On South Bombay

Back in the 90s, South Bombay was a wonderful Cocoon. I lived happily in a series of buildings-from Sagar Sangeet to Jolly Maker II and Oyster. Lunch was at Trattoria and dinner at Crystal, a small restaurant on Chowpatty that played Talat Mahmood or Kishore Kumar and that could be followed by strawberries and cream at Bachelors, still responsible for my girth. Anything north of Crystal was north Bombay, from where unwashed masses came to South Bombay in trains.

South Bombay had everything. If Veena Sahasrabuddhe sang early mornings behind the army navy building, Kishori Amonkar would be at the NCPA. Maybe you had to go to Nehru Center to listen to Vilayat Ali Khan. YB Chavan showed all the Kasaravallis and Bergmans thanks to some movie club. Rhythm house had the music, Jehangir had the art gallery and the Strand bookstore was never far off. One could discuss Wittgenstein or Algebraic Geometry with someone at TIFR, while admiring the old Krishen Khannas and Gaitondes on their walls.

The only time I ever ventured north was to a bookstore called Lotus in Bandra (which sadly no longer exists), or to eat pongal-avial in Madras Café in Matunga. Poonals were available at Giri stores, just in case avani avittam was around, or parents suddenly decided to visit.

So, while one mourns what has happened to South Bombay, one also realizes that people should know when to enjoy a city (or a country) and when to get out: When wealth is replaced by just survival.

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