After a 16-hour flight, I arrived after midnight in steamy hot Bombay, a city that is always awake. Once at the Taj Lands End hotel, I slept like a baby on those fine Rajasthani cotton sheets and woke up to a stunning view of the Arabian sea, waves crashing on the rocks along the famous Bandstand area across from the hotel. (The Bandstand is where some of my favorite Bollywood movie stars live, and so every time I left the hotel, I found myself all starry-eyed, hoping for a glimpse of the greatest, most glamorous actress, Rekha.)
My first day started with a hearty breakfast of a masala egg-white omelet, fresh fruit and coffee. I had a meeting with my friend Max at the hotel’s coffee shop and then a typical vegetarian Gujarati lunch with my friend Siddharth at his beautiful and serene studio on Juhu Tara Road. I spent the rest of the afternoon hunting for fabrics, both new and antique, from Kalaniketan to Saroj Fabrics to Mughal Moments and the merchants depot. I found things that were really exciting and unique in colors that I have never seen before. That evening I went to Aurus, Bombay’s most hip and chic restaurant with a menu out of this world. I called it an early night, as I had a flight the next morning to Orissa, where I was going to see my family. I could hardly wait.
I arrived just in time for lunch at home, with warm mutton Biryani and onion raita waiting for me. Good Biryani is one of my most favorite Mughal dishes. I spent the afternoon with Dad catching up on the last 18 months and visited some of my favorite places, including my beloved tailor, Ability, whose family has been in tailoring for generations since the British Raj. I gave them a reorder of white cotton shirts and some slacks, which they had to turn around in three days and they did. Evenings I was mostly with my two young nieces, Esha and Roma (14 and eight), out shopping and munching on delicious street food like pani puri.
During my last two days in Orissa, between the newly arrived monsoon showers, I went shopping for local arts and crafts. I found some amazing silver filigree objects. (Silver filigree and the traditional ikat fabrics are two of the crafts that Orissa is famous for.) Then it was back to Bombay for a few days and some spare time for inspiring visits to several modern Indian galleries in Colaba, where I saw some beautiful Souzas, Hussains, Khers, all art heroes in India. My trip ended with a nice dinner with friends. It was hard to say goodbye to India, but I know I will be back very soon.
Mahesh Lunch Home 8-B Cawasji Patel Street, Fort Mumbai, Maharashtra, India 022-2287-0983
Aurus Juhu 12/A Gr Flr Nichani Kutir, Juhu Tara Road Juhu, Mumbai, India
Saroj Fabrics 14th Road, Khar West Mumbai, Maharashtra, India 022-2600-0544
FabIndia Mahran, Plot #16, Juhu Vile Development Scheme Vile Parle (W), Mumbai, India 022-2620-6339
Editor’s note: Designer Bibhu Mohapatra returned recently from a vacation in India.