The first ever Finely Chopped Walk at Bohri Mohalla, Mumbai, 1st December 2012…a social media case

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Sort of tired, with a flight to catch decided to type in a quick walk post, opened my mail & I see this: 'Are you so exhausted from the walk that you haven't had the strength to write about it on your blog? Been waiting to read about it since Saturday (late) night! I hope it went well? '. I had to write

You might have been wondering why I haven’t blogged for a while.

I did have things to write about and then there is my mother’s post which you are waiting for me to upload.

I didn’t post anything as I was using the blog as a billboard. I was busy planning and conceptualising the first every Finely Chopped Walk. The one at Bohri Mohalla.

I posted about it and created a page too. Then for a week left those untouched so that whoever came to the blog would see them and get to know about the event.

The walk finally happened this Saturday.

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The blog posts were not the only ‘marketing’ one did. Every evening I would pick a photo that I took on my iPhone during my two recent trips to the Mohalla. Trips made to talk to the folks there. Plan the best route. Arrange things for the walk.

I would then upload the photo and weave a story around it. Put it on the Finely Chopped Facebook page an that would go on to twitter too. I would do this religiously every night. Almost to a fixed schedule. The idea was to create an interest in Bohri Mohalla. To bring out its mystique. At the end of the story would be a ‘coming soon’ note and then, once plans were finalised, a link to the posts putting up details.

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That’s not the only publicity one did. The walk actually made it to the papers and how!

I was chatting with Rashmi Uday Singh one morning and I happened to mention my walk plans to her. She asked me for details and then bang it was on her column in the Bombay Times. No wonder I call her my Lucky Star these days. of course she barely reads blogs thanks to her schedule, and is not on Facebook, so she won’t probably know what I have written about her but if you do Rashmi, you are the prettiest of them all and the sweetest too. Marilyn actually.

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Then Harshad and K converted the post I had written into a shop poster at my request. There were two cafes in Bandra that I wanted to put these up given the clientele they attract. The owner of one, a friend, the other I didn’t know till. I wrote to both and both agreed immediately.

Thank you Arpana and Anil. It was an honour to have the Finely Chopped Walk posters up at Gostana & The Bagel Shop. Thank you so much for your support.

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I was lucky. This walk owed itself to a lot of folks. To Shaili & Shivi who over many sangrias at Bonnie & Jit’s insisted that I do a walk. To Simon Majumdar, who when we first met, was full of plans for me. Maunika, Anurag & Kaniska who gave me ideas on the specifics of the walk. Rushina, who does Masala Trail food walks, and shared here experiences to help me plan.

A bit of a buzz happened as folks begun to click ‘like’ on the walk posts and stories, share them and retweet them. A couple of examples from facebook:

Rhea Mitra-Dalal shared Finely Chopped's photo.

26 November

Go discover the best street food of Bombay with Kalyan, a foodie who's made my city his too :)

The details of The Finely Chopped Bohri Mohalla Walk

Jyotika Purwar shared a link.30  November near Mumbai

Im going.. are you? http://www.finelychopped.net/p/finely-chopped-waks.html

I tried to keep the stories going rather talking about the event and pushing it. All along trying to talk about the Mohalla and its people rather than the just the walk.

Being on social media meant being accessible through waking hours. Keeping the conversation going. With those who were interested and wanted to know more. And with those who wanted to know why I had put a price to the walk.

As I said, I managed two trips to Bohri Mohalla in between all this. One before Moharram. One after. In both occasions talking to the folks there. Telling them what I wanted to do. Getting to know their stories, making more discoveries. Eating. Photographing. Skipping like a child at his grandparent’s during the summer holiday.

By the end of the second visit it was difficult to say who was more excited about the walk. The Bohri Mohalla folks or me.

It was almost as if the whole of Bohri Mohalla was waiting to welcome its guests.

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That’s what happened on Saturday when we finally did the walk. It was almost as if the entire Mohalla came together to be a part of the team organising the walk.

The Bohri Mohalla Walk wouldn't have happened without the hospitality of the Mohalla. A very special mention of Hatim Uncle who let us use Taj Ice Cream as the meeting point, waiting room, bag drop room & end point. The folks at Feroz Farsan & Tawakkal Sweets who networked among themselves as they put the goody bags together and put it into the bags I gave them along with the letters I hand wrote for the participants. Then there were the folks at Haji Tikka’s Bar-B-Que & Haji Mohammed's Indian Hotel who laid out tables for us, answered our questions, did cooking demos. Shabbir Uncle who graciously let folks taste all his achars and didn’t let us pay him for it. The folks at Imadina bakery who, though it was closing time, let us marvel at there wood fired oven . Valibhai's son who was waiting for us & did a bara handi demo. He greeted us with a big smile and ‘said I’ve been waiting for you for so long….hope you didn’t eat too much’. Then there was Mohammed ‘Channawallah’ and his beautiful ‘Bombay special’ gurda kaleji plates and the young pulao guy's amazing dishes. The Calcutta Fetwallah who remembered me from two years back and took out a feta (cap) for me to wear as we posed. The raw garlic cart guys who let us photographs and gave us recipes. The elderly Muslim gentlemen who gave us quasi-Ramayan lessons as they explained the difference between sitafal, hanumanfal, ramfal and other forms of custard apples. As we walked there were folks running across the shops making sure we could move at ease. Then there were all the strangers who kept smiling warmly at us & made us feel at home. And of course a special mention of the adopted son of the Mohalla, Kurush Dalal, who once introduced me to it all.

What a place to start the Finely Chopped Walks!

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And what a wonderful set of people to walk with!

Very positive, very enthusiastic, very patient. Not one who said they would come ditched after confirming. The idea was to keep it like an outing among friends.

I wanted to keep the group to 6 to 8 people.  We ended up with 9 wonderful souls!

Some I knew from before and were friends. The others I interacted with through mail, text, dm or facebook after they signed on so that we were not strangers when we met. The qual researcher in me came to the fore as I did a quick round of warm up introductions when we finally all met and sat down in Taj Ice Cream. Was lucky that the folks though hungry, indulged me.

Designers, a lady working with the mentally challenged people to make them independent, proud moms & plucky eaters, a doctor, food bloggers, a researcher on chicken dishes in India, a copy writer, a TV food show director, banker, a curator of gyan on the web, a sports internet marketing pro…Maharashtrians, Sindhis, a Mangalorean, Half Bengalis, a Parsi, An American, A Gujarati from a vegetarian family, a UPite..we had all types of folks in the group…and all moving around as if they always hung out together. You wouldn’t realise that most had met for the first time

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So what did we eat?

Well I was too excited to eat myself and later came home hand had a Mama’s Cup’O Noodles at 3 am but for the rest there was patrel biryani at Feroz Farsan and then a farsan sampler, samplers at Shabbir Chacha’s pickle shop, gurda fry, chicken roll, alu tikki & naan at the Indian Hotel, khiri & kofta and kaleji and paratha at Bar-B-Que…gurda channa and kaleji channa at Channawallah’s. Mutton pulao and sweet rice at the pulao guy’s. Nalli, sukha mutton and paya with nalli and roti at Vallibhai’s and then, to end it all, a sancha demo and then fresh fruit ice creams at Taj Ice Creams.

patrel biryanikaleji channa  mutton pulao nalli nihari bara handi

K marvelled that I was not tired at the end of the night but truth be told, I wasn’t. Nor was there any backache or stuff. I could have done three more walks that night.

So here is the list (in no order) of folks who joined the very First Finely Chopped Walk….Anurag, Archana, Manisha, Vishal, Jayashree, Pushpa, Chris, Jyotika, Shubhra…and well Kainaz too…her first time here…as we realised when we came back home, we hadn't done a group photo so this is the closest that we will get to that.

I had thought I could do it alone. At the end of the night I realised I couldn’t.

As Jyotika said, ‘Kainaz was such a wonderful napkin holder/ keeper of accounts/ no one tagging behind keeper/ Sous guide... etc.’ Yes this is one walk one couldn’t walk alone.

And thanks to all of you who made this possible.

So what next?

Well, as they used to sign off in the old Bond films, '”Finely Chopped Walks will be back with the Fort Parsi Walk”.

Here’s some of the feedback on the walk.

A beautiful blog post from Pushpa on the walk 

On twitter:

Shubhra Chatterji@shuchatterji Food coma and how! Can't wait to share pics and deets. Also, my first bara handi experience! Also, BURP! And thank you,@Finelychopped!

Manisha@SassyFork What a fun and exceptional walk @Finelychopped organized...never done anything like this ever before!

vodkaholic@vodkaholic And kudos to @Finelychopped for such a well organised tour of Bohri Mohalla's food gems. Stomach and soul are at peace tonight. :)

@vodkaholic Back from an absolutely awesome evening spent with enthusiastic folks at the first ever Bohri Mohalla Food Walk conducted by@Finelychopped

Facebook:

Manisha: Smashing time last night at the Bohri Mohallah walk organised by Kalyan and Kainaz Karmakar....discovering a new city within Mumbai city and trying grilled khiri,kaleji,gurda,heavenly pulao and hand churned strawberry and sitaphal icecream

Jayashree Coutinho: Had an awesome time last evening exploring Bohri Mohalla at the first ever 'Finely Chopped Food Walk'. From meaty delicacies straight off the handis and tavas to the wonderful fruity ice-cream at Taj Ice Cream, it was a food trail well worth one's time. Thanks, Kalyan Karmakar, for organising this and for being a fantastic guide. Here's to many more walks in the future.

Lots happening in life right now part from the walk. ‘It’s the most beautiful time of the year’ as they say.

Heading to Jaipur in the morning to participate in the Social Media Manthan as a guest of Gaurav Hajela.

Was featured in the pro versus punter restaurant review section in the BBC Good Food India.

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Also happy to be part of the Chowzter group of bloggers from across the world who will help bring alive their food favourites from their cities.

chowzter

 

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