Usually whenever he calls on the way to an airport, it is mostly on his way to some other place. Hardly ever Delhi. And this time he comes back for good. It’s like I need to slap myself to figure out it’s for real!
It’s amazing – this feeling of vaulting over the moon and back. Especially since I have been working hard.
On a desperate last-minute cover crisis, I had to fly to Bombay last week. I had in mind a filmmaker. Surprisingly he agreed to the interview while every other individual was falling through.
Travelling, unavailable, shooting, impossible public relations executives -- there was never enough reason to get me pulling at my hair. Don’t ask. I was at the pinnacle of frustration.
On Thursday afternoon I was on the afternoon flight to Bombay where I landed and immediately fell for the city all over again.
There is a je ne sais quoi about Bombay (however much you hold its humidity against it!). Could it be the sometimes quaint alleys that remind me of Calcutta, the old-style architecture at places or the good-natured bustle about it? It is difficult to put a finger on that something.
My evening started with shopping at a Bandra store that surprised me with lovely floral dresses and jumpsuits and consequently at an ethnic shop where friend S and I browsed minutely through the clutches, tops, kurtas, rings, bags they had on the shelves. Oh the high of mindless shopping!
Now S lives in Pali Hill that has lovely cobbled pathways. I think it charmed me straightaway. After downing some fizzy lemonade at a tiny coffee shop, we hit the roads smoking Menthol Rush and talking nineteen-to-the-dozen as dusk gathered.
That was when S suddenly spotted an old school friend of hers across the road, walking at a brisk pace with some woman. Old school friend G turned out to be an aspiring filmmaker. While they were chatting, I was amazed to suddenly see above-said woman trotting away into the distance. In the meantime G invited us to his pad for an intimate gathering of friends and the promise of a vegetarian dinner (which of course extracted evil cackles from us).
He also recommended we sit at Elbo Room nearby. So we walked down there. It turned out to be a small bar even though I had expected to be a teeny weeny shack – given the fact that they promote it as a singles’ bar and encourage singles to frequent it. Nonetheless I noticed only groups of friends and couples. The music was up my road – fun pop and rock -- and the menu was cute. We guzzled away on beer and munched on Fish Orly.
Two pints and we decided to hit G’s place. The idea was to get under the skin of his woman friend and let out the bitches in us. “We have been good girls most of our lives A. Let’s do it,” said S.
So soon we were standing at the doorstep of this flat in Pali Hill with a row of Chinese lanterns lighting the narrow corridor. The door opened in a second and I instantly thought B-grade actress M! In a very sexy cocktail dress with cowls and a cavernous back, M led the way in.
Thereafter I was entirely asinine. G plied me with another mug of beer. I didn’t find it in my heart to say no to a host. Though it turned out M was the host (they are clearly in a live-in and he refuses to talk about it openly). I have this sneaking suspicion that she was the vegetarian.
It was a gathering of six. One of them turned out to be a bellydancer who also farms organic vegetables on a certain rooftop in Bombay (people never cease to amaze me with their entrepreneurship) and another a Shakti yoga teacher.
The evening was surreal as soon I piled my plate with loads of linguine. Mistake.
The first bite and I wanted to scream out. There being no cheese to counter the overpowering taste of the pesto in it – it was akin to digging into linguine with turmeric. Plus the dishes had all organic vegetables -- the likes of which I have never heard of. One of them being Marca. That's the only name my beer-sozzled brain could latch onto.
Yes, I need sympathy. S refused to help me out with it after one forkful And she insisted I finish soon.
Meanwhile having got on quite a bit with the beer, I was in a strange complimenting mood. I started with the Chinese lanterns, carried on the appreciation to her wine goblets and did not even leave the terrible linguine alone. Let this suffice: Sheesh!
The next morning I was off for my interview at Andheri. But not before S made me watch part of the ghastly film, A Nightmare on Elm Street. I cannot imagine that it is the nth remake of the 1984 classic. So after watching a serial killer called Freddy Krueger flaunt his four bladed talons for like eternity (though in truth it was barely 40 minutes into the film) and dipping into yummy cheesy and caramel popcorn, I was off.
The interview itself lasted two hours. Said filmmaker was great to talk to. I have this vague notion that he is a womanizer too. He quizzed me as no one I have interviewed has ever. Then it so happened my collegaue asked me to confirm whether he has a happy eye!
But my afternoon began as I made for Carter Road.
There is this point where the road from Saint Mount Mary Church suddenly dips into the sea. The sight of the vast expanse of shimmering silver waters in the distance -- it made me catch my breath.
S met me at the Café Coffee Day on Carter Road and after tucking into a light lunch there, we tucked into Theobroma fare right after. Needless to say we were gagging at the thought of food. We tried out Theo’s Vodka Chilly Cake (disappoints) and a tiny cupcake dressed up with beautiful swirls of salted butter (thumbs up). The platter of cupcakes in fact put me in mind of little fairies in flimsy dresses flitting by and putting little cupcakes on the counter for us.
It was my second evening in Bombay and the last. S took me to Carter Road where we sat watching the sun set into the sea and lovers sitting on the black rocks. But then suddenly S had a brainwave.
The doggie park on Carter's Road . It was doggie lovers’ paradise. There were all sizes and shapes of dogs. Fat labs to surprisingly friendly boxers called Attila, rescued strays sitting seriously in a corner because they were new to the park and hence feeling shy, and adorable Irish Setters who couldn’t get enough of sniffing up chocolates. Sigh.
I am back to my longing for Bombay phase.