Atrangi yaari

I always thought that after a certain age, it is difficult to develop friendships that are based on zero judgement, mutual respect and acceptance; since it’s a common notion that bonds of friendship that develop in school are the only ones that last, my belief became stronger.I have a very close circle of school friends that have been with me through everything and so I thought it would be difficult to find friends in Bombay that would be as non-judgemental, as loving and as caring as my friends back home. Little did I know that I was wrong.

For the last two years, I stayed in a PG with 11 other girls. Luckily, I had a small room to myself, so I didn’t face a lot of problems when I moved. In my first year, I initially got along with all of the girls in the PG, but I became good friends with two of them: Medha and Aditi. They’re both poles apart- Medha is extremely diligent and focused while Aditi is opinionated and whimsical. What these two share, though, are values like respect for one’s privacy, perseverance and patience. I love exploring and trying out new restaurants, cafes & monuments;Aditi is a big foodie and loves travelling so my bucket list became hers and she became the first person who would come to my mind when I read about a play screening, a restaurant opening or a new Terribly Tiny Tale.  Medha, on the other hand, shared my love for old Hindi songs and Indo-Chinese food. We bonded over cheesy fries and “Urvashi Urvashi”. In my first year, the three of us were in separate rooms but in my second year, we shared a room, which brought us closer(not just physically!). Since I love exploring, we would fully utilize our Sundays by picking one area and exploring it. We had a Bandra day, a Powai day, a Fort day, a Mahakali caves day, a Byculla day and a Mandwa day trip wherein we would visit places of interest, eat good food, sit by the lake or the sea. One of the things I love about the two of them is that we don’t necessarily have to talk all the time. We understand and appreciate each other’s silences.

One of the things you learn while living with someone new is how to adjust. Since we were in different rooms in the first year, we didn’t have to adjust too much, but in our second year, we did. I sleep earlier than the two of them so they had to keep quiet. Medha studies regularly so we had to use our earphones. Aditi sometimes comes late from college and naps till the evening so we had to maintain silence. We often had to adjust when we had to dry our clothes since the three of us had one drying line in common. We couldn’t get our friends over when someone was ill or had an exam; we also spoke softly when someone was sleeping. These things seem very small but when it comes to making these small sacrifices, one often becomes very egoistic. I learned how to adjust and talk softly when someone was sleeping, how to use the bathroom and get ready without making noise, how to watch movies on my laptop at a very low volume and most of all, I learned that this process is mutual, and that if you find people who will sacrifice for you as much as you sacrifice for them, they are meant to stay and that is how life is.

I always refer to my school friends as my ‘bestfriends’ because for me, the word bestfriend means someone who will always be there for me, someone who won’t judge, someone who will always listen, someone who I can bare my heart to and someone will sacrifice for me, just the way I will. I’ve learned not to use the word bestfriend for too many people since it comes with a lot of insecurity, jealousy and expectations. When I came to Bombay though, I realized that it’s not how you label your friendship that matters. Medha, Aditi and I have never used the term bestfriend for each other, yet we’ve been there for each other, been each other’s pillars of support, seen each other through thick and thin, laughed and cried together, celebrated each other’s victories and divided each other’s sorrows. Medha was the one who comforted me when I lost a relative while I cried on Aditi’s shoulder the night I was at my lowest. They taught me that sometimes, it’s best to leave some bonds undefined. “Batane se behtar hai nibhana”

Although we’ve never expected a lot from each other and we’ve respected each other’s privacy, there have been times when I expected them to do something that they didn’t; but those instances didn’t change anything because I could talk to them when I felt something was wrong and sort it out with them. We have had tons of tiny arguments but we’ve never fought once. I feel that you may not be able to live with all your friends, but if you’re able to be friends with the people you live with, those are the bonds that are built on a solid foundation of trust, acceptance and love.

Aditi and Medha will graduate this year and move out of Bombay. I will also move to another PG. In order to mark the end of these amazing two years, the three of us decided to go on a weekend trip. We saw this link which said that an eco-resort named Avanti Kalagram in Mulshi(which is 30-45 mins from Pune) was the perfect getaway and that it was regularly visited by families and that there were a lot of trekking options nearby. We managed to convince our parents to let us visit the place and we hired a cab and went. Once we reached there, we had no signal on our phones, the place was deserted, there was nobody staying there that night except us, the staff consisted only of men, there were no phones in the rooms and the door of the balcony didn’t lock properly. There were only rocks there and the roads were too narrow; there was no route that we could trek on. We were alarmed and I immediately called my dad; I asked him if we should go to Pune since we felt Mulshi was unsafe and he told me to do the same. Since we had to go to Pune because the situation demanded that, we decided that we would be together that night, which was a Saturday. We let our cab go and went partying in our camping clothes and enjoyed a lot. The next morning, we separately went to meet friends and relatives in Pune and we came back in a bus. When I was in Mulshi, I was worried because things didn’t turn out as I had planned but that worry didn’t turn into fear because I knew that the three of us would be together and that we would get through it and even though the trip was definitely what we planned, the sense of security I experienced in that one moment reminded me of why we were  so close and why we decided to go on a trip in the first place.

The realization that they won’t be there with me next year broke my heart because they had become my Bombay survivals, my daily diaries; Aditi helped me aim for the stars while Medha helped me stay on the ground. I don’t know if I’ll ever label them as my ‘bestfriends’ but they’re both living examples of what friendship stands for- mutual respect, care, sacrifice and understanding. I’ll surely meet them soon but it will be very hard for any roommate to fill their shoes. What helps me though is the fact that both of them will be just a phone call away. They’ve made me realize that at any point in your life, you can find friends who will last a lifetime, if you’re willing to try; it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. They taught me that not everyone is your ‘bestfriend’ and not all friendships are built on expectations but the ones where you do things for the other person without expecting anything in return are the best ones. Which is why I feel that the person you live with in a new city is the one you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Before I end, here are a few of our happiest memories:

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Our first picture together
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a picture from our Fort exploration day, at Afghan church
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The end of our fort exploration at Marine Drive
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A random midnight visit to Natural’s and Amar Juice Centre after which we bought balloons because Medha came home very tired
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Mahakali Caves
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When we decided to plait our hair because we were too bored and we were missing school
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Our Powai exploration day
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When we stayed up till 4 am and talked about almost everything
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My 20th birthday
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Mandwa(We forced Aditi to smile)
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When our road trip to Mulshi began
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Partying in Poona!

I came to Bombay to study in a good college and explore the city but I realized that my so-called ‘exploration days’ would be incomplete without them. I’d like to quote Aisha from Wake up Sid at this point:

“Inn goals ko paane ki khushi tab hi mehsoos ho sakti hai jab unhe baatne ke liye koi saath ho”

If you have someone like this in your life, tell them how much they matter, tell them how much you love them. Unadulterated, non-judgemental bonds of friendship are rare these days. Cherish them. And as far as Aditi, Medha and I are concerned, we’ll always have each other!

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“Ho bin kahe, thehra tu har mod par, oh yaara, mere liye,

bhula tu khud ki dagar, oh yaara, mere liye,

har kadam, sang chali, teri yaari ,

Iss bedhangi duniya ke sangi hum na hote yaara, apni toh yaari atrangi hai re!

 

 

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Ek cup coffee, please?

My elder sister has always loved strong coffee; when I say strong I mean the 3-sachets-in-a-cup level of strong! I had my first coffee at the age of 8 and I thought it  was very bitter because my sister made it that way. Since then, throughout my childhood and  early adolescence, I avoided coffee because I thought my sister’s way of making it was universal and that it was always that strong.

But my belief was shattered when I reached high school and embraced the saviour that Cafe Coffee Day was. CCD is the perfect place for all the teenagers who want to chill with their friends but are on a budget. Most of my family loved CCD and I instantly took to it. During 11th and 12th, I visited CCD 3-4 times a month and their tropical iceberg with whipped cream was my favourite beverage, although I did experiment with almost all the hot and cold coffees. The waitstaff know me and my friends personally since we’ve had  some of our most important life discussions there and I often go there alone and chat with my favourite waitress. Even today, when there’s no other decent place to go to (Baroda does have pretty cafes but most of them lack good coffee and food), my school friends and I go to CCD and stay there for hours and hours, talking, completing college assignments, planning birthdays, possible getaways and what not.

It was only when I came to Bombay that I stopped visiting CCD, since Bombay has so many good cafes that have great coffee and snacks. Pretty, cosy, hidden cafes are my weakness and I love trying new coffee places. In the past 1.5-2 years that I’ve been in Bombay, I’ve tried too many cafes and I’ve had my share of good coffees and bad coffees. Although I’m currently obsessed with health cafes, my loyalties will always lie with coffee places. Here’s a list of my favourite coffee places in Bombay:

  1. BAD Cafe, Pali Hill, Bandra:

I’d wanted to visit BAD since a long time and I’d read very good reviews about its coffee menu. They do not display their menu on Zomato and I’m accustomed to checking any place’s menu, carefully scrutinizing it and then visiting the place. But one evening, me and my roommate were eating dinner nearby and we decided to visit BAD and have some coffee and dessert and see whether this cafe was worth the hype or not. It’s located in the by-lanes of Pali Hill and is pretty huge. I loved the monochrome interiors, they gave the place a very welcoming vibe. The ambiance here is spot-on. We ordered a Cafe Bon Bon which consists of 30 ml condensed milk and a 60 ml espresso shot. This has to be the best coffee I’ve had in Bombay so far. The taste was bittersweet in the real sense and I couldn’t stop sipping it. Adding to the great taste was the fact that this place looks absolutely stunning at night. It is pricey but completely worth the money!

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This is how the coffee menu is kept
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This is how it looks!
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Look at the layers!
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Cafe Bon Bon with Flan

2. Bombay Coffee House, Linking Road, Bandra:

Bombay Coffee House is famous for its breakfast options and while its omelettes, croissants, baked beans and waffles do live up to the hype, its coffee is something that’s underrated. They have a good coffee menu, albeit not as elaborate as BAD’s. I went there to try their King’s breakfast which is more than enough for two people and is delicious! I ordered the Hazelnut cappuccino and my friend ordered the mocha. The mocha was good but the hazelnut cappuccino was heavenly and I was impressed because it’s tricky to get it right, since you need to be able to taste the caffeine as well as the hazelnut. BCH nailed this beverage by having a balanced taste of caffeine and hazelnut.

P.S. Their breakfast menu lives up to the hype and the other dishes are also pretty decent. You can try almost any snack with the coffee. They also have WiFi and plug-points so you can enjoy your coffee while catching up on assignments or unfinished work.

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Cafe Mocha to the left and Hazelnut Cappuccino to the right

3. Koinonia Coffee Roasters:

Koinonia stands out because it’s a place that serves only coffee; I repeat, ONLY COFFEE! It’s a tiny, cute cafe inside the the Chuim Village in Khar. It’s not very well-known since it opened just a couple of months back. It can seat barely 8-10 people but I have to say that within the limited space that they have, they’ve managed to beautify the cafe. Since their menu only has coffee, there are plenty of hot and cold coffees to choose from. I ordered the latte which was perfectly hot and soothing. They serve coffee with this cookie which was so delicious and it complimented the coffee to such an extent that I kept on taking small bites because I didn’t want to finish it. They don’t sell these cookies but do serve them with every cup of coffee so that’s an added incentive for having another cup of coffee. I could guess that the cookie was made from oats and had a hint of caramel.The coffee-makers here are extremely friendly and will even suggest you coffee according to your taste. I spontaneously visited this place today and had an even better experience! We ordered the cappuccino and the cortado, both of which were amazing! I like coffees that are strong but not extremely bitter and Koinonia’s coffees effortlessly fulfill this requirement. I’d definitely recommend this place.

P.S. They make their affogato with ice-cream from Bono Boutique Ice-cream and I can vouch for Bono Boutique’s taste, so ice-cream lovers should definitely give their affogato a try.

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Cafe latte
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The one on the left is the cappuccino and the one at the bottom is the cortado

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This is how the cafe looks from outside. It’s in one of the bylanes of Chuim Village

I don’t repeat a lot of places, but I’ve already repeated Bombay Coffee House  and Koinonia and I’ll surely be visiting the BAD very soon for I cannot wait to try the rest of their coffees. Having said that, I feel it is incomplete to write a coffee post without writing about the magic that filter coffee weaves (or rather filters!) Making good filter coffee is an art and the South-Indian cafes in Matunga and Sion and have perfected it. I absolutely love the filter coffee served at Ramashray and Cafe Madras and once in a while I’ll surely travel on a harbour line train to eat a South-Indian meal with filter coffee! But on  days when I feel like catching up with a friend over coffee,  reading a book or just stepping out alone, I know I’ll enter one of these welcoming cafes and ask the most pertinent question:

                                       “Ek cup coffee, please?”