and vegetarian rolls, wraps, and sandwiches.

Saboro Lounge, 26, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 021. Phone: 8291603484

READ JOANNA LOBO’S STORY

Milkshakes and salads bring all the health freaks to Saboro Lounge’s yard. The health-food restaurant, launched in October 2016, is located in a quiet lane in Churchgate. It’s a small space, all white wooden slats with pops of colour from paintings of a beetroot and watermelon slice on the wall. One corner has a display of fresh produce; at another, you can browse through books on recipes and healthy eating. The food can be summed up simply: it’s all healthy. Think vegetables, fruit salads, bowls, fresh shakes, and cold pressed juices.

For those who are particular about nutrition, each dish comes with the calories mentioned and a small note about why it’s good for you. It may be healthy food, but it isn’t boring. Go for the no-sugar, only fruit and herb smoothies and cold pressed juices such as the creamy Bananjeer Smoothie or the Immunity Boost with its mouthful of deep red, apple, beetroot, pomegranate, and basil.

For lunch, the Chicknoa Greens salad comes raw and packed with the protein of chickpea and the quinoa. For something warmer, there’s the Hummus Whole Wheat Pie, or a Ramen Bowl with mushroom and Udon noodles. If you’re still craving sweet, the condensed milk in the Frugurt Parfait – a layered parfait with condensed milk, pineapple, kiwi, walnuts, and pomegranate and basil seeds – should do the trick. An added bonus: the prices won’t hurt your pocket.

Feature photo by Suruchi Maira

 

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A College Student’s Guide To Affordable Meals In Mumbai

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A COLLEGE STUDENT’S GUIDE TO AFFORDABLE MEALS IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY AVANI UDGAONKAR AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY SURUCHI MAIRA

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a college student in possession of a small budget must be in want of cheap food.

There’s nothing quite like college life in Mumbai. Life works on fast-forward, zipping through rushed mornings when you’re half dressed and entirely late, not-so-subtle notes passed in class, racing down corridors to meet an extracurricular team before your next lecture, inside jokes, serious debates and a myriad of responsibilities that you’ve expertly procrastinated on – all successfully accomplished before noon. But classroom lectures consist of the least interesting part of your day, for it’s after the bells have rung and/or you’ve ditched your last couple of lectures that the real life of a college student begins, and there’s a lot of food involved.

The J

College Food Guide_002Photo by Stephanie McCabe

When in need of a snack on a lazy day, there’s one great place I turn to. Opposite HR College, tucked away so that you almost miss it, is The J. Popularly known as “J’s fries”, it sells one thing and one thing only: French fries. Gloriously crispy, perfectly cooked fries with a variety of toppings and sauces (dear Lord, the sauces).They’ve tried every combination and put up the best, from Tandoori Chilli Fries to BBQ Chicken Fries. The best? At first, I didn’t believe it and so was told to combine any toppings and sauces I liked, and if I thought my combination was better than theirs, they would add it to the menu. After much experimentation (all of which failed miserably), I admitted defeat and downed my sorrow – quite happily – in the form of Chicken Nacho Fries.

The J, 3, Vaswani Mansions, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2284 4650

Kyani and Co.

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When overburdened, when all the work I’ve been procrastinating over comes back to bite me, I go to Kyani and Co., one of the few old Parsi cafés still left standing. Fit into the side of the building, a few steep steps (aided by a dangling rope) lead up to a maze of tables, covered with red chequered tablecloths. I order a chicken-cheese burger and akuri on toast with optional baked beans (always the baked beans). The food there is simple but delicious. I wash everything down with a raspberry soda and one of their chocolatey desserts, conveniently displayed near the entrance. After I spend a few hours engulfed in the old world feel of this shadowy café, chatting with friends over nothing and everything, my impending assignments and projects don’t feel as threatening, reality isn’t quite so dark and I can almost feel my stress melt into air.

Kyani and Co. Ratan Heights, Dr. DB Road, Opposite Navjivan Society, Kalbadevi, Mumbai 400 008.

Dosa Guy

The title may be incongruous, but that is what every student of Sophia College calls this much loved dosa seller just down the road from the college’s main gate. Setting up his roadside stall every working morning from June to April, he is as much a part of the college as the bhaiyas in the canteen. He attracts customers from college students, professors and residents alike and is famed for having some of the best dosas in Mumbai. His Mysore Masala dosas with their mysterious chutneys, perfect combination of vegetables and crispy buttery edges are to die for and his Sada Cheese dosas include a whole grated block of unhealthy goodness (hallelujah). After picking my dosa (try the Mysore Masala Uthappa, I dare you), I sit on the pavement going up Vivek Singh lane and make a mockery of every crow that eyes my dosa enviously.

Vivek Singh Lane, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai 400 026.

WTC Pasta

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Every evening, as the night creeps in and the commercial areas of the city wind down, one place remains a hive of activity and life. The divider opposite the World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade turns into pasta central. Stalls under the name “Manoj Pasta” are set up along the road, and steaming pasta dripping in sauce is tossed into the air. With a menu ranging from a simple “white sauce pasta” to the “penne Italian pasta magi with chilees”, the pasta always comes in large quantities, piping hot, covered in enough cheese to block all your arteries, and is unutterably delicious. Sitting under a tree, eating the pasta precariously balanced on my knees and playing music from my phone is the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long day.

Outside World Trade Center, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 400 005.

Bademiya

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As the sun sets and lights begin to turn on to fight off the impending darkness, my friend and I wind our way to the back roads of Colaba. Bademiya, consisting of a stall on the street with a small dining area across the road, is an integral part of the Mumbai experience. While we wait for an order of our favourite kababs (Reshmi Tikka and Mutton Boti), we play with the cat that never wanders far from the stall. As soon as our order is ready, we pack it up, along with a couple of bottles of coke from the shop down the road, and head to Marine Drive. We sit on the sea-face, our backs to the rush of the city, watching the dark waves crash against the rocks and tracing the lights of the distant ships on the horizon as we devour our juicy rolls. It is contentment in its truest form.

Bademiya, Tullock Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 039.

Feature Photo By Sachin Gupta (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 
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The Books By Weight Sale Is Light On The Wallet, Heavy On The Bookshelf

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THE BOOKS BY WEIGHT SALE IS LIGHT ON THE WALLET, HEAVY ON THE BOOKSHELF

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY KRUTI DALAL

Buying books by weight is the perfect way for bibliophiles to add to their constantly expanding home libraries.
Anticipation. Excitement. Rationalization. Immersion. Decisions. Dithering. Meandering. Discoveries. New decisions. More meandering. More decisions. Supreme satisfaction. I may be older, but the same flurry of emotions grips me every time I step into Sunderbai Hall. No, I’m not here to meet a potential life partner. Such feelings can only be triggered off by my one true love – books.
A long time ago, the wooden stage at Sunderbai Hall held gilded thrones for newlyweds and fresh flowers adorned the drab walls. Now the stage is covered with what looks like an art installation of messily arranged cartons, and freedom fighters gaze down from their vintage frames at book-sifting Mumbaikars. Pakistani sitar maestro Raees Khan played his maiden concert at this historic hall, and jazz orchestra performances were a common occurrence in the late ’40s and ’50s. My father remembers Sunderbai as the venue for many a school debate and elocution competition in the ’60s. The hall is synonymous today with book fairs by Strand Book Stall, Ashish Book Centre and Butterfly Books’ Books By Weight.
If a bibliophile sees a newspaper ad promising books at less than half their price, they will plan a trip to the exhibition that evening or over the weekend. If a student of English literature reads the same newspaper, they will dash to the book fair between lectures. We would cut across the bustling St. Xavier’s foyer, rush out of the wrought iron gates and sprint across the road, entering the lane next to Metro Cinema. We’d ignore the lure of chocolate truffle pastries at Dark Temptations and walk hurriedly past Bombay Hospital, the smell of musty, old books beckoning us. We’d spend hours leafing through tattered classics and spanking new paperbacks, losing track of time and ending up with lighter wallets and heavy dents in our college attendance records.
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Eleven years after my first Sunderbai sale (not Books By Weight, which is more recent), I walk around the neatly arranged tables with the practiced ease of an adult, but the teenage bookworm in me can only keep her heart still by dragging her fingertips over the glossy covers. The set up is still the same – basic and fuss-free. Books are divided by category and neatly arranged on five parallel tables that run along the length of the entire hall. There’s the addition of a digital clock positioned strategically at the entrance, only a decade too late. But it’s a definite boon for the girl with black nail polish and a college identification hanging around her neck. She’s clutching a bunch of rolled up currency notes, sifting frantically through a carton of Danielle Steeles and darting frequent glances at the time. She may be on a tight budget and a stringent schedule, but there are plenty of others lingering over coffee table books and travel guides.
Formally dressed professionals with rolled up sleeves pile their cartons high with Patterson paperbacks that have come all the way from libraries in South Lancashire and Staffordshire. Then they tug at the attached string and drag the box down the aisle to check out the Cussler collection. Two slightly hunched, white-haired ladies stand firmly rooted at the gardening section while bespectacled youngsters flip through entrance exam preparation books. A young mother pulls out every single picture book in the children’s section, reading in whispers to her partner as the baby sleeps soundly, snuggled to his father’s chest. Peons and helpers plonk down on empty cartons, exchanging banter and assessing the crowd until the supervisor comes charging and asks them to get back to work.
The dreaded digital clocks reads 8 p.m., and I’ve barely had time to navigate the 6,000sqft of paperbacks, coffee table books, literary classics, guidebooks, textbooks, travelogues, teenage fiction, comics, dictionaries, biographies and magazines in front of me. I walk up to the scales and watch the young man weighing my carefully selected National Geographic editions, crime thrillers and assorted books. As he circles the final amount, my heart soars. I gleefully pay the bill and skip all the way to Churchgate station, my wallet lighter and my bag heavy with books from Sunderbai Hall.
Books By Weight is on at Sunderbai Hall every day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. till October 10, 2016. Cost per kilo varies according to genre. For more information on their sales held throughout the year across Mumbai, kindly check their Facebook page.
Sunderbai Hall, Behind Income Tax Office, SNDT Road, New Marine Lines, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

 
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K Rustom Is The King Of Ice Cream Sandwiches

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K RUSTOM IS THE KING OF ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

K Rustom opened its doors to the public in Churchgate in 1953. Since then it has been a favourite amongst ice-cream lovers partly, because of a spectrum of delicate flavours and partly because it is one of the last places in Mumbai that serves the ice-cream sandwich. Run by the same family for the last 63 years, K Rustom is an institution, serving blackcurrant, rum and raisin, walnut praline and even paan flavoured ice-cream sandwiches.

K Rustom Ice Cream, 88, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 2282 1768

READ KRUTI DALAL’S STORY

I’m devastated. I’ve just heard the three words I dread the most: “There’s no blackcurrant.”

The lady at the counter gives me a smile, part apologetic, part pitiful. She waits expectantly for exactly seven seconds and then turns to attend to a boisterous bunch of college students. First timers, I think as they scan the colour-blocked poster menu, dithering between roasted almond crunch and walnut crunch.

I don’t recall my first visit to K Rustom, but the iconic ice cream sandwich has been a constant companion. Everything worth celebrating – or forgetting – demands the presence of a blackcurrant ice cream sandwich. From birthdays and first dates to exam results and heartbreaks, K Rustom’s chunky slab of melting goodness flanked by crispy, fluorescent wafer biscuits makes it all sweeter. And I’m not the only one with a sentimental attachment.

The ice cream parlour occupies one corner in a row of shuttered shops, looked over by a dilapidated signboard in black and red. When I see that board and black collapsible grill, I think back to the time when K Rustom was a provision store. I picture a group of cousins huddled together in front – the teenage boys in their striped shirts and bellbottoms, the girls in pigtails – licking the ice cream dripping from their fingers, trickling right down to their elbows. My father is the one with an unruly mop of hair, eating his pineapple ice cream sandwich in a manner that’s methodical yet urgent. It’s day two of a cricket test match at Brabourne Stadium, and the cousins are sweating in the April sun, waiting for their uncle to pick them up from outside Gate 10.

K Rustom is single-handedly keeping the ice cream sandwich alive at a time when even kulfis and faloodas seem to have gone out of fashion.

Not much has changed since then. The dexterity and speed with which my father polishes off his ice cream without leaving a single stain on his crisp white linen shirt is unparalleled. It’s a skill he has passed on to me, along with his unwavering love for all forms of ice cream, but especially the sandwich, which is a dying breed in Bombay.

K Rustom is single-handedly keeping the ice cream sandwich alive at a time when even kulfis and faloodas seem to have gone out of fashion. It refuses to adapt to the times and is adamant about sticking to what it knows best, undeterred by the competition cropping up at every corner. The unassuming parlour on one of Mumbai’s busiest streets sits just as discreetly as it has since 1953. The walls inside look like they’ve worn the same coat of paint for 60-odd years, and the water cooler has been around since I can remember. Cold, industrial freezers store stacks and stacks of evenly cut slabs, the flavours listed out on handwritten signs and multi-coloured posters. There are no sturdy tables and plush seats for the customers often forming a serpentine queue in the summer months. The row of flimsy plastic chairs against the wall, flanked by a dustbin on one end and the water cooler on the other, is where you’ll hear about clandestine affairs, college crushes, train troubles and weather woes as the cold treats loosen the tongue of many a Bombaywalla.

I’ve never seen an advertisement for K Rustom, print, radio, television or otherwise. It’s one of those open secrets that’s passed on from one generation to the next, much like the institution in question. One bite of the soft, creamy blackcurrant ice cream laden with crunchy purple pellets is all it takes to turn one into an addict.

“What’s your favourite? The one that isn’t available?”

I’m snapped out of my fruity reverie by a kind-looking, bespectacled gentleman leaning over the metal freezer. He’s placed his order and has the appropriate number of notes ready in his right hand. A regular, I think as I watch the lady at the counter deftly pack a rum and raisin slab between two wafers and wrap it with butter paper and a thin tissue.

“Blackcurrant,” I answer.

“Try the rum and raisin. It’s my favourite. And bitter chocolate.”

I don’t look too convinced. He takes his ice cream sandwich with one hand and pays lady with the other. “The good news is, whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. And you can always have blackcurrant next time. Bye. Have a good day.”

I did have a good day, made even better by bitter chocolate and a healthy dose of eavesdropping. Another day, another flavour, another K Rustom memory.

Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira
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bootcamp-mumbai-oval-maidan

The Venns At The Oval

SPACE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE FOOD + DRINK VIDEO

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THE VENNS AT THE OVAL

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR

Kali, Tyson, Krish, Patchy. While these may sound like the gang of flunkies of a badass ’80s Bollywood movie villain, they’re just the dogs who workout with the Bootcampers. Let me correct myself: while us humans contort ourselves into the downward dog pose, they stretch out lazily in the horizontal human pose on our yoga mats.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Bootcamp, where you will find a group of people doing crunches, squats, sprints, lunges and frog jumps, all while trying to dodge season balls from knocking them on the head and straight into a coma.

If you’re from Mumbai, or even if you’ve been here for all of a minute and a half, you will notice (and complain about) the lack of open spaces. Oval Maidan is the glorious, verdant answer to all those complaints. The 22-acre “recreational space” is mainly the bastion of aspiring cricketers and the aforementioned gang of hounds. You’ll also find the bootcampers tucked away in a corner like a secret – although not an entirely well kept one. Recognising us is easy: we’re the cool kids wearing brightly coloured, easily identifiable workout clothing. And we do everything but play cricket.

It’s liberating to start your day in an open space in a city that’s ever choking, ever suffocating and ever committed to make sure you fit into a box.

We run, we sprint, we lie in the mud and look up at the sky and we get down and dirty, with one common passion binding us all: a passion for fitness and for finding and working towards it in a space outside of a gym.

We already spend our lives confined in boxes – cubicles, cars, the four walls of our homes. The Oval – so-called because it’s the shape of an oval – provides a counter to this, both shape-wise and space-wise. It’s liberating to start your day in an open space in a city that’s ever choking, ever suffocating and ever committed to make sure you fit into a box.

Until 1997, Oval Maidan was a neglected, decrepit, over grown mess frequent by druggies and thugs, and it has now transformed into a thriving space for recreation. It may not be Mumbai’s answer to Hyde Park or Central Park, but it does have its good days.

On a good day, you will feel the wind just when you need it the most. On a good day, Tyson will not shred your mat to pieces. On a good day you will meet us Bootcampers and maybe even make some new friends with the names Kali, Tyson, Patchy and Krish. The good days aren’t so few and far in between..

Bootcamp meets on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Oval Maidan, Maharshi Karve Road, Near Eros Cinema, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 032

 

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