Problem is no one listens to me, much less
read the pearls of wisdom I write.
In August 2011, I had written about the
problem plaguing our cricket team that was then on tour in England. The Indian
cricket team was being roundly beaten by the English. I had known at that time
that the real problem was it was the Hindu Holy Month of Shravan in August
2011. Our deeply religious cricketers `observe fast’ – to use an Indianism –
during Shravan. If you are an international sportsman and you fast during an
international test match you cannot be expected to perform at your best. Thus,
the fasting Indian cricket team was demolished.
Fast forward to July 2014. India are in
England for a series of 5 test Matches. The Second Test match was played at
Lords on 17th to 21st July 2014. India won the match and
took a 1-0 lead in the 5 match series. I was not surprised. I knew the reason.
It was NOT Shravan. In fact it was Ramazan. This means two things, first, that
India was at full strength, secondly, Moeen Ali was fasting, he was operating
at half speed. Let me assure you that I knew that the victory was pyrrhic.
By the time the Third Test came along on
Sunday 27th July 2014 tables have turned. Shravan started on Sunday
27th. Saturday 26th was `Gattaari’. The match started and the Indian bowlers were being
bashed. Isshant Sharma a hero at Lords was injured. The bowlers failed. The
batsmen failed and India have lost the Test match.
If that was not enough, Tuesday 29th
July was Idd. On cue, on Wednesday and Thursday Moeen Ali bowled like a
champion. He has taken 6 wickets. Moeen Ali is a spin bowler. Indians are
supposed to be experts at playing spin, however with Moeen Ali back to full
strenght post Idd and the Indians struggling with fasting, knowing how to play
spin was academic.
The next test is at Manchester on the 7th
of August and the last test is at Oval on 15th August. Shravan will
still be on. We are bound to loose.
Why oh why can we not play during Shravan.
All matches should be during Lent when the Christian World is fasting. We do
not tour Pakistan so playing them in Ramzan does not arise.
Could someone please tell this to the BCCI.
I am often told that I should go out a bit
more, eat at some new places, there is such exciting food in Bombay. Frankly, I
couldn’t be bothered. Generally the food is rubbish, drinks overpriced and, if
it is a `trendy’ restaurant, it will be full of vapid Yummy Mummies and Daddies.
The last decent new restaurant that I can recommend with my hand on my heart is
The Table. The Table has good food. In fact, the food is so good that we go
there in spite of the hugely overpriced drinks and masses of vapid Yummy
Mummies and Daddies that inhabit the place. I say the same for Yauatcha, good
food, overpriced drinks, vapid crowd with the added disadvantage of having a
smattering of Bollywood `tara’s’.
Anyway, we were at our Travel Agent, a lovely
Gujju boy, scared of nothing,
absolutely nothing, except – `non veg’. I asked him a totally random question,
where do you get the best Pav Bhaji?
His eyes lit up, a smile crossed his lips and he said - `Amar Juice Centre. They
really charge a lot, but, their quality is fantastic.’
Now, we trust our Travel Agent with all our
bookings. Plus, as I have written earlier he is a lovely Gujju boy, so,
logically he must know his Pav Bhaji.
So, after we finished our work for the morning, we decided to have lunch at
Amar Juice Centre Chowpatty.
For those of you in the know, Amar Juice
Centre is very famous. The original Amar Juice Centre is at Vile Parle, a Gujju Ghetto if there ever was one. Amar
Juice Centre built its reputation on excellent Pav Bhaji, Juices, and, the fact that it remained open till very
late at night [or early in the morning] depending on how you looked at your
glass. These two factors ensured large crowds which disturbed the
neighbourhood. So, the Right Honourable Raosaheb Ramrao Patil sent the nutty
Vasant Dhoble to investigate. Vasant Dhoble went there armed with a posse of `Sakharams’ and a hockey stick with which
he threatened the staff, the manager and all the patrons enjoying their Pav Bhaji and Pineapple Juice. This
ensured further fame for Amar Juice Centre.
Amar Juice Centre now has branches in Andheri
and Chowpatty, where we went.
Pav Bhaji was food for the blue collar worker
and the barely white collar worker. Cannon
Pav Bhaji Stall outside the V T Station [it still exists] was probably the
best known. Then, sometime in the early 1970’s a roadside stall called Waikiki –
I have no idea why it was so named – opened at Breach Candy, just outside the
Hospital where today you have a BEST Bus Shelter. This was bang opposite
Rajabali Patel Road. Even today the road/footpath sort of widens at this point.
Waikiki served Pav Bhaji, and this
was a huge hit. The rich and famous thronged Waikiki and ate this great new
thing – Pav Bhaji. Soon Pav Bhaji became hugely fashionable and
you had Solly outside Heera Panna Building at Haji Ali and Sardar at Tardeo.
Everyone ate Pav Bhaji. This was a
time before the mushrooming Sukh Sagars.
Neither I nor the Queen of Kutch had eaten Pav Bhaji on the road or at a
restaurant in years. Literally years. If we had the choice we would always opt
for Kebabs and not Pav Bhaji. I was
deeply suspicious of homemade Pav Bhaji
however much I was assured that it tasted just like street food. I do remember
buying Pav Bhaji from Maruti Pav Bhaji Walla, also at Vile Parle, several
years ago and getting it home. That was quite distinct; it was dark brown and
tasted of Malwani type masala. Quite good, I recall. Maruti Pav Bhaji Walla still exists in Vile Parle but in a slightly
different location. I was quite looking forward to the Pav Bhaji at Amar Juice Centre.
As we entered, I realised that this was a
`Shetty’ operated place, only Tulu and Kannada spoken. For some reason I believed
it would be North Indian operated. Anyway, no problem. We waited patiently as
what seemed like an entire division of FYJC students from Wilson College
trooped down the stairs. Soon we were seated and looked at the menu. Obviously,
since Pav Bhaji is what Amar Juice
Centre is famous for, this was at the very top of the menu. On offer were several
types of Pav Bhaji – Special Pav Bhaji, Jain Pav Bhaji, Khada Pav
Bhaji, Masala Pav Bhaji, Cheese Pav Bhaji, Cheese Khada Pav Bhaji, Amar Pav
Bhaji, Cheese Masala Pav Bhaji, Paneer Khada Pav Bhaji. No, I do not know
what many of them are.
The menu was divided into sections, I kid you
not, here are some of the titles:
On The Roll – this has Veg Hot Dogs, Veg Garlic Hot
Dogs, Manchurian Roll etc
Grill – Nope not a juicy steak but Veg Grill Sandwich, Sweet
Corn Cheese Grill Sandwich
Chat Lo – Yup, Bhel Puri, etc
Blossoms Delight – Water Melon Blossom, Shogun Blossom
[Frankly, I have no clue either]
Swath Saath – Extra Pav, Roasted Papad etc
We asked the waiter which was the best Pav Bhaji, and to get us two plates. In
retrospect, I should have ordered two different types but now that chance is
gone. We got two Melamine plates with 3 sections. The largest had Pav Bhaji – Special Pav Bhaji was what we got – one section had two Pavs with lashings
of butter and the last had two Lime cheeks with Chilli Powder sprinkled on
them. The Bhaji was a lurid red, hot [as in temperature] and spicy with the
taste of raw uncooked out masala and garlic. The Bhaji was less than nice.
Frankly I was disappointed, but then I do not know of a `Gold’ Standard for Pav Bhaji with which I could compare
this. I do not think I have missed much in my life by not having Pav Bhaji all these years if this is
supposed to be really good Pav Bhaji.
If this is regarded as `fantastic quality’ and worth the price [Rs 130 ++] by a
Gujju who knows the price of
everything then it only reaffirms my belief that Gujjus seriously need their
The waiter, a friendly young guy told me that
weekend are absolutely chocker block, evenings are crazy, and many days they
have Kitty Parties attending. Weekday lunch is generally the students from the
The waiter got a tip of Rs 50/- on a bill of
Rs 230/-. Good chap. Not really his fault that Gujjus need their heads examined.
HRH the Queen of Kutch is a member of the
hallowed MCA Bandra. This is a new club whose name is Mumbai Cricket
Association Recreation Centre and it is located at the Bandra Kurla Complex. In
all honesty, this is a very good club. The facilities are excellent. The pool
where I swim is far better than the much more hallowed Bombay Gymkhana. The
Gymnasium beats the socks out of most gyms. The food is above average, and
being a new construction everything is modern and nice. It is a good club.
The problem is the members. Many of them are
strange to say the least.
Have a look at this Notice. This is put up on
the notice board of the club.
A few quick quotes on the subject:
gives us relatives; thank God, we can choose our friends.”
a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
sustain myself with the love of family.”
Now you may well as what is the fuss about?
Why is the club issuing such strange notices? A bit of background is needed to
make bring this out.
Most clubs permit entry for `ayahs’ or maids. The maids are permitted
entry to supervise toddlers, infants and young kids in need of supervision.
Consequently, while entry is permitted, total access is not permitted. So a
maid can only accompany the child to certain areas in a club – the children’s
playground for instance. Maids cannot enter the dining rooms, pools, gymnasium,
and library and so on. Because of this, a maid is not charged an entry fee.
On the other hand a guest is charged an entry
fee and can, with his host, go to all parts of the club.
Got it? Nice and logical.
Now, into this neat set of rules bring in our
genius members interpretations. These genius members have a lot of money
[actually you don’t need a lot of money] and no sense. So what they do is sign
in the maid as a guest. Signing in a guest is a mere Rs. 100 or maximum Rs. 200/-
so money is inconsequential. Then once the `guest maid’ is signed in she can
accompany them everywhere like the dining room. So on one large table will sit
Papa Smurf, Mama Smurf, Baba Smurf, Baby Smurf, Aji Smurf, Ajoba Smurf
Yes folks, at the MCA dining room `Bai’ will sit at the same dining table
as `Saab’. Not at home, no never, kabhi nahi, but at the MCA it’s okay.
Then, since `guest maid’ is actually a `Bai’,
signed in as guest, she cannot be given any food. Now that would really be too
much to expect. So `guest maid’ `Bai’sits
at the table while Papa Smurf guzzles beer, and others chomp down on Pizza. The
neighbouring table sees all this and questions how the `guest maid’ `Bai’can be sitting at the table since
she is actually a `Bai’ who is not
allowed in. So our genius members say, she is not a `Bai’ but our relation and is signed in as a guest!!
Got it? Nice and logical? Fully in keeping
with the rules? All guest entry paid, so bringing in `Bai’ is not a problem. And `Bai’
is not `Bai’, she is Fui.
I am staggered by the brilliance of these geniuses.
Like I wrote in the previous post, I have
only questions no answers.