Miss-T

Mixology, Mystery, and Martinis at Miss T

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miss t colaba

MIXOLOGY, MYSTERY, AND MARTINIS AT MISS T

Miss T is seductive, intoxicating and downright mesmerising. Housed in a beautiful bungalow on a quiet street in Colaba, the restaurant boasts an innovative Asian menu and creative cocktails that showcase fresh ingredients and premium spirits. The ambience is chic, and the vibe is sexy, perfect for #datenight with bae.

Miss T, 4, Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2280 1144/022 2280 115

READ KRUTI DALAL’S STORY

The setting is perfect. We’re in the ‘secret room’, tucked away on the first floor of Miss T. The glimmer from the tea lights bounces off the clear liquid in my mini goblet and multiplies many times over as it reflects on the mirrored walls. The room smells of spiced gin and orange. The conversation swirls around alcohol, entrepreneurs, and puppies.

The drink is the “greatest in the world”, a Gibson Martini prepared by the two acclaimed mixologists sitting across the table. I nurse my cocktail, well aware I look less Brosnan and more Bullock from The Net. I’m wondering if I need to drain my glass quickly before I can get to the pickled onion when Dimi and Meagan* tell me that that is, in fact, the correct way to drink a martini; while it’s still cold.

I don’t need to be told twice.

I bid adieu to the master mixologists and get ready to explore other facets of the mysterious Miss T. Gliding down the stairs, feeling more Brosnan than before, I let the sequinned storks guide me to the ground floor.

Once below, I gravitate towards the lit T-shaped community bar, where Feruzan and Jeremy* hold fort on either side. I join the captivated cluster and watch Jeremy prepare my second drink of the night, a herbaceous gin tipple with a refreshing touch of cucumber, kaffir, and lime. As he talks about the balance of flavours, I notice that the fragrant mixture that fills the glass is just the right quantity. Jeremy uses a tweezer to place a sprig of green aniseed and an edible garnish with a tiger print on the thin layer of foam. This astute attention to detail is the common thread that binds different aspects of Miss T.

The chic interiors evoke a sense of intimacy and set the mood for a sophisticated evening. The spectacular skylight, which streams in diffused light through the leaves during the day, opens out to glowing Chinese lanterns at night. The cosy booths near the entrance can be used as a waiting area but seem ideal for coy conversations and flirtatious knee-touching. The soft lighting, metallic accents, and flickering tea lights at every table create an atmosphere that’s equal parts playful and provocative.

The kitchen runs like clockwork under the watchful eyes of Chef Nikhil, with each plate being executed to perfection. Locally sourced ingredients are used to create Asian dishes with an innovative twist. The crunch of the vegetables in the Vietnamese rice rolls can be heard over the hum of candid conversations. The black sesame ice cream slices through the citrusy flavour of the yuzu tart. I couldn’t possibly eat any more, but my eyes still rove lasciviously over culinary assortments as I walk past a row of occupied booths and tables on my way back to the buzzing bar.

I know it’s the beginning of the end of the night. But it’s also the beginning of a potential long-lasting love affair, one that grows more intense over time and many handcrafted cocktails.

I like Miss T. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.

*Dimi Lezinska is the Beverage Manager at KOKO. Meagan Ashley is a renowned New York-based mixologist. Feruzan B is an acclaimed mixologist and the brand ambassador for Stranger & Sons. All three were present at Miss T for a special event. Jeremy Buck, the Beverage Director at Miss T, leads the team behind the bar and is responsible for creating the unique cocktail menu.

Feature photograph courtesy Miss T

 

 

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In Conversation with Hena Kapadia of TARQ

SPACE EXPERIENCE PEOPLE FOOD + DRINK VIDEO tarq gallery colaba

IN CONVERSATION WITH HENA KAPADIA OF TARQ

Built by architects Gregson, Batley & King in 1938, Dhanraj Mahal in Colaba is an art deco marvel. After you are sufficiently enchanted by its phenomenal architecture, tranquil courtyard, and charming bougainvilleas, you should find your way inside to TARQ, a contemporary art gallery launched by Hena Kapadia in 2014. Over the last four years, TARQ has not only focused on showcasing works by young, emerging artists but has also made itself a highly interactive space by hosting events, workshops, and talks. We spoke to Hena about her experiences at TARQ.

TARQ, F35/36 Dhanraj Mahal, C.S.M. Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Tel: 022 6615 0424

WORDS BY PAYAL KHANDELWAL

The City Story: In terms of the location of the gallery, was Colaba your first choice?

Hena Kapadia: When we opened in 2014, a lot of galleries were already in Colaba. I did investigate the possibility of opening in Lower Parel or Bandra, but commercially it was more affordable to open a gallery in Colaba, especially for the type of property we have. Also, logistically it becomes easier to do a lot of things in Colaba, because there are a lot of galleries in the neighbourhood. So we can be a part of things like ‘Art Night Thursday’, for example.

Getting the space in Dhanraj Mahal was by chance, as I was entirely at the mercy of my realtor. But I did love the building, and everything that came with the space – including my one parking spot.

TCS: TARQ is spread over two floors – is there a particular show where you were able to use the aspect interestingly?

HK: Yes, there was a show earlier this year where the space worked really well. This was ‘Wasteland’ curated by Birgid Uccia, in collaboration with the Swiss Consulate. The curator wanted to explore the gallery space spread over two floors, so we had an installation that combined both the floors.

To be honest, when I chose the place, I was a bit worried because of it being on two floors. We are used to galleries that are single floor, wider, industrial spaces. But somehow, it has worked quite well for the shows we do.

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TCS: What were some of the challenges when you were starting out?

HK: Initially, logistical stuff like packing and shipping were a major headache, but we have figured this out over the years. Another thing we have hammered out is our catalogues. We always wanted to do catalogues for each exhibition, especially because we work with young artists and feel that we need to develop that writing for them. So what we do is commission these catalogues. Initially, with the catalogues, each artist wanted a different kind of catalogue which was very difficult, but now every year we do a series, and each catalogue fits into that.

TCS: It’s interesting that you are developing an identity for the gallery instead of for each artist, so at the end of the year, you have this cohesive set of catalogues. Was this a conscious decision?

HK: This was a conscious decision because every time we had to design this, I would pull my hair out. It wasn’t about gallery identity versus artist identity. We privilege our artists in many ways. Having a unique design for each catalogue was just impossible logistically, especially because these are small-scale publications. Now it has become a much more streamlined process. However, we make sure that artist is comfortable with what we are doing, with who’s writing the essay, how the catalogue is designed, which images are included, etc. It is still very much a dialogue, just better formatted.

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TCS: You have been doing a lot of interactive events like workshops, talks, etc. Was that always integrated into the gallery program?

HK: Yes. I wanted new people to come into the place and was looking for ways to engage them. One of the earliest events we did was a poetry club called ‘Canvas Kavita’. We would send images of the current show to amateur poets so they could respond to it in verse. The whole impetus behind doing the programming can be find in the name of the gallery – TARQ, which means dialogue or discussion. I always wanted it to be a space where conversations can happen, and I think we have managed to do that.

TCS: What’s the most fun and the most tedious part about running a gallery?

HK: I love working with my artists. I enjoy the fact that I am constantly in conversation with them, the back and forth that goes on. I enjoy that closeness. I also like the fact that I get to talk to strangers who visit the gallery.

I don’t dislike anything about being a gallerist. I just really, really love my job.

TCS: A lot of people in the industry say that you are quite a workaholic. How true is that?

HK: Yes, it is true (laughs). Though I have now been consciously trying not to go crazy. Last year, we did seven shows, but the year before that we had done 10 shows. That’s when I killed myself a little bit. We are now in groove with the space and the artists, so it’s very comfortable. But I feel that anyone in this business has to be a bit of a workaholic, at least for the first five years, because there is a lot to figure out.

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TCS: What’s been your most challenging show – conceptually or logistically?

HK: We did a show in 2016 called ‘In Letter and Spirit’ which had works from three artists – from India, Pakistan and the USA. Just getting everything together was a bit of challenge for that show, but we have now figured this out. We are doing solo shows with those artists. Conceptually, there has been no difficult show so far. I also feel that when a show is tough, intellectually or logistically, it’s a challenge to learn and grow from.

TCS: Apart from your regular programming, do you have anything particular planned for 2019?

HK: We are participating in two art festivals – Art Basel in Hong Kong and India Art Fair. Since 2017, we have been holding workshops for our artists to celebrate our anniversary. It’s like a weekend or a three-day get-together in the gallery. We are trying to make this meaningful for everyone. So last year, we did a writing workshop with Skye Arundhati Thomas where the artists got to workshop their Artist Statements, which has been a bit of a struggle for us as we are constantly editing the statements. Also, most artists are reluctant to write these. I understand that, and that’s exactly why we needed to have this conversation. It became a very productive dialogue. The artists also got to interact amongst themselves, which led to exchange of ideas and stuff.

Photographs courtesy TARQ

 

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In Conversation with Mortimer Chatterjee of Chatterjee & Lal

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IN CONVERSATION WITH MORTIMER CHATTERJEE OF CHATTERJEE & LAL

A few steps from The Gateway of India, tucked behind the commotion of Colaba Causeway, and dotted with a number of Arabic perfumes shops is Arthur Bunder Road, home to one of the most experimental galleries in the city – Chatterjee & Lal. Started by the husband-wife duo Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal, the eponymous gallery floated around the city between 2003 to 2007 before finding its permanent home on the first floor of Kamal Mansion, a space with warehouse dimensions and a seedy past that includes a brothel and a pool bar. We speak to Mortimer Chatteriee to know more about the gallery’s history and their work so far.

Chatterjee & Lal, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005.

 

WORDS BY PAYAL KHANDELWAL

The City Story: Could you tell us a bit about the history of the gallery?

Mortimer Chatterjee: We both worked for the same auction house in India from 2001 to 2003. We then decided to concentrate more on contemporary art from South Asia. Around that time, very few platforms were open to showing experimental work like performance art, video, new media work. And that was very much the focus of our initial years. We were lucky, because there was this generation of artists who were our age, late 20s to early 30s, who did not have gallery representations. In a sense, we developed and grew with that generation of artists.

It was a moment in the trajectory of the city which was very receptive to new ideas and challenging and provocative work. We were the first gallery to show art coming out of Pakistan, for example. Also, the fact that the art market was beginning to expand for contemporary art allowed us to take risks.

Between 2003 and 2007, we were in a number of spaces. In 2007, we moved to the current gallery space in Colaba and have been here ever since.

TCS: How did you choose this place? What’s its history?

MC: This place used to be a brothel, and then it was a pool bar for some time.

This location is close enough to the existing art district in Kala Ghoda, and yet it’s slightly on the cheaper side. Especially in 2007, it was a very affordable proposition as the area had not yet gentrified.

Because of its warehouse dimensions, it was very amenable to showing art, especially the kinds of art we wanted to show. Also, a number of our friends and colleagues started showing in the same lane. Within two years, there were nearly 6 or 7 galleries at the same strip. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.

So yes, the attraction to this space was because it was centrally located, cheap enough, and with the dimensions we needed.

TCS: Is there any particular exhibition in which you have especially experimented with the space?

MC: In 2010, artist Kabir Mohanty had mounted this interactive work where visitors were invited to walk into a kind of sandpit which had these microphones and sensors which would set off different sequences of sound depending on where you walked. It was extremely sophisticated. We had placed microphones outside the gallery which were feeding noises from the street into the artworks. So you could never be sure if you were listening to live sounds from the street, recorded sounds, or the sounds of your feet, as it were. That, I feel, was a very interesting use of the physical space.

TCS: What have been the most breakthrough shows so far?

MC: I would point to our two shows with Rashid Rana, in 2004-05 and 2007-08. Then we have done a two-part retrospective of Nasreen Mohamedi back in 2004-05. We have also done major shows with some Japanese artists (2008) in collaboration with the Japan Foundation. We did a series of exhibitions called ‘Simple Tales’, where we juxtaposed classical art with contemporary. This, in my view, was the first time that a contemporary art gallery in Mumbai created an exhibition that speaks to a longer historical timeline.

TCS: There has increasingly been a shift in your gallery towards showcasing historical material.

MC: Yes, absolutely. We are now pitching C&L as a space for contemporary art and historical material. There is still so much research and historical scholarship that needs to be done in visual arts. Contemporary art galleries can have a very progressive role in spearheading that trend. Especially because contemporary artists do look to their forbears to kind of think about influences and their own practices, so why shouldn’t galleries look to earlier periods in order to inform the works of the contemporary artists they show at their galleries?

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TCS: You have also done quite a few gallery swaps. What’s your view on that?

MC: We have done gallery swaps with a few galleries in New Zealand and New York. We started doing this back in 2008, when there wasn’t much of a model for doing this, and art fairs were considered a better way for galleries to travel to another city. However, in the last 10 years, the gallery exchange trend has really taken off. There is an art fair in New York called Condo in which NYC’s galleries give space to international galleries for a period of time. It allows the travelling galleries to really embed themselves in a city without the cost associated with an art fair, and they can use the existing infrastructure of their host galleries, leverage their networks, mailing lists, press contacts, etc. So it is a low cost and very effective way to reach out to a whole new demographic.

TCS: What’s the most fun part and the most tedious part about running a gallery?

MC: Interaction with the artists is what we enjoy the most.

Accounts is the answer to the second part. Also, the political situation. The freedom or the perceived freedom to show what we want has become somewhat constrained in the last 5 to 6 years. Whether that’s an imagined fear or real fear, I don’t know. But it is certainly something that has seeped into the consciousness of the community.

TO MAKE A DAY OF A VISIT TO THE GALLERY, MORTIMER RECOMMENDS:

 

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Enjoy A Moment Of Peace And Quiet At The Cathedral Of The Holy Name

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ENJOY A MOMENT OF PEACE AND QUIET AT THE CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY NAME

Cathedral of the Holy Name is a 113-year-old cathedral in Colaba. Its location on the quiet Wodehouse Road and stunning architecture make it a comforting place to visit to calm your frazzled nerves when the pace of the city gets to be too much to handle.

Cathedral of the Holy Name, 19, Nathalal Parikh Marg, Mumbai 400 001.

READ SIMRAN AHUJA’S STORY

The Cathedral of the Holy Name makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a different era. It is located on Wodehouse Road (now Nathalal Parikh Marg) that runs parallel to Colaba Causeway but feels like a world apart. Colaba’s usual colour, cacophony, and perpetual storm of activity are missing. On Wodehouse Road, the buildings are a solemn grey. There is a comforting calm about it. I walk down to the middle of the road, opposite the YMCA, to the Cathedral, which has become my personal source of peace, quiet, and reflection.

I only recently learned that cathedral and church aren’t interchangeable terms. This church was opened to public worship in 1905 and was later upgraded to cathedral in 1964. When I ask Father Michael D’Cunha what this means, he says, “It’s like any other church, except this is the church of the bishop who governs the area. So, Cathedral of the Holy Name is the main church of the Mumbai diocese (geographical area).”

The cathedral was granted the status of a Heritage Building in 1998, and one look at the building is enough to tell you why. Its imposing edifice – looming grey stone walls, huge arches, and sturdy pillars – gives off an eerie, gothic vibe. It makes your inner Jane Eyre imagine echoes of Bertha Mason’s mocking laughter.

But if the exteriors resemble the setting of a 19th Century Victorian novel, the interiors transport you straight to Italy’s Renaissance period. Past the heavy wooden doors, all sense of spookiness fades. You look up to see sights resembling the pictures in your school textbook. The cathedral’s ceiling has fresco paintings (where the paint is applied directly onto wet plaster so that the colours penetrate through the plaster for a fresher look) by Brother A. Moscheni S.J. of Bergamo that feature stories from the Bible. Careful though; I caught a crick in my neck from staring too long in awe.

Row after row of pews lead up to a marble altar. You raise your eyes to the stained-glass windows that run down the sides of the church. On some days, the filtered sunlight is a sight to behold. You imagine the sparkling motes in the sunbeams dancing off weddings, christenings, and funerals with equal benevolence and grace.

Colaba’s usual colour, cacophony, and perpetual storm of activity are missing.

I’ve been visiting churches all my life, but the Cathedral of the Holy Name is my favourite. I usually decide where to sit based on how I’m feeling. If I have a lot on my mind, I’ll go right to the front, facing the altar. If there isn’t much bothering me, I sit somewhere at the back so I can take in the magnificence of the church in its entirety. Sometimes I’ll sit for a few minutes, sometimes longer. Sundays are a good day to go. I think about the week that went by and leave behind every worry, what if, and woe. On Sunday evenings, there are also fewer people here, and it might sound strange, but it’s almost like there’s less vying for Jesus’s attention.

Does God exist? I don’t know. But do I feel lighter and more hopeful about the week to come after my visit? Yes, I do.

Feature photograph by Ronakshah1990 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
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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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Feast Like A King At The Bohri Kitchen

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FEAST LIKE A KING AT THE BOHRI KITCHEN

Mother-son duo Nafisa and Munaf Kapadia run The Bohri Kitchen out of their home in Colaba, serving a delicious Bohri thaal to diners who struggle to leave when the meal is over. They also run TBK Express, delivering the goodness of their food to your home.

Prior reservations are mandatory for The Bohri Kitchen dining experiences. For more information, call +91 98194 47438 or +91 90290 20285. You can order from TBK Express here.

READ BHAVIKA THAKKAR’S STORY

Like all great plans, the plan to visit The Bohri Kitchen was made spontaneously, over a dinner. A flurry of internet searches followed by another flurry of Whatsapp messages and, just like that, within 36 hours of that night, I found myself walking up the two floors of Orient Building in Colaba to reach the Kapadia household, aka food heaven. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Bohri Kitchen (TBK) is not only a gastronomic journey that is an amalgam of all the countries Bohris have lived in over generations but also one that invites you to share something intimate with complete strangers. The actual meal is just one part of the whole experience.

It begins with the formation of a Whatsapp group and a message with a handy Starter Kit that explains what TBK is about, followed by a detailed menu, instructions on the dress code (it advises you to wear “something expandable”), and other details about timings and address. I knew this was a commitment there was no backing down from. The hours that followed were an exercise in patience and restraint, because the menu looks that good on paper.

My excitement knew no bounds as I walked up the steps in anticipation. Until this point, I had to politely wait for that rare invitation to a Bohri friend’s home to satisfy my thaal cravings, but here was a family willing to open the doors of their home to strangers just so that we can be fed! Indian mummies, FTW!

The Kapadias live in a charming apartment that is reminiscent of old Bombay. Nafisa, the matriarch of the house, is the genie behind the food. Munaf, her son, is the brains behind the business. He quit his job at Google to start TBK with the sole intention of sharing his mother’s exceptional culinary skills, and his gamble has paid off. In the short time that TBK has been operational, it has fed thousands of hungry groups and expanded to include a delivery kitchen in Worli.

Our dining experience on that fine Monday night began with a welcome drink: a rose sharbat that reminded me of childhood Sundays spent visiting people with my parents and guzzling rose sharbat to colour my tongue in the brightest pink. As we sipped on our drinks, Munaf ran us through the meal we could expect and set some “rules” to follow. These include not attacking the food until he’s done elaborating on each dish and is safely out of the way. And then it began.

The meal started off with the traditional Bohri custom of taking a pinch of salt on your tongue to help cleanse your palate and prepare your tastebuds for the meal. The thaal in all its glory was then brought out and laid down in the centre of the circle with condiments in a riot of colours arranged in little bowls. There was mint chutney, wedges of lime, khajoor and dry fruit chutney, pineapple and boondi raita, pickled jalapeños, Bhavnagari chillies stuffed with a peanut masala, and boiled beet with lime and sugar. We were so greedy by this point that we started eating the condiments by themselves; and the beautiful thing about TBK is that this is actually encouraged, and no one will judge you. By the time the first course was brought out, we were practically salivating. Chicken kirim tikka followed by kesar phirni followed by smoked mutton keema samosas, two types of dudhi halwa, raan (a full leg of lamb) in red masala.

the bohri kitchen colaba

While we were all given individual plates to serve ourselves off the thaal, there was no serving spoon, and Munaf encouraged us to eat the entire meal with our hands. The thaal is best enjoyed when you can lick your fingers at the end of the meal with satisfaction. With five courses stuffing our bellies, I was almost ready to call it quits. But the old hands that run TBK, having done this a few thousand times over, anticipated this and served us a jaljeera soda that is supposed to aid digestion. I’m not sure if it actually did, but this was a welcome break as Munaf regaled us with stories of previous TBK diners who have travelled from as far as Pune and Nashik just to eat a meal here, including a story of a diner who came for lunch, took a nap on their carpet, and stayed until dinner just so he could eat some more. A short walk around the living room and we were back in the game, ready to eat some more thanks to our expandable pants. It was time for the jaman (main course) consisting of chicken angara served with rotis and mutton kaari chawal. It was the perfect finisher to this meal fit for gluttons. The crescendo to the song.

But we weren’t done yet; there was still some sancha ice cream, hand-churned at the TBK central kitchen, to be had. After that, there was utter silence; we were all happily in a state commonly referred to as “food coma”.

the bohri kitchen colaba

As the conversation picked up slowly once again, as Nafisa and Munaf chuckled at our inertia, as we collectively tried to motivate each other to get up and actually leave their home, my mind was busy trying to sum up the experience that is TBK. The many words I’ve used here don’t quite do justice to what it really is as much as Munaf’s few words do: “When you come to The Bohri Kitchen, you’re of course coming in for an elaborate seven-course Bohri meal which will send you in a Bohri food coma, but more than that, you’re coming in for an experience which starts with us giving you stupid warnings like skip your breakfast and wear loose clothes. An experience where my mother is cooking food in the kitchen which guests are about to savour; an experience where my father is going around with the food to make sure that your plate is not empty at any given point, where I am constantly annoying everyone with the best eating practices and my weird sense of humour! Like my mom says, you enter as strangers, but leave as family!”

Photographs courtesy The Bohri Kitchen

 

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The Ghosthunters’ Guide To Paranormal Mumbai

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THE GHOSTHUNTERS’ GUIDE TO PARANORMAL MUMBAI

WORDS BY JOANNA LOBO

In India, there is a small crew of people that go out at night, armed with EMF sensors or detectors, EVP recorders, motion sensor cameras, and touch sensors, to explore myths about the paranormal. Yes, you can call them desi ghosthunters.

One such team is The Parapsychology and Investigations Research Society (PAIRS), group of paranormal investigators and researchers, parapsychologists, demonologists, spiritual healers, and counsellors. Their modus operandi includes heading to “active spots” armed with equipment to try to record and, later, analyse these abnormal energies.

“Before we go to a location,” says demonologist Sarbajeet Mohanty, “we try to get a recent picture of the location so that psychic mediums can give a reading of what to expect or find at the locations, which provides a roadmap for the investigators.” Mohanty founded PAIRs with psychic developer Pooja Vijay.

Disclaimer: PAIRS and The City Story highly recommend you do not venture into these places without proper knowledge. All PAIRS investigators have been researching this field since the past 6 to 10 years and are certified. Enter at your own risk.

Amar Dham Crematorium, Panvel

Cemeteries and crematoriums are apparently common hunting grounds for ghosts – location certainly does matter. This particular burial ground has spooked many a passer-by. One story goes that a woman crossing the street outside at night suddenly got goose bumps, and at that very moment the nearby lights went off, including those on her scooter. Others have spoken about seeing apparitions and moving shadows and hold them responsible for the accidents that happen in the area.

During their investigations, the PAIRS psychic team found that the location had multiple spirits, as recorded through changes on the temperature sensor and EMF sensor.

Amar Dham Crematorium, HOC Colony, Panvel, Navi Mumbai 410 206.

Mumbai Pune Highway

The story goes that PAIRS member Jignesh Unadkat was riding his motorcycle on the highway, near Bhingari, Old Panvel, when a wayward car forced him to the side of the road. It was then that he realised there was someone standing in front of him, and he veered off the road to avoid hitting the person. His bike was damaged, but he survived. When he went to look for the person, he realised there was no one there.

A few days later, Jignesh, along with Mohanty, returned to the spot to investigate this strange phenomenon, armed with a PAIRS Spirit Box app (developed by Brian Holloway of Soul Seekers, Javier Sanz of  Spain Paranormal). “Jignesh got two replies to questions,” says Mohanty. “One was, ‘Do you recognize me…my bike overturned here some days back’ to which he got a ‘yes’. The other was ‘How did you die?’ to which he got a one-word reply, ‘accident’.”

While this may be a “real” story, there are many legends associated with the place. Another story has a well-dressed lady asking for a lift. Those that don’t stop are treated to a vision of the women running alongside their vehicle, with an evil smile, saying, “You’re next”. Many crashes have been attributed to it. Mohanty says there is also a ‘fake road appearing out of nowhere, which if taken leads to death’.

Vasai Fort

Vasai Fort, or Bassein Fort, is a sprawling structure built by the Portuguese that overlooks the Arabian Sea. The fort has been under the control of the Portuguese, the British, and the Marathas and has been silent witness to many deaths. It is one of the many places in the city that locals truly believe is haunted – though that didn’t stop Coldplay from shooting their video there.

Shishir Kumar, former journalist and founder-president of paranormal research organisation Team Pentacle, and his team conducted an investigation at Vasai Fort. Initially, they didn’t think it was haunted because it still had many people living in the vicinity. “The first time,” says Kumar, “everything went smoothly and none machines worked. Then I used this trick where I asked the spirits to clap as I clap, and that started happening.”

Mohanty adds that their psychic readings reveal a woman who was murdered and whose body was dumped near the well in the fort. Village lore says a lady, assumed to be a witch, committed suicide in that same well, but her body was never found.

Vasai Fort, Killa Road, Police Colony, Vasai (w), Vasai 401201

Mukesh Mills

Mukesh Mills was built in 1870s by the East India Company and was shut down in 1892 after a strike. Soon after, a fire broke out, killing thousands of people. This dark history is possibly what led to it being considered haunted. The mill is a popular shooting location, and there are many stories of how no one, not even film crew, venture there after dark. In fact actor Bipasha Basu has claimed she was unable to speak her dialogues in one room because of some strange power.

PAIRS’ investigations and psychic readings reveal that the location has “some evil and negative spirits from its dark and painful history”. “Such psychic readings are a warning for us not to venture in there,” says Mohanty, “especially if you’re a beginner.”

Mukesh Mills, Narayan A Sawant Road, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005

St John Baptist Church

This Portuguese Jesuit Church was abandoned in the 1800s after an epidemic. Although no one visits the place any more, a Mass is conducted once a year. The claim is that the church is haunted by the evil spirit of a bride who scares anyone who enters the place.

In 1977, an exorcism was conducted there, and everyone present suddenly heard a loud moaning sound and maniacal laughter. It was believed that the exorcism destroyed the spirit.

In 2016, a PAIRS team visited the space to check if it was an “active” location. “We were about to enter,” says Mohanty, “when Pooja told us that a woman was watching us from the wall nearby. When inside, we heard footsteps running away from the place. Later, one of the team members told us that while he was texting, out of the corner of his eye he saw an apparition near him. All this happened in broad daylight.” Mohanty intends to return to do proper investigation.

St John Baptist Church, Seepz Road D, Andheri (e), Mumbai 400 096

Feature photograph copyright – mimadeo

 

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Get Your Fill Of Pani Puri At Kailash Parbat

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GET YOUR FILL OF PANI PURI AT KAILASH PARBAT

Kailash Parbat is a vegetarian restaurant in Colaba that has an excellent chaat menu, the highlight of which is the pani puri. It is also famous for the Sindhi food it serves.
Kailash Parbat Hindu Hotel, 5, Sheela Mahal,1st Pasta Lane, Colaba Market, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005. Phone: 022 2287 4823

READ MEHER MIRZA’S STORY

Scarcely a week goes by that I don’t hanker for chaat — a plinth of crunchy puris under a carpet of potato, sev, green mango, and dahi, lacquered by a rainbow of chutneys; crisp patties juddering under a heap of ragda, and a scatter of chopped onions; papdis, smashed and soused with dahi and chutney, with a streak of pomegranate seeds. But most of all, I yearn for the charms of pani puri.
In my inexorable quest for “the best one”, I have devoured puri after puri, sputtering and gasping next to chaatwallahs as they pierced, stuffed, and handed over pani puris with a quicksilver torque of the wrist, while a grumbling, restless queue swelled behind me. I am not a speedy eater. This was not my way.
And that is how I found myself with a friend, sitting on the rather dingy mezzanine section of Kailash Parbat Hindu Hotel in Colaba, faced by an abundance of chaat dahi sev batata puri, mix chaat, dahi wada, and ragda pattice to start. But these were merely ellipses to the little envelopes of pani puri waiting for me to stuff them with the perfect troika of fierce, spice-infused pani, boiled potato with boondi (or chickpeas?), and a slick of sweet chutney to muffle the sting of the spices that ripple through the dish. There is almost a sanctifying joy to stabbing the eggshell-thin puris with your thumb, watching their roofs cave in, scooping in the potatoes and chutney, and dunking it all into the bowl of spiced tamarind water. It is a dance of crunch and collapse and indignity — wide open mouths, water dribbling down to the chin, laughter. I ate all of mine, then, finding that my friend couldn’t finish her plate, ate hers too.
But Kailash Parbat is an eatery with many strings to its bow. For instance, it is one of few (the only?) places in the city that serves Sindhi food. The late Mr. Parsram Mulchandani, a chaat vendor with roots in Pakistan, settled down in Mumbai, opening Kailash Parbat in Colaba way back in 1952. His first menu was sparse — just pani puri and ragda pattice. Along the way, he added more chaat, a vast Punjabi and Tandoori menu, and a handful of Sindhi specialities that are rare in the city: koki (Sindhi-style paratha), matha, Sindhi curry, bhee masala (spindles of lotus root), bhee channa, and dal pakwan.

It is a dance of crunch and collapse and indignity — wide open mouths, water dribbling down to the chin, laughter.

The Mulchandani family’s entrepreneurial instincts are on point; Kailash Parbat has recently built up an entourage of branches that are spidering their way through the city, embracing new converts to their folds (this includes a Bandra Kailash Parbat that serves kooky concoctions such as Thai Bhel and Pani Puri Tacos with Chipotle Water).
Since that first day, I’ve returned to Colaba’s Kailash Parbat several times, sometimes alone, often with friends. No matter who I go with though, there is usually an avalanche of snacks on my table; sev puri, pav bhaji, samosa chaat, dahi wada, chole bhature. Often, I order the matha on the side, a cool swallow of buttermilk with a slick of masala. Sometimes, Kailash Parbat’s voluptuous gulab jamuns end our meal, sometimes its saffron-stained shrikhand, sometimes a cornet of kulfi. But always, always, there is pani puri, simple, delicious, gratifying.
Feature photograph by Yusuke Kawasaki (Flickr: Pani Puri Rs.15/-) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 
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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.

Snow Flake_002

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