The most wonderful ham and cheese sandwich ever with a side order of Mumbai Special Nariman Point food memories. On turning seventeen at the Trident, Nariman Point

The most special ham and cheese sandwich ever. Oberoi shopping arcade
Mumbai, 22nd October, 2018

I met K for the first time in the year 2000 at the turn of the century. This was at work in an ad agency which was located at Nirmal, an office building at Mumbai's Nariman Point. 

This was her first job. It was my second and I had joined it after moving out of the market research agency job that had got me to Mumbai from Kolkata.

Now why should this bit of personal trivia be of interest to you, you ask?

Well, you possibly would not have been reading this post had it not been for this turn in my life so it might be worth your while to read on.

From the cab on our way back home from the Trident.
My favourite stretch to drive down or to walk in when I was
new to Mumbai. It still is.
Marine Drive AKA the Queen's Necklace

K and I slowly got to know each other over lunch break outings from work. We would go to the pav bhaaji guy opposite our office building. He made his pav bhaaji from scratch once one placed an order with him. It was so fresh.

Occasionally we would go to the dosa-wala, who had his counter on the footpath beside the pav bhaaji, guy for Mysore dosa with the red coloured stuffing. 

When feeling indulgent, we would go to Rajesh juice-wallah for mango milkshakes in season and grape juice and strawberry milkshakes during the rest of the year. 

At times, we would walk down more to Bay Bites, the Parsi run shack by the sea, for the Kashmiri pulao dal or to the Mafco stall beside Express Towers for mutton Kolhapuri or the chicken fried rice or to the Status Annexe for paratha and veg korma or to the 'Air India' cart opposite the Air India building for fiery mutton sukha and porotha, to be doused by glasses of Mewad ice cream fruit custard to follow. 

When we had time in hand, then even further to JATC at Churchgate for a soup and an egg sandwich

I would eat. She would not, as she did not believe in lunch then. We would both talk though. Talk a lot. At least I did!

Exceptions would be when we went to the the sandwich-wallah outside our building for cheese chilli alu toast to start the day with. Or to the bhel-wallah in the lane opposite our office. Bhel puri for her and sev for me. She would eat then, but then those were not technically lunch outings.

Then there was the ham and cheese sandwich at the Oberoi in the evenings. Not the hotel of course! We could not afford that on our account planning executive and copywriter executive salaries.

This was at the counter outside what we called the pastry shop at the Oberoi Hotel shopping arcade and was actually the delicatessen run by the hotel. We would often go there in the evenings and share a ham and cheese sandwich. We would try to wait till it was after 7 pm or so when they would be sold at a discount. Our faces would fall if the ham and cheese sandwiches were over. 

When we did get manage to get them though, we savoured every bite of the promise of the good life that these sandwiches offered.

Another favourite from our Nariman Point days was the vada pav-wallah in front of the LIC building where we would stop for vada pav on the way back from work as we walked down together to  the Churchgate station. 

One day I 'expressed my feelings' to her while walking down this road. And popped the question soon after. All on the footpaths of Nariman Point.

Then K got a job in another ad agency and moved a bit north of Nariman Point to Kemp's Corner. We got married soon after that. Then I got a job in the market research agency I used to work in earlier and moved base to central Mumbai.

That's when our Nariman Point story ended. 

The street food stalls disappeared soon after too after a clean up by the civic authorities. JATC at Churchgate shut down. As did Bay Bites. The Status annexe is still going strong I believe. You can't keep a Shetty down as they say.

A few years later, I started writing this blog and here we are eleven years later, you and I, connected through  this blog.

The idea of starting the blog had come to my from K. She had named it too. Which is why the story of how we met is indeed relevant to you. 

You would not be here reading this post hadn't she and I got married seventeen years back!

These days they say that blogging is not just about enjoying the act of writing. It is all about relevance they say.

Well, now you know why this piece of personal trivia was relevant to you.

Bringing in number 17 at the Special Bay View Suite of the
Trident, Nariman Point

A majestic welcome back to Nariman Point from the Trident Hotel

We had checked into the Trident Hotel at Nariman Point on Sunday to bring in our anniversary on Sunday night through a short staycation. It used to be called the Hilton when we worked next door. This was the first time that we were staying at this hotel even though we were well acquainted with its lobby (!) and the shopping arcade thanks to the ham and cheese sandwich. 

The uninterrupted view of the Arabian Sea from our suite. I strongly
believe that this sea is what drew me to Mumbai and what made fall in
love with it two decades back

We were in for a surprise and it seemed as if the folks at Trident had gone out of the way to give us a royal welcome back to Nariman Point

They had offered to upgrade us to a bay view room when I booked our room. 

'Best room in the hotel,' said the lady from the front desk who walked us up when we checked in and boy, it sure was one. It was not a room. It was a suite, and not just any suite. 

The 'special bay view suite!' 

The Special Bay View Suite at the Trident, Nariman Point

It was the largest hotel suite that we have stayed in till date and we have had the good fortune to have stayed in a few. It was so large, that the converted Mumbaikar in me began imagining how the suite, which had a massive bedroom and an equally massive drawing room, two bathrooms, a kitchen area and a walk in closet, could be converted into a 2.5 bedroom apartment. 

That's what twenty years of living in space starved Mumbai does to you!

          A short video that I shot of the room. Needed 5
          takes & a jog before I could fit it as an Insta Live

For the next twenty four hours or so, we sunk into the luxury of the room. 

I could not stop peeping out of the windows of suite, as each window spoke of a happy story from our past.

From meeting at a 4th floor office there to hanging out on the streets
of Nariman Point to the 32nd floor of the Trident. Such a long journey.
Aren't you a food blogger, you ask?

We did enjoy some very good cheese and crackers and juice and coffee in the lounge during the cocktail hour the evening we checked in. 

I had a most amazing Eggs Royale, with perfectly poached eggs and the perfectly proportioned  Hollandaise sauce, at Frangipani at the Trident during breakfast on the morning of the anniversary and a beautiful croissant too. Eggs Royale has salmon in it unlike the Benedict which has ham, as I learnt from a pesky twitter troll once years back who was then bent on poking holes in every tweet of mine. Very few places that I have been to across the world mention it as so though. However, at the very classy Trident, 'eggs Benedict with smoked salmon,' would not do. The menu here specified it as 'eggs Royale.'

A Royale morning at Frangipani

We were most tickled when members of the staff came to our room with our fourth cake of the stay and flowers and sang congratulations to us. 

We went to India Jones where the hotel hosted us to lunch and enjoyed the perfection of the cooking of the seafood on offer there. We had earlier had dinner here in 2009.

Down the arcade of memories

On the way to the Oberoi Deli, 22nd October, 2018

We wanted to check out early in the evening so that we would not get stuck in the evening traffic back to Bandra. 

However, I insisted to K that we should go to the 'Oberoi cake shop' to say hello to the ham and cheese sandwich. We walked down the alleys of the shopping arcade from the Trident to the Oberoi, past shops selling Kashmiri shawls and which looked the same as they did back then, and up escalators till we reached the cake shop.

Yes, the sandwich counter was there. I did not see the ham and cheese sandwich though and my face fell. K asked the person at the counter if there were any and thankfully they did have them inside.

K treated me to a ham and cheese sandwich which we shared like we did back in the day. It cost around Rs 500 now to Rs 150 in the early 2000s.

We sat at the snacking area outside the Oberoi counter while we had the sandwich. The place looked exactly the same. This was evergreen stuff.

I took a bite of the sandwich and marvelled at the exquisiteness of the thin slices of soft white bread,  the quality of the thin slices of ham and of the thin slices of excellent cheese, all livened up with a wee bit of mustard, and felt ver, very proud. For that's when it struck me that this was the most special ham and cheese sandwich in the world ever in my book. The balance was so right. And it tasted so good.

And that's when I also realised, that I am one lucky man for sure.

With everything that's special in my life

And more

Here is our Nariman Point story as told by the windows of the Special Bay View Suite of the Trident, Nariman Point.

The building  with the scaffolding is Nirmal where we worked. Opposite it was the pav bhaaji,
dosa, juice and bhel stalls. The Central Bank building was where my late father in law worked.
He was a fan of the juice and dosa guy. Down the lane and right was Bay Bites
Air India and Express Towers. Skirting them were the 'Mafco'
and 'Air India' stalls
Some perspective below. The queen's necklace at 9.30 am from our suite on the 32nd floor on our anniversary and then at 11.30 am without the haze. A reminder that things work out if we are patient and do not give up.

The Oberoi Trident arcade walk to the Delicatessen

The seating area

The sandwich counter. It has other snacks and meals too. Happy hours start
at 8 pm now I am told

That's the Deli or the cake shop from outside
From the counter at the Oberoi Deli. In the early days of our marriage, we would
spend a king's ransom from a very tight household budget to buy these meats
to cook at home

The cake reminded me of one that I had bought for K's first birthday after we
had got married. It was a mousse cake and I had carried it all the way back in
a train. Cost me around Rs 600 then I think in the early 2000s

A peek into the Special Bay View Suite at the Trident, Nariman Point:



The bed looked on to our old office

Some of those at the Trident who made our stay special

The happy aniversary singing team

Team India Jones

With Mallika Gowda just before we left. I had first met
her at Oberoi Gurgaon. She has moved to Mumbai now
and made this amazing experience possible

The food

The only person to ask for an OJ at the cocktail
hour at the lounge. It was brilliant though

Eggs Royal at Frangipani

Steamed grouper, pork belly and steamed jasmine rice
India Jones
Prawns done three ways and very well each way
India Jones

Nothing to do with the hotel but a school friend from Kolkata, Tito, sent me this
clip when we were on our way to the hotel. The blog has got featured at Ei Samay
from TOI in Kolkata. Thank you for the love folks.
Since we share the anniversary month, here's a post on the blog turning eleven this year.

While on the topic of sandwiches:

Do read this article by Vir Sanghvi on the ham and cheese sandwich
Do listen to this podcast by Simon Majumdar on the history of the sandwich

Simon wrote the foreword to my book, The Travelling Belly, and Vir, the cover blurb. Now, aren't I the lucky guy as I said before?