Sunday, 7 October 2018

3 cafes in Mumbai that are perfect for writers



As writers, we all have our individual rhythms and unique processes that stimulate us to create an original piece of work. Some find stillness in chaos; they do some of their best writing when surrounded by a medley of sounds. For others, music helps them clear their minds and start putting pen to paper. And there are some for whom it is about being in an environment that sparks their creativity; which could be a veritable mix of soothing sounds and calm surroundings.

For me to get into ‘the zone’, it helps to have an amalgamation of chaotic calm and visual aesthetics to transport me elsewhere. I need to be at a place that’s well-lit and the sounds around me are at a minimum. So, I constantly seek places that help me write in peace. My pursuit of the ideal setting for writers to find their rhythms, I’ve found these cafes in Mumbai that fit the bill.

The Taj Mahal Tea House, Bandra
The Taj Mahal Tea House is a great place to spend hours at end. Tucked into a quiet street in Bandra near the Mount Mary steps, this white bungalow stores gorgeous vintage furniture speckled in shades of blue, white and chrome. It is always bustling with interesting people from all walks of life, which can boost your creativity as a storyteller and add nuances to the characters you write about.



For those looking to work or simply a quiet place to read, there are several cosy spaces as well—some even have rocking chairs for added comfort. What I love most is the classical music played in the background. They often play instrumental music, which is quite soothing and helps me with my writing process.



If you love tea, you’ll be spoilt for choice. They have a wide range of options to choose from; be it milky masala chai or loose-leaf teas. I personally love their Parsi Mint and Kashmiri Saffron milky teas. They are very flavourful and always consistent in taste.


They also have one of the best High Tea spreads I’ve seen. A traditional three-tiered stand with scones filled with strawberry cream, petit fours, devilled eggs, tiny tarts and finger sandwiches. All of which is super delicious; which is admittingly rare. They also have an in-house store from where you can pick up gourmet tea, a range of tea cups and other tea accessories, as well as a small selection of baked goods.

Quick tip: Go during the day if you want to grab those quiet spots to do some writing or reading.
Address: Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House, 36/A, Sanatan Pereira Bungalow, St John Baptist Road, off Chapel Road, Bandra (West)
Phone: 1800 - 102 - 2221 | Email: contactus@tajmahalteahouse.com
Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Pantry, Kala Ghoda
My go-to place when I need some peace and quiet is always The Pantry, situated in a tiny by-lane in the Kala Ghoda area. It is the perfect place for solitary writing. Once you step inside, it’s easy to leave behind all the street noises and bustling crowds. There are only 10 tables in the café, ensuring it doesn’t get too crowded. It has an inviting ambience that is accentuated during a daytime visit with natural light streaming in. You can sit by and ponder your musings and concoct stories while listening to some European musical notes.



The overall design is minimalistic as its walls are bathed in pristine white bedecked with sea green and gold accents. I particularly love their French windows with laced curtains, and the shelves on the wall holding vintage items.



The staff is very courteous, which gives you a homely feeling. In promoting a healthier lifestyle, all their offerings are organic and most of the ingredients are sourced from farmers directly. Their menu comprises a range of filling sandwiches, vitamin-boosting juices, organic coffees and teas, healthy mains, indulgent waffles and yummy baked goods.

Quick tip: There is a small table tucked in a corner where you can sit by the window to collect your thoughts.
Address: Yeshwant Chambers, Ground Floor, Military Square Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort
Phone: 022 22678901
Open from 8:30 am to 11:30 pm

The Tasting Room, Lower Parel
Located on the first floor of the Good Earth store at the Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, The Tasting Room is probably more frequented than the store itself. Glistening chandeliers and chic mirrors will catch your eye the moment you enter, and the rustic walls covered in paintings will draw you in. The wooden tables surrounded by chair cushions in geometric patterns complete the look. Every piece of décor here exudes character; even the cutlery and table mats are handpicked from the store. The vibrant décor can inspire colourful narratives and transport your story to vivid landscapes; painting your characters in different hues.



The eatery is in a loft-like space with the tables spread widely across the floor, creating pockets of quiet spaces allowing you to slow down and unwind; translating your thoughts on paper. They serve a wide range of coffees and teas together with elegant platters of appetisers and hefty mains. In the evenings, they serve high tea as well.


Quick tip: Try and grab a corner table near the window for a cosy, quiet spot.
Address: 11-12 Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat, Marg, Lower Parel
Phone: 022 24951954
Open from 11:00 am - 8 pm

This article originally appeared in Lonely Planet India in June 2018
https://www.lonelyplanet.in/articles/18999/three-best-cafes-in-mumbai-for-writers

Monday, 21 May 2018

Honesty in travel


Are we always honest when sharing our travel experiences? Do we say out loud that we didn’t like a place? Or that we didn’t understand why a certain place was so revered by travel enthusiasts and writers alike? Do we always share details about how much we hated a certain medium of travel?
I don’t think so. So much of what we read about online or even discuss with friends or colleagues is so cheerful and full of stories detailing great things that happened. After all, you don’t want to be that person who hated visiting a particular destination. How can you show any less enthusiasm than what is expected of you?

Why are we so afraid to be honest? Will it taint our vision of a destination? I don’t think so.
Just last year, I had some epic failures when travelling. I set out to go to Manali and stay in this beautiful Airbnb property, but the bus I booked from Delhi to Manali was cancelled due to riots in Haryana sparked by followers of spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim after his arrest. And just like that, my entire trip was cancelled. Thankfully, Airbnb was gracious enough to refund my payment.
I tried making my way to the mountains a second time after a month, and failed, yet again. After spending six hours on the road to Nainital, I was told by my Airbnb host that the rooms at his property have been sealed by the authorities and I won’t be able to stay there—probably one of the most random things that I have faced. Twice, my trips got ruined. But there wasn’t much I could do about it; I just made the best of the time I had.

It made me realise that travel was never meant to be easy or always be a source of sunshine and sparkle. It was meant to be tough and enjoyable in equal measure. When you travel, you face numerous challenges—big and small—and navigating through them ultimately makes your journey more fulfilling. When you travel to the mountains, the tough terrains you cross are eventually rewarding in the landscapes you discover. When you find yourself lost amid the by-lanes of a tiny town, you may be rewarded by meeting complete strangers who become friends for life. It is these unexpected discoveries that make travel so memorable.

So find joy in getting lost and be honest about things you dislike. Travelling isn’t always perfect, but that’s how you collect the best stories.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

TRAVEL TIDBITS - Run For Your Bun Café, London


Work it to earn it—that’s how you’ll get your meal at this unique café in London. Launched with the aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle, Run For Your Bun Café offers nutritious meals for which customers have to pay in the form of exercise.

Photo by David Lloyd Clubs


Once you arrive at the cafe, you place your order at the counter and receive a receipt with all the exercises you need to do as part of your assigned workout. The six-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout includes exercises that range from sit-ups and lunges to squats and jogging on a treadmill. There are personal trainers at the cafe that check if you've completed the exercises; only then do you get your meal.

Photo by David Lloyd Clubs


Far too many people today are leading sedentary lives; eating junk food and being a couch potato. This café is a great initiative in encouraging people to focus on maintaining good health and well-being. 

Free meals, healthy food and fitness—do you really need more reasons to visit?