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The Secret Life Of Café New York

cafe new york
 

THE SECRET LIFE OF CAFÉ NEW YORK

Café New York is an Irani restaurant in Gamdevi that serves Continental, Chinese as well as traditional Parsi food. Highlights include a jukebox that churns out retro numbers and drinks that don’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Café New York, 44, Dhabolkar Building, Hughes Road, Mumbai 400 007 Phone: 022 2363 2876

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

On the corner of Hughes Road and Pandita Ramabai Marg in South Bombay

stands Café New York, one of the oldest Parsi cafés in the city. Unlike traditional Irani joints however, this one houses a secret – it leads a double life.

Upon first glance, Café New York appears perfectly normal – closely placed square tables with chequered cloths, menus under glass table tops, and wide doors left open to allow the sea breeze to waft in from Marine Drive. There is a small air-conditioned section, but why sit there when there’s a rare functional jukebox on the other side of the wall? From old nostalgic Bollywood songs to upbeat Beatles, you can find them all here. Pair those tunes with some delicious akuri or a burger and you’ve got yourself a zen day. It isn’t rare to find a family here arguing over what to order, or a partially deaf old man reading the newspaper and chatting with the staff about politics. On more than one occasion, I’ve just stood outside the café and marveled at the scenario being played out inside.

cafe new york gamdevi

But this café’s secret lives directly above it. I discovered it when I was supposed to meet some friends at the café but found no one there on my arrival. A quick phone call told me to go upstairs. I was baffled, because I didn’t even know there was an “upstairs”. After an awkward conversation with the staff, I found myself apprehensively climbing up a narrow, dimly lit staircase in the corner. I opened the door at the top of the stairs and was blasted with the ending refrain of a Dire Straits song. I knew right then that I loved this place.

Stepping inside did nothing to dilute this impression. Dark wood filled the room and my vision. From the bar to the pillars to the furniture – everything was a deep shade of brown. Wooden shutters filtered the harsh noon sun, making it more mellow and serene. This is it, I thought. This is the kind of place the Beatniks drank in, where the Lost Generation gathered to write. I could see myself here, sitting by a window, reading, working, catching up with a friend – everything I would eventually do several times over the next few years.

cafe new york

Over the course of these numerous visits, I have also explored the menu thoroughly. Different from the café classics downstairs (but similar in its inclusion of various cuisines), this menu is just as delicious. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I haven’t ordered their nachos. Jalapeño nacho chips with peppers, gravy boats of melted cheese, and salsa? I’ll be damned if I refuse. Then there’s the crispy fish and chips, quesadilla, paprika chicken, and creamy lasagna. I’ve never left Café New York disappointed with a meal. The bar offers a variety of drinks and cocktails, which I imagine must liven up the nights they screen football and cricket matches. But it’s the quiet afternoons I love the most, when the hours seem to melt away to the beat of classic rock music playing in the background.

Photographs by Suruchi Maira

 
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Title Waves Is More Than Simply A Bookstore

title waves bookstore bandra mumbai
 

TITLE WAVES IS MORE THAN SIMPLY A BOOKSTORE

Title Waves is a bookstore in Bandra that also has a café and merchandise shop within its premises.  It amasses the best of every genre, from fiction and young adult to cooking and children’s books.

Title Waves, Opp. Duruelo Convent School, 24th Road, Off Turner Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2651 0841

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

First and foremost, let’s take a moment to appreciate the greatness of the pun that is this bookstore’s name. Seriously, it’s just brilliant.

Title Waves, located just off Turner Road in Bandra, is one of the larger, more spacious bookstores in the city. The first time I went there (because, you know, new bookstore), I was rather awed by its large glass front and soothing interiors. I stood just inside the clear glass doors (the air-conditioning a vivid relief from the summer sun), looking around this wide space of light wood and shining tiles, and felt a sense of calm. This would not be a place I would soon forget.

The walls to either side are long stretches of bookshelves, and all the space in between them is taken up by smaller stand-alone bookshelves that are not too tall (there’s no awkward and embarrassing leaping into the air to grab that one book on the top shelf for us short people!). Bright and colourful new books turned outwards fill up all the neatly ordered shelves, and a few are dedicated to children’s toys. I always make a beeline for the poetry shelf where I have found some of my most prized volumes, including a beautiful collection of Rumi’s poetry and William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience with facsimiles of their original artwork! The fact that the poetry section is right next to the entrance to Di Bella Coffee, which is connected to the bookstore, only emphasises its appeal because the only thing better than reading poetry? Reading poetry with waffles.

Title Waves is not a bookstore you quickly stop by in the middle of a rushed day.

The store stretches on, amassing the best of every genre, from fiction and young adult to cooking and children’s books. I’ve gathered at least a dozen books from this store, and it’s one I recommend to any friend visiting Mumbai who likes to read, no matter their genre of preference. It even has a small side section that’s home to The Entertainment Store, which is just the greatest pop culture merchandise store and the only one in Mumbai.

Needless to say, Title Waves is a place I often return to, whether to pick up specific books or browse on a rainy day or, upon occasion, sit on the floor of the children’s section for hours with a friend, combing through Doctor Who ABC books and Enid Blytons and Harry Potter picture books, just because we can. The store is full of some of my fondest memories from my college years, including but not limited to the amusing sight of Shahid Kapoor dressed in far too tight jeans and an ugly “swag” hat awkwardly picking up some friends from the store and trying not to be noticed.

Title Waves is not a bookstore you quickly stop by in the middle of a rushed day; it is one you spend hours in, combing every shelf and filling the spaces between them with hushed laughter. It is a place where you buy a few books, get some coffee, and then come back and browse some more. It is a tranquil asylum from torrential rains and searing summer heat alike. A place where “Should I buy this?” becomes “I already bought it”, and your bank account empties, but you still have no regrets. The next time you have a few hours to kill or need a place to hide out surrounded by books, go to Title Waves; I promise you won’t be in a hurry to leave.

Feature photo by Suruchi Maira

 
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Any Amount Of Books Feels Like Wonderland

any amount of books charing cross london second hand bookshops
 

ANY AMOUNT OF BOOKS FEELS LIKE WONDERLAND

Any Amount Of Books is a second-hand bookshop on Charing Cross Road. They sell rare books, first editions, and leather-bound sets across genres and have a collection of over 55,000 books.

Any Amount Of Books, 56 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0QA. Phone: 020 7836 3697

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

Every broken spine and well-worn edge of a used book tells its own tale. There is history in these books; their words are not the only story they tell. Holding a second-hand book feels gentle and comforting, akin to finding a trail in the woods and knowing you are not alone. Someone has walked this path before you.

What first attracted me to Any Amount Of Books were the bins filled with books on sale outside the store. Before I knew it, I had abandoned my friend and was trailing my fingers along the spines of the neatly ordered stacks. When I did finally look up, into the wide, windowed front filled with books, I knew this was someplace special.

Stepping into the store for the first time felt oddly like coming home. It’s the kind of place you walk into, get hit with the beloved scent of old books, and cannot help but smile. It has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves overflowing with beautifully kept tomes and cheerful, knowledgeable staff. There are a few people wandering up and down the store, and the division between the new and the regulars is apparent. The new talk in murmurs, as if afraid to break the intimate silence of the books around them. The regulars laugh together, occasionally calling out jokes to the owner who sits behind the desk.

There is history in these books; their words are not the only story they tell.

I immediately make my way over to their poetry section – as I always do in bookstores – which surprises me. Every bookstore has the standard collection of poetry: Yeats and Wordsworth and other canonical writers, all the same editions by the same publishers. But here, between these standard tomes, I find some of the most beautiful editions: a sturdy hardback by Sir John Suckling, a copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay, thin pamphlets and slim editions of poets I have never heard of. I’ve been collecting and reading poetry books for years and always look for volumes that are unusual or rare in some way, a task I have often found difficult. Here, it is as easy as breathing.

But I know I have found something truly special when, near the bottom of the bookshelf, tucked away into a corner, is an absolutely gorgeous little hardback edition of Thomas Hardy’s poetry in blue leather and silver lines. Though Hardy as a poet isn’t awfully rare, I cannot look away from this book. I flip it open and find that not only does it contain some of my favourite poems by him, the print is beautiful, as is the price – £3. I don’t let it go for the rest of the time I’m in the store. After having combed the poetry section, I turn my attention to the rest of the store that weaves through fiction, biographies and cookbooks alike. A locked cupboard near the billing desk contains rare and first editions that my hands itch to possess but cannot afford to. Below that are shelves of critical theory that the literature student in me both desires and dreads instantly. Every way I turn, a book catches my eye, and I’ve soon collected a stack of books I cannot live without. I make my way down to the maze-like basement and, in the low warm light with ceiling-high shelves lining my twisting path, feel like Alice, fallen down a rabbit hole into my own personal Wonderland.

I’m not sure how long I stay down there. For hours, I hunt through piles and shelves, finding myself captivated by different books in a way I haven’t been in a long time. I stay that way until finally, a hungry (and slightly exasperated) friend pulls me out, forces me to make my purchases, and literally drags me away.

 
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Russell Square Gardens Offers Calm And Serenity

russell square gardens camden london bloomsbury
 

RUSSELL SQUARE GARDENS OFFERS CALM AND SERENITY

Located near the British Museum, the Russell Square Gardens are named after the Russell Family, Earls of Bedford since 1550. The square was laid out in 1800 by Humphry Repton and re-developed in 2002 when the central fountain was added.

Russell Square Gardens, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 5BE

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

Coming across Russell Square Gardens was a bit of a surprise. We had been wandering Bloomsbury for a while, making our way towards Kings Cross to see Platform 9¾, when we turned a corner and stumbled across this green space, somewhat larger than most London square gardens we had seen so far. There was no harm, we thought, in exploring the garden a bit on our way, even if the sun had already set. We found the nearest entrance and were surprised by how broad the paths were, how oddly expansive the lawns. It was the dead of winter, so few of the trees still had their leaves and the grassy areas were devoid of flowers, but it was still green enough to make us smile. We made our way to the main circle of the garden, bordered by benches, only one of which was occupied by a small family. The centre of this circle looked as if it is meant to be a fountain, and a large one at that, but on this winter evening, it was dry and silent, a few lights reflecting across the bare surface from the twinkling Christmas tree to the side.

russell square gardens camden london bloomsbury
Photo by GanMed64 [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

The space is oddly charming. Our weary feet found the nearest bench, and we decided to rest here a few moments before moving on. My friend settled back into the bench and pulled out a sketchpad in an attempt to capture the garden’s winding layout. It was freezing, but she sat on a bench, pen and book at the ready, nothing daunted. There wasn’t much light, just the soft glow of streetlamps edging this circle of the garden, but she squinted into the outer darkness, sketching out paths and trees half-hidden in the gloom, fascinated by the twisted and snaking paths that have carved their way through the greenery. The arch over one of them was little more than metal and wire but come spring will likely be covered in beautiful blossoms.

I looked around. I could see it now, this garden in the spring – flowers blooming around the edges of the paths, the trees coming back to life, sunlight streaming through their leaves to create dancing patterns along the ground, the fountain gushing forth in full force with children laughing as they weave in and around the jets. Families will sit on the benches; students will lie on the grass, chatting or working. The café in the corner will be busy, full of laughter and cups of coffee. But even that winter evening the garden held its own charm. Everything seemed muted here, the silence a barrier between this little green space and the rest of the world. It was peaceful despite the chill, and we found ourselves spending more time here than we had thought, her drawing on the bench, me reading. After all the hustle and bustle of our time running around the city, these minutes of calm, of serenity, were particularly precious.

russell square gardens camden london bloomsbury
Photo by Loz Pycock [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

It was with reluctance when we finally left, but the garden was closing and we had to be on our way. As irascible guard hurried us along, and we emerged back on the street, blinking under the sudden brightness of the streetlight and momentarily confused by the sounds of the city that wandered down the street to meet us. The guard locked up behind us and, after giving us an odd look, left. But we stayed there for a few minutes more, staring into the now dark garden, unwilling to return to the real world with its busy streets and crowds of people just yet.

Feature photo by Abel Cheung [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

 
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Melanie Italian Restaurant Is A Must-Visit For The Pasta

melanie italian restaurant pizzeria best pasta london
 

MELANIE ITALIAN RESTAURANT IS A MUST-VISIT FOR THE PASTA

Amidst the scores of restaurants on Old Compton Street is Melanie Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, where the food looks delicious and tastes even better. Melanie’s, which serves pastas, pizzas, insalate, and desserts, is comfortable and comforting all at once. The carbonara and tiramisu are highlights on a vast menu.

Melanie Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, 4-6 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TB. Phone: 020 7437 4006

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

It’s dark outside, but there is a near constant stream of people passing by, their faces warmly illuminated by the lights of the restaurant for a few moments as they rush by on their harried ways through the winding streets of London. Melanie’s, in contrast, seems to exist in its own charming bubble, full of light and laughter in the most literal ways.

In our quest for food after a day spent in bookstores, we are drawn to it instantly: the wood panelled front and large lit up sign with the words “Melanie Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria”. Through the windows, we can see a network of tables, overflowing with families, being expertly navigated by sharply dressed waiters balancing large portions of steaming hot food. Somebody leaves and a flow of chatter interspersed with laughter comes through the open door. But what seals our fate on this cold night is not any of this but what we see being placed before the elderly couple seated by the window, the one thing necessary to make our weary and wandering day complete: pasta.

There’s bacon and egg and Parmesan and cream, cream, cream, and I’m pretty sure I have entered a new state of nirvana previously unknown to humanity.

We walk in – because damn if that pasta didn’t look good – and are immediately embraced by a lovely warmth that seeps down to our bones. We are quickly ushered to a small little table for two in the corner with an ample view of what everyone else is ordering. A small family at the table next to ours is sharing a pizza that appears to be a Quattro Formaggi, but when I look up at my friend, puppy-dog eyes in place, she is already shaking her head no, and a little piece of my heart breaks. I sigh but am quickly distracted as a waiter passes our table carrying the most delicious looking carbonara I have ever seen. There’s bacon and egg and Parmesan and cream, cream, cream, and I’m pretty sure I have entered a new state of nirvana previously unknown to humanity.

“Dibs!” I claim the carbonara. My friend finally chooses the lasagne, and we settle back to wait for our food. The atmosphere in here may, perhaps, be best described as comfortable and comforting at the same time. My friend and I are soon absorbed in conversation, debating books and politics and reminiscing over our childhoods. A waiter, who smiles at our startled faces as he places our giant bowls of food before us, interrupts us. He offers us some extra Parmesan – yes, please – and leaves us to our meals. My bowl is a sea of cream and cheese and a little bit of pepper. Hers is a huge baked dish covered in golden-brown melted cheese with hints of a rich tomato sauce peeking around the edges. She cuts through her lasagne, layers of pasta, cheese, meat and buttery sauce. Over wine and conversation, we slowly make our way through our meal. The hours begin to wane and still we sit, and somewhere in there I begin to know that if I could, I’d be back here for almost every meal until I’ve eaten every item on their menu at least thrice. This knowledge is only confirmed when they bring us a large slice of tiramisu for dessert. After my first spoonful of cream and coffee and chocolate, I know I have found my reason to live. So, we order another, just because.

When we finally settle back, unable to eat another crumb, a waiter comes by with two small shot glasses of limoncello for us, on the house. Suddenly, we both find just a little corner of space left somewhere within us. He stops to chat, and we exchange stories of our homes: his in Italy, ours in India. It takes us a little while to gather up the energy to actually get up, but even as we exit back into the cold night air, there is a warmth radiating from within us that won’t quite dissipate, all the way home.

Feature photo copyright veeravich - stock.adobe.com

 
Piccadilly-band

The Food At Piccadilly Is Heaven In Its Truest Form

 

piccadilly restaurant lebanese food colaba

THE FOOD AT PICCADILLY IS HEAVEN IN ITS TRUEST FORM

Located right on Colaba Causeway, Piccadilly is one of the city's older Irani cafés that has kept up with the times. It is famed for its Lebanese food – the shawarma is particularly noteworthy – plus delicacies like chello kabab and chicken dhansak.

Piccadilly, 75-77, Donald House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Opposite Electric House, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2282 3217

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

It’s been a long day and my friends and I have been wandering Colaba for two hours. Just as we’re reaching a point at which starvation seems imminent, we pass Electric House. Across the street we see a large red sign with the word “Piccadilly” in white cursive. One of the older Irani cafés, Piccadilly has been around since the ’50s. With its bright yellow tablecloths and menus slid under the covering glass, it retains a feeling of authenticity that makes you feel like you’ve travelled back half a century and that the outside world, with all its cares, is nothing more than an illusion.

We traipse in and huddle around the biggest table we can find, poring over the menus and ordering far too much food. It all arrives together ridiculously quickly – succulent shawarma with extra sauce and slices of an unidentifiable pink-coloured vegetable on the side (that is, nevertheless, delicious), steaming chicken dhansak with rice, tender and juicy chello kabab, and burgers with fries. It is heaven in its truest form, with sides of ice tea and cold coffee. In less than 15 minutes, it has all been demolished and we are ordering seconds (and maybe thirds of that shawarma because good god). By the time we slow down and order dessert (lava cake! dal ni pori! caramel custard!), we know that this will only be one of umpteen visits, though, perhaps, the most memorable.

Feature photo by dreambigphotos - stock.adobe.com

 
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Making Memories Across Generations At New Kulfi Centre

new kulfi centre girgaum chowpatty
 

MAKING MEMORIES ACROSS GENERATIONS AT NEW KULFI CENTRE

New Kulfi Centre is a small kulfi store opposite Girgaon Chowpatty. You can get kulfi here in individual servings or by the kilo, with two sugar-free varieties for the health conscious. While they also serve three varieties of falooda, the kulfi - as their name suggests - draws the biggest crowds.

New Kulfi Centre, 556, Marina Mansion, Sukh Sagar, SVP Road, Girgaum, Mumbai 400 007. Phone: 022 2368 4291

READ AVANI UDGAONKAR'S STORY

My memories of New Kulfi Centre opposite Chowpatty Beach are irrevocably tangled up with my father. Rain or shine, day or night, every time my father is in Mumbai, he will insist on taking me to this little hole-in-the-wall at the corner of the Chowpatty signal and Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel Road to eat the “best kulfi in Bombay!” He's not wrong. With its list of flavoured kulfi ranging from Butter Scotch, Royal Banana and Chikoo to Kaju Anjeer, Kesar Badam Pista and Sitafal, there isn’t another place that can compare in range and certainly not in taste. They’ll even add some falooda to your plate for an extra 10 rupees.

I’m going to level with you – I had never been a fan of kulfi. Every time I tried it, it was too icy or too sweet or just plain odd tasting. Which is why, the first time my father insisted on taking me there, I was more than a little unconvinced that I would like it, however good he may claim it to be. I was wrong. In the heat and humidity that is always Mumbai, this frozen milky dessert is a piece of heaven. I still remember my first bite – it was like one of those ludicrous scenes in the movies – I heard angels singing, violins playing, and I’m pretty sure I saw the light. Yes, it was that good – sweet without overpowering the flavour, cold and frozen without being so icy that I couldn’t even break it with a spoon, and completely and utterly delicious.

The anticipation is nearly tangible as each person is quickly handed a plate by the cheerful staff that work there. I wait as my friends take their first bite.

Just before I started college, my father once again took me down to this corner shop. There’s no seating, and my father and I placed our orders whilst standing on the street, looking up at the man seated on the raised platform that is the store, surrounded by his numerous containers of kulfi and weighing scales. We watched as he unerringly pulled out the right containers from the dozens around him and extracted our disk-shaped portions and measured them before neatly slicing them all up. A spoon was stuck in each plate before they were handed to us and we were ready to dig in.

Between bites, my father told me of how, during his own college days, decades ago, he and his friends used to come to this exact spot to eat this exact same kulfi all the time. It is a rare moment; my father looks at me but at the same time doesn't. His eyes are far away, and I know that he is living in two temporal realities simultaneously, at once college student and professor, teenager and father, bound together by the quickly disappearing sweet and frozen dessert on his plate.

A year later, I drag my own college friends to the same place with the promise that they'll never find better kulfi. I watch their skepticism morph into excitement as they pore over the menu with exclamations of "Pista! Yeeees!" and "What is chocolate kulfi!? I must know!" I grin as I order my favourite malai. As we wait, I tell them the story of my father, of his history and mine centered around this single spot. They listen seriously, knowing the importance of this moment to me – the joining of two worlds.

In the heat and humidity that is always Mumbai, this frozen milky dessert is a piece of heaven.

We stand together, slowly melting in the heat of the summer evening, talking of everything from lectures to movies as we wait. The anticipation is nearly tangible as each person is quickly handed a plate by the cheerful staff that work there. I wait as my friends take their first bite. There is a moment of silence (which I'd like to think is tinged with awe) before one of them turns to me with wide eyes and exclaims, "Oh my god, what is this magic!?"

I laugh so hard I nearly drop my kulfi.

As I watch my friends devour their desserts, I look around and smile, knowing that in another time – but bound by this same little hole-in-the-wall – my father once stood here with his friends, eating and laughing, making memories he would one day pass on. I wonder if I am doing the same. It's lovely how food has the power to bring people closer together.

And so, in the dying sun, in true poetic form, I raise my last piece of malai deliciousness in a silent toast to my father and the best kulfi in the city.

Feature photo copyright espies - stock.adobe.com

 
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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