Mohammed Ali Road – Mumbai Food Hop at Iftar

If you’re in Mumbai during Ramzan, the holy fasting period for Muslims then going to Mohammed Ali Road for Iftari / Sehri has to be on your to-do list. While some of the eateries are available round the year, there is a special fare during the holy month. Everything seems to be cooked with ingredients especially for Ramzan. Of course, there is the flavor of an insatiable appetite in the air the moment you step in.

We decided to flock to the road this weekend and were pleasantly surprised. Minus the crowd. If you’re claustrophobic or are uncomfortable in crowds then i’d recommend going in the wee hours. We reached at 08.30 pm and had no place to stand or walk at times. The good point is that the crowd keeps moving, so you would only be carried around by the sea of people from stall to stall.

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We savored the  mutton rolls and baida roti near the stalls around Hindustan Restaurant. Mind you, some of the best kebabs are outside the restaurant so keep moving till you find a place to sit. How do you know if you’re there? Just look around for skewers of meat colorfully marinated. Chota kebabs and lamba pav are highly recommended. While we were warned that food would be spicy, i surprisingly found that not to be the case. The meats were perfectly cooked and marinated. We moved on to sweets and were flooded with an overload of phirni, malai and the giant malpua. All in all the food packed in quite a punch. I would recommend skipping lunch to make the most of it.

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I have a ready list of places to visit as compiled by Mumbai Boss.

Sarvi Seekh kebab sells out fast; paya (Rs38) served hot all night long. 184/196 Dimtimkar Road, Nagpada Junction. 6608 6347.

Chand Harissa Hyderabadi khichda, Rs30 (from 4pm); tender mutton seekh, Rs25. Until 1am.YMCA basketball court, Mastan Talao.

Nawab Seekh Kebab Corner Seekh with deep-fried parathas, Rs40 per plate, until 3am.Corner of M. S. Ali (Grant) & Duncan Roads, behind Do Tanki police chowky. 99679 87561.

Zaika Juicy tangdi kebab Rs50, until 3am. M. S. Ali (Grant) Road at J.J. Junction. 98212 06285.

National Dry Fruit Stores Dates! “Ayurvedic” herb-stuffed (Rs500/kg) to Basra (Rs100/kg); saffron from Rs160/g. Shop No. 3, M. S. Ali (Grant) Road. at J. J. Junction. 99202 33886.

H. M. Jalil Cold Drink & Juice Centre Year-round source for Swadeshi teetotaler soda Sosyo. 79/83, R. C. Wala Building, corner of Raudat Tahera Street & Khara Tank Road. 2346 2237.

Indian Hotel All-purpose tava joint, from naan-chop (Rs18) to bheja (Rs120). 92/96, Shop No. 1/2, Khara Tank Road. 2346 0687.

Bar-B-Que Corner Takes down its sign and sigdi by 11.30pm, so hurry for kheeri and kaleji (Rs20). Khara Tank Road.

Tawakkal Sweets Malai in many flavours (Rs600/kg) complements a perfect malpuwa. 26, Khara Tank Road. 2346 6360.

Jilani Fast Food Corner Bada baida from Rs30. Shop No. 6, Sana Manzil, 92/95, Pakmodia Street.

Idris Colddrink Sharbat delights like vari yalli (saunf), Rs10. 101, Pakmodia Street. 98202 19035.

Surti 12 Handi Gulam Mustafa’s family recipe from Surat turns a nihari (stew) into a meal, Rs80. 10pm–4am. 12, Gujar Street.

KGN Juice Thick anjeer shake Rs25. Corner of Gujar Street.

Noor Mohammedi Hotel Live goats, Husain original on display; nalli nihari Rs60. 179, Wazir Building, Abdul Hakim Chowk. 2345 6008.

Shalimar Cold Drinks Falooda from Rs22. S.V.P. Road, around corner from Shalimar. 2345 6632.

Suleiman Usman Mithaiwala Classic firni Rs25, flavoured Rs32–Rs34; lurid halwas. 175, I. M. Merchant Road, Minara Masjid. 2346 5059.

Hindustan Hotel Chota kebabs and lamba pav. 2347 6241.

Burhanpur Jalebi Centre Churns out hot, crisp mawa jalebis, Rs160/kg. 27/74, Memonwada Road. 98193 12072.

A list as comprehensive as that would be need at least 3 or more visits i assure you. With Eid just a week away, make the most of the time left and go ahead feed the glutton in you!

 

My monsoon playlist – top rain songs

Wherever one may be, rains have their own way of sparking creativity. Art imitates life in the form of music. So here are my top 5 songs as the monsoon swallows Mumbai in its full fury.

*Especially if you’re stuck in traffic and wondering if you will be waiting until eternity to reach home*

“When the sun shines, when the sun shines.
Rain, I don’t mind.
Shine, the weather’s fine”

Who could have captured it more beautifully?

No, The Doors cannot be left behind. We’re riding through this storm with ’em.

This one’s a balm for the times when not only the rain but the day is also getting on your nerves in general.

Got more favorites? Feel free to add on!

 

Judgemental

“He’s not going to make the cut” / “She’s obviously never heard of class” / “This entire thing is doomed for failure”. Quite often we come across people who are resorting to a quick judgement about people or situations. The way we have been brought up, our society has kind of baked this system in to us. From early school days, parents will be cautious about the friends you make. “Company maketh a man”. Or so they say.

As we grow older, we tend to draw out of our experiences and begin to stereotype people. Notions are widespread about the community one belongs to / experience they bring. Then you have qualitative ones. The kind of people you feel uncomfortable around for no good reason. “I have a bad feeling about this”. Many a times situations prompt the same response.

It’s quite natural for us to jump to conclusions. Some highly opinionated individuals take it upon as their birth right to have an insight on just about everything. Makes me think about how much can one know to really have a point of view about nearly everything. But, what i wonder most is that when people are drawing these judgements and passing them off unaware people, why does it mostly have to be negative? You could also come up with a real positive one. I think one needs to think ahead of themselves, in the larger perspective to really think on those lines. Just to think about it, if all of us were to just spend one entire day appreciating each other, wouldn’t the world seem like a much happier place? To me, it would sure would. Even with the judgement bit thrown in.

Child Sex Abuse – I #PledgetoProtect

CSA (Child Sex Abuse) has been a sensitive topic since a long time. Albeit, i have been an active supporter of the CSA Awareness program that has been running for a while. In our society where its taboo to talk about sex in front of our children, educating them about CSA is next to impossible given the state of our cultural upbringing. Times are changing. So when i received an opportunity to attend a blogger meet organised by Indiblogger centered on this topic, i was more than ready to go. The event was the launch of a new book on the subject, “The Bad Touch” by Payal Shah Karwa. Payal has compiled a set of true stories about individuals who underwent the abuse and emerged as survivors in the true sense of the word.

Quite a few guests were present for this event along with Payal. We had Kiral Manral who is a part of the CSAawareness team that runs the #CSAAM initiative. I had participated in their twitter chat last year where the famous director Onir also responded to some of my tweets amongst others. If you want to know more of the great work they’re doing, you can check it out here: http://csaawarenessmonth.com . Harish Iyer, the LGBT rights activist who himself suffered CSA when he was young was there to shed more light on the issue. Pooja Taparia, founder of Arpan that’s fighting for freedom from CSA also patiently clarified and explained the brilliant work she has been doing at schools to create awareness about the evil that is crippling several children.

The event started by rolling out chits which had certain words written on them. Each blogger had to stand up introduce themselves and read the word aloud. The words were such that nearly everyone had a reaction to what they had picked. My word was ‘Penis’ adn i must admit, i did feel uncomfortable saying it aloud. Later Payal, Harish and Kiran took turns in reading certain parts of the book and sensitized us to what the victims go through. This was followed by a discussion where a lot of us asked several questions on the topic. Questions ranged from legal actions being taken to parents being perpetrators to people relaying experiences where they saw abuse happening but were too afraid to interfere. Some observations stood out clearly. The children who have absolutely no understanding / awareness of CSA become easy targets. Many a time, the child maybe trying to talk about the abuse to a parent & this calls for additional attention from the parent. When you see abuse happening, stop and make an effort to rescue the child rather than walking away. There is a fine line between abuse and exploration. Make sure your adolescent children understand the difference. Guilt is a common feeling that several victims carry. If you know a victim then help them understand it wasn’t their fault. I bought a copy of the book which Payal signed with a nice note. It felt good to talk to her after the show and kudos to the effort she has put in writing about such a difficult topic.

This definitely was one of the most intense sessions i’ve attended. I felt that as custodians of the future we have so many more responsibilities than what we assume to have. Creating awareness about CSA and ensuring that our children are protected is definitely on the top of my list. I #pledgetoprotect !

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Festivities

Come March-April, we revel in the festivities of Navratri. Several people fast through the 9 days for the granting of their wishes or just for the well being of their families. These days of fasting are dedicated to the Goddess. Being from a punjabi household, i grew up with this phase being celebrated twice a year. The second more popular wave come in October, just before Diwali.

As for me, i skipped the fasts to indulge in the special food preparations on the day of Ashtmi. This is the 8th day of Navratri. In most punjabi homes, Puri (Fried Bread), Black Channa (Black Bengal Gram) and Halwa (Semolina Pudding) are cooked and offered to the Goddess first and then to 9 young girls and 1 boy. The 9 girls are symbolic of the different avatars of the Goddess.

Here is a photo of the meal my mother cooked back home. These always make me smile 🙂

Puri-Chole

 

Doubt me not.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd – Voltaire

I remember seeing this quote and wondering if its safe to doubt everything around me. We do feel a false sense of certainty at times and when routine kicks in we fear stagnation. That is a worrisome thought and hence i constantly seek out new tasks or routines to put myself through more experiences. The doubt is that little nudge that pushes me to explore more.

Certainty being absurd according to the witty french philosopher is something i completely agree with. With just six degrees of separation online how frequent it is to come across people you don’t know and connect to work on something bigger. In a city like mumbai where one could face strikes / delays / torrential rains or even more pleasant things like someone returning a lost wallet / helping you find your way back / offering directions its more often to see doubt at the base of things. Maybe we doubt more because we know and understand more. After-all, more perspectives could add to doubt, but the collective view will be of more value than a singular distorted opinion. In a democratic society like ours i must say the elections are a classic example. Individuals more certain of a win are looked at with suspicion. There is no dearth of internet memes surrounding the upcoming voting season.

In my case, i choose doubt more over certainty. Its good to know some things for certain but when you begin to think everything is for certain, then ‘Houston, we have a problem’.

Consistency

“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.” – Alduos Huxley

The quote sparked a bunch of thoughts to my head. Firstly, most of us are looking for familiarity in situations we find ourselves in. We like to think back if we have done this before and wonder how can i do this task better. In short, we are looking for some kind of consistency. In life or in experiences. When faced with a situation we know little off, we begin to feel that this is not the comfort zone and wonder how soon will it be over. Seeking consistency is the mistake we make. Many would like to think of it as stability too. Or as some of us like to think of it as “settling down”.

The second line of Huxley’s quote is a very valid one. Its definitely better to be at ease with change. Rather than stagnating, getting bored and loosing focus i would surely prefer situations that intrigue me. That’s the point that the quote is also trying to make. Why seek consistency? Rather most of the world around us is chaotic and ever-changing. Maybe all we need to do is pause and revel in the present, as it passes us by.

Change

Glancing at my debit card, i began to take notice of my photo on the card. The photo was taken nearly 6 years back. A volley of thoughts began to run through my head. One of the most prominent one being that if i were to go back in time, what would i tell myself. What would be the advise i have in store? Would i look back and change anything? There would be a lot, i could try to do better. Maybe prudence would have helped me at some stages.

But then, i reckoned that no matter what i had in mind, life would have taken its own course anyways. We go about planning, scheduling and over-thinking simple things in life. Only to make them more complicated. Maybe the key is to focus on the journey. We get so clouded by our own set of aspirations that we focus on the destination instead.

Change is always in store. Just when you think that you’re in a comfortable zone, there you’re going to get a jolt. Overtime, we are mended and bent over by consistent bickering like stones that turn to pebbles along the course of a river. But, the important part is that its always going to be for the good. As Andy Warhol said:

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” 

 

Banking in a Jifi!

First off, this was one of my first Indiblogger meets in Mumbai. I have been blogging since the last 1.5 years, so thought i might as well venture in to the meet and see what’s it all about. Let me put it this way, if you thought bloggers are a bunch of nerds/geeks with awkward social skills, then you are wrong! This meet was a tri-city event and we were patched up with Bangalore and Delhi through a live feed. What’s more, they had Chetan Bhagat in the house who made the session interactive and joked about the upcoming movie Two States which is based on his book.

The event was basically organised to launch a  Kotak Mahindra Bank product called Jifi. Now i have worked in a bank prior to this and i must say they are breaking new ground here. Jifi is targeted towards the millennials and basically for anyone who is social media savvy. The concept is based on social banking. People who sign-up are free of balance woes, as they have no minimum balance requirement. The point i liked is that you earn lucrative interest for money above Rs. 25,000 as the bank automatically creates a term deposit for you. So for someone who doesn’t really care to invest and make their money work, this is a pretty good deal. The social media part is plugged in on Twitter. Basically anyone with this account can run a few activities like balance inquiry, historical statements and others. Some of the bloggers inquired about how safe this could be in case someone withdraws or transfers money from their account. To this Mr. K.V.S Manian (Head of Consumer Banking) replied that the services offered do not include transactions. So for the average user like me, i could tweet to Kotak asking about my balance and i will receive a Direct Message with the details, hence keeping my banking details private. Now, though the service is new in India something similar has been done abroad years back. American Express has a service called AMEX SYNC that lets people buy stuff using Twitter. However, from an Indian perspective this service from Kotak is a first. They also have a Kotak MoneyWatch service thrown in to help people like me track their expenses. Plus the more friends you refer, the more social points you stand to earn. These can be redeemed or transferred to friends later.

Adoption levels for a product like this will depend on how people approach social media in general. Many people are bogged down with privacy concerns, so i reckon it may take a while to catch-on. However for people like me who are pretty much online most of the time and breathe social, this is a pretty cool service to try out. I do hope though that they take care of two-factor authentication on twitter. One of the other issues, they should address is people having different email addresses when they sign up for twitter / facebook / banking.

All in all, this was a good event to be a part of. I met a lot of cool new bloggers and got some solid tips from them. Plus the event was hosted at Cafe Zoe which is one of my favorite places in Lower Parel. Now, let me get back to exploring Jifi !

Chetan_Bhagat_Indiblogger

 

PS: Thanks to Indiblogger and other bloggers for re-tweeting and sharing the photo on Twitter 🙂