I went to Bombay for a wedding this weekend. There were a million things I wanted to do: eat cheese Pav Bhaji at Juhu Beach (Delhi street food is incredible but to eat good pav bhaji, one must go to Bombay), wander around Colaba and admire some gothic architecture (very different from Delhi’s colonial architecture), go to Bandra bandstand, eat some authentic Maharashtrian food AND some authentic Parsi food etc. etc.
However, I had no time to do any of these things. So I decided to use the few hours I had in the evening to drive down to Colaba to eat in Cafe Mondegar (I have many fond memories of breakfast at Mondegar). This was not the best idea.
Unlike Delhi, where you can randomly decide to go 35 km to eat your favourite chhola bhatura and reach within a reasonable time, commuting in Bombay is painful. I had a splitting headache by the time we reached Colaba only to find a long line outside Mondegar. I had to settle for Kahlua Mousse from Leopold Cafe (of the Shantaram fame) and it was good enough to make up for some of my disappointment!
Wandering around with my mother after I’d polished off the mousse, I had time to look around Bombay but I couldn’t really see past the crowds which have grown exponentially over the last few years. I had begun to feel claustrophobic and home sick but then my mom started telling me about the lovely city she had known as a child. I loved what I heard and have now made a new bucket-list for my next trip to Bombay based on what she used to do:
1. Walk from Churchgate to Colaba. Stop on the way and really look at Flora Fountain and the Maharashtra Police Headquarters (an excellent specimen of Gothic architecture).
2. Go to Horniman Circle Gardens and see Elphinstone Building.
3. Visit the Asiatic Society of Mumbai and check out its library, which has many ancient manuscripts and a large collection of rare coins.
4. Visit the Hanging Gardens.
5. Search for a Thandai wala near Mahalaxmi Temple (“Thandai” is a cold drink prepared with milk, sugar, almonds, rose petals, saffron, black peppercorns, cashews, pistachios, melon seeds and poppy seeds). My mom remembers this drink fondly.
6. Eat Bhel on Chowpatty.
7. Take the local train from anywhere to the erstwhile Victoria Terminus Railway Station.
Also, not going to miss that cheese pav bhaji for the world!