Bandstand, A Couple’s Paradise

I’ve been craving to write about Mumbai since long, since the time I can remember. Mumbai, my city, the city of dreams, the city that has sheltered with love more than 18 million people across all states of India and from different parts of the globe the city that is a source of bread and butter to millions, the city that never sleeps… Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra and the financial, commercial and entertainment capital and the wealthiest city of India!!!

Whenever I talk  about Mumbai, I always start with Bandra, a place synonymous with shopping, fort, churches, seafront, promenades, pubs, malls, food and its food-loving people. The name ‘Bandra’ is possibly an adaptation of the Persian (and also Urdu) word ‘bandar’, which means a city; an emporium; a port, harbour; a trading town to which numbers of foreign merchants resort. Bandra is known it as “Queen of the Suburbs”.

Bandra has a rich history of the British and the Portuguese era. Many of the houses and establishments still shout out their historical existence. There are over 150 crosses at various places. Many crosses were built to ward off the plague epidemic (1896-1906). The oldest is the one relocated in St Andrew’s church compound. Stands 17 ft high and made of a single stone and dates back to 1610.

Christians dominate the population here. Bandra is also home to a sizable Hindu, Parsi (Zoroastrians) and Muslim population. Prominent places here are the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Bandra Lake or Bandra Talao, Carter Road, Linking Road, Hill Road, Jogger’s Park, Bandstand and Land’s End. BKC is a commercial hub. Hill Road and Linking Road are a shopper’s paradise. Whereas, Carter Road and Bandstand are  seafront with long promenades.

Bandra is well-connected via the Western Railway and the Harbour Line which is an offshoot of the suburban Central Railway.

My relationship with Bandra dates back to the earlier 2000s. This was the time when I knew very little of the rest of Mumbai, I knew Bandra in and out. I have a strong emotional connect to Bandstand.

This is the place where my love-story flourished.  Not just mine, but I’m sure I must be a voice of hundreds of couples out there. Now you know, why I call this place “A Couple’s Paradise”.
bandstandcouples
In the early 2000s, love was in the air… for me. And Bandstand was the only place we knew to be with each other and share our sweet-nothings. It was just the beginning of our individual careers, so affordability of restaurants was a big question mark. In those times, Bandstand was our only saviour. Hail an auto or hop-on a bus and reach our destination within 15 minutes.
The long promenade, the sea, the sunset, the breeze… all so very inviting. We used to sit on the promenade watching the sun set and time would just fly off.
The couples are scattered all over – the promenade, rocks, in the parked cars, strolling hand in hand or rather, hand-in-waist, hugging, kissing or just sitting there holding each other. We fell in the last bracket. There’s love all round…literally!!!
Bandstand3Sweet-nothings are not enough to satisfy your tummy, specially when you’ve travelled miles to be your sweetheart. So when it comes to treating your taste-buds, there’s an array of food items that are dished out.
There’s street-food and hawkers who serve smoking hot sandwiches, frankies, roasted corn, juice vendors, etc.
bandstandcornwallaThere are cafes like Barrista and Cafe Coffee Day aka CCD, our Indianised answer to the likes of Starbucks and Gloria Jeans. These 2 cafes are next door neighbours. The tables offering an undisturbed view of the sea are reminiscent of my moments here with my favourite Cafe Frappe and the corn and cheese sandwich.
Barista boasts of a special corner table which is the hotspot of Bollywood superstar and my heartthrob, Salman Khan. He was and still is my numero uno reason and cause of frequenting Bandra. I’ve always had and still have a small hope in one little corner of my heart, of seeing Salman. My eyes used to always be fixed on the first floor balcony of his Galaxy Apartments.
bandstandccdFurther down, there is Cafe Sea Side, which is famous for its snacks and meals. Tables near the windows of this cafe are a bliss.
Bandstandcafeseaside
Bandstand is synonymous with “Mannat” a castle-like bungalow of another Bollywood superstar, Shahrukh Khan. People gather in hoards only to catch a glimpse of their Badshah and go berserk when they do get one. Mr. Khan also obliges by standing in his balcony and waving his fans.
bandstandmannat
The Walk of the Stars is a section of the promenade honouring Bollywood film stars. The path features about six statues of famous Bollywood actors.
bandstandwalk of starsAlso there are about 100 brass plates embossed with the handprints and signatures of other stars. The walk was inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
BandstandWalkoftheStars
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, more commonly known as Mount Mary Church, is a Roman Catholic Basilica situated in this area. The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated here on the first Sunday after 8 September, the birthday of the Virgin Mary.
bandstandmtmarychurch2The feast is followed by a week long celebration known locally as the Bandra Fair and is visited by thousands of people of all faiths.
bandstandmtmarychurch3
Castella de Aguada
, also known as the Bandra Fort, is located at the Land’s End which is the extreme point of Bandstand.  It was built by the Portuguese in 1640 as a watchtower overlooking the Mahim Bay, the Arabian Sea and the southern island of Mahim.
BandstandBandra Fort
The iconic Taj Land’s End is a luxury hotel standing tall offering a breathtaking sight and is a crown to the Land’s End area. It has been playing host to hoards of celebrities, dignitaries and the royals.
BandstandTLE
Bandstand has a lot to offer everyone…from children to the aged, from loaded purses to the empty ones, from singles to couples and families. When I speak about Bandstand, I speak my heart out. I have experienced every bit of it. Its nostalgia, its a different feeling altogether.
Its a tribute to my lovestory… and the relationship that blossomed thereafter…

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How To Peel A Kiwi

Kiwi
Summer fruits are a treat, and even more than that, they are a nice and quick escape from the scorching heat.

Kiwi is one such fruit, which is very tasty and full of vitamins C and K, and is best enjoyed chilled.

However, the fibrous skin that covers the delicious green fruit can be a bit of a nuisance when it comes to being peeled, as it can’t be peeled well with a knife or a peeler.

There is a mind-blowing simple trick to peel a kiwi. All you need is a knife and a regular spoon. Take the kiwi and cut the upper and bottom corners using the knife.
Now keep the knife aside; you would seriously not need it.

Take the spoon and insert it between the fruit and the skin such that the concave side touches the fruit and the convex side touches the skin.
Run the spoon all around the fruit and squeeze the fruit a little. Your deliciously green kiwi would come right out of its skin.

Now you can enjoy it in any form you want.

Happy eating!

Geishas

Geishas

To begin with, I love Japan and everything about it. Love this subject about “Geisha”. I’ve read the book “Memoirs of a Geisha” twice and seen the movie by the same name over and over again. Kimonos, hairstyle, make-up, their life…everything’s is so welcoming. Thanks for the post…

Kyoto

122863896054275831_8wXaxSQ2_cGeishas compared with a Maiko/Geisha apprentice is less showy. A Geisha kimono is usually a strong base color with a simple design and subtle patterns based on scenes from nature or traditional Japanese themes, according to the seasons. Similarly, the Obi / cloth around his waist, as most tend to be brocade fabric of a single color, usually adorned with minimal Obi belts and brooches.

Everyday hairstyle of a Geisha is a relatively simple set of hair. Full-part wigs are worn for formal occasions and dance performances. At the more formal dress, she has a white makeup and wearing a black kimono with five symbols, two front and three at the back. A white-collar under the kimono is a sign of high status Geisha.

Compared to the old Japanese Geisha is a very different life today. The girls become Geishas of her own free will and stay as long as…

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Shiv Sagar Restaurant, Juhu

Shiv Sagar is every veggie’s delight. The location of this restaurant is what makes you come here for more. It is bang opposite the famous Juhu beach.
I’ve been a regular at Shiv Sagar since more than a decade and I still enjoy the same routine – fill my tummy with the veg delicacies served here followed by a mighty walk at the Juhu beach.

They have a vast menu comprising of South Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Continental and Italian and an array of juices and desserts. Shiv Sagar’s “Pav bhaji” is the famous of all. Its a legend. Even chaats, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and pastas are all there.

You will always find the place crowded. But their quick service ensures you aren’t kept waiting for more than 10 minutes. The ambience is warm and seating accommodates from a couple to a family of six or more.
shivsagar2
My every order has to have the legendary Pav-bhaji in it. I’ve also tasted the Butter Idli with sweet dahi, i.e, curds and I absolutely loved it. I also love their Cheese Masala Dosa, Tawa Pulao. For drinks, I always go for Cold Coffee or Strawberry Milk Shake. Sweet Lime Soda is very refreshing.

During this visit, I decided to cheat the Indian menu with the Mexican. So this time it was Mushroom Beans Enchiladas and Spinach Lasagna. I ordered them one after the other. Reason – This was the first time I tried something different in this restaurant. So I wanted to take my own sweet time to savour each of them.
First came the Mushroom Beans Enchiladas which had a tangy flavour. It is pieces of tortillas with mushrooms, beans, sweet corn topped with three different cheeses and served with salsa dip.
shivsagar6Spinach lasagna is again a cheesy delight. Soft wanton coated with 3 cheeses and a mixture of spinach and paneer i.e., cottage cheese in white sauce underneath. I absolutely loved it. Every bite was sinful!
shivsagar8
The pictures are mouth-watering, aren’t they? So were the dishes. I absolutely nailed it with my new order. Finger-licking good!!!
As usual, there was a desperate need for a walk on the beach after this yummilicious meal.

Mumbai Metro – A Joyride

Mumbai Metro is the talk of the town these days. Built to reduce traffic congestion in this severely over-crowded city, it also supplements the existing railway line. The Mumbai Metro has become a pride of all us Mumbaikars. The system began its operations from 8th June.
3 weeks and I was yet to experience this Mumbai wonder. Finally the most awaited day arrived. On Sunday morning, armed with all the gear, we set out for this wonderful Metro experience from Marol Station to Versova.
Once upon a time, Marol was my place of work, commuting by auto. Calling it a “Station” now was something incredible, a bit funny but a lot to be proud of!

The station is welcoming with ice-cream parlours and food counters. Being a Sunday, there a huge over-crowding. What I realized was that, even on a holiday and in that sweltering heat, people were out of their homes only for that Metro experience

Metro3Ticket counters are manned by smart-looking staff with smart uniforms. Nice sight to see! Tickets are pocket-friendly. The station is loaded with security. There are also ticket-vending machines that make life so much easier. Everything is so well-done.

Platforms are clean, bright and well-maintained.
Metro2Coaches are AC with automatic open-shut doors. The seating is comfortable with a lot of space for standing commuters. 
Metro4

Couples formed a major part of the crowd. Sharing ice-creams and sandwiches, spending their couple-time together in a train, travelling back and forth. It gives a different perspective of love altogether. Guess, couples are either tired of theatres, parks and seasides or they’ve become innovative and adventurous with love.

The sad part is, despite automation, there is still a lot of manual work – like extra-long queues at the exits. A guy has to stand at the exit points, check the tickets and then let the people out. This causes over-crowding, pushing and delays. Also there are long queues at the ticket-counters. A person needs to stand at the auto-exit points to guide people and collect coupons.

Being a die-hard optimist, I am sure things will fall in place gradually. People will learn and support and so will the operators of the Metro. After all this is just the beginning.
More than a lac people travel in the Metro. It has cut down a lot on travel time, auto bills and made commuting easy. Above all, it has brought smiles on a millions of tired faces.

My ride in the Metro was a joy-ride…literally! I loved every moment of it, every bit of the sight from those large glass windows…from Marol to Versova. A view from the top. A view I’d never seen before. Felt like a tourist in my own city.
The Metro has indeed added a new page to the history of Mumbai.

Shanghai Streets, Bhandup

I am a die-hard fan of Chinese cuisine. Even a humble egg or veg fried rice satiates my gut. Mumbai boasts of an array of Chinese restaurants. They are so widespread that you make a phone call and you are devouring Chinese at home. There is surely a vast difference between the restaurants that serve authentic Chinese and the ones that cater the so-called Indian Chinese.
We were window-shopping in Neptune Magnet Mall when we came across this small outlet cum restaurant in Food Court. The restaurant was packed and we had to wait for around 15 minutes. The more the wait, the more our expectation grew of our new try.
The seating capacity is not much with around 7 tables closely placed. The ambience scores a 4 out of 10 here. They have an open kitchen.
Shanghai streets 2For starters, we ordered chilly coated chicken which came after 25 minutes. The service here is pathetic. We had to ask for water thrice. There were around 3 guys in the kitchen out of  whom only one person was continuously working. As long as we were there, he was the only one who cooked all the orders. There was one person to take the orders and 2 guys to serve. Out of whom only one was working… working real hard.
Our starters came after 20 minutes.
Our main course was veg fried rice and Thai chicken with mushrooms in red gravy. It seemed liked ages before our main course came to the table.
Last but not the least was our dessert – the honey glazed crispy flat noodles. This was the only order that came in no time, all thanks to the PDA…Public Display Of Anger…
Shanghai streets6The manager offered us 2 pepsis for free in order to compensate the delay.
It was only the food that dint disappoint. The starter was yummy. Chincken was tender and perfectly cooked. Thai curry was mouthwatering and made me go for seconds and thirds.
I did not click pictures of the main course as I was dying of hunger and totally running out of patience.
There is no dearth of good Chinese restaurants in the city. So, to keep up in the race, Shanghai Streets desperately need to work on these areas…specially customer service. They need to remind themselves of the phrase “Customer is a King” everytime.

Choco-coffee shake

I can happily trade a candlelight dinner for a glass of chilled cafe frappe and an hour of chit-chat with friends in my favourite coffee joint. In absence of company,  I do not mind sitting alone, grabbing my frappe and flipping though my novel.
The aroma of coffee is such a mood-booster. And combination of coffee and vanilla icecream in the frappe makes me go weak in my knees.
I am not a great fan of chocolate milk shake, although I’m known to serve my guests with it wholeheartedly.
So this is how I came up with an idea of this choco-coffee fusion and my Choco-coffee Shake was born…
chcoccoffee shakeIngredients:
1 big glass of chilled milk
2 scoops vanilla icecream
1 tbsp coffee ( a bit more, if u are a coffee fan)
3 tbsps Cadburrys hot chocolate powder
Chocolate pieces for garnishing
Sugar (if u need it sweeter)

Method:
1. Blend it all together in the blender and pour it into one large glass
2. Place a dollop of whipped cream / vanilla or chocolate icecream
3. Garnish with chocolate pieces or chocolate powder

P.S. – Wanna avoid adding inches to your waist, skip Step 2