March 25, 2023

10 reasons Bombay is my City No. 1

Elphinston college bubbling up

It's feeding time, folks

CNNGo, the new city-pulse website from CNN has a great piece on Bombay – 50 reasons Mumbai is No. 1 – and it got me all choked up and nostalgic about Bombay (like I need a reason).

So here I am, with my own reasons on what makes this the city I love so much – top of the list has to be what I miss a lot in Bangalore – street food. So here goes, an ode to Bombay…

1. Food of the streets

The chaats and the pav bhaji, the vada pav and the special kulfi, the garam bhutta and the tingly gola, the malpua at Mohammad Ali Road and the fresh mango with ice-cream at Bachelor’s… Really, you can’t blame me for putting this right on top of the list.

Work in progress

Anytime snack

Go Gola!

[Earlier: Who is a foodie? Not me]

2. First monsoon shower of the year

Waiting impatiently all summer in anticipation of the baarish, the first smell of wet earth of the season, the first drive to Marine Drive in the pouring rain, the first Sunday at home with chai and snacks watching the rain outside the window, even the first traffic snarl (which means, the rains are definitely here!)…

[Earlier: Bombay baarish]

3. Sunday Lonavala drive for a long, lazy lunch

Windows rolled down, the feel of the wind on your face, the smooth drive on the expressway, vada pav at Khopoli, the seasonal waterfalls all long the way, the almost-invisible valley covered by mist views, and finally beer and food sitting on the charpoy at Sunny’s dhaba…

Matheran greens and greys

4. See you again next year, Ganpati

Saying welcome and goodbye to everyone’s favourite elephant, the festival season that begins in August and ends only after Christmas, the smell of mithai and hope in the air, the shopping and more shopping, the diyas and the lanterns, the disco dandiya and the zig-zag of the stock market, Khotachiwadi at Christmas and Mohammad Ali Road before Ramzan…

The big G!


[Earlier: The farewell party, and Puja and pandals]

5. Dabbawalas and the six sigma business sense

Prince Charles or no Price Charles, a keen sense of business and entrepreneurship, home delivery and platform shopping, quiet efficiency and a willingness to stretch, customer delight and all the small things that lead to it…
[Earlier: Mumbai’s Dick Whittingtons]

Colored water, colorless bubbles

Rings of fire

[Also read: Clockwork couriers]

6. Death by shopping

Dadar phoolgalli, Crawford market, Chor Bazaar, sandals at Linking Road, silver earrings at Colaba causeway… old books at Fountain (or what is remaining), cottons at Fashion Street…

Phoren foods

[Earlier: Crawford market calling]

7. Trot of the black horse

Walking up and down the Kala Ghoda district during the arts festival, camera in hand, an eye open for the quirks that make these ten days such a fun time in Bombay – ‘made in chaina’ tea glass installations, palmists and fortune tellers, buckets and mugs heaped into a hill – the stuff that plastic hell must be made of, photography exhibits and ‘sketch-your-face’ artists… And during these cool months, also the Bombay festival spread all over the city, the kite festival at Shivaji Park during Sankranti…

Poised for take-off!


Ready to take off

[Earlier: Winter in Bombay, and Pongal and pattam]

8. Evenings at the seaface

Marine Drive, Bandra reclamation, Worli Seaface… the walkers and the vendors, the breeze, the bhutta, the furtive lovers, the screaming children on rickety merry-go-rounds (oh, the kind of things acceptable under the head ‘nostalgia’!)

To each his own

Intent on work...

[Earlier: Scenes from Worli Seaface]

9. Celebrity spotting and staying cool – to walk into the Marriot and try not to stare (from “hey look, Salman Khan – he is realllly short” to “hmmmm, I know that face…”), to Rakhi Sawant walking out of the gym near the Lokhandwala Mocha and coveted passes to premieres and award shows, and finally making the pilgrimage to Mannat each time a friend visits Bombay…

The stars shine bright

10. South Bombay by night

When the city is finally getting ready to sleep, the lights still on at Flora Fountain and the art deco buildings of South Bombay, sitting on the low wall in front of the Hilton at Marine Drive waiting for the cops to drive you away, running to Churchgate after the late show at Sterling (in the days when it was a theatre, not a multiplex – and had the best caramel popcorn in town) to catch the last train to Bandra…

[Earlier: Let me count the ways]

Under the stars

I miss Bombay… so what are the things you love, not love, miss about Bombay?

3 thoughts on “10 reasons Bombay is my City No. 1

  1. Charu…you have made me nostalgic !!! snif…snif….i even miss the kerchief ladies (and guys)…who used to sell in the train !!!

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