Once you’re done gaping at the newly-restored Ismail Building and rifling through 50,000 square feet of faded jeans and off-shouldered tops at the spectacular new Zara store, take a walk through the neighborhood’s other (Fountain) pens.
Paan at Volga House: Your Volkswagen Betel is parked right behind the Zara store, where greying maestros make their own “rasiya mawa” and have been doling out paans the size of a baby’s face for at least sixty years. Do try not to get stains on your new pussy-bow blouse. Volga House, Islam Building, Nanabhai Lane, opposite Akbarally’s. Rs 20 for a saada paan.
Mixtapes at Eros A-Z Video: Think of the young gents who run this “DVD” store as fairy godmothers who’ll make you mixtapes - on a USB drive, of course - and help you watch The Young Pope (which, yes, isn’t streaming anywhere in India yet) and pretty much any other show on your wishlist. Ground floor, Yusuf building, next to Akbarally’s, Veer Nariman Road, prices vary.
Ghosts at St Thomas’ Cathedral: This Anglican shrine puts the “church” in Churchgate, the “cathedral” in The Cathedral & John Connon School, and is 299 years old. Its beautiful chapel is filled with memorials to long-dead Bombayites, some immortalised in lavish marble statues. Drop in to spend a quiet hour with Rear Admiral Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland, Captain George Nicholas Hardinge and friends. St Thomas’ Cathedral, Horniman Circle.
Your Grandma's Chairs At Details: Don't be deterred by the profusion of smiling wooden frogs and lilypad nursery tables at the venerable DC Batliwala's furniture rental. Behind them, find Art Deco closets and jolie-laide sofas from your parents' days, all to rent. (Don't miss a backroom where you may find your next chair hanging from the ceiling.) Details / DC Batliwala & Co, 12, Homi Mody Street.
Shorthand at Davar’s College Of Commerce: The typewriters of their famous school have fallen silent, replaced by chunky black desktop computers, but Davar’s still offers a four-month course in shorthand, so you can be your own best assistant. Note also Davar’s “finishing school” courses in elegant deportment, which may exponentially improve your chances with a cute young lawyer from Mulla & Mulla’s on the floor below. Good luck! Davar’s College Of Commerce, third floor, Mulla House, Homi Mody Cross Street, Flora Fountain. Rs 6,000++ for a shorthand course.
Drink Yourself Blind At Daulat Country Liquor Bar: Right outside the entrance to the Tatas’ venerable Bombay House, a wafting breeze carries the scent of sweet, raw, opaque booze from hole-in-the-wall Daulat. Don’t even hope for an empty seat here at lunchtime. Visit to drown corporate sorrows; say, for example, if you’ve just been ousted as chairman of one of India’s biggest firms. Daulat Country Liquor Bar, 2nd Cross Lane, Homi Mody Street, opposite Bombay House entrance.
Bonus: Apple Pie at Yazdani: On the other hand, come here to celebrate if you’ve just been appointed chairman of one of India’s biggest firms. Yazdani Bakery, Cawasji Patel Street, Rs 70 for apple pie.
Ajrakh Saris + Book Readings At Somaiya Bhavan: Two floors above Kitab Khaana, the Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning is a marvel of Bharat Tiles flooring, gracious slatted windows and rooms upon rooms of space that play host to book discussions (including several by Literature Live). It’s also home to a new store full of handloom saris and scarves from Kutchh, Bhagalkot, Chettinad and elsewhere. You won’t have to look too far for the perfect ajrakh cotton to wear to a reading. (PS. Some of the khadi scarves give Zara a run for its money.) Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning, Somaiya Bhavan, Homi Mody Cross Street. Rs 2,400 for a khadi scarf at Design Craft.
Communist Pamphlets At People’s Book House: Located halfway between Strand and Kitaab Khaana, this historic bookstore once sold translations of Neruda and Guevara hot off the presses. It still houses a wide selection of left-wing magazines and pamphlets, plus an excellent selection of political writing in Hindi and Marathi. Mark as Red! People’s Book House, Meher House, Cawasji Patel Street.
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