SIMIN PATEL / Local Hero

Local Heroes

SIMIN PATEL

HISTORIAN, BLOGGER & TOUR OPERATOR

On a hot Sunday afternoon, where would you duck into for an hour of leisurely activity?

Definitely the corner Irani restaurant, Cafe de la Paix, at Opera House. I would carry a book along, take my favourite seat at the window overlooking the wooden paan shop and Girgaum Road, and order the delicious cheese omelette bun (the best in Bombay!). They have started serving Maggi also.

Which of Mumbai's heritage areas or a particular building is desperately in need of an immediate overhaul?

The former Esplanade Hotel (1871), popularly known as Watson's Hotel and presently called Esplanade Mansion, at Kala Ghoda. It was the first grand hotel in the city, conceived along with the civic structures of the Bombay University and High Court, that made up the new open city centre of the Fort. Yet while the University has been expertly restored and the Hight Court is in fairly good condition, Esplanade Hotel has fallen to such disrepair that you now enter the building at your own risk. Its significance is no less than the civic buildings and they should be treated as one precinct.

Which is your favourite cinema in the city?

Liberty! Liberty is impeccably maintained and has a great history. The foundation stone was laid in 1947, and the cinema was called Liberty to celebrate the newly independent Indian nation. Mr Nazir Hoosein, the current owner, was a young, fashionable boy at the time. He performed the foundation laying ceremony by picking up a pickaxe with difficulty and banging it on the ground; all in his sunglasses and shorts.

Watching Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Atta Hai at Liberty was a real treat with so much classic Bombay in one setting.

Read more about Mumbai from our Local Heroes.