LIVE A LITTLE AT THE QUARTER
The Quarter at Royal Opera House is divided into four distinct sections – an al fresco restaurant, an elegant bar, an all-day café, and a live performance space. The menu is mostly Italian and Mediterranean, and the bar serves a host of signature cocktails made with fresh ingredients. Carefully curated nightly gigs include rock bands, jazz legends, and live acts from across the world.
The Quarter, Mathew Road, Royal Opera House, Girgaon, Mumbai 400 004. Phone: 083291 10638
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
I walk briskly past shuttered shops, away from the railway tracks. The road is deserted, dotted only by strays and the occasional scooter. But up ahead in the distance, I see the shimmering vestiges of an era gone by. I turn left and step through the gates of the splendid Royal Opera House.
There were voices down the corridor
Classic chandeliers beckon through the glass, enticing aromas tantalise my nostrils, but I’m already swaying in anticipation of the music. As I wait behind a renowned plastic surgeon and his patient wife to get my pulse point branded for the night, I hear soft strains, melodic murmurs, and then the opening riff of “Mustang Sally” roaring down the corridor. I’m in for a ride.
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
I waltz back into the 1950s. Plum-coloured velvet chairs, plush couches, square table tops, chic candle holders, mirrored walls – all that’s missing is Duke Ellington on a vintage piano. But all that jazz doesn’t matter tonight. All eyes are fixed on the elderly gentleman on stage as he speaks tentatively into the mic. It’s working, we say. Then I’ll begin, he says.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
The next few hours are a blur of blow-dried hair, pearl necklaces, and floral blouses. A Bejan Daruwalla lookalike in a Hawaiian shirt twirls his wife in the narrow space between tables. A saree-clad, silver-haired lady jives with her grandson up front. The trio of chorus singers moves in unison, swaying their hips in time with the maracas and tambourine. I feel like I’ve tripped into a gymkhana soiree on steroids.
Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice
The high doesn’t wear off as the night veers on, the impact of the music and ambience compounded by the potent tipples. My chilled Gateway draught gives way to a herbaceous Quarter G&T before I draw the drinking curtains with a punchy Negroni Frappe. I haven’t even looked at the extensive wine list. I know I have to come back.
You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave
The lead singer belts out Folsom Blues in a faux baritone. Almost-Mr. Daruwalla mops his head and takes a sip of his whiskey. The ladies take a breather before the next dance number. It’s late, and I have a long way to go. I move towards the back of the room to return my glass, but I’m intercepted by an acquaintance who stares at me in disbelief. “It’s only a quarter past 11,” he says. “You can’t leave.”
I only protest once. Then I accept my Old Fashioned and retreat to the shadows to watch Almost-Mr. Daruwalla strut his stuff, patting myself on the back for this risky Friday night move.
What a nice surprise.
Feature photograph courtesy The Quarter