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A Runners’ Guide To Outdoor Routes In Mumbai

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A RUNNERS’ GUIDE TO OUTDOOR ROUTES IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY THE CITY STORY TEAM

So you’ve signed up for the marathon, laced up your shoes, and headed out the door. Good for you! With more than five months left for race day, you have plenty of time to train and reach your goal time. We asked some runners about where they run in the city, so you can mix it up and try different running routes to avoid monotony and explore the city in the early-morning light.

Suman Srivastava on Bandra’s Bylanes

Suman Srivastava 1_200pxSix a.m. Before the city really wakes up is the best time for a run. The peace and quiet is so…

Just then a noisy bus passes by, followed by a macho motorcycle. So much for peace and quiet. I start from Otters Club, run past Joggers Park, through Old Kantwadi, and into Chimbai Village. I love this place early in the morning. The food places haven’t opened yet, and the fish vendors haven’t made it either.

I reach St. Andrews Church, daunted by the prospect of running on Hill Road. But I duck into Waroda Road, past the back entrance of A-1 Bakery, which is already doing roaring business.

I hurry on to Veronica Street. The narrow lane suddenly widens into Ranwar Village Square, filled with cars parked for the night. I wonder how they got here. Admiring a cross on the side of the road, I proceed towards St. Veronica Road, noting the slight difference in road names. I run as fast as I can, past Lilavati Hospital and the sound of traffic, towards my destination – the Sea Link Promenade: the best promenade in Bandra – quiet surroundings, better underfoot conditions and a choice of running paths.

I head back to the villages after my run. A-1 Bakery’s early crowd has thinned, and that fish in Chimbai looks really fresh. Breakfast anyone?

Bhavika Thakkar on Siri Road

bhavika-thakkarSiri Road, an obscure lane that connects Chowpatty to Kamala Nehru Park, is every runner’s dream. Here’s why.

1. It is drivable only up to a point, which means there are no cars honking at you or hustling you off the road. The peace and seclusion is like a shock to the system.

Siri Road – 1 Mumbai Motorists – 0

2. It provides the challenge of an uphill run, a rarity in lovely old Mumbai. I share a love-hate relationship with uphill runs, but they’re great for building stamina and resistance training. I can’t really complain unless I want to run on the beach with a parachute on my back. (That’s a story for another time)

Siri Road – 2 My lazy ass – 0

3. It’s oh-so-pretty! In summer, the running path is lined with yellow flowers, and everything glows green in the monsoon. When you reach the top, you’re rewarded with a glimpse of the sea. If I weren’t running, I’d write poetry about the view.

Siri Road – 3 Concrete Jungle – 0

I can go on, but I suggest you put on your running shoes and give this route a try. Once you’re done cursing me, you’ll thank me for letting you in on this secret.

App used to track runs: Nike Run Club

Kainaz Messman on Marine Drive

kainaz_200pxMy running route begins at one end of Marine Drive at NCPA (the starting point for any runner in South Mumbai). From there it’s straight up to Walkeshwar and back for a 12km run. Or, if you want to hit 15 kms, take a right turn at the end of Marine Drive toward Babulnath, onward to Haji Ali and back. The highlight of this route is that Dave farsan mart is open and frying fresh samosas, even at 5:30 a.m. Obviously I don’t eat any, but I do get a good whiff as I pass by. I love Marine Drive because it’s the one place in Mumbai where commoners like us get an unrestricted view of the sea without any noise or pollution at that early hour. We get to see the sunrise as we run, and everyone is in such a good mood.

App used to track runs: None! No watches and no gadgets. Just myself, my thoughts, or my running partner.

Prashant Rao on Juhu Beach

prashant_200pxMumbai has an often overlooked but always mostly available beachfront in Juhu. From the tip (connected to Khar Koliwada by a make-shift floating bridge) to the end (which is separated from Versova Beach by a sludgy creek) it is approximately 5km long.

Running on sand is more difficult than running on a flat surface and is excellent for training. Some tips for running on Juhu Beach:

1. Be aware of the tide calendar. The high tide eats up the beach almost completely.

2. Some days are completely avoidable: the days after the Eids, the days of the Big Ganesh Visarjans, the Chatth Puja days, and also high tide Sundays, when all of the city comes to the beach, “hawa khane ke liye”.

3. Its best to avoid the edges of the beach (near Juhu Koliwada and beyond the Godrej Bungalow) after sundown. There are reports of people getting mugged there. These ends are also where a lot of people empty their bowels, so running here involves watching your step and keeping your focus.

App used to track runs: Nike Run Club

Bhavika Thakkar on Priyadarshini Park

The presence of the sea – and option to run along the coast – makes up for the scant running route options in Mumbai.  While Girgaum Chowpatty is accessible, the days of low tide are few and far between. This is where Priyadarshini Park comes to the rescue. Here the sea is within touching distance, yet far enough to retain its magical allure.

Priyadarshini Park is rather compact, so unlike Marine Drive, I never use it as a stand-alone running track but as part of a longer route that covers the slopes of Walkeshwar and Malabar Hill. One deep breath of the salt-kissed air and my fatigue vanishes. I feel like I can go on running. The runner’s high coupled with the sight of sun’s rays glinting off the waves beats any intoxicant in the world.

First time participating? Here are some tips for first timers and older runners from running coach Edgar Mascaraehnas

edgar_200pxThe most common mistake runners make (especially first timers) is not doing enough resistance training, especially for the legs. Muscles supporting the joints around the knees, ankles and lower back bear the brunt of the impact and have to be strengthened.

CORE STRENGTH is the key to well supported joints and preventing injury. So besides practicing running, make sure you’re attaining a decent level of core and lower body strength before you attempt any long runs. With marathon training, staying injury free is probably the most difficult as the body is pushed to its limits. Incorporate a day or two of resistance training/core conditioning per week. 

Another aspect of training is the RECOVERY phase. How do you recover from those long runs, before you do another? Perhaps the best way to recover post a run is an ICE bath (easier said than done), but ice packs work around joints and stiff muscles. With every effort and attempt to train harder, REST becomes more significant to avoid injury. 

In terms of NUTRITION, think of the body as a machine like a car that needs fuel. Proper nutritional intake, pre-run, post-run and during recovery phases will enhance your performance greatly.

Maintaining a proper POSTURE while running is something all first time runners have to work on. This includes trying to maintain an almost erect or tall body position while running. Ideally a five to 10 per cent forward lean posture is perfect, staying relaxed at the shoulders and arms, with least displacement of hips and shoulder while running. Once again all this comes from core conditioning/stability.

Start from Worli Sea Face, run along the sea face, go past NSCI towards Haji Ali, up Peddar Road, Kemps Corner towards Girgaum Chowpatty, and all the way to NCPA…that is about 11km. You can run back to Worli Sea Face for an approximately 22km run.

 
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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.

Weekend Cricket Guide_007

Photograph by Suruchi Maira

For the pub lovers

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

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

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

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

For the visitor aching to play a spot of cricket

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

Bonus

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

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

Weekend Cricket Guide_002

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

 

 
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What Tastes Like Love

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WHAT TASTES LIKE LOVE

WORDS BY RAVINA RAWAL AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY SURUCHI MAIRA

It’s been 10 years since I last saw him there, but every time I cross it, or enter, I still look for the love of my life in the crowds that throng Haji Ali Juice Centre. Nervous feet in worn out leather flip flops, long shorts, a red t-shirt…they all catch my eye, but none belong to the boy with headphones around his neck who’s also looking for me. Hundred bucks for a bowl of strawberries and cream made it forbidden fruit for two kids in college, but the damn thing was so addictive we’d always choose to forego the luxury of a cab ride back home (which meant a 100-hour long walk back to his house in the ‘burbs) in favour of a bowlful of instant gratification.

Haji Ali Juice Centre has been around since…forever ago. I know it well because I’ve been visiting my favourite extended family since I was two years old, and they live in the building right next to it. Everyone else knows it well because both Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan used to hang out here plenty. Some claim to have even spotted Amitabh Bachchan do a juice drive-by, while others will pinch their necks to swear that Sachin Tendulkar is also a regular. It’s like Pink’s Hot Dog in LA – you never know who you’re going to bump into in the 3 a.m. queue, but you’ll always spot somebody famous enough for a story (tweet) the next day (in real time).

Back when calling Mumbai “the city that never sleeps” was not a blatant lie, HAJC was the roadside spot where everyone would show up after a night of heavy partying to grab a juice and some “pizza”. Old school Indian pizza – ketchup base and green and red peppers that tasted like they’d been borrowed from a chow mein wok – that’s the most oddly satisfying thing in the world to eat at 4 a.m. Of course they’re more famous for their juices: pomegranate, mango, watermelon, pineapple, green grape, black grape, seedless grape, New Zealand kiwi, Himachali apple, exotic banana, tribal peach, some of the above, all of the above. If it’ll fit in their blender, they’ll squeeze it into a juice. Or add it to a shake. Or dunk it into a bowl of cream. And ask if you’d fancy a Schezwan roll with that because, come on, you’re already going to regret so many things about tonight, you might as well go all the way. (Quick notes: Permission granted to draw the line at Banana Cheese Mix Toastie, but never, ever, ever skip the strawberry/mango with cream, even if it’s a whopping Rs. 170 now for a decidedly smaller bowl).

To qualify as a successful night out, it doesn’t matter what the plan is. What you really need is enough people in a good mood.

Between scoring recharge coupons from Airtel so we could talk for 500 hours when we were separated for two and buying an actual ticket for the local train so we wouldn’t keep getting fined for going rogue, Grand Love and I barely ever had the money to go out partying. When in this part of town, we’d chase the sea to its next break and find ourselves in Chowpatty, where a little food truck (that extends to what is now a little hole in the wall QSR without seating) is responsible for the happy conclusion to everyone’s Saturday night. To qualify as a successful night out, it doesn’t matter what the plan is. What you really need is enough people in a good mood. Bachelorr’s has that covered with the crowds it still draws. Cars (thank you for the music) and black and yellow taxis (oh look! disco lights!) line up against the side of the road, waiters take your order from outside your car windows and everyone gets out to high-five each other and make new friends.

Between all of this, it’s not uncommon to find yourself wondering if someone spiked your drink at the bar you were at earlier, because a horse-drawn carriage ferrying a canoodling couple up and down the promenade will suddenly pull up right next to you for a midnight smoothie. (Quick notes: Their new(ish) tag line is “Apni gaadi, apna raasta; Drive to Bachelorr’s, have a pasta!” Yes, it’s catchy. No, don’t have a pasta. Maybe the pizza filling sandwich. Or the chilli-ginger ice cream. Always the chocolate milkshakes. But never the spicy halwa they insist on referring to as “pasta”).

Mumbai has many night places that will feed you when the midnight munchies strike, but these two, which now close at midnight, are special. Some are convinced it’s something they put in the cream, others will tell you it’s the sea breeze, still others are in it for the celebrity-spotting. For me, it was always the afterparty: the thrill of the long walk back home, pockets empty, fingers still sticky from picking strawberries out of the bowl and the comfort of the red t-shirt beside me.

Haji Ali Juice Centre, Lala Lajpatrai Road, Mumbai 400 026. Phone: 022 2351 7632

Bachelorr’s, 45, Chowpatty Sea Face, Marine Drive, Opp. Thackers, Girgaon Chowpatty, Mumbai 400 007. Phone: 022 2368 2211

 

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