As the title of this blog suggests I am extremely audiophilic. I am simply crazy about good music (and I have no qualms about stating this very often 😛 ).. Mood Indigo is the Annual Cultural Festival of IIT Bombay and it is pretty much the largest Cultural festival of India, attracting participants and artistes all over the world. I love MoodI because of the amazing music concerts it has. Wasn’t disappointed this year either.MoodI day 1 had these wonderful treats for musiclovers:
- MI Studio : This was a fusion music recital featuring two unique and extremely fascinating instruments, the Jaltarang played mesmerisingly by Sandeep Dicholkar and the Hang played by a Slovenian gentleman whose name eludes me. Ragas played on the JalTarang were Kirwani and ShivRanjini. The Hang ( I didn’t know such an instrument existed until I actually saw it ) can be used to play rythm as well as melody. The Slovenian gent’s dexterous fingers did such an amazing job that it almost felt like two instruments being played in sync, one rythm and the other leads(melody). This ended with an amazing jugal bandi of the two instruments.(loosely based on ShivRanjini)
- Trania and Snehashish Majumdar: Trania, a 3 member band collaborated with Mandolin and guitar player, Snehashish to create some fantastic jazzy Indian Classical (yes, it is as amazing as the name sounds 🙂 ). Snehashish who has been playing Classical raagas on his guitar/mandolin since a long time teamed up with Trania to jazz up the atmosphere with novel improvisations. Definitely a #win
- Talavya: Talavya as the name suggests, is about ‘taala’. This 5 member band headed by the son of Pt Divyang Vakil, takes tabla playing to a new level. With four tablas and one harmonium, they played a rich variety of taalas (rythmic cycles), including vilambit, madhya lay, dhrut and finally ending with a superb crescendo of ati-dhrut. A sonorous harmonium melody (desh raag I think) kept playing in the background giving the tabla playing a good melodious base.
- Pt VishwaMohan Bhatt: Vishwa Mohan(winner or more appropriately charmer of the world) indeed, he is a living example of what human genius can achieve. Pt Vishwa CREATED the instrument he plays. Adding many more strings to an acoustic guitar (taking the number from 6 to 20 !), he designed the ‘Mohan Veena’ or ‘Slide Guitar’. He played Raag Maru Bihaag beginning with a slow aalaap and then increasing the tempo gradually, soaring gracefully to the dhrut and finally with a ‘gamak'(which was an ode to thunder clouds, he evoked the sound and feel of the thunder, rain and lightning in the most amazing way possible). Next he sang (yes, he can sing too, wasn’t aware of it before) a Maand, Kesariya Baalam, a folk song from his native Rajasthan. Then came two beautiful numbers from his Grammy award winning fusion musc album, ‘A meeting by the river’ (collaboration with Ry Cooder). Pt Vishwa signed off with Vande Mataram and Jana Gana Mana. Mohan Veena totally rocks ! 🙂 And Pt Vishwa is a true ‘Sultan of Strings’ (Dire Straits fan 🙂 ), he looks like one too and he plays like the Greatest Sultan Ever !! Only two of my friends I know appreciate and enjoy Classical music as much as I do, both of them were out of town. Had to go alone therefore, nonetheless, enjoyed it thoroughly.
I had always wanted to read this book, but was always daunted by the size of it. Not that I am afraid of big books, but I prefer to begin reading them when I know I can read them slowly and peacefully, taking in a page, savoring it and then musing on its splendor (well only if it is a book worth savoring, of course 😉 ) Shantaram is one book definitely worth savoring. This almost autobiographical account of an Australian gentleman (the writer, Gregory David Roberts, once the most wanted man in Australia for armed robbery 😛 ) traces his journey through life after he escapes from his high security prison cell and ends up in Mumbai with a forged passport. He befriends his travel guide, Prabaker and explores the famous (and the not so famous) places of the city, falls in love with a pretty but mysterious woman,Karla, visits the travel guide’s village at his behest and ends up spending six months there, gets rechristened as ‘Shantaram’ (as he is blessed with peaceful happiness according to Prabaker’s mother), gets drunk and robbed of all his money on his way back, and ends up living in a Mumbai slum. Even after making enough money to get out of the filthy slum, he continues to live there and develops a deep and unexpected connect with the people there. Eventually he is befriended by Abdel Khader Khan, a mafia boss (fondly known as Khaderbhai, and an intriguing character himself). I have read only this far, and it has been one hell of a ride ! I am really looking forward to know how the story unfolds. The book has amazing pieces of thoughtful musings and words of wisdom that keeps reminding Shantaram to rise to become the man who he isn’t but indeed wants to be.. Here’s a couple of such pieces:
“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.”
“Love is the opposite of power. That’s why we fear it so much.”
I had some work to do with friends in CST on a Saturday morning. And what better excuse than this to check out the unexplored spots of the city. Imromptu plans were made and soon we were on our way to this quaint but very popular hotel.
This place is one of the oldest and most well known cafes in Mumbai. Leopold too was set up by an entrepreneurial and (I am guessing) foodie Irani gentlemen in 1871. This restaurant was one of the unfortunate targets of the dastardly terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008. Wounds of that fateful evening still remain on the cafe walls. But that perhaps is a symbolism for the spirit of Mumbai. No matter how badly she has been hit in the past, she just refuses to give up.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you get hit, but it is about how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward”
Seen here is one of the bullet holes
This interesting contraption is something they call a ‘beer tower’ This 5 feet tall cylinder is filled with.. wait for it.. yes, BEER !! 😀 Fill your pints according to your pace. We curiously stared at the tables hosting this mammoth, quite a few of them got drained before we expected. Leopoldians surely love their beer.
Psst.. I am a teetotaller, so I had to settle for this little Mocha Frappe, which was absolutely yummy.
My friends ordered a Club Sandwich which had huge portions of chicken sausage. They claim it was the best club sandwich ever. The restaurant has a very lively feel to it and is a great hit among foreigners, the menu too is very international but caters to Indian tastes also. We finished with the ‘Leopold Special Cheesecake’ for dessert which was definitely the kind of dish you would want to go to Leo again and again for.
Leopold is one of those restaurants in Mumbai that have retained a distinctive character and aura. Everything that you see here right from the glasses, plates, beer mugs have a history of their own and speak volumes about Mumbai and her cosmopolitan and welcoming character. Definitely a must visit place.
Name : Classic
Place : very close to Don Bosco School, Matunga
This place is very close to my college and I was rather surprised that I hadn’t eaten here even once, my friends were much more surprised than I was and decided to drag me to Classic then and there without any further delay.
Classic greeted me with a heavy aroma of spices and strong flavors generally used in dishes that Indians like to call ‘Chinese’. It is definitely one of the better fastfood joints in Matunga and I was told by my friends that their Pav Bhaji was to die for. I went through the menu (which offered plenty of choices), nevertheless I decided to take my friends’ suggestion. I wasn’t disappointed at all as the Pav Bhaji indeed turned out to be quite something. Mumbaikars I feel absolutely love their Pav Bhaji and being the thorough Mumbaikar that I am have eaten this quintessential Bambaiyya dish at many places. Restaurants that manage to pull off this delightful dish with finesse automatically win my respect. Classic got very very close to that, if not bang on. The Bhaji was very tasty and well prepared. It came with a dollop of butter, (like Bhaji always has, and always should 😉 ). The Pavs too were generously buttered and fresh. My friend ordered the Jain version of the dish (Jains don’t eat onions, an extremely important ingredient of Pav Bhaji or any tasty Vegetable dish for that matter). I tried some of his Bhaji and believe me, it was equally delicious as the normal one, if not more. #FoodieDelight knew no bounds.
On the bad side, the restaurant was a little congested, the waiters could have been a little more affable and the service surely wasn’t the best I had seen.
So here goes the report card:
Taste : 8
Ambience : 7
Service : 6
Value for money : 8