Thursday, January 5, 2012

This Is Aamchi Mumbai

People love Mumbai for many reasons. I love Mumbai because I was seventeen when I moved here. It was the first time I was living away from my family. It is great to be young and feel free, even better being young and away in Mumbai. I remember college days and month-ends with money crunch. It was when I fell in love with Bagdadi, with Beer in Mondy’s, with Kulfi Falooda and with Mumbai city.

Chilli chicken and the famous over-sized rotis of Bagdadi or kebabs at midnight in Bade Miya, town has real magic. The long local train ride to town at noon just adds to the fun. It is like this feeling of being transported to a magical land far away. Hold me, I am getting carried away.

The little droplets of water rolling down the neck, only a pint of chilled beer at Mondy’s can beat the afternoon heat. Then again, why would I go for that pint of beer at Café Mondegar when I can get my Heineken straight from the keg? Have you ever thought why people are always swarming into Mondy’s? What is it about this place that even on a Tuesday afternoon it is buzzing with excitement? It spells life with the cartoons on the walls, the juke box, the pitcher of beer and the big bowl of noodles. Café Mondegar is not a restaurant it is a way of life. It is the way we love living. Many Mumbaikars cannot stop with their stories about that night at Mondy’s and that day they spent drinking beer at Mondy’s to get over the previous night’s hangover. As A. and I were sharing our stories about mingling at Mondy’s, a new story was unfolding itself before us that afternoon; a story that we will be telling in the years to come.

A. and I were there to attend the very disappointing exhibit of Uppercrust 2011. We didn’t enjoy the exhibit, we thought it would be more fun to go back to causeway and hog on some chicken curry and Jumbo rotis at Baghdadi. It is the most reasonable and by far the best meal you can have in town. Everybody knows the name! Mumbaikar or not, Baghdadi everyone knows. The very popular chilli chicken curry was my pick and A. opted for some butter chicken. He can’t handle green chillies. He went for the milder, cliché option. That distinct flavour in their chilli chicken is so distinct. Seems so simple and yet no one can get that flavour exactly the same. I will never forget the flavour of the best meal I have had with fifty rupees left in the end of March 2008. After paying the sum of rupees two hundred for a yummy and satiating lunch for two we moved on to Crawford market for dessert.

Badshah’s famous falooda was our next stop. Let me be honest, I have heard about this place about a million times from a million people but I hadn’t tried it out. Khus falooda was our pick although the Badshah special falooda seemed very tempting too. Nonetheless, we weren’t in the mood for dry fruits after heavy lunch so we went for the sweet, refreshing khus. I was conflicted, when I had the first bite, it was tasteless. Then I realised how to mix it up and eat and bring out the refreshing sweetness in a sunny afternoon.

Some say it is the city of dreams and some stay up because this city never sleeps. I love Mumbai because I always find food; at any time of the day or night, even when I was broke and even when I craved for pav bhaji after midnight. 

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