Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Matunga: eating out Chennai style, Chennai price:)

This weekend, the drown the maternal pining I felt at having left the kid at the boarding, I trekked off to Matunga (which is so like Chennai where the kid is now) to buy her things which she does not need. (After I fondly bought them, I got a very firm, irritated message from her saying that I must not courier her any more stuff:) And to perk up the flagging spirit had chai off the Shree Ayyappan Tiffin Center, at Telang Road, outside Sankara Matam. The tea stall had boards that said, Praise the Lord.

I saw the price first and thought a tea for Rs 51(in Mumbai, off the road, even that seems reasonable because each one has a pricing and we all know these poor fellows have to grease palms to stay put on their encroached territory). So I thought Rs 51 was fine. My husband pointed out that the double-digit that I had mistaken for was actually a stroke, after a single-digit. Meaning Tea for Rs 5!! I had a full tea, I could not finish (I had just then overeaten at the Ayyappan stall (overeating under the guise of sorrow, shameless). And my husband had soemthing special for which he always palpitates: filter coffee!! Original. His thirst and longing was well asssauged. I, feeling bloated, but pleased at having made a reasonable meal at such low rates that was also topped off with a Full Tea, sauntered off. Matunga feels like Chennai. Even the crowds. Not all are Chennaites here. But even in Chennai, that is so, it is pretty pan-Indian that way despite impressions to the contrary...
Here you also get bournvita and boost!! Horlicks, hugely favored in Chennai as a health drink, and for convalescents...
Matunga you get hot food, Chennai style, with Mumbai innovations .... pizza dosa, pickle dosa but will save that up for tomorrow -- when I will go further on that amazing Ayyappan stall...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Strange things u notice...

Yesterday, at the entrance of the D'Mart at Kandivli I noticed this strange request: Not to carry a laptop inside the store, for security reasons. I wonder who does that, and what they fear also!
Amazing this city!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Water water everywhere?

(Image actually of an oil truck, but just modified it to show you the sort of trucks that lug water about in Mumbai and its suburbs)

As I said, there has been an acute water problem in the city that has been grossly neglected by the newspapers here!! Amazing journalism... I mean, what the heck...

Any case, most of suburbs depends on water tankers as a matter of rule.. There is so much potential for racketing and mismanagement here that this itself requires scrutiny.. Investigative journalists, where are u:)

Some interesting aspects about this:
  • If water tankers can provide water, why cannot the civic department.
  • Where is this water coming from? Some sort of licensing has to be in place, otherwise anybody could buy a couple of tankers and fill up water from public water spots?
  • Is this coming from inside the city or outside?
  • Which deparment gives out licences?
  • Does this have anything to do with water cuts? I mean, if I was running a water tanker `company' would I tell someone who matters to cut water so that I could mint money through artificial scarcity? Could that be done? In this country, anything...
  • And if licences are being issued, is there any monitoring of water quality. Some of the water we get from tankers are deep brown in colour and dangerous for anything, including even washing clothes.
  • Often tanker water gets mixed with civic water even in posh complexes due to shortage of water storage spaces. This means even good water is ruined!!
  • Often the water tankers enter complexes at nights -- the ones who keep track of how much water/tanker enters the complex are usually two departments -- security and the plumbing. Imagine the scope of funds mismanagement here: because residents do not know how many tankers come in (more can be shown on paper by either or both deparments ) or if the tankers are fully emptying their load (this could happen if the tanker driver and plumbers collude).
Oh, for your information, in certain parts of Kandivli and Borivli even tanker water (anywhere from Rs 800 to Rs 1200 depending on quality etc) are not available. The tanker water suppliers say that they must first favor their regular customers and after that, nothing remains.

So, while we are all reeling and suffering some people are doing well for themselves.
And nobody who could care, cares:(

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mumbai T-shirts, and how famous are u?

(Gandhi shares space with SRK, Salman and rocking Mumbai)

(Different ways, different colours, to say `I love my city, my Mumbai'.
(The unbranded T-shirt that is becoming quite iconic:)
To know if you are relevant historically or culturally, if you are curious about such things, then you would def walk along Colaba Causeway and see if your face grins back at you from the T-shirts at those pavement shops.

You can see that terror and violence around the world has made Gandhi even more relevant today. He rocks, amongst tourists. He must be the most easily recognisable Indian around the world. And thank god the association with him is something elevating, like peace and non-violence.

The others who matter, typically enough, for Mumbai are from Bollywood: SRK and Salman... equally relevant, in that they seem to share equal status. Though amongst posters you will usually find Salman rules -- those steroidal muscles is a big draw among fron-benchers even today...

The next most rocking `face' you see is that of Mumbai. Since my last visit and this, definitely Mumbai-centric T-shirts have increased. All the beloved places, some touristy that I have not visited for centuries (like Gateway) are all there... and of course that I-Love_Mumbai which seemed to have got an iconic status since the terrorist attack, has the pride of place. These cost Rs 100 each... priceless, though:)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Japan in Mumbai: sushi makes perfect sense to me

It is a nice combo: elegant Japanese food and elegant Gourmet city restaurant. I had been drooling over that for the last one week and finally gathered the family to the spot this Sunday. I starved, refused to allow my kid her addictive trek to Food Court at InOrbit, and gave my husband just two dosas for breakfast so that we were all, from gut onwards, prepared for the visit.

I have, in the manner of the uninitiated, never tried Japanese food and always believed, in the manner of those illiterate in such sophisticated stuff, it to be bland. One tiny, green demonic wasabi at the Gourmet City changed my opinion for ever and ever. It was potent, hit the underside of my nose with a wham that would not be soothed by chilled water and was it hot??!! Not spicy as much as tart, and I later found, it is made with horse radish.. What a kick that little ball of green has!!!
We did some Sushi... the boys tried Crab/ Prawn/ Chicken and there was also cucumber and asparagus cream ones. Neat, within a reasonable price range. Since I am broke these days, and I was footing the bill, we scrimped a bit, and had just sushi and main course -- Japanese curry and rice...
And four of us ate satisfactorily for under Rs 1000 which was great price for a new and perfect experience. The Chef was sweet and even gave us some more sushi -- and my daughter did the unthinkable and remove the cucumber piece before popping hers in the mouth....
The Japanese food festival was held by maidoindia -- who deal with Japanese food products. The chef was telling us about a curry packet, where a cube would yield the half-liter curry... and thick and spicy. They also hold quite a few events, like cooking classes, Sake festival etc. Check out their range and events at their site. Also, if you wish to be kept informed of these food festivals at Gourmet city, you can ask to be on their mailing list: GC_InorbitSM@hypercityindia.com

Happy eating:)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Muddy water, media collapse

The muddy concoction u see is of water from my tap. Yes, BMC water. It is fantastic is this not? The media, most of whose offices are located a breath away from where the crisis seems to be manifesting, are not reporting on this. Look at that water!!! Brown, seemingly full of some defecation, moss and mud particles.
Today I threw out the entire set of chappatis my cook made from this water. I simply could not bring myself to eat it. Have bought a 20-liter Bisleri bottle (more like a tub) for Rs 220, of which a large proportion would be given back once I return the bottle. The way things are looking, I will be living off such bottled water. Reminds me of Chennai, where my sister manages with green or red coloured water when the bottled water supply does not happen.

Some of my students sent me this genuine excuse for not coming: water scarcity...

The most annoying thing is that journalists are not reporting about this: which leads me to following conclusions:
  • they don't take bath
  • they have a direct connection from bmc.
  • they are blind.
  • they are living off five-star freebies and do not cook at home.
  • they are using five-star toilets and are not going back home to dry taps and unflushed toilets.
  • they are not journalists anymore!!
Arrghh!! Not a single report on the front page for the last two days when the entire city seems to be reeling. And nobody knows when the next brown muddy drop is going to come. The tankers, my property manager's office, says are not delivering any more since there is no water to supply.
This is a mega crisis and nobody is bothered!!! The media, the government --no statements. Put your head into the mud: it is called the ostrich syndrome. Pretend there is no problem, and the problem goes away?... the city has been running on that logic for so long...

An epidemic is about to happen --

I will start stocking on Readymade thandai, badam kheer, apple juice etc next. Just like the royalty suggested in France to the starving folk: eat cake!

Muddy water, drink thandai!!

Tamil Superstar Kamalahasan in Colaba?

Unbelievably, I saw this T-shirt/Shirt in an old, still-there, still-rocking clothes shop in Colaba Causeway (where my daughter picked up satisfactorily prices dressy clothes that charmed her little girly heart:). It was hung high up on the wall. The brown and yellow ones are what I am talking of: they each have Kamalahasan in his role as Abhay. My husband, a diehard Kamal fan, (I don't much care for the actor in his recent roles) poked fun at me, saying, "See you may not think much of him, but here he is, clearly relevant to the tourists'. So there he was indeed, glaring down at us, from his perch on the wall. Who picks up those shirts, I wondered!!! Next time, I ask. This time, I just clicked, my mouth agape....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Old world ice-cream parlour: K. Rustomji

(K. Rustomji Ice Cream parlour at Churchgate obviously does not need a board)

My daughter was not impressed with that ice-crea or the smoky, non-a/c parlour. Especially, because those biscuit slivers did not quite hold that creamy slab and dripped over her cute white dress. But then she is a suburban Mumbaikar, born in the suburbs for whom the southern tip is not an aspirational hang-up as it is for her migrant parents:) She looks down on south Mumbai as a rule -- the lack of space, the crush of people and traffic even though most times she has been protectively taken there only on Sundays. She sees only tourists and does not know what makes that part of city throb with a life all its own. You have to be an awed-out-of-Mumbai migrant for that perspective...
Any case, K. Rustomji ice-cream was where my husband, then my fiance, had taken me when he was showing off this city to me a quarter century ago. Like most men, he associates love with good food, so most joints we went to in our courting days where food joints, the must-eat Mumbai joints, iconic though a bit people-worn and down-at-mouth even those days... K. Rustomji also looks a bit sad...
No board, but there is a huge and steady crowd, including of tourists who have been lovingly directed here by some Mumbai-freak...
The ice-cream, big slabs, are so low-priced.
The plastic chairs, the reluctantly given paper napkins, the grimy dust-bin, the not-so-cool fans, the sense of something decrepit... Yet, those some fabulous mixes and flavors. Mint, for instance? I had peaches, my husband had mango, my kid toffee. We paid Rs 120 for three, can u imagine? And juices, for Rs 15 each? In this day and age!

Next time we go to south Mumbai, we must do Rustomji's again, my husband decided. My kid arched her eyebrows... Different strokes:)
. We oldies, we like it that in a world of gelatos and international brands, an old ice-cream parlour is holding its own...

Contact details:


87 Stadium House, Opp Ambassador Hotel, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai - 400020

Visiting Leopold Cafe

(A painting by Indian artists on the terrorist attack, on one of the walls of Leopold cafe where terrorists had killed several)

We were back at Colaba. It is always my favorite haunt. Everybody here minds their own business largely and the terrorist attack has not dented that Mumbai-spirit that this particular part of town sports so proudly.

We were at Leopold Cafe this Sunday afternoon. Those of you not from this city may not remember, but the terrorists had shot down many here on that terrible night...

After the terrorist attack
We had, my husband and I, hardcore Mumbaikars who love this city with the passion of migrants for whom Mumbai has meant freedom from so many things -- we had been at Colaba the Sunday after the terrible attack too. Journalists who were not from the city (both Sai and I started our journalistic career on the streets of Mumbai) made silly sounds about terrorism tourism and stuff like that about those of us who went out. We went out to tell those who listened to such things and those who don't, loud and clear, that we as a city will not be cowed down... And that Sunday it seemed as if the whole city was there -- saying the same thing ...
Leopold cafe still has the bullet marks -- big ones. Overwhelmed tourists come. Waiters understand and appreciate their interest and point out the marks. One hidden under a picture is also shown from where it is not visible. Around the bullet marks, huge and gaping, are age old smoke-dust tinted posters from the 60s : posters of a grinning Elvis and others from his Era, punctuated by Parsi symbols. That Sunday after the attack when the owners announced that they were reopening it, there was a virtual stampede, with media and onlookers creating a tremendous crush. We looked at that from a distance, deeply moved at how this city will never cow down to anything...

Cafes and their souvenirs:

Like Cafe Mondegar which has its T-shirts (hey, you have not done Mumbai if you have not been to either of these joints -- both have been tourist draw for generations of tourists with Mondegar having Mario Miranda cartoons on the walls and a juke box ) as souvenirs (had blogged on it earlier), Leopold has its own souvenir T-shirt. Unlike Mondegar's which has famous cartoonist Mario Miranda's tippling Salaam Mumbai cartoon (see the sidebar for a frame) and other one-liners that will go straight to a tippler's heart, this one proudly black just says `Leopold ...

Food here:
At Mondegar's we had some divine onion rings and fluffy cheesy garlic bread. At Leopold we just sat and nibbled some finger food and guzzled some beer. But what is about Indian omlettes, even double omelettes, that they come so flat and stringy and rubbery...
But then, who cares, it is the spirit that counts:)