Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation..also known as the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or the Bruhanmumbai Mahanagar Palika.
A look at Byculla’s history
Byculla was part of the original seven islands that constituted the Presidency of Bombay. It was also part of the first railway line and was, once upon a time, home to the rich and famous. Here’s where you can get a few glimpses into its past:
Quaint Villas and Magnificient Bungalows in Chembur
Where can you find bungalows and villas in Mumbai today? Sigh! All those lovely abodes have made way for skyrises. Well, Chembur is one of those places in Mumbai that still boasts a few age old, Portuguese-style villas and magnificient bungalows. Let's have a sneak peek into the little known, quiet streets of the Catholic colony, Chembur:
24 hours in Kala Ghoda
While it is most noted these days for its annual Arts Festival in February, this crescent-shaped area comes with a rich historical past. Home to art galleries, museums, heritage structures and educational institutions, Kala Ghoda is a tourist's and photographer's dream come true. For a day well spent, here's what we suggest you check out:
An interview with writer Rupa Gulab
Guru Nanak Park,Bandra West
Columnist and writer Rupa Gulab published her first novel ‘Girl Alone’ in 2005. There has been no looking back since. We spoke to her about her work and where she draws inspiration from. True to her style, we ended up with interesting answers and also an explanation about why her Twitter bio describes her as a ‘hyper cola-junkie’.
Is writing something you always wanted to do, or did it just happen?
Rupa Gulab: Always, always, always!
What was the first piece you ever wrote?
RG: My first shot at fiction was a short story about a communist owl called Nostracious Nominovich. I wrote it to entertain my baby sisters when I was a teenager. The first article I ever wrote was published in The Times of India, soon after I was done with college. It was a little humour piece.
You have authored a couple of novels, a book of short stories, columns for newspapers and magazines. What did you enjoy doing most?
RG: I love writing columns most! I never fantasised about becoming an author; I've always wanted to be a columnist. The interesting thing is, my first serialised column in the magazine Cosmopolitan became my first book, 'Girl Alone'.
Your Twitter bio describes you as a 'Hyper cola-junkie.' What's that about?
RG: I'm ashamed to admit that I drink colas the way people drink water. Thums Up is my favourite brand; I will only grudgingly settle for Coke or Pepsi if Thums Up is not available. The sugar rush is what probably makes me hyper and irritable.
You have lived in Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. Which of these places do you identify with the most, and why?
RG: Mumbai. It's the most cosmopolitan city in India, and it lets you do your own thing. For starters, the neighbours aren't as nosey; people are way too busy getting on with their own lives. You don't have to frequent posh places to have great food and great fun. The honest truth is, the food at some of the grungier places is better.
What inspired your first novel 'Girl Alone'?
RG: This is a long story. 'Girl Alone' was a freelance project commissioned by a website called fridaycorporation.com. They wanted to serialise a dating diary. I wasn't willing, at first, but gave in when they showed me the first episode someone in the office had written. I had a giggling fit when I read it. It was obviously written by a man and was so ridiculously raunchy that I felt I had to write it to save women! I made them trash that piece and started afresh. I wrote about six episodes during my lunch breaks at office. For inspiration, I fell back on my early years in Mumbai — advertising and life at the hostel. Sadly, fridaycorporation.com shut down before anything was published. I was so into 'Girl Alone' by then, I wanted to see it to the end. So I went to Cosmopolitan, they bought the concept and it ran for two years.
Do you draw from real life experiences when you write?
Could you list some of your favourite spots in Delhi for a girls' night out?
RG: I never go out at night in Delhi if I can help it! But in Mumbai, Toto's is my go tospot to catch up with old friends.
He claims to be a hard-core non-vegetarian, but can tell you where to find the best vegetarian thali in most Indian cities. Lounging in the peaceful lobby at the Trident, food critic and dog lover Antoine Lewis talks to us about wine and his all-consuming love for great food.
When did you realise you wanted to be a food critic? Is it something you always wanted to do?
Antoine Lewis: I was always interested in food, right from the time I was in school. I thought I’d join the hotel industry because, 20 years ago, that was the only option. I studied hotel management and left within the first year, because I realised I knew a lot more than what they had to offer. I went on to do my industrial training at The Taj, which is when I realised that wasn’t the life for me either. I had a whole bunch of one year careers, working with NGOs, getting my Masters degree. I also travelled, worked in television for a while and had a food show. I also ran my own Indian-Chinese home delivery service.
At the same time, I had also been writing occasionally for the magazine Femina. I approached a couple of publications, showed them some of my pieces and asked if they would like to commission stuff. Some of them were interested. I then approached the Sunday Observer and met the food editor there, who asked me a couple of questions about my background, why I was writing about food and what I knew about it. She then asked me to come back a couple of days later to meet the editor. She took me to the editor’s cabin and said ‘I’m leaving next month, and I think this guy is the perfect replacement for me.’ That’s how I got into food writing full time.
What would you be doing if not writing about food today?
AL: Something with dogs. I have two dogs now, and have had dogs for the last 30 years, so I’m really fond of them.
What is the one local dish you would not recommend to someone visiting Mumbai?
AL: Nothing Mumbai specific, I think you should try everything, I don’t think we do anything badly. But Chinese bhel comes to mind as one dish you could really avoid.
You have travelled a lot, which city would you call the food capital of the country?
AL: Delhi, without a doubt. I don’t know about the one dish I would recommend there, but there is this Korean restaurant called Gung Palace, I think they do the most fabulous Korean food. They have an outlet at Green Park and a bigger one at Gurgaon.
What is the weirdest thing you have eaten?
Last year, I ate fried locusts or fried grasshoppers in a fish sauce, in Bangkok. I thought they were quite tasty. It was no big deal, it tasted like prawn legs really. I don’t know why people are so bothered about insects.
Have you ever eaten anything live?
AL: Alive? Not intentionally.
What has been your best food experience till date?
AL: I think that would have to be my first experience of Ethiopian food, eating injera at the Queen of Sheba in Toronto.
What’s the one food you can eat at any time of the day?
AL: Sandwiches. There are a couple of variations, but my favourite is either ham, cheese, iceberg lettuce, mayo, American mustard and sliced apple or bacon, cheese and fried egg.
You invent a lot of recipes while you cook. What has been your best creation so far?
AL: I kind of adapted a recipe for a Cajun-style sausage rice, using Goa sausages. So far, I think that has been my biggest hit.
What is your favourite Indian wine?
AL: I used to like the Reveilo Cabernet Sauvignon, but that has gone down a bit over the years. I really like the Chandon sparkling wines that were released in 2013. Zampa has done a very good limited release Tempranillo reserve called Chene. I also like the Charosa Sauvignon Blanc and the new Sula Brut which was released in 2013 and that has a different blend of grapes.
Wine has become a huge fad in India over the past few years, What do you think made that happen?
AL: I’d love to say it’s the fault of the hipsters, but that's not really true. One is that a lot more wine has become accessible. I think a lot of women prefer wine to spirits or a beer. I also think it’s because a lot of places have taken to serving wines by the glass, which has helped as well.
An interview with RJ Rohini Ramnathan
RJ, host and intrepid traveller, Rohini Ramnathan has juggled many hats through her career. Although currently out of town, she continues to maintain a close eye on the happenings in Mumbai. Her website Bombil Times, run with the help of a friend, continues to focus on people and events in the city. We caught up with her over the noise of the Internet to talk about radio, theatre and her favourite city. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Where have you been? What are you up to these days?
Rohini Ramnathan: I've been in Singapore! Just realized it's been a whole year since I left the mothership Mumbai and it has been a year of changes. The good thing is I am still on the airwaves here in Singapore with Radio Masti 96.3 FM, Singapore's only Hindi radio station. And I felt rather welcome as I picked up the Best Newcomer Award at the Radio Awards here. So, all is okay in the Ramnathan universe :)
We read somewhere that you started out as a segment producer. What drew you to the mike?
RR: Actually, my first radio job was with Fever 104 FM in Mumbai, where I was initially hired as a content producer. Little did I know that my then boss, Gaurav Sharma, had other plans for me. He was the one who literally thrust me onto the airwaves with the launch of the station and I was a prime time newbie! I have always had a thing for the mike though; it must have started with the plays and elocution in school and then hosting Malhar gigs at St Xavier’s College.
Did you always think you would end up on air? Or in the media world?
RR: Yes. I knew I had very little inclination to doing a 'day job'. I knew if I had to ever wake up at 8 and get to work at 9 all 'dressed up', I would quit the next day. Radio offered my casual side a legit in and being on air was only an extension to being the person I was. Not many people I know are fortunate enough to have their days start at 2pm, right?
Is it as exciting a profession as listeners tend to believe it is?
RR: Ha ha. It is, it is. Meeting celebrities you've adored to talking to random strangers every day and having 'fans' is all the upside. However, music was the biggest perk for me. Being around music all the time was a dream. The other side of the mike is what listeners discount or are unaware of. Many people say to me, "Oh you just work for three hours a day?" And I have to always clarify - "Nope. I also prep my show. Everything I talk about to editing the interviews, lining up tracks to thinking of the games and LOTS of excel sheets!" That is the unglamorous side of radio.
You also have a podcast and a blog about the city, ‘Bombil Times’ going on. How is that different from the radio experience?
RR: Bombil Times actually started as a Twitter handle with gig recommendations by my partner, Afsha Khan and I. It then blossomed into a blog with interview of interesting people we know and started running contests for clients who wanted to associate with us for our sheer reach and dedicated audiences. The podcast was something I always wanted to do — and in Afsha I found a perfect mate to chat with. We aren't alike but we share the same 'middle class mores' about stuff. And laugh at the same things. We've done one season with 12 episodes of Bombil Radio and will do another very soon. Maybe over the phone as we both live outside the city now.
RJing is just one of your skills. You have also hosted poetry slams, emceed on stage and hosted open mic comedy nights. How did these experiences come about?
RR: Again, these were just extensions of the person I am. Give me a mike and I will get you an audience. Give me an audience and I will get them to laugh and share. The poetry and comedy open mikes were started by Sudeip Nair and Kenneth Lobo — two crazy men who said to me :"If we build it, they will come." And they did. That open mic lasted four whole years, took the boring Monday nights away from the usual and transformed them into a space that spawned talents in poetry and comedy who have made it big today. That space was important to the cultural fabric of the city. And I am so glad I got to play a part in it.
What about theatre? Other than occasional workshops at Thespo, did you ever think of branching out into theatre?
RR: I actually owe a lot to theatre as the first time I was on the semi-pro stage in Aamchi was when I was part of a play called Pigs On The Wing at Thespo. The play swept the awards at Thespo that year and I remember everyone in the cast and crew winning an award except me (Ha-ha!) Theatre, however, takes a phenomenal commitment of time, which has been the only reason why I haven't done too much. The play I did act in was this lovely Hindi original written by a very talented poet/writer, Nandram Anand Pandey, called Muffins. It was an hour and a half drama on stage with two actors who are blind folded throughout. It was challenging and different and still has shows in Mumbai to loving audiences.
What are the places that define Rohini Ramnathan’s Mumbai?
RR: You will find me on a friend's terrace in Bandra when I am not at a venue hosting a gig. At the corner of streets in Sion waiting for a taxi for hours. Bumming around a farmers’ market on a Sunday morning. Watching flamingos in Sewri in the middle of May with my radio listeners. Prancing around Kala Ghoda talking to the art exhibits. Grabbing a drink at Blue Frog catching up with my buddies waiting for a gig to start.
What now? Any new projects we might keep an ear out for?
RR: I am being lazy about it, but my YouTube channel will kick off sometime soon. In the meantime, if you miss me on the radio, you can tune into www.masti963.com to listen to my show Mondays to Friday 2.30-5.30pm IST.
the elephanta caves walking tour
4 stops, Easy
Earlier known as Gharapuri, which translates to 'city of caves', Elephanta Island got its current name from Portuguese invaders, who spotted a huge rock-cut statue of an elephant here.
Story: Election battle comes to a head as Mumbai prepares for poll day
The city is preparing to see out the last of the campaigning for the 2014 elections. The week will s...