I left office feeling all nostalgic about Calcutta and Flurys after I read Scarlett's lovely post about our evening there last Friday.
Reached home. Realised that I hadn't got the house keys. Flustered. K said she'd take an hour to leave work. Then I had an eureka moment and headed to Bandstand, one of the two Bandra promenades, to kill time.
I remember Bandstand from ten years back when I was new to Mumbai. There was no promenade then. Just a dirt track. A place for people to come and drink, for couples to canoodle in cars with rolled up tinted windows and, like many seasides in India, a public toilet for slum dwellers.
Since then both Bandstand and the nearby Carter Road have been converted into lovely promenades and are popular places to hang out.
We 'often' (relatively speaking) go to Carter Road to walk. Bandstand's more of a stretching out place though.
So off I set to Bandstand carefully nursing our geriatric six year old Santro ... chubby, jumpy and temperamental, a gas guzzler who has the family appetite. I felt like John Grogan towards the end of his lovely book, Marley and Me.
I wasn't too hungry.
I headed first for the chaat/ paani puri stall. You will never catch any self respecting Bengali eating paani puris. I customised mine to get my Calcutta phuchkas. So I asked the moushi (aunty) at the stall to make it with just a potato stuffing, no onions or boondi (gram flour balls), with chilly powder, only the sour tamarind water, and no sweet water. Voila. Follow this and you get yourself a Calcutta phuchka at Mumbai. Slight difference though. I had ten phuchkas for ten Rupees at South City, Calcutta on Saturday. In Mumbai, fifteen Rupees bought me only six!
I ignored the tempting smell of deep fried samosas, the luscious multi coloured drinks and the healthy corn on the cob or grilled 'bhuttas' and walked on to the sandwich guy.
I first ate Mumbai 'sandwiches' in front of Eros Cinema at Churchgate. Fell in love with this grilled ketchup, chutney and butter doused vegetable sandwich. In its purest form the vegetable sandwich consists of oodles of butter, beetroot, cucumber, boiled potato, onion rings, tomato slices, cheese in twp slices of bread, doused with butter, grilled in a hand held grill (a little box attached to a rod) on an oven. Eating it is a nice comforting, warm, motherly, tummy filling experience.
I began chatting with Shaheen who owned the sandwich cart at Bandstand. He had moved in 28 years back when he was one. He was in this business for fifteen years. And had seen Bandstand change from a sleazy drinking den to a promenade with a Taj Hotel.
I crossed the street to the Barista. There is a Coffee Day beside it too but I am a Barista fan. I decided to sit and blog there for a while. I couldn't see the sea but could feel the sea breeze gently massaging my shoulders after a hectic day at work.
In case you are wondering about the three cups in the first pic in the post, they were not for my imaginary friends. I wanted a decaf coffee with water and a spot of milk. I didn't want a cappuccino. So the helpful guy at Barrista got me a decaf Lavazza espresso shot with hot water and steaming milk on the side. I put the three together and had a lovely coffee which reminded me of the solid, earthy kaffes that I had at Switzerland recently. Loved it.
Then K returned and I came home and finished this post, my first on my new writing chair.
Incidentally, apart from Shaheen the sandwich guy, two of the Bollywood Khans, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, live at Bandstand. As does John Abraham.