It’s almost May 19th! That was the date I officially moved back to Delhi after graduating and in June I was working on job number one. By July, this blog was already under construction, and by August I was had been employed full time. It seems like yesterday because of all the years, this one seems to have been the one that flew by the fastest. This also meant that the number of breaks I got were minimal. I love working and I have this problem where I need to be doing something other than passively consuming content. Like, I think going to movies are a waste of time (if the movie is not something I desperately want to see). In fact, I usually go to watch movies as a way of socializing with people and not just for the movie itself. I also can’t watch TV. I have to be doing something else other than watching TV. There are times that I start a new show and don’t actually finish it because it’s taking away too much of my attention from the work I “should” be doing.
Time off, therefore becomes expensive and rare. I haven’t had much time off other than short trips to cities and concerts nearby. This recent trip to Bombay was the first time I was away from home for 5 days with very little time devoted to work. A cousin from my mom’s side was getting married and so the whole family came together to celebrate. We flew to Raipur (#destinationwedding) for the first two days of events, that included the actual nuptials of a Hindu marriage and a wedding reception (a party of sorts for people who couldn’t make it to the wedding) in Bombay. Being so close to the family and finding reason to actually get some time off, our family of three decided to attend all events possible, traveling from one city to another with many Agarwals alike.
Raipur was a great time for family bonding. Family members flew from as far as Singapore to a city on the cusp of being considered tier two. We spent all of Wednesday recovering from sleeping for only four hours the night before; selecting a song to dance on; deciding that my mom, her younger sister, and I will dance on the song Radha; and actually learning almost two minutes of dance moves. The rest of the night was beautiful — spent on judging food, people’s clothes, and two minutes of agonizing embarrassment on stage, gyrating to forgotten steps executed discordant to the rhythm that it offended.
The rest of the wedding was in a word — busy. I spent a lot of time laughing, and not logging in my carbs on My Fitness Pal. Friday, my dad and I flew to Bombay for the reception on Sunday. Between Friday night, and the event, my dad and I spent a good 24 hours exploring and reminiscing his prior interactions with the city.
Juhu at Night
We landed in the city on Friday in the late afternoon and by 7 pm were at Juhu eating at Mahesh Lunch Home. Mahesh has been a family staple. Ask any extended family member for seafood recommendations and Mahesh is the one unanimous answer. Dad remembers it from its less glitzy (read: tacky) times when it was a lot more modest with price, portions, and spices. Filled to the brim with vegetarian food and naan from the wedding, this meal was purely protein and fat. After devouring prawns with sol kadhi; a barbecue pomfret with chilled Hoegaarden; we ended the meal with the smallest crab in a modest butter garlic sauce. The food was genuinely amazing but having cooked fresh seafood in the recent past, it was interesting to see how much spice Indian seafood recipes tend to have. They drown the overall flavor of the protein making it all about the spices than that ocean taste that is synonymous with a fresh catch.
A walk on the beach with dad talking about running in the morning on this beach and eating Kala Khatta, was the perfect end.
About 24 years ago, my mum and dad, freshly married, moved to South Bombay to live with my grandparents (maternal side). My Nanu worked at the State Bank of India which gave him pubic sector perks such as apartments with views to the Arabian Sea from their terrace. Dad lived there for a couple of years and we spent our day reminiscing his Bombay.
We began with Jehangir Art Gallery — a fairly small selection of art with live exhibitions where artists sit with their work. Interestingly, one of the art teachers from my high school, Sourabh Sir had an exhibit at the gallery as well. Even though he was there I didn’t really say hi which I do regret but it was more about my introverted nature to construct a conversation where there doesn’t need to be one. Regardless, people who did go to Aravali and are in Bombay — go check him out! This then moved into us sucking on raw mangoes and walking into the CSMVS Museum. Here’s the truth — I don’t like museums because they're either too Eurocentric and indicative of the massive amount of wealth small pockets of people have been able to hold on to. Like reading who has donated to a museum annoys me because it seems less like something done from the goodness of one’s heart and more of a minor bribe to keep plebs happy. This museum too had that same feel. Most of the floors were resplendent with donations from major wealthy Mumbai families with the Tatas leading the pack. My dad loves history and never have I ever see him spend so much time in a museum before. I think purely for that reason, apart from the genuinely beautiful exhibits, was why I think that this is a must for tourists.
We walked around after this with no big agenda. It was 40 degrees outside and we were just roaming the streets with dad telling me about the places he would go to buy music cassettes and the bus stops from where he would take the bus, train, and bus again to reach the airport where he worked. We ate Lebanese food — something Delhi really needs, cooled off with beer and hookah for a couple of hours, bought an Italian pasta maker, and walked along Nariman point to reach the apartment that 24 years ago was his interim residence. After walking 13 kilometers we uber-ed onwards to dinner.
Ever since I have been back home, Bastian’s Instagram feed has been a source of constant carb cravings. With s’mores cheesecakes and animal sauce, Chef Kelvin Cheung serves a classic Californian American Asian meal. We had charred salmon sushi, charred octopus, and cocktails. By far, Bastian’s cocktails have been one of the best I have had in India with only competition from AD Singh’s Olive and Grammar Room. What really impressed me was the octopus. A mess of protein and veg charred on the top with what looked like a broiler, though it could have been torched as well. The octopus and veg had a lower temperature which was complemented with the warm cherry tomatoes that, while usually scald your mouth as a topping on pizza, added the right amount of heat to increase the overall flavor with each bite. The michelada was nice but I would have added a shot of tequila and triple sec to really make it potent. Overall, Bastian offers good neo-American food. Nothing fancy but definitely unique to the space they occupy.
Bombay was a great tiny vacation. I actually quite liked the duration of this trip. With increasing airline miles accrued this year, I see myself coming back for a weekend. See you soon, pretty city. ❤️