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Mumbai Darshan

Mr R and I had a Mumbai darshan on Monday. Eager to get to South Mumbai “where all the action happens”, we boarded a slow Borivali – Churchgate train. It took us about 45 minutes or so to get to Marine Lines, where Mr R was keen to trace a former violinist who played with him at the BCO. Not having much success, we went to BX Furtado, a landmark institution opposite Metro cinema. Mr R knew the owner and we had a chat with him. The violinist friend we were trying to trace has moved abroad now – so that trail has gone cold.

Princess Street hasn’t changed in years. The old buildings are still as decrepit as before. Winding staircases lead to wobbly, unsteady corridors lined with apartments. Look above street level though and you will see sheer architectural beauty hidden among gaudy hoardings and political banners. The Parsi Fire Temple stands proudly, its cornices and pediment reminiscent of another age.

From Princess Street, we took a walk along Mahapalika Marg. The new subway linking the complicated Metro crossroads is a delight – clean, quiet and safe. May it remain the same always. On Mahapalika Marg, long queues of applicants snaked into the BMC offices, possibly for a job exam.

My college – Xaviers – was still the same. Grey and white stone, tall palms obscuring the entrance, a cross proudly standing on the roof. The vendors outside had been cleared. Gone was the dosa-wallah and the famous sandwich maker in his blue uniform. Wonder what happened to them?

We then took a taxi to Fountain. Mr R was keen on going to Rhythm House to sample their collection of classical music. It’s been many years since he’s made his way there, so I can only imagine his delight. Before shopping, we had lunch at Café Samovar, Jehangir Art Gallery’s iconic restaurant. The no-nonsense food hadn’t changed, only the prices had risen.

Three exhibitions were on in the gallery. It was interesting to see the number of people walking in and taking a look at the pictures. Unusually, these were not the arty types, just ordinary folk, some local, some outsiders all very keenly peering at the abstract acrylics, the tribal art, the blue cats and cows.

Rhythm House was busy. Lots of people in every aisle. Classical music, very surprisingly, was significantly cheaper here although the same labels and companies were represented. At the CD section, we met a charming young man who is currently working with the DNA newspaper. Mr R and he had a chat about music and he left with a stack of CDs, as did we. We’ll be back again.

Living in North Mumbai has distance as its biggest disadvantage. After a short stroll to Gateway (dusty with the ongoing refurbishment), we had to head back before the rush hour began.

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