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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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Breakfasts worth waking up: Five spectacular breakfasts

A nice cup of coffee is usually enough bait for me to get out of bed. And if I am on a holiday, imagining the breakfast buffet (better when complimentary!) makes me spring out of bed with much enthusiasm. But my eyes popped out of my head as i discovered these spectacular breakfasts, I have not yet experienced! Here are the ones I am really itching to go to:

Breakfast in Bed At The Library in Koh Samui, they take breakfast in bed seriously. They call it their Breakfast culture, I can adapt to that!

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Breakfast with Giraffes Giraffes are my absolutely favourite vegetarian animals (otherwise tigers are my favourite). At the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, the resident Rothschild Giraffes often drop by for breakfast. To be hand fed!

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Getting shit done in the morning

I mean literally. Getting shit done in the morning is a challenge for almost half the population of India. You thought you had the worst life?

After you watch this superbly crafted video on the morning story of many Mumbaikars, you may stop complaining about your morning.

Of the estimated billion people who defecate in the open, more than half reside in India. The woefully insufficient progress in sanitation makes India an outlier even among developing countries. And at the current rate of progress India will only achieve the sanitation target (sanitation Millennium Development Goal) in 2054.

Under these circumstances, United Nations Children’s Fund’ launched an unexpected Poo2Loo campaign led by Mr Poo, a turd (yes, literally again). Campaign page: https://www.poo2loo.com In a silly, surreal video Mr Poo chases a man down until the community constructs a giant bright, giant toilet to flush public defecation. The punny campaign has a mobile games called ‘toilet trek’ and many other such weird games are being played in city malls. The campaign may get social media success by getting half a million online pledges and somewhat making a taboo subject accessible. However, there is no evidence of it having made much of a real difference so far. I do doubt the efficacy of such an initiative. I want to be wrong.

And for all those thinking nastily about the ill-mannered people who do defecate in public, given a choice they too would like to to do it with dignity. No?

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Morning event: Maharashtra Day ride: Of freedom and belonging

Every one who has ever ridden a bicycle has enjoyed an exhilarating feeling of liberation while riding. The physical sensation of gliding with the wind in your face. That automatic activity of pedaling when you have to be awake but not think too much. Unsure of the destination, if you see something that catches your eye to the left, you just veer off there.This is the kind of cycling some of us enjoy the most, just rolling and feeling complete freedom.

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(Image from Corbis)

On May 1st, a new dimension got added to my cycling experience.

Over 100 cyclists from all across Bombay assembled at Lucky’s in Bandra at 6am for the Maharashtra Day Cycle ride to NCPA, the southernmost point of Bombay. Sudarshan Beri, a passionate cyclist himself who had orchestrated and spearheaded the event gave away bags with the basic essentials that may be useful on the ride As the ride started, the pro cyclists (who have clocked several kilometers across states and countries!) almost naturally took to guiding the rookies who were going to explore the length of their city on the bike for the first time. No cycle was trying to sprint ahead and disrupt the flow. Even though there were very few motorised vehicles at that hour, they did try to intervene. However, the dedicated ‘protector cyclists’ were literally guarding the rest of the flock. Some of them were complete strangers to each other (me included) but that day during the ride it was one big fellowship. You could be a little careless, as someone else would be watching for you. A joyous feeling of togetherness, belonging set in. Continue reading

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Bandra: Bandstand: Bollywood dreams

Like most new, hesitant migrants Bandra was my first love when I moved to Bombay. In this fascinating, bustling, intimidating (more so because I came from the humble Caluctta) city, I was lucky to find a 200 sq.ft. room (plus balcony!) in Mrs Tipnins’ apartment overlooking the Bandra gymkhana. Walking around aimlessly on Carter road, haggling on Hill road, spending a whole afternoon at the Crossword on Turner road and sitting for long hours dreaming on Bandstand became my favourite ‘me’ times.

Bandstand I thought and still believe epitomises, Mumbai’s title: ‘city of dreams’ like no other place and Bollywood plays the protagonist or at least the sidekick in all Bombay dreams.

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If the dream is not to become the next SRK, it is to just see him once. Till then, feel closer to the demigod by knowing someone whose neighbour knows SRK’s driver’s uncle.

No wonder, at 7 am in the morning a bus full of tourists pauses outside the bungalows of all Bollywood actors along Bandstand and then parks opposite Mannat, the most important landmark. The anxious smile on all faces when they get off the bus gets brighter as they get the first glance and then a closer view. They always try their luck and ask the brawny guards if there is a chance of meeting the legend. Some climb the roof of the bus in the hope that they may at least see his shadow. Continue reading

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Bandra: Binge around the corner

The most satisfying workout is always one that leaves you jelly-legged/ armed/ whatevered.  And the most satisfying reward for a good work-out? A sumptuous breakfast!

Eat Around The Corner or EATC (the erstwhile JATC) offers you just that!

Past the black and white murals, past the immaculate white walls and grey furniture, the huge spread of breakfast is sure to light up your face.

Their breakfast combos are: French breakfast, English breakfast; American breakfast and a special vegetarian breakfast (which doesn’t seem to be on their permanent menu) which can loosely be called the Lebanese breakfast

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If you want to go whole hog, you do it the American style! Continue reading