As the sign proclaims, it has been open since 1951 and on my radar for the past 15 years . Even though Mumbai is not famous for its “winters” , a walk before sunrise in December can be a chilly proposition. So , one morning after a brisk walk by the sea side, we were dying for a hot cup of tea. This was in the days before Barista and Cafe Coffee Day when the only option available was a cup of tea at an Irani or an Udipi joint. We tossed a coin and stepped into Yazdani and back into time.
While the rest of the city was sleeping, this bright blue bakery with white- turned- cream trimmings, had its wood fired ovens burning and was ready for business. With posters from the 50’s adorning the wall, the high ceilings with slow moving fans, glass cases with breads, puffs, biscuits and breads, Yazdani smelt ofwarm yeast rising. We sat at one of the formica topped tables lined up like railway wagons and the crusty owner who manned cash counter shouted out ” Bai ke liye ek bun maska!” to the insides of the establishment.
This sign along with the photographs of Mr. Universe ’51, ’52 and ’53 along with photographs of the owners’ grand aunt who was the first Indian woman hockey player and the photo of his nephew who recently won a body building competetion adds to the quaint eccentricity of Yazdani.
Irani Bakeries are part of the Mumbai scene and each one has a unique charm. While most have now spiffed up, there are still a few remaining with the original bent wood chairs, chequered table cloths, and strange injunctions ( do not ask foolish questions, do not ask for directions, do not sit for long). They provide a haven for tired soles ( and souls) which comprises an assorted clientele of office goers, college students, cart pullers , lawyers , the hippie tourist and even the thirsty shopper, who all mix comfortably in their dusty surroundings. Most serve the standard fare of “bun maska” and chai or khari and chai, omlettes, guady coloured cakes and pastries, sandwiches or rolls with lurid yellow mayo squishing out.
While I would recommend Yazdani early in the morning, anytime is brun pao maska time especially at Yazdani. So the next time you are in Fort and looking for a hot cuppa to cheer you up, you know where to go.