Dinesh and I had been having a super healthy diet and exercising at the ashram gym almost everyday for 40+ days. So when we were invited to address the students of Maharashtra Vidyarthi Sahayak Mandal (An old educational institution, estb. 1927) in Poona for their commencement day, we jumped at the opportunity to go gallivanting around Poona and Bombay for a few days.
Of course, it was a superb talk, appreciated by everyone present. It was a packed auditorium, with people standing and sitting in the aisles and even on the stage! They were mainly 11th and 12th standard students and I loved the way they took to the Knowledge and how effortlessly they meditated. Pin drop silence through out the 20+ minute long meditation says a lot about the readiness of our country’s young people to dive into themselves!
Dinesh talked about what they could do for themselves in their own homes and for the people around them. How they could create a career of their dreams and what they could contribute to our country and our planet. He imparted a beautiful vision of how their life could be.
Poona is not Poona without going to various fantastic eateries – There is Kalyan Bhel where we started off, then a fantastic little kulfi shop (best kulfis in the world according to me) tucked away in a little corner, almost impossible to find unless you know where you are going, Kayani’s Bakery, THE venerable bakery which has remained unchanged for the 45 years I have been on the planet, for mouth wateringly delicious Parsi biscuits and cakes (The one big upgrade is, these days, they actually make some stuff without eggs!!!).
I enjoy eating at Stone Water Grill, but they have become very snooty off late, requiring a dress code. I prefer to wear what I want and eat what I like, especially if I am paying for it. They turned us away last time because Dinesh was wearing his German Birkenstocks (sandals) which are actually more stylish than most people’s shoes. So we didn’t go there, choosing to go to Dario’s instead. Dario’s, a superb Italian restaurant which always leaves one wondering why God created us with such small stomachs! Definitely have the ravioli and the panna cotta here, they are outstanding.
Amit and Seema as usual fussed over us and pampered us at their cozy home. The icing on the cake was of course Cocoa, their adorable golden retriever… There is nothing quite like being woken up in the morning by the wet licks of a dog who loves you 🙂
From Poona, we took the magical monsoon train ride through the enchantingly beautiful Sayadhris. The mountains and forests come to verdant life as the rain makes nature explode in shades of green you may have never seen before – from the deep green of the trees in the forests to a blindingly fluorescent green of fresh grass growing by the mountainsides.
Add to that majestic waterfalls all around you and baby streams of water that splash you, pristine and pure as the train moves through tunnels. A thick cloudy fresh mist that delights your lungs as the train moves through spaces normally reserved for planes.
After all that wonderful nature, the contrast of Bombay at first seems almost too much on the senses. But, one gets used to it pretty quick. We stayed with Shibani who fussed over us even more. I had a long, relaxing hair spa at Taj Land’s End gifted to me by Shweta, which transformed my hair from the semblance of a broom to feeling luxurious and lustrous.
We had dinner at Flamboyante a restaurant at the World Trade Centre, which was good, but nothing to write about, so I won’t. Jimmy Boy, a parsi speciality place denied us entry into their AC section, so we didn’t eat there and went to my dad’s favourite place, Cafe Mocambo. In case you are wondering, they have a drink called Mocambo Khush Hua 🙂
A lovely Dhansakh and Lasagna later, we took a car ride along the sea faces and marvelled how the choppy sea managed to look so much like sugarcane juice! Next time, check it out and tell me if you agree.
Shibani took us to this little tea shop, San-Cha Tea Boutique somewhere in the gullies of Kala Ghoda.
A charming little place, tastefully done up. Bright and cheery. They allow you to taste all their teas before you buy them. Mostly green and white teas, all full of good for you anti oxidants, etc… All wonderful to smell, all an acquired taste to actually drink. Almost all of them were shades of varying bitterness.
For dinner on our last evening in Bombay, we had a small party at Trattoria, the Italian restaurant of the Hotel President. Trattoria is always very, very good. But that evening, they outdid themselves. The food was beyond excellent. This was inspired cooking! The mushroom soup was silken and the delicate scent of truffle was unmistakable. The spinach and ricotta cannelloni was baked to golden brown perfection with a killer tomato sauce. The pizzas were an absolute delight. Even Dinesh who tags along to the Italian places I love to go to (always preferring a more Indian fare), commented that it was one of the best dinners he had had in a long time. After the meal, the manager comes up to me and says, “Jai Gurudev!”. He said he had watched a lot of our videos online and that had prompted him to learn to meditate and do the Art of Living course. The pilot of our aircraft also came to me while we were collecting luggage and shook my hands and said, “Great fan, great fan!”. Gowri, Abhi, Mayur, hope you guys are listening.
I also learned to make Malido. It’s a parsi sweet, supposed to be had after a jashan (a parsi Pooja). It’s the only reason most parsi kids (possibly adults as well) actually sit thru the long ceremony and manage to more or less “behave themselves.” Of course, being parsis, many don’t wait for the jashan to have their delectable malido.
There are very few people who know how to make it really well. Nergish Aunty has been making it for 35 years. She graciously shared her recipe with me and taught me how to make it. Look out for it at Cafe Vishala next time you are at the ashram!
BTW, we also managed to squeeze in time to watch Minions. It’s completely crazy and sooooooo funny. Put your brains aside and go watch it with as many friends you can muster. You will have a rollicking good time!
Thanks a lot to Amit, Seema, Shibani, Shweta, Milan, Neeti, Chandra, Bhushan, Alok, Anjana, Vivek and many, many others who love us. They welcome us and take such good care of us whenever we go and stay with them.
We are indeed blessed to have such wonderful people to love and who in turn love us so very much.
bawa n dinesh