Paverful Breakfasts: Discovering the Pavs that power Mumbai

If you’re visiting Mumbai and are really looking to get a taste of the city, avoid trawling Colaba’s tourist spots for fry-ups and cereal, try breakfast the way true-blue Mumbaikars have it. From students to businessmen, everyone has their favourite grab-and-go Pav in Mumbai. The word Pav has been borrowed from the Portuguese word for bread – ‘Pao’ and is inspired by their bread-rolls. But they will probably be awe-struck to see what we have done to the humble bread. Try one or more of these dishes completed with Mumbai’s signature Pav (bread bun). It is a crime to have these in Air-Conditioned restaurants, best had from the alfresco style stalls on the city streets.

Pav bhaji
This specialty dish originated  in Mumbai for the convenience of textile mill workers of the city and Mumbai undoubtedly makes the most finger-licking Pav Bhaji in the world! Bhaji is mashed boiled mixed vegetables (mainly potatoes, peas, tomatoes, onions and capscicum) cooked in spices and straddled by a slab of butter. The Pav served with it is shallow fried in even more butter and served with lemon and chopped onions. Squeeze some lemon on the bhaji and dig in with your fingers. It’s a week’s worth of butter but worth every calorie! Sometimes cheese and paneer (cottage cheese) are added to make it more sinful.
Though widely available at local restaurants and beachside stalls, I can guarantee you will lick your fingers at:
– Sardar’s – 166-A Tardeo Road Junction, Tulsiwadi, near Tardeo bus depot
– Amar Juice Centre – No.3, Gulmohar Rd, Beside Kupar Hospital, Vile Parle West

Sardar Pav Bhaji-Mumbai-morning

Missal Pav
Missal Pav is a rustic dish, quintessentially from Pune and specially popular among the local Maharashtrians for breakfast. A mix of curried sprouted lentils, topped with batata (potato) bhaji, poha (rice flakes), chivda, farsan, raw chopped onions and tomato. Though these by no means are the mandatory or fixed ingredients. Every outlet has its own unique recipe and at the same place, the taste is always consistent. This hot and spicy dish might be the tastiest and the most underrated something-Pav from Mumbai.
You get great ones at:
– Vinay Health Home, 71/83, Jawahar Mansion, Fanaswadi-Thakurdwar Corner, Girgaum
– Mamledar’s Misal Pav : Located at mamledar’s office (local council/municipal), exactly opposite Thane Police Station

Mamledar Misal Pav-Mumbai-Mornings

Vada Pav
This one you have surely heard about, often known as Mumbai’s burger – Vada Pav is definitely the King of Pavs satiating million hungry tummies every day. Potato patties mashed with garlic, chillies and coriander are dipped in besan (chickpea flour), deep fried and then then laid in Pav that’s spread with coriander chutney and sprinkled with garlic and chilli powder. An added touch is a plate of rock-salted fried green chillies, which aren’t nearly as fiery as you might think.
Almost every lane has a Vada Pav seller and every locality has it’s favourite. It is no wonder that organised chains such as Goli and Jumbo King have sprung up and have started making exotic variations of the humble Vada Pav.
I wouldn’t dare to declare the best Vada Pav in the city but can vouch for these two:
– Anand, opposite Mithibai College, Gulmohar Road, Vile Parle West.
– Ashok Satam’s Stall, on the Flora Fountain side of the Central Telegraph Office (CTO), Fort.

Anand Vada Pav Mumbai Mornings

Brun, Broon or Kadak Pav
One of the many gifts the Bawa gave Mumbai’s palette is the iconic Brun Maska. Brun translates to Bread and Maska to butter. You may wonder how different and special can bread and butter be? But this is no ordinary bread and this is no ordinary butter. It’s Brun, Gutli or Kadak Pav – crisp and crumbly on the outside and soft inside. The butter is not just applied on the Brun, copious amount of butter is slathered on the sliced Brun. Some even prefer to sprinkle sugar on it. Dipping the Kadak Pav in a cup of sweet Irani chai is the only way to have it.
You can find these at all Irani cafes but the most historic ones are at:
– Kyani & Co, 657 Jer Mahal Estate, Opp. Metro Cinema, Dhobi Talao.
– Yazdani Bakery, 11/11-A, Cawasji Patel Street, Fort.


Samosa Pav
It is difficult to have a Samosa and not fall in love with it. If you mind treadmill-ing an extra week to offset the samosa calories, do not try it. Lovingly shaped into triangles, the crisp crusts of samosa is stuffed with steaming chunks of spiced potatoes and peas. This deep fried deliciousness seems to have originated from Central India. In Mumbai we put our Samosa between the versatile Pav and voila you have a complete meal.
Tough to pick my favourite, but you can get very very good ones at:
– Guru Kripa Hotel, 40, Guru Kripa Building, near SIES College, Sion
– Punjab Sweet House, Pali Naka, Bandra west

Kheema Pav
Kheema Pav, another Iranian speciality. Minced mutton cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, chillies and spices takes on many avatars. Topped with a crisply fried sunny side up egg, it is called kheema single fry. And scrambled with eggs, it is called ghotala. While most other breakfasts can be found all over the city, Kheema Pav deserves a visit to South Bombay.
Soak in some history and start with breakfast at:
– Olympia Coffee House, Rahim Mansion, 1 SB Singh Rd, Colaba
– Stadium Restaurant, IMC Building, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate

kheema-pav-mumbai-mornings (1)

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Bhurji Pav
Anda Bhurji or Egg Bhurji is basically a nastier, spicier version of scrambled eggs. The best way to start the day but an equally appropriate way to end a long night, the one that goes on till wee hours. Fluffy eggs are scrambled with onion, tomato, green chilies, fresh coriander leaves and each stall-owners secret combination of spices. The Pav is slit open and buttered, sometimes griddled to golden crispness. Pile on the steaming hot eggs and dabs of tangy, coriander chutney and enjoy a filling meal.
The one I highly recommend is
– Suresh’s special bhurji Pav stall right outside Andheri (west) station. It opens at 11 pm and stays busy till breakfast hours.

Anda bhurji Mumbai Mornings

Bhajiya Pav
Kanda Bhajia Pav though available round the year tastes better in monsoons. Simply translated they are onion pakoras or onion fritters sandwiched between a Pav and served with dry garlic chutney or green chutney and with fried green chilies.The edges of the Bhajiya bring in the required crispiness and the chutney adds zing to the stack stuffed inside the pav. It is the no-one-can-eat-just-one kind of snack.


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Omlette Pav
Omlette with diced onions, a pinch of salt, mirchi powder and garam masala accompanied with hunks of Pav. Night birds, clubbers and pretty much anyone who’s looking for a meal to cure hangover or hunger will keep coming back to Omlette Pavs. Best had when it is steaming hot straight out of the tawa.
– Vijay’s stall outside the main entrance of Churchgate station is extremely popular. His stall does not have a name, just ask around for the Omlette-Pav man.


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These are the most popular Pav dishes in Mumbai but enterprising local chefs are constantly inventing new dishes that stay unique to them or gain mainstream popularity. Masala Pav, is made by stuffing spicy tomato-onion gravy inside butter-laden pavs.Hot-dog Pav, is a variation of Pav bhaji, Pav with pieces of potato, tomato and onion, topped with some spice. Baida Pav or Anda Pav is used to refer to Omlette Pav or to hard-boiled egg stuffed inside a Pav. While these seem extremely simple to make, I would say don’t try these at home and even if you do – know, they will never taste the same 🙂

Which is you favuorite thing to put between Pav?


You’re only one swim away from a good mood

I fondly remember the days when I was learning to swim, my coach would tell me to not grab hold of the water, not fight, not struggle but just think of the water as a friend. I kept repeating this in my head till water became my best friend. It gave me the BFF kind of feeling but inevitably, life happened. I moved to Mumbai, work became stressful, made new friends and forgot to keep in touch with the old.

Mumbai encourages and celebrates some sports very well, sure you’ve heard or even participated in the famous Mumbai Marathon. I think it is a great event, even if people are participating because of the social pressure it’s forcing them to run a few miles and keep fit for at least a month in the year.

Mumbai is by and large humid throughout the year making if difficult for running (except of course if you run in an air conditioned room on a treadmill, which obviously takes the fun out of running). But isn’t this the perfect whether for a dip in the pool? Relief from the heat, innumerable physical benefits and also a great way to relax, right? It hardly feels like a workout when it actually is a really effective one!  Sometimes you can just float effortlessly, enjoy the silence under water, focus on nothing but the rhythm of your stroke – I would call it meditation.


I wonder why, swimming isn’t encouraged in Mumbai as much as it should be. I learnt recently that Indian Air Force associated with IDBI organised a Swimmathon as part of its initiative to promote and popularise the sport of open water swim in India. Indian Air force channel swimming team ‘Delphinus’, successfully completed the extreme endurance Swimmathon, the longest open water swim in Asia. The Swimmathon commenced from the Gateway of India, Mumbai on October 28th at 14:30 hrs and culminated at same place on October 30th at 1600 hrs involving around 50 hours swim clockwise around Mumbai. Kudos!

Mumbai Swimathon

We probably need many more such events and probably also more accessible swimming pools in the city! Once I started looking for a pool near me, I realised there is a serious dearth of facilities. You either have to be a member, a lifelong member of the (mostly) arrogant sports clubs. Membership here is mostly inherited or very very expensive. Or, you have the 5 star hotels which charge you exorbitant rates per swim. However, there are some lesser known clubs in most localities that you could look out for! I joined the C’est La Vie in Bandra which has a rather small pool but is very well maintained, well located and the price is comparable to that of joining a gym in Bandra. And every day that began with a swim was a good day, already! I also discovered that they do Swim-n-Sangria brunches on Sunday at a restaurant by their pool. Must try 🙂

Anyway, while looking up I found these to be the other accessible pools in the city:
(can’t vouch for each of them but this can be a good starting point if you’re looking for one in your locality)

  1. Swim Sure, Powai
  2. Dadar Club, Dadar East
  3. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Club, Vile Parle East
  4. Surbhi Health Club Swimming Pool, Kandivali East
  5. Priyadarshani Swimming Pool, Mulund West
  6. Country Club Swimming Pool, Andheri West
  7. Country Club Spring, Kandivali West
  8. Sea Princess hotel, Juhu
  9. S C N Sports Club & Swimming Pool, Kandivali East
  10. Juhu Vileparle Gymkhana Club, Juhu
  11. Matoshri Arts Swimming Pool, Andheri East
  12. Celebration Club Swimming Pool, Lokhandwala, Andheri
  13. Dolphin Swimming Academy, Juhu
  14. Andheri Sports Complex, Andheri West
  15. Sindhi Society Gymkhana Swimming Pool, Chembur East
  16. Mandpeshwar Civic Federation & Swimming Pool, Borivali West
  17. Karnala Sports Academy & Swimming Pool, Navi Mumbai
  18. Swim For Better Living, Dadar West
  19. Evershine Club Swimming Pool, Kandivali East

Do drop in a comment if you know of any other pools that are fairly accessible.
And for everyone contemplating, take the plunge!



So yesterday, I woke up to this award nomination. Though I was pretty clueless about what it meant, it sure sounded like a good thing and got me super excited.  Some google search revealed, almost everyone in the world knows and has already received this award! It’s the sweetest blogging-community-thing ever. The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.


Thank you so much hiddenharmonyworld for the nomination. It means a lot. Thank you also for introducing me to so many beauty and fashion blogs that were nominated with me, now I am inspired to glam-up my blog a bit 😉

Getting to the rules (yes, there are rules but fun rules)

1. You have to link back to the person that nominated you.
2. You must answer all 11 questions given to you by the person who nominated you.
3. After completing these questions you must nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers and give them 11 questions of your choice.
4. You must not nominate the person who nominated you.
5. You must let your nominees know that they have been nominated and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.

Here are my answers to the questions:

1. Ultimate dream to fulfill?
My startup (theitchlist.com) gets enough support and supporters, so I am not forced to go back to a 9-5 job!


2. What are your Essentials for a holiday?

Backpack Mumbai-Mornings-ipod   havaianas-yellow-havaianas-unisex-two-tone-strap-flip-flops-yellow-product-2-597569-062983775_large_flex

3. What are your Beauty principles?



4. Which camera do you use for blog photography?
Beauty is in the eye of the iPhone holder 😛


5. Most unforgettable beauty or makeup experience?
My wedding makeup! I am not such a makeup person and I was shocked at the amount of plastering on my face. Both the make-up chic and me wanted to get rid of each other at the soonest!


6. ONLY One product can take on a deserted island, which one would it be?
Does food product count? No? Then, edible makeup

7. Place you had best coffee ever?
In bed 🙂

Mumbai- Mornings -Coffee-In-Bed

8. Bargain Shopper or Brand Hunter?


9. Who do you prefer? Rugged men with no/minimal skincare regime or men who use cleanser, moisturizer and eye cream?
Minimal skincare, yes.

10. Road-side stall food or a Michellin star restaurant?

11. Culture enriching holiday spot?
Cambodia. Though many places in India itself are culturally enriching, but I am usually at least sort of familiar with the culture before I visit them but Cambodia was a totally new experience. Yet to wear the skirt I got STITCHED from there!


Here are my questions:

1. Tea or Coffee?

2. Beaches or Mountains?

3. Backpacker hostels or Luxury hotels? (assuming you have the money)

4. What is your favourite food?

5. Which city would you love to live in?

6. Who inspires you?

7. If a day had 25 hours, what would you do in the additional hour?

8. What would the name of the movie based on your life be?

9. What is the one thing (single most important) you itch to do in life?

10. What is holding you back?

11. What is the one piece of advice you would want to give all your readers?

Finally, the 11 bloggers with under 200 followers, I wish to recognise:
(apologies if you have more than 200 followers, I tried my best to check)

1. http://tapasmi.wordpress.com/

2. http://emilylivingstone.wordpress.com/

3. http://adelightfulspace.wordpress.com/

4. http://applestrudelsandblues.wordpress.com/

5. http://walktomarket.wordpress.com/

6. http://justsomethingiwasthinkingabout.com/

7. http://maureenoblaq.wordpress.com/

8. http://speculatingsunrise.wordpress.com/

9. http://tastefortongue.wordpress.com/

10. http://amindlessinktramp.wordpress.com/

11. http://athousandsilentstorms.wordpress.com/

Have a good day all!


What do you call your Coffee?

We love to give nicknames to people and places, right?

They are personalised, usually easy to say, and a little lazy. As though uttering a person’s proper name takes too much effort. Strangely though, it is not rare for nicknames to be longer or more complex than the original names, often we assign someone a moniker (nickname for name ;)) that stems from a memorable incident, trait or idiosyncrasy. It’s almost a matter of pride to assign someone a nickname that stays, it somehow hints at a special bond you share with that person or place. Sometimes there is a also a sense of possession in using someone’s nickname, as though not every one has gained authority to use it. For instance, It disturbs me when tourists refer to Mumbai as Aamchi Mumbai.

So, something as special as your dear cup of coffee should not be coldly referred to as, ‘Coffee’. Here is a compilation of Coffee nicknames that may help you think of a name for your Coffee:

Cup of Joe

Cup of Jolt




Arbuckles (Cowboy Coffee)

Battery Acid

Black Ichor Of Life

Black Tea

Brain Juice


Wakey Juice




Caffeine Fix

C8H10N4O2: (The molecular formula for caffeine)

Cup of Brew


Cup of Joe

Rocket Fuel

Cup of Jolt


Cupped Lightning

Daily Grind



High Octane

Jamoke: (Java + Mocha)

Java: (Island of Indonesia)

Jet Fuel

Jitter Juice

Kaffe: (Swedish)

Kape: (Manila)



Liquid Energy



Morning Mud

Morning Thunder


Warmer Upper





The Fix


By the way, I call mine ‘Fuel’. What do you call your coffee?

Updating the list with the nick-names you guys suggested in comments 🙂



Dark Brown Cuppa

Wake-up juice

Morning margarita



This Eid, enjoy more than just the food

A decade ago, Eid-ul-fitr did not mean much more than a day-off to me. After a couple of years in Mumbai, Eid and the month of Ramadan preceding it meant another excuse to feast! While the Muslims fast and practice abstinence in this month, most others take it as an excuse to do exactly the opposite of it. All of us have at some point made a trip to Mohammed Ali Road, some of us have been lucky to be invited for a home cooked iftaar. And those who are too lazy, have satiated themselves with iftaar special meals at Mughalai restaurant or even at Mc Donalds! (it seems Mc Donalds has an ‘iftaar-special Burger’).
The much-awaited Eid-ul-Fitr is here, for the muslims it is a time to celebrate as they count their blessings. The rest of us could take this as an opportunity to appreciate more than just the delicious food! The Dargahs and Mosques in Mumbai add baroque elements to the city’s landscape. Head to one of these to admire the architecture, to pray for barkat (prosperity) or just to get some sukoon (peace):

Haji Ali Dargah
One of Mumbai’s most recognised landmark. You have spotted it in a Bollywood film and admired it from a distance every time you visited South Bombay. Haji Ali Dargah situated in the middle of Arabian Sea, 500 yards from shoreline is popular among people of all religions and tourists from all over the world.

Mumbai-Mornings-Haji-AliImage Source

The pathway leading to the Dargah is swarming with people on Eid somehow adds to the magnanimity. The structure consists of a slim minaret and the tomb of the Saint Haji Ali. Once you are inside, look out for the detailed mirror-work interspersed with 99 different names of Allah.
Address: Walk down from Mahalaxmi Station on Western Line

Jama Masjid, Kalbadevi
Literally translated, ‘Friday Mosque’. Situated near the bustling Crawford Market in South Bombay, Jama Masjid is the largest and oldest mosque in Mumbai. The current mosque was reconstructed in 1775 and since then there have been several additions to its structure, including a school that imparts free secular and religious education to Muslim youth.


The structure is a quadrangular building encircled by a ring of terraced roofed and double storied buildings. The main eastern gate of the masjid leads to an ancient water-tank containing about ten feet of stagnant water, filled with gold and silver fish.
Getting there: Cab or a long walk from Charni Road Station on Western line

Minara Masjid
As Eid gets closer, it gets more and more difficult to navigate through food stalls, BMWs and LOT of people on gastronomic trips to Mohammed Ali road. What stands apart and almost overlooks the chaos in the Majestic Minara Masjid.

Mumbai-Mornings-Minara-MasjidImage Source

The vertiginous green minarets are hard to miss, they add to the baroque architecture that can be seen along the entire stretch of road. To enjoy the architecture and feel the tranquility, one should skip the evening risk and go early morning instead.
Getting there: Walk down from Masjid Station on Central Line

Mahim Dargah
The oldest Dargah in Mumbai going back at least 350 years, this is the Dargah of the Secular Sufi Saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi. Interestingly, the Dargah also houses the tombs of his mother, his maid servant and his pet goat. Architecturally, this is the only Dargah in Mumbai with 5 domes.


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Apart from Eid, this Dargah attracts many visitors during 12-day festival in December every year to commemorate the Qazi. Lakhs of devotees throng the place to enjoy Sufi music, qawwali, religious poems, lectures and other such activities in conformity of Sharia laws.
Getting there: Walk down from Mahim Station on Western Line

The more I learn about Mumbai, the less I feel I know.


Morning TV: 90’s Nostalgia

I have always been a TV lover. As a child, Sunday morning alarm used to be the distant sound of a TV show jingle playing in the living room. No alarm has ever been that effective. Through the Black and White TV sets to the CRT monitors and now slice thin TV screens, I have been an avid TV viewer all my life. Most of my peers replaced TV-time with computer-time very early and gradually completely replaced the TV with their laptops. But I have watched TV at every stage of my life, and there has rarely been a time when the idiot box has not entertained me. And yet I cannot pretend that TV watching in my adult years matches in its impact or entertainment the TV watching I did as a child.

I still follow many TV shows, some of which I do watch on a TV set. I anxiously await the next episode of  Big Bang Theory and the next season of Sherlock Holmes. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a Game of Thrones episode. Yet it is not the same. What I cannot forget is that there was a time when Television was more banal and more refreshing. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of TV shows. It is not a yearning that I ever expect to be fulfilled.

Here are five influential TV shows that marked a delightful start to Sundays in the nineties: 

Duck tales
Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey & Louie found themselves in all sorts of adventures on this animated cartoon series from Disney. Groggy inimitable voices called ‘Uncle Scrooge’ when a helicopter got dysfunctional or some other disaster struck. But Uncle Scrooge was always so nonchalant even as he took his daily swim in heaps of gold coins!

Bournvita Quiz Contest
The first and probably only quiz show that motivated me and most other kids around the country to study hard. Millions of kids dreamed of representing their schools in this prestigious quiz contest, the very eloquent Derek O’Brien became one of the first non-bollyood role model. Here is an episode with Kiran Bedi, another youth role model of that time.

The show was brought back on TV a coupla years back, but new wine in old bottle never has the same charm.

Jungle book
The adventures of Mowgli, the man-cub raised by wolves;  Bageera – a panther, Mowgli’s best fried;  Baloo – a sloth bear, sort of Mowgli’s mentor against Share-Khan – a man eating tiger. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s book by the name, Jungle Book (which I read very recently) was also made into Disney Movies (which I have never seen). But like I have mentioned before, this TV show seeded in me a fascination for jungles which is still growing.


Malgudi days
Based on the books of R.K. Narayan, the finest children’s book author in India. The fictitious town ‘Malgudi’ was quite a microcosm of India. It was easy to identify with Swami who portrayed the growing up pangs of a boy who despises school, as he makes excuses and roams around Maldugi with his friends. While there are some who would rather just stick to the books, why would you want to miss this captivating music!

Vikram Betaal
Betaal was a vampire before it was cool to be a vampire and also taught some life lessons. The TV show was based on based on Baital Pachisi, a collection of tales from the Indian mythology. Baital was a sort of celestial spirit who hung from a tree. Vikram was a king who had promised to capture Baital for a tantric. In his attempts to capture Baital, Vikram would hear different stories from Baital each with a moral message.

Those were the days! Cannot thank YouTube enough 🙂


Borivali National Park: Marvels of an urban jungle

Spread over 103 sq.km. Borivali National Park (also called, Sanjay Gandhi National Park) is the largest park in the world located within the city limits. Just to give a perspective, the Central Park in New York is 3.41 sq.km. There has been a lot said and written about Borivali National Park, but not enough. The park claims to have 2 million visitors annually which seems like a good number but its less than the number of visitors a 12000 sqft mall gets in Mumbai. While we love and hate many marvels of our city, lets not ignore one of the city’s biggest blessings. Come monsoons the joy doubles, the variegated flowers and hues of greens spread all over the park are so cheerful, you do not need to apply any #filters.

Kanheri-Caves-Mumbai-MorningsKanheri Caves, 6 km from the park entrance are one of the main attractions. It’s easy for you to access them and easy for them to enchant you. To begin with the caves were chiseled out of volcanic rock, as early as 1st century BC! The beautiful carvings of Buddha, Pali inscriptions, and the play of light and shadows make for spectacular pictures. The many small chambers called viharas used to be the cells for monks and the deeper chambers known as Chaityas were used for congregational worship.  I like to visualise the life when the monks were still living in caves, meditating, praying, carrying on their daily errands. (I once had lunch with three extremely friendly monks in Cambodia and after that Monks seem so ‘normal’ in the sense that I can imagine them carrying on errands, before that I couldn’t have). Two very impressive caves right in the beginning are, cave #3 an arcade of ornately carved columns and cave #11 an enormous dining hall. Yes, all the caves are conveniently numbered. Visiting each cave can get tedious and repetitive since most are viharas. 

Mumbai-Mornings-Kanheri Caves

So after feeding your history craze, heading up through short flights of stairs is a good idea. There is a small water collection tank atop, that was cut into the rock of the hill. I would recommend spending a lot of time plonked near the edge of a rock, soaking in the greens and enjoying the most unreal, concrete free views of Mumbai.

Hiking trails such as Shilonda, Nagla trails or log hut trails can get one addicted to Borivali National Park. On a regular Sunday morning in the hustling bustling Mumbai, could you just chance upon a spotted deer four meters ahead of you? Both you and the deer freeze momentarily and before you reach for your camera it disappears into the thicket. This happens often on such fairly secluded trails. A very small part of the national park is open for public, one can access the restricted areas with with official permission on the condition that you take a forest guard along. One should generally obtain a permit a couple of days in advance at the entry gate. Sometimes you get lucky though, three of us had not planned ahead and one of us was on his last day in Mumbai before he flew back to the US. Continue reading


There’s a jungle out there

My fascination with forests began with the adventures of man-cub Mowgli and Baloo, the bear from The Jungle book. I did not read the book till 3 years back, but the television show was my only incentive to wake up on Sunday mornings. Once upon a time.
Most of us, eighties-Indian-kids will still be able to sing along this intro song and will always remember Mowgli more fondly than any Tarzan boy.

Soon-after The secret forest, The enchanted wood, The magic faraway tree and all the escapades that brewed atop a treehouse followed. Enid Blyton fed my fascination and how! The Famous Five, helped me discover the joys of bicycle trips, picnics, lemonade, tiny cottages, camping in the countryside and many more adventures. The backdrop of their lives was so far away from my reality, but their enthusiasm and joys of outdoors is what I identified with. 


It was only when I was 20 that I first visited a real forest, the Kanha National Park. I still remember, when our jeep crossed the gates at 6:15 am, the air smelt so green. At first, I was struck by the sky-scrapping trees form green castes and feisty squirrels searching for food under wispy moss. Eventually, after observing bird calls and paw marks, identifying the different deers and wild dogs and after listening to anecdotes from a forthcoming guide, I realised that it is indeed a jungle out there. A war scene, each day is a battle to hold territory, feed and protect families and everyday they combat to not become the feed.
But I did not have to imagine anymore, the next day a tenacious tigress successfully attacked a large bison. I was taken to witness the scene on an elephant back, as the spot was not accessible by a jeep. And there I saw a beautiful, ferocious mother panting under the shade of a tree while three young cubs enjoyed nibbling their meal.


Clichéd but true, I visited South Africa and instantly fell in love with wild animals. It was Madagascar come alive! Monochromatic zebras, graceful giraffes, lazy ostrich, adorable lemurs (King Julien), friendly penguins, stubborn rhinos, the majestic lions, swift deers, handsome leopards. I will run out of adjective before I run out of the number of the amazing wildlings I encountered.
But the one experience that will stay vividly in my memory forever was at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve near Durban. I was silently jumping on my seat when I saw a herd of elephants of various sizes crossing the road right behind us! We must have been there for a good 5 mins, when the head of the family, the largest elephant who was leading them began to feel uncomfortable with our proximity to her family. 


She started walking towards us. More thrilled then scared, we moved a little and parked ahead. A minute later, she approached us again, we moved slightly and as she stopped, we stopped. She played this game with us a couple of more times, and ultimately she was like, okay you’ve had your share of fun. She approached us aggressively enough to scare us into speeding the car, she stopped only when her family was out of our slight and then stood authoritatively in the middle of the road.

After these memorable wild encounters that I am so very proud of, hiking in Malibu Creeek State Park in Los Angeles was a pleasant surprise. A bright sunny day was spent swimming in a pond and having homemade sandwiches sitting on tree. I had not known National Parks to be safe places to enjoy hiking, climbing, swimming, picnicking, barbecuing, camping in manicured wilderness. In all but one Indian National Parks, visitors are not allowed to set foot on ground.


By then, I had not discovered Borivali National Park (Sanjay Gandhi National Park) sitting within the city limits of Mumbai. Surprisingly in my first two years in Mumbai nobody ever brought it up. Why did it never come up in the weekend-getaway planning? Why when Mumbaikars are constantly looking at ways to escape the hustle-bustle? When an entire day here costs less money than a fancy cocktail. When every person in a relationship with another person or their work is always craving some me-time. When thousands of city-dwellers are so badly “looking for peace” that they pay institutes and gurus more fee than they can afford. When most of us are always complaining about lack of time and money to pursue travel and adventure.
Have we explored our backyard yet?
Coming up next, my chronicles at Borivali National Park.


Related: Sewri: the pink nomads | Bandstand: Bollywood dreams | Juhu beach: Morning person


Mumbai beats the heat in isshtyle

Sweating wakes people up before their alarm ticks in summer mornings. Doesn’t matter which soap you use or which powder you empty on your melting body, you don’t get transported to a waterfall or showered with ice cubes unlike the advertisements show. C’est la vie! Here is how an average Mumbaikar takes on summer mornings

Step one: Step out – The umbrella make a style statement


Getty images

Step two: Before jumping on a local train – Hydrate


Step three: After surviving the commute – take a victory shower


Step four: Block the office air con – feel like you’re reborn


Step five: Break for chai-sutta – whine about the heat


Juhu beach is a morning person

Juhu beach is probably the most famous beach of Mumbai. Infamous for many accusations such as being a filthy dumpyard or worse. Accusations don’t not perturb him though, the greying has come from a lot of experience. He has seen many love stories start and end. He has lived more Ganesh Visarjans than anyone can claim. He has amazed wandering tourists and locals. He has enjoyed monkey dances and cotton candies. He has supported passionate games of beach cricket and football. He has fed  infinite pigeons. He has embraced swimming floats, fishing boats and a gigantic ship! He has smiled for glorious photographs and accepted ridiculing headlines.

Juhu beach must be my most frequented place in the city and our love does not fade.


But i agree, at 7pm of any evening it is indeed difficult to walk on the beach without stepping on litter. Catch-up with Juhu beach when he is at his best – at the break of dawn! You may spot one of these 100 relentless workers who start their work of cleaning OUR mess at 6am every morning.


A clean, glistening, cheerful Juhu beach welcomes the suburban morning walkers. If the sun dancing on the waves does not light up your face, the freshest breeze in Mumbai will. A good run, an easy stroll , some yoga stretches, people-watching, a frisbee catch, the fresh nariyal pani (coconut water), an adorable dog, an even adorable oldie – one of these or all of them will make your smile from inside 🙂 Continue reading