“I will always be somebody who stays connected to Bombay. I will always have a home in Bombay. But I also like the idea of having a split lifestyle of Bombay and New York, and Bombay and London. But Bombay has become a home to me,” says musician Mikey McCleary.

Mikey McCleary at his studio in Bandra, which is also home to various curios from Chor Bazaar like film posters, records and sewing-machines- turned-tables. Pics/ Sameer Markande
Mikey McCleary at his studio in Bandra, which is also home to various curios from Chor Bazaar like film posters, records and sewing-machines- turned-tables. Pics/ Sameer Markande

McCleary shifted to live in Mumbai in 2007, but has had a musical association with the city since about 1999-2000 as he had worked on the music for singer Lucky Ali’s albums. Later, he started visiting India regularly for performances. “I was drawn to Bandra in particular.

Music composer, Mikey McCleary at his studio on Saint Leo Road, Bandra
Music composer, Mikey McCleary at his studio on Saint Leo Road, Bandra

The feeling slowly built up inside me that I should shift here and try living in Bombay. If I don’t do that, I will spend the rest of my life wondering what if?” he reveals.

Why Mumbai?
“Mumbai has a buzz to it, which I think is to do with its people. It has a soul, which I like. It gets under your skin and becomes a part of you,” he admits. On a lighter note, he feels that another reason is not having to bargain with autorickshaws and taxis about the fares.

Bandra walks
McCleary, who has both, his home and his studio, in Bandra (a lane dotted with quaint villas and bungalows), finds the mix of “villag-ey and artistic feel” as the reason that the suburb works as an artistic hub.
“Besides, there are so many nice places to eat! It’s busy; it has traffic issues but it feels like a haven.

Also, street art is all over Bandra. Walking tours should be organised here. When you visit London, you’ll find The Beatles walking tour; Bandra can have its own art walk. I used to live on Waroda Road that sports a huge mural of Amitabh Bachchan,” he adds.

Food for thought
McCleary enjoys meeting people at Suzette but one of his favourites was Birdsong Cafe when he used to stay on Waroda Road, “The Bagel Shop is an institution for me! Olive’s like a second home. Also, all types of dosas at Cafe Madras, and more recently, the Thepla Tacos at The Bombay Canteen.”

McCleary tells us that he enjoys going to The Hive that is a nice venue for different things, from comedy to food or music. The musician loves strolling around the Kala Ghoda precinct. “I like going there on weekends with my wife to explore the place when it is empty.

There are fancy boutique shops beside small hole-in-the-wall type booksellers and local shops a mix of new and old restaurants as well as the beautiful synagogue. There is Jehangir Art Gallery and NGMA too. I was always intrigued by the David Sassoon Library it’s a beautiful place,” he admits.

The old Hindi cinema lover that McCleary is, he’s constantly doing the rounds of Chor Bazar. Transistors, and record players in working condition, vinyls, records and curios to props, for the videos of his songs; the Bazar has been an oft-visited pincode. Weekends are spent playing tennis at Bandra Gymkhana and Wellington Club.

Mumbai’s sounds
McCleary feels that though Mumbai has had a vibrant past of live music, it faced a lull period. Though, times are changing as several spots in the city are now serving alternative venues. “blueFROG had just started out when I came to Mumbai, but now you also have small restaurants that host live performances.

One of my most memorable performance in the city was for Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday party, where we performed about 20 of his iconic songs. I have also performed twice at Antilla and various top venues in the city, though I would love to perform at Bandra Fort,” he reveals.