The Mumbai weekend

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Next morning I walked across to the nearby Landmark to buy some books. Bunny arrived at noon and we took a cab to Juhu. The plan was to spend the afternoon in the outdoor cafe at Prithvi theater.

Privthvi cafe had the relaxed atmosphere you’d expect in a centre for arts and theater. Bips joined us shortly and through the afternoon we chose one exotic item after another from the self-service counter:

2 Moroccan Mint Tea ………. 70.00
1 Chicken Mayo …………….. 45.00
1 Mushroom Melt …………… 35.00
1 Paneer Tikka Sandwich …. 50.00
1 Carrot Cake ……………….. 45.00
1 Cold Coffee ………………… 70.00

Occasionally a TV or film artist passed by. I recognized one actor but could not place him. Later it occurred that he had played a small role in Swades, as the wanderer Shah Rukh Khan gives a lift to and sings a song with.

Conversation was slow-paced and easy. The excitement of the first meeting had passed, and we had all afternoon ahead of us. I was still recovering from a bout of cold and fever (which explains the excess of tea in the menu); I was content to listen.

Bips spoke about her NGO experience, working with underprivileged children. The kids went to school and yet were challenged to explain basic ideas. She designed cards that explain concepts like ‘day and night’ through pictures. The NGO, which works with communities in cities and rural areas, typically engaged with a community and deployed teaching methods.

Bunny had a lot to say about ‘cultural chauvinism’. Some forces in Mumbai wanted outsiders – non Marathis – to move out. This was nothing new – Bal Thackeray has been singing this tune for decades now – but apparently it was getting worse. (Bips chimed in and remarked that at her workplace women preferred to speak only in Marathi during meetings.) The insider-outsider discussion led to other examples: Bunny talked about translated-works focusing on Bengali writers because the editor and chief of most publishing firms were Bengali.

Listening all the India-related talk, I was struck by the extent I had ‘switched off’ from the conversations in this country. I rarely followed Indian periodicals; my view of India was filtered through the eyes of foreign correspondents reporting for American and European magazines: Time, Economist, New Yorker. I had even lost track of the Indian cricket team and its fortunes, unthinkable a decade ago.


18 thoughts on “The Mumbai weekend

  1. Such riches here, in photographs and words and the feelings behind them! I’m glad to discover Bunny’s blog, too, as well as her bookshelf.

    Happy New Year.

  2. Great post. I never had the opportunity to see Mumbai through the lens of someone who had never visited it. You had a great guide; pointing out Chetan Bhagat’s residence notwithstanding 🙂

    1. What to do, Patrix, he refused to be taken to Shah Rukh’s bungalow and Amitabh’s bungalow and Salman’s building, I had to show him SOMEthing of Bombay’s Famous People’s Houses.

      Bunny

      1. Bunny, just as you’ve wondered if you look like “crystal vase person”, I’m beginning to wonder if I look like a person who’d take a detour to see Salman’s building. How could you even suggest it?!

    1. Don’t worry Rash, I forced him to look at it in passing when we walked out of Prithvi. Only Jalsa, not Prateeksha, but at least it’s a Bachchan bungalow.

  3. You had your eyes closed? Tch tch Parmanu, even if you aren’t an Amitabh’s bungalow and Salman’s house sort of a person, it’s a mandatory part of Mumbai’s charm ;-p
    In Bangalore? No celeb houses thank you. That is only reserved for Mumbai. And I don’t need to point out the Chinnaswamy stadium to you either, since you have lived in this city. We could do a food tour though. There are some lovely, laidback cafes.

  4. and you didnt let us pay at either crystal or cafe coffee……totally out of mumbai trip ethics!! 🙂
    bunny’s bookself is a dream…..anybody will be forgiven for losing control…hehe. btw…there are tons of crystal-like joints in the fort area filled with yummmmyy food. u gotta come back soon 🙂

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