Visitors take “selfies” at Café Leopold, which first opened its doors on the busy Colaba Causeway in 1871. The café was extensively damaged by gunfire and grenade explosions during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Mumbai – Been There

A place to stare without shame

Photo by Dinodia Photos

Mumbai – Been There A place to stare without shame

I am savoring my tap beer at Café Mondegar in Colaba and staring at the people seated around me. That’s something you can do in Mumbai without shame, even when within elbow-touching distance, as nobody here is bothered with anybody else’s business.

Sheema Mookherjee
Sheema Mookherjee Travel Writer

Space is at a premium in Mumbai, and so is time. So everybody goes about their work in these close confines, detached but focused on what they are doing. A student turns the pages of his CV and explores his job prospects eagerly with an older man. Three colleagues are taking a lunch break, while going over the discussion they have just had at a client meeting. A group of women friends file in with shopping bags and sit down to pore over the menu stuck securely under the glass tabletop.

The only person at a loose end is a distinctly British gent. I take the liberty of asking whether he’s here as a regular or a tourist. It happens that he’s come on a recommendation by a guidebook, since Mondegar is a south Mumbai landmark, along with the neighboring Café Leopold that was made notorious by a terrorist attack in November 2008.

I prefer Mondegar to Leopold because the atmosphere is more laid-back, the waiters more friendly, and the walls more bright with a larger than life mural by the late Mario Miranda, India’s favorite cartoonist. I order a spicy, cubed steak or “pepper steak boti” but note sadly that the meat is stringy buffalo rather than cow. There has been a recent ban on cattle slaughter by the state’s right-wing government. The jukebox is a popular feature here and favorite Mumbai melodies by Michael Jackson, Jim Reeves and other pop legends waft through the air.

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2-mumbai01-dakowicz

The city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India’s financial powerhouse yet home to some of its biggest slums. Around 19 million people live in the state capital of Maharashtra, with its complex mix of wealth and poverty. Photo by Maciej Dakowicz

Maciej Dakowicz

Maciej Dakowicz

Canon EOS 6D

Aperture
ƒ/2
Exposure
1/5
ISO
1600
Focal
35 mm

The city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India’s financial powerhouse yet home to some of its biggest slums. Around 19 million people live in the state capital of Maharashtra, with its complex mix of wealth and poverty.

 

 

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