In the bye lanes of Kala Ghoda

Like many Mumbaikars Hubby Dear thinks that anything north of Mumbai is North India and sadly I am beginning to understand why he feels that way. There is a distinct charm of the island city that is still palpable  in the bye lanes of the Kala Ghoda neighbourhood. With its art galleries, museums, colleges and stand alone stores, this part of Bombay that was once dominated by a black equestrian statue of the Prince of Wales and is now in the Mumbai Zoo still manages to hold your attention as you walk through.

Over the last week I’ve had several opportunities to visit the Kala Ghoda precinct, a place I was once familiar with during my student days at Elphinstone College. Unfortunately over the years this once prestigious college has declined into a sub optimal institution and the once hallowed corridors that were filled with students filled with wonder are now filled with students who are just interested in getting a degree and getting on with life.

Image from Zomato

But while one part of the neighbourhood has deteriorated, another part has been re-energised and the tiny back lanes behind Rhythm House are now once again fascinating streets where one can find some of the magic that was Bombay. A recent discovery has been the  two restaurants that I’ve been dying to visit – The Pantry and Mamagoto. While The Pantry is a quaint reproduction of a Bistro offering basic European style food it can hardly be called fine dining experience. But it has a nice young feel, casual and peaceful and is definitely worth a visit  on a wet day when the Shepherd’s Pie is the closest you can get to the original. It was while I was looking out of the window at the Pantry that I found myself staring at Mamagoto, a restaurant I was trying to locate on  Google Maps and which now seemed just a hop skip and a jump away ; I was tempted to make a dash for it in the light drizzle especially since  the waiters at the Pantry were taking  their time to come our way but decided to keep it for another day.

Image: Avantika Saraogi

Just across the tiny gully from The Pantry was Masaba Gupta’s haute couture store which was empty of both customers and garments. Effects of the end of season sale? But apart from the fact that there weren’t any clothes my size, I thought that  the fabrics were too flimsy and chindi looking for the price. And with everything in Large and Medium sold out, the only option was the Smalls which obviously didn’t meet my requirements. Add a Sales Lady who wasn’t interested in any sales or service and you are bound to get a customer who walks out empty handed. Obviously Masaba is not meant for middle aged women !

Further down the street towards the main road is the Bombay Shirt Company specialising in customised shirts.

Image from Peepul

Image from Google maps

Right next to Trishna and across the Kala Ghoda Cafe was another place that I’d wanted to visit – La Folie a chocolaterie opened by Sanjana Patel who has trained at Hermes. With such an impeccable pedigree I wasn’t surprised at the  delectable fancy chocolate confections but a strong smell pervading the atmosphere that was distinctly not cocoa was a bit off putting and distracting from the pure  enjoyment of  my Infinite Caramel  (which was largely spent in trying to identify it). I may have got it wrong but I thought I detected turpentine and linseed oil.

Next to La Folie was another designer outfit store but having been disappointed by Masaba, I did not want to even venture in . The designs in the window were quite attractive and I would have visited the store if I really was interested in looking for something…..

Image from store website

But another store that caught my fancy was  Filter at VB Gandhi Road near the bright Blue Synagogue which had the quaintest and quirkiest stationery, prints and art works . This is a veritable treat for design freaks who are looking for Mumbai gifts with a difference.

Image: Vogue/Ankita Chandra

What used to be the main attraction of this part of the world (apart from the highly over rated seafood restaurant Trishna) is the Sabyasachi store which has now relocated to the main road at Ador House. It was quite a trek there especially with a baby in tow who threatened to throw out his pacifier on the squishy, rain drenched road but the Alibaba magic inside was totally worth it. Like my grandson I was taken in by the dark red walls with chandeliers and ticktocks on the walls and the wilting roses  that added to the charming vignette frozen in time

If you are looking for a relaxed walkabout a quiet neighbourhood in South Mumbai,  go beyond Rampart Row and enjoy the charms of an age long past. Even on a grey day when a slight drizzle kisses your cheeks with its gentle rain drops.

Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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