35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai

Updated: Jun 16, 2017, 17:19
  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #01 More than horses at Mahalaxmi racecourse: The green emerald of South Mumbai has a special sheen every monsoon. The Mahalaxmi racecourse is chill out zone, as this season comes along. There is a special lustre to the foliage. Raindrops cling on fervently to grass, there is that smell of earth in the air and the breeze seems especially welcome. This is the turf for the fastest equines in India. Ironically, this is also the place to go if you want to feel the pace of life fall off a little and if you want to dream. These are the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) headquarters, which has been reinventing itself with a slew of activities from charity events, to yoga, chanting and meditation within the oval. While the rain may not allow too much outdoor activity, light drizzles should surely not deter you from making use of this green bowl. The best way to enjoy the racecourse is of course, to traipse in early morning or evening at its track and make use of the relative calm of the garden inside, one can also enrol to learn riding at the Amateur Riders' Club (ARC), though horses are not everybody's thing. On June 1 this year, the racecourse hosted families who came in to use the space to play traditional games. They bonded over langadi and lagori instead of burying noses in laptops and smartphones. This open ground that marked 130 years of existence this year, is the go to place for a stress-less time -- Hemal Ashar In pic: A farmer's market at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #02 Castella de Aguada: Also known as Castella de Aguada, the fort built by the Portuguese in the 1640s now overlooks the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Families, couples and college students all frequent the Bandra Fort which is near Taj Lands End. Built as a watch tower, a sweeping view of Bandra and the Arabian Sea is the lure. Renuka Ghai, 17 says, "I study at National College and go to the fort often with friends. The fort is well maintained and is an ideal spot to chill amidst the sea and history." Manohar Pande, 42, says, "Canoodling couples may make things a little awkward especially for people who come with their families. Otherwise, the fort is like an extension of our backyard. We live near Lilavati hospital and often go to the fort in the evening to beat the heat and enjoy family time." With a garden in the forecourt, Bandra Fort is a slice of history in the Queen of the suburbs. -- Maleeva Rebello In pic: Sea view: The Arabian Sea and Bandra-Worli Sea Link seen from Bandra fort. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #03 Flower arranging: Flowers have an ability to soothe
    Saying it with flowers, and they're not just for the namby-pamby. Flower arrangement is serious business and it is fun too. The art of flower arrangement is often viewed through a stereotypical prism. They say it is reserved for professional florists and ladeeeez who lunch, who merely give instructions to their staff about which Ming vase they want the roses in. There are many who disagree. A month ago, a flower arrangement exhibition was held at Prabhadevi, where graduating students displayed their designs. It was breathtaking to say the least. There were men who were learning too, shattering the notion that this is only for women. Many of these learners were doing flower arrangements as a hobby. Others wanted to go ahead ad become serious professionals, eventually working with event companies who need florists for events or simply branching (pun intended) out on their own. Whatever the reason, there was consensus on the fact that being amidst flowers is extremely therapeutic. Flowers speak a lingo of their own and those who arrange and the blooms seem to be in silent conversation. It is when they are in sync, that you see it in the arrangement, an understanding that has been brought to a fascinating fruition. Classes in Mumbai offer flower arrangement lessons and it serves as both, a hobby and expertise that can be coverted to a profession. -- Hemal Ashar In pic: Art attack: Blooms are for whew-ing. Pic/Shadab Khan
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #04 Paint or simply peer profoundly: Get a little artsy, dahlings. Art is not for the Page 3 set only. Nor is it for those who imbue it with a kind of elusive, hard to fathom mystique. Art is for everybody and with the city opening up so many art spaces as they like to call it, make a painting your friend. You can saunter into galleries and look at paintings. Maybe, you will realise that not all of this is pretentious. Some of the work may resonate with you. Make you forget everything for a while even as you try to find meaning in a work, or simply lose yourself in the swirl of colours. Of course, there will be works of art which make you go: whazatt? You will wonder why on earth people pay crores and more for this. Crease not thy brow, though. Simply gaze serene-like at paintings inside these new fangled art spaces and see how calm you feel with all that around you. For a while, you can pretend to be profound peer at the work, make soft sounds as if you really get it and even strike up a line or two of conversation with your neighbour, something that sounds hi-flown and intellectual. Whatever it is, art can be a winsome preensome. Swoop down, culture vulture. -- Hemal Ashar In pic: Colour Cool: At a Colaba gallery. Emmanual Karbhari
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #05 Be what you want to be: Over two decades, the Andheri McDonald's has acquired iconic stature, with some living out their entire romantic histories within its barely air-conditioned (yet still suitably proletarian) confines. When all you could afford was a quick spin in the local to meet a nameless beau, the McAloo Tikki burger was a peg up from the humble vada pav and, paired with the trademark soft serve ice-cream, perfectly respectable fodder for a date. Early years were marked by furtive encounters outside, but now gay people have stepped inside and stopped hiding, and contribute to the joie de vivre (read cacophony) of the place, even as other sections of society have now appropriated it as a global-local oasis for the newly middle-class (but way after the gays). Non discriminatory hiring means that you can occasionally be served by a trans person at the counter, as brusque as the others, hiding behind that Cheshire cat grin a steely reserve to upsize everything in sight. The suburbs of the suburbs are catching on. wildly popular is the food court at Vashi station, a sprawling space with the privacy only truly bustling crowds can provide, and a steady flow of gauche men only recently initiated into the mating game. Gay men of a certain vintage are found to be partial to Cafe Mailoo (near Vile Parle station) with its Tipsy Tuesdays (happy hours all day long) and Masti Mondays; whereas well-read openly gay men who live in joint families with their partners (in what can perhaps be termed progressive conservatism), are often found conferring at Dadar's Aaswad over a meal of kothimbir vadi and thalipeeth. -- Vikram Phukan
    It's a date: McDonalds near Andheri station. Representational Pic/Nimesh Dave
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #06 Somaiya Vidyavihar campus: The Somaiya Vidyavihar campus gives rise to art initiatives If you associated the 65 acres of Somaiya Vidyavihar campus with 34 blocks devoted to humanities and management, you are leaving out a 'theatre training' module that took root. The campus, by sheer virtue of being an open green space, has given birth to interesting collaborations, one of them involving the Junoon community arts initiative, led by Sanjna Kapoor and Sameera Iyengar. The lush greenery of the campus gels with Junoon's mission to embed the arts into a collective neighbourhood experience. As Iyengar said, "It's a delicious theatre space. With light and air entering from all sides, it has a great sense of openness where theatre can resonate. Every time I walk into it, I think, if this is the space where children (and adults) are going to learn the ropes, they will be well taken care of!" This 'adda' will have G Ravindra Kumar deliberate on light and its impact on daily life. The senior professor in the Department of Nuclear and Atomic Physics has experimented with high intensity laser pulse interaction with matter. Junoon feels that his perspective is relevant to both scientists and artists, since both fields are driven by curiosity, wonder and observation. These open-to-all sessions have special significance in the sun-kissed Somaiya Vidyavihar venue. Geographically speaking, the campus is more accessible to Mumbai citizens in Ghatkopar, Vidyavihar, Chembur, Powaii and Vikhroli, which in itself serves a cultural purpose. It extends the theatre experience beyond the privileged neighbourhoods of Mumbai. -- Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre In pic: Nuanced: Theatre veteran Makarand Deshpande takes a class at Somaiya Vidyavihar
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #07 Worli Sea Face: There is something about Worli Sea Face that lures one seeking a moment of me-time or we-time in this frenetic metropolis. Even the traffic whizzing past it, towards the Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) cannot rob the promenade of its allure. In a city where cars are for canoodling as much as for driving, given the paucity of space, the Sea Face offers some privacy, especially at 'non-peak' hours, in late mornings or afternoons when the strip is fairly deserted. This season makes Sea Face even more of a magnet for locals and lovers alike. The rains see the waves roll into a ball, tinged with black, roar ominously before smashing into the wall on the Sea Face. As if in a combat with the Sea Face wall, once hurled against it, they rise up spraying salt water on the revelers who are actually waiting for them to break and rise up, in a show of power and pulchritude. Then, fury spent, the waves go, falling into the larger sea, sometimes defeated but only for a moment.
    Yet another rolls in quickly, hurling against the wall, rising up and drenching one in saline delight. Try the bhutta (corn on the cob with a golden blob of butter) from the hawkers alongside the Sea Face this season. The crunch and succulence of the kernels, the hiss and spit of the charcoal and the one-upsmanship of bargaining, all add to that ritzy-ditzy feeling of not having a care in the world. -- Hemal Ashar In pic: Ride the tide: At Worli Sea Face, which is a happy hunting ground once the rains are here in earnest. Pic/Suresh KK
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #08 Spaces where you can be queer, there and everywhere: Four years since its opening, the Zara outlet has been repurposed as a mecca for accidental gay encounters. You can stumble upon 'friends' with their families, which could mandate switching off the 'camp' button as introductions (so elusive, otherwise) are meted out; or run into an ex-boyfriend with a new fling; or simply be serviced by an immaculately attired shopping assistant with an unplaceable accent. The brand was lampooned in a Sh*t Desi Queers Say viral video, because of its ubiquitiousness in queer popular culture. The shopping bags have such currency that gay boys lob them all around town.
    The Palladium attracts six-figure earners and six-pack owners alike (a very queer demographic), and has become a watering hole of sorts, with its merry-go-round escalators that force a matha tek at every showroom. A shopping soirée is typically followed by a bite at Indigo Deli, a scoop of dulce-de-leche at Häagen-Dazs, before trooping off en masse to PVR for the latest Mean Girls installment (or some such). Its country cousins are Nirmal Lifestyle in Mulund, and R-City in Ghatkopar, where visiting hordes do exactly the same things in a swirl of selfies and hashtags. Meanwhile, Infiniti Mall in Versova is still holding fort despite having been waylaid by garish TV crews, with its restrooms now featured in a global website for gay hot spots. --Vikram Phukan In pic: Hot spot: At the Palladium, where it is not just about retail therapy. Pic/Bipin Kokate
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #09 Using urban, everyday infrastructure to get a high: One would think that Mumbaikars do some kind of Parkour everyday. Jumping over potholes, leaping over broken fences, running Olympic-sprint style for local trains, and hauling themselves over walls life, as they say is Parkour. Incidentally, Parkour is using your body to clear urban street obstacles or hurdles in your path. Now, Parkour is catching on with the younger set in Mumbai who think it has a cool factor attached to it. It also sets the adrenaline pumping and is the ultimate urbane, urbane street lingo. Once seen on the screen and in Hollywood films, the city now has little groups pracitising Parkour, with proper training. While still in its nascent stage, it is evident that Parkour, given its movie star appeal (Akshay Kumar had spoken about Parkour and many of our six pack brigade have advocated it as a fitness routine too) Parkour is gathering a following here. As for the dangers, safety measures are stressed and practitioners say they get a high, as it acts as a release too. Though the agility, strength and speed required make it look like a young person's domain, teachers claim parkour can be practiced at any age. So, if you see a grey haired gran, leap over the bus stop shelter and land next to you, cat-like. Do not be too surprise. 'Aajee' `Nani' 'Daadi' or 'Ba' may simply be a parkour practitioner. - Hemal Ashar In pic: Don't scoff at Shroff: Tiger Shroff doing parkour. Pic/Nimesh Dave
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #10 The bus that is more than a bus: With double decker buses vanishing off the transportscape in the city, this is one of those times, when the door is slowly but surely shutting on this opportunity. Grab the last few big, red double deckers in Mumbai, clamber on to the top deck and let the good times roll. Those with salt and pepper hair (more salt that pepper) remember the therapeutic value of the top of the deck, double decker ride. The Carl Lewis-esque, sprint to the top for the coveted front seat so that you can look out of the windows was all part of the fun. From your vantage point above, you can be queen or king, prince or princess of all you survey. You can laugh out loud, ignore the looks of the other passengers as a pedestrian loses his footwear in the city's floods, or inadvertently pokes a posterior with an umbrella and earns a death glare. Or, you can simply think profound thoughts because that is what the double decker experience brings. The high life, at a low price. Ticket, ticket… — Hemal Ashar High life: A double decker bus. Pic/Satyajit Desai
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #11 Colaba Causeway: The Colaba Causeway was perhaps the first bastion of gay liberation (that droll work-in-progress notion), given how it strings together sites of historical significance to queers, with the Gateway of India (where all the pick-ups took place), Voodoos and Gokul (90s haunts for gay men) all within shouting distance. Gokul is now just a regular pub with affordable alcohol, with attractive bouncers who have garnered their own share of admirers, but gay folk are spoilt for choice amongst their own ranks these days, and don't need to pull any odd stranger any more. The Causeway itself provides an endless supply of international eye candy, with tight physiques and an invitingly dressed-down casualness. Later, you can take a detour into the promenade in front of the Taj and mingle with Arab men. A few doors away from the Radio Club, if you are lucky, Voodoos would be open for the night. Although, the shutters are often down these days. Ahead is one of the gay universe's best kept secrets, the Mumbai Port Trust Garden which, on most evenings, attracts quite a queer bunch. — Vikram Phukan In pic: Colaba cool: The landmark of SoBo. Pic/Bipin Kokate
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #12 Sit down and play: Push away the computer to indulge in good, old-fashioned board games
    Go back to the playing board to bring some fun into life. Computer games and games on gizmos isolate people, good ol-fashun board games can bring one together. Buy them from your nearest toy dealer. Monopoly, Housie or Bingo as it is called in other lingo and even the good old staples like Snakes 'n' Ladders or Ludo, carrom is a must do. Pictionary can be part of the package. Get together some friends, lay out the games in the house, thrown in some quirky fun prizes, bring out the popcorn, put the cold drinks on ice and rewind to the times gone by. There is nothing like board games to put the fun back into friendship, stoke some good-natured competitive fires and simply roll back to a simpler, less complicated time when life was not all about the click of a computer. Of late, we see some clubs in Mumbai offering board games and board game groups. If not inclined towards formal get togethers, make a group of one's own, or simply call friends over for a party. Keep a choice of games and keep it all good, clean, and not mean. Monopoly, anyone? –Hemal Ashar In pic: Striker boys: Such a good way to get together. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #13 Retail therapy: When Mumbai's mills got slowly obliterated out of the landscape, and replaced by malls, little did mall owners know they were creating more than just retail and entertainment under one sprawling roof. What they were doing is making the next great urban play space. Today, malls are for those who want to buy something, those who simply want to meander through its slickly polished corridors peering in at the shops inside, great meeting places, or simply a hub to sip an overpriced cup of coffee (the best things in life at times are not free, they are simply overpriced) and watch the whirl go by. An executive once said that he likes to begin a work week with a trip to a mall for a cup of coffee on a Monday morning. It dissipates some of those legendary Monday morning blues and the caffeine shot combined with the zing of the mall, proves to be a chill out one needs just before the work week starts. Ask young urban professionals, and, a lot of them will be at the mall in their spare time for no other reason other than to zone out. Of course, the movies, food courts and other entertainment avenues and promotions are a draw. A mall though, is also for some me-time, where, strangely you can be alone in a crowd. For Mumbai, city of diversity and difference, it is whatever floats your boat. — Hemal Ashar In pic: Buy high: People shopping at Phoenix Mall in Lower Parel, Mumbai. Pic/Rane Ashish
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #14 Football frenzy: When the World Cup fever is here, why go anyplace else to play the beautiful game called football? The beauty of the game is its simplicity. Form a team, you can be guys, gals or even grans (let public spaces be open to all) and simply let go. This season is especially good for football, though it is not raining yet, a light drizzle means lower temperatures and maidans in the city sees people kicking around a ball, dodging defenders and finally putting it into the goal, which may be makeshift, comprising an area fenced in by two sticks or simply drawn out by chalk. Let your kick find that mark. This is a great way to unwind, exercise and release those competitive juices. Get into the craze. Do a Messi in Mumbai. –Hemal Ashar In pic: Goal getters: Football is for kicks and what better time to play it? Pic/Suresh KK
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    #15 Cycling is a stress releaser
    Pedal for no medal
    In a city not conducive to cycling, the two-wheel tribe refuses to give up
    Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of Mumbaikars cycled to work to their Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) offices as part of the Smart Commute project. This initiative aimed to get Mumbaikars to leave their cars behind and cycle to work. While early June was particularly sweltering, as soon as the monsoon is here in earnest it would be good to ditch four wheels for two, when temperatures climb down. Cycling is a huge stress buster and though, this city does not have cycle tracks and the traffic is particularly overwhelming, early morning cycling and weekend cycling is a good way to up fitness levels, and do you bit for the environment.
    Mumbai may be one of the least cycle friendly cities. A lone velodrome (which is a track for international cycling) vanished off the city's map. Located near the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) at Haji Ali part of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel annexe, there was not a murmur of protest when the sporting infrastructure simply fell due to redevelopment of the area.
    Cyclists swear by short runs or cycling near a park or in the early hours when traffic is much thinner. Cycling's multi-pronged benefits make this a must-try activity for the harried Mumbaikar.
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: Go for it: Just me and my machine, these cyclists seem to say. Pic/Ronak Savla
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #16 Indulgence
    So near and so spa
    A SPA is never too far in Mumbai, which is riding the wellness wave. Spas across the city are now offering a slew of treatments and packages for the woman and spa-happy men often dubbed as the metrosexual male. Once, a trip of the salon lasted for half an hour or three hours at the most. Today a combination of packages at several spas can make this an all-day experience, or half a day at least where one can detox (yet another key word) and pamper oneself. There are special Women's Day, Mother's Day and even Father's Day packages, besides a host of other offers from spas. In a world where we are ruled by time, and in a city where everybody seems perpetually on fast forward, spas offer one the opportunity to shut out everything for a while, the constant whirl of motion to trilling mobiles (can't take the mobile while immersed in a mud pack bath, can you?) Spas are the go to place when you say to yourself stop the whirl, I want to get off.
    — Hemal Ashar
    Ah, that spa feeling: There's no guilt about decadent pleasures, is there? Pic/Madeeha Attari
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #17 A walk on the historical side
    Dial H for heritage
    With its historic buildings and streets that house several parts of Mumbai's history heritage walks are an enriching way to explore the city. Divya Das 28, architect says, "I have designed many buildings. The heritage walks in the city have been my biggest inspiration. Over the years, I have tried to go on walks with different scholars in the city to understand historic buildings better. Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Asiatic Library are my favourite buildings." For Sachin Salgaonkar, the heritage walks are a chance to make new friends with people who are interested in the city's history. The businessman says, "Since college, I have absolutely loved learning new things about the past. History was always my favourite subject and so at least once a month, I go on a heritage walk." Pankaja Rodrigues, a heritage walk guide in the city says, "There are more than 50 walks in the city, from theatres to British and Portuguese buildings, to markets. The most famous walk is the one from Gateway of India through the heritage structures in the city. A heritage walk group generally consists of five to 25 people. I tell stories about the buildings and try to make the walk interesting, because facts are easy to find on the internet but fun trivia is what makes the difference."
    — Maleeva Rebello
    In pic: Famous street: Most heritage walks in the city start from here. Pic/Bipin Kokate
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #18 Those wheels are the ones that heal
    Of love and skate
    YOU can’t go to heaven in a limousine 'coz the Lord ain’t got no gasoline… you can't go to heaven on a pair of skates for you will roll right past those pearly gates… go the lines of a popular song.
    Yet if it is not the pearly gates but just the next corner around the bend you want to reach, reach for a pair of skates. These wheels are fun and most of all, they are eco-friendly. Skating is a good way to work out the knots of tension and watch the world as you whiz by.
    Recreational skaters cut across all age groups and there are different skating events from competitive races to fun skating Sundays.
    Mumbai’s got a rather cool set of two wheels, why not try them like so many are doing.
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: Wheel done: Skating is the zany new way to get from one place to another. Pic/Shadab Khan
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    #19 Damodar Hall
    All years at this hall
    Theatre buffs unwind and soak in history at this Konkan hub
    IF you are walking on Lower Parel's Dr Ambedkar Road, parallel to the Parel flyover, it is difficult not to pay attention to the crowd gathered around the Gaurishankar Chitarmal Mithaiwala. The buzzing sweetshop captures Mumbai's appetite for enjoyment. But few know that the adjacent Damodar Hall compound offers a richer slice of Mumbai. The Damodar Hall, one of the oldest entertainment centres of Mumbai, shares the compound with the 85-year old Social Services League devoted to educational endeavours. It was in Damodar Hall in 1924 that Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar convened a meeting to launch his social uplift movement for the Untouchables.
    At this point, Damodar Hall is making history of a different type. The cynosure of interest is doorkeeper Rajan Tirvadekar. If you are ever high on time and low on excitement, I recommend you to enter the compound and have a casual chat with the doorkeeper and backstage helper. A permanent fixture in the premises since 1988, Tirvadekar is an unfailing patron. He contributes his personal savings towards holding an annual festival of folk plays (mostly of the Dashavtar folk groups from Konkan). Every year, Damodar Hall wears a festive look in December for a jamboree of travelling troupes from downtown Sindhudurg. Tirvadekar curates the plays to be presented in a given year. He also zeroes in on the troupes which can be hosted in Mumbai. He has acted small parts in some productions.
    "I am unable to set aside a great sum. But I try to cover their cost of travel and stay. My love for the theatre of Konkan is so well known that none of the natak mandals ever refuse to perform due to financial reasons." The festival has continued for the last 17 years, often incurring losses. If a semi-literate ninth grade -passed doorkeeper earning a monthly salary of Rs 4,000 can take pride in a self-driven mission to preserve a folk form from his native land, Mumbai's theatre industry cannot moan about a resource crisis.
    — Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre
    In pic: Creativity amidst chaos: The Damodar Hall at the buzzing Parel area. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #20 More than just cinema
    Let’s get movie-n
    Let's go to the movies, let's go see the stars… movie watching has been a perennial chill out favourite for decades. Now, though the experience of movie watching has changed completely, from single avenue entertainment to all-round chilling out. Buy the tickets online or stand in fairly quick-moving queues outside a multiplex counter. People make a day of it, beginning with meal, movie, or meal while watching movie. More money means a plush seat, even a lie-back and watch it experience. Interval means food to your seat so that you feel indulged or huge tubs of popcorn, coffee and some fairly off the eaten track kind of cuisine (dimsums) that some movie houses offer patrons. Post movie can mean shopping (many theatres are within malls or adjacent to them) or coffee at one of the coffee chains now in the city. A day in which you have pleasure, leisure topped off with latte.
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: House full: The junction near Metro Cinema. Pic/Rane Ashish
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #21 Water is your playground
    Be a watersport
    FEEL the salt spray on your body, hear the blood pound in your ears and get the adrenalin pumping as you learn the ropes of watersports. Mumbai has a seashore worth exploring and exploiting. It now offers trained professionals, teaching you watersports, with a few hours away from the concrete jungle and into the sea. Take advantage of the number of watersports opportunities at our beaches and sea fronts. Rise in the sky like a phoenix as you parasail. Zoom on the water like a Formula One champ who likes not the road but the sea and you water ski. There are opportunities. Go away to find them. Watersport has added a whole new dimension to your holidays or even your free time. With good equipment and adherence to safety measures, watersports is a way to find a challenge and chill out at sea. Become one with the sea and your water machine.
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: Above it all: Parasailing is an out of the world experience
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #22 Feet tapping
    Life is a game of dance
    The rhythm is gonna get you…
    Make your two left feet, into two deft feet. The city is dancing, and, dance has now become a very integral and sometimes entirely too serious part of life. We say go with the flow, do not get too earnest about awards and accodates what with all these dance shows on television. There are a number of persons doing dance classes simply for the fun of it and the city shows its eclecticism with an array of styles and forms that are taken from everywhere around the globe. Bollywood style dance is a peppy pick, but there is always the classical ballroom ( J J Rodriguez may be no more but his spirit lives on in his classes in Colaba) and an array of Indian classical dances that people practice. Yet another happy spin off of dancing is the cardiovascular benefits that come with that. For those who want yet more from dance, maybe a significant other in the dance class? The one with all those cool moves? Dance, chance, glance, romance…
    –Hemal Ashar
    In pics: This is the way we do it: Dancers at Carter Road Bandra, put the cool into moves. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
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    #23 Theatre time
    An address to remember
    New Mahim Municipal High School, Miya Mohammed Chhotani Marg, Cross Lane Number 3 is not a flattering upmarket address. But it is home to quality theatre. A post-6 pm (afterhours for the schoolchildren rushing home) peep into the first hall and its surrounding corridors may bring you close to a buzzing cosmos of Marathi theatre. The space is an inspiring example of how a small Mahim school hall can regenerate evening time theatre activity. The Mumbai Municipal Corporation has rented the space to Awishkar theatre group as part of its support infrastructure to educational and cultural outfits. Founded in 1971 by veterans like Vijay Tendulkar and Arvind Deshpande, the theatre group found this cozy home a decade ago. The group had been homeless ever since it lost the Chhabildas school space (Dadar) in 1992. It is rather rewarding that Awishkar has retained the momentum of its mega productions in the Mahim space as well. On any given evening, the group's senior member Arun Kakde (83-year old Kakde kaka) and his backstage associate Sitaram Mama open the Awishkar office. Soon, younger theatre-crazy souls trickle in, to set the makeshift stage afire with scintillating theatre.
    If you are lucky, you may catch a rehearsal in progress or may even get to see a 7 pm performance which is ticketed at a nominal price. Cutting chai and conversations are part of the package. Awishkar's books on its journey and individual award-winning plays are also on display. Interestingly, all Awishkar members purchase tickets for their own shows.
    – Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre
    In pic: Here it is: Kakde kaka at Awishkar cultural centre. Pic/Suresh KK
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    #24 when working out does not seem like all work
    Just weight and watch
    Gyms grow into stress free zones and social hubs
    The fitness boom and the six pack obsession has given rise to a special breed of person called the gym rat. Found mostly in different fitness centres sprinkled across the metropolis like confetti from a balloon, these gyms are also the ultimate chill out corners for those who may not be in the gym rat category, but, simply want to work off the stress of a bad work day.
    Gyms have now become little social hubs, as gym members extend their connections to outside that zone. With all the awareness about exercise, especially the one that says it releases endorphins, those feel good hormones in the brain, and in Mumbai where outdoorsy activity is sometimes impossible, the gym boom is here to stay.
    Then, take the endorsement for our Bollywood star, ye-of-the-Popeye biceps John Abraham and the rest of the glamour industry, and you know that the fitness industry has taken deep root in this city. The gym boom has spawned a number of fitness offshoots, today there are boot camps, spin cycling or spinning as it is called, only aerobics, special marathon training, kettleball workouts, mixed martial arts, kick boxing and more. It is evident that Mumbai is sweating not just for a sculpted body but a serene mind as well. Talk about chilling two birds with one stone… or should that read one dumbbell?
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: Work out zone: Boxer Mary Kom knows the benefits of using a gym
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    #25 Alternate lifestyles
    Confluence of events
    Karma the Liquid Lounge at Charni Road is the most famous of the party venues, and has seen more than a decade of well-attended mêlées, organized by Gaybombay which, along with The Humsafar Trust, have been the two support groups for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender people. The area is important because it is near Girgaum Chowpatty, the confluence of other events of gay significance in the city. The annual Pride parade ends here, and happy revellers congregate for hours after the march much to the chagrin of the policemen who have provide security cover, who shout along, 'You have made your point, now leave the area', not to much avail. Now, queer flashmobs are also threatening to become a regular feature. Back at the lounge, while the floor for international music is packed to the rafters, it's the Bollywood floor that starts creaking and heaving whenever Baby Doll or Chikni Chameli comes on - hypermasculinity be damned. Across the city, new party venues crop up every now and then, but Karma's is an enduring legacy, and its New Year parties are amongst the most anticipated gay events of the year, not just for Mumbaikars, there is a very visible contingent of out-of-towners each year.
    — Vikram Phukan
    In pic: The vibe: Akshay Khanna during an anniversary party of Karma & Liquid Lounge. Pic/Bipin Kokate. For representational purposes only
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #26 The beach still has its magic
    Yoohoo at Juhu
    Juhu beach is a favourite spot for many beachgoers in suburban Mumbai. The beach is very crowded I a the Silver beach and Tulip Star part of the beach is where many prefer to go. Preeti Pandit, Khar resident says, "I frequently visit the beach and prefer to walk to the not so crowded parts. The beach towards Tulip Star and Silver beach is much cleaner and with family one can spend some quality time without much disturbance." Gaurav Thankur, a Juhu resident says, "Sitting in the shade and enjoying a gola or kulfi is true bliss for my friends and me. Many people don't walk and so relax on the main beach which makes this endearing for people like us who love solitude." Vendors are hoping to put their plastic mats and umbrellas to good use now that the rains are here in earnest. Sailesh Sharma, who gives umbrellas and mats on hire at the beach says, "Earlier, we used mats and umbrellas for the sun and made a nice sum of money. Now, our umbrellas are nice and big and many people can fit under them." Whichever way you look at it, Mumbai's take a chill pill, beach is for enterprise, adventure and getting away from it all. Zimply.
    — Maleeva Rebello
    In pic: So high and sandsome: Juhu beach has always been a lure for the city's revellers. Pic/Kiran Bhalerao
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #27 The Maheshwari Udyan
    Part of our gay history
    The Park where you can be what you want to be
    The Maheshwari Udyan's place in the nebulous annals of India's gay movement has recently received a fillip because it was the chosen site (or the one for which permissions could most easily be put in place) for the Global Day of Rage, in which multitudes of concerned citizens of Mumbai, gay and straight alike, protested against the bigoted Supreme Court ruling. In the early days, Ashok Row Kavi never quite failed mentioning it in his frequent orations, recounting how Bombay Dost magazine would be sold discreetly by vendors for 10 times the cover price, and how outreach workers would thrust safe sex pamphlets (and free condoms) into the faces of men who seemed to be engaging in a conscious coupling, leaving them frequently flustered. Now, clandestine cruising in the dark is less in vogue.
    More and more young gay professionals are no longer cloistered by joint families and arranged marriages but have places of their own, but still choose to meet at this otherwise unasumming park surrounded by some of the few remaining art deco buildings in the city, for out-in-the-open encounters on a dry patch of grass, that need not lead to the bedroom but rather, to a perfectly chaste rendezvous at the nearby Café Mysore (more preferable to a gay clientele than the more high-profile Café Madras) for a steaming cup of filter coffee and a plateful of gun-powdered (malgapudi) idlis.
    — Vikram Phukan
    Maskerade but not charade: The Maheshwari Udyan, where the community still congregates
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #28 Running
    Shows a clean pair of heels
    There was a time when running in Mumbai was left to professionals, those skinny, sinewy men and women who took part in some kind of National athletics meets in some corners of India. They were not famous as their achievement would be inevitably buried under the tsunami of press reports about cricket. Yet, they ran on, sweat glistening, muscles straining, face grimacing in pain, while a coach with a stopwatch around his neck looked on grim faced, or shouting sarcastically, "are you fleet footed or flat footed?" Now, though, a running revolution has swept through Mumbai. Today, it is not professional athletes but amateur runners that are running on Mumbai's streets.
    They may not have the same speed but they certainly have the spirit.
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: Feet flying: The Mumbai Marathon held in January 19, 2014 exemplifies the city's running passion. Pic/Atul Kamble
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #29 Girgaum Chowpatty
    Beach side bonanza
    A walk on the beach in the rains at Girgaum Chowpatty with the waves lashing against the shore is a great monsoon treat for Mumbaikars. The beach has a tree that provides shade to the beach leach from the heat in summers and the rains during the monsoon. Jamshed Jha, Charni Road resident who visits the beach often says, "There is a tree at the beach near the water. My family and I often sit under that, whether it is raining or sunny."
    Another place to rest and lounge is the food court on the side of the beach that is near Marine Drive. Patralekha Apte who lives at Mumbai Central says, "The chaat at the beach is really a treat. During the monsoon, I opt for pav bhaji or ragda. Cooked things are always better and safer during the rains." The promenade from the Marine Drive side of the beach to the Wilson College side has a sitting space that is a favourite with many visitors as it has shade and place to sit. Mayur Mehra, Churchgate resident says, "During the rains the sitting space here gets wet, papers are always handy to wipe the seats and sit. When it is hot and sunny also this place is good to sit,. Relax and watch the world go by." There are few places in Mumbai that give you a luxury like that.
    — Maleeva Rebello
    In pic: Under the tree: This tree is a blessing for beach goers during the sun and rain. PIC/Prashant Waydande
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #30 Trek it out
    Go the extra mile
    The great outdoors beckons, with its lush greenery and promise of being fertile ground to contemplate profound truths
    If weekends are wind down times, try several trekking trails, especially apt this monsoon. You can form a group of likeminded individuals, those for who the great outdoors beckon alluringly, coax a couch potato to give up his favourite scenery, a television screen, or simply put yourself in more capable hands by registering with numerous trekking or hiking clubs in the city. A one day break where you are one with nature, glistening green leaves, red earth underneath your boots, the thunderous sound of a waterfall rising to a crescendo as you go near and the sound of birdsong… it is the perfect antidote to a work week. Watch the foliage around you burst to life in luscious green. See drops cling fervently on to the leaf and creeping vines. When life gets too black or white and grey all over, leave the stressboard behind and make those moves. Trek mate, Mumbai.
    — Hemal Ashar
    In pic: Go for it: A trekking group amidst scenery ablaze with colour. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #31 it is never curtains for food
    An appetite for theatre
    Are you the type who thinks of food and snacks immediately after devouring a good play? The place where you can get a sumptuous vegetarian snack or meal is Hare Krishna land (formally known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in Juhu. Adjacent to the 600-seater ISKCON auditorium, stands the Govinda restaurant. It is said in jest that theatregoers in the precinct patronise the food (more than the plays) with relish.
    A patron, who regularly watches Gujarati plays at ISKCON, says Govinda's veg food fare has become a habit for the family. "We are not sure if we enjoy the plays more than the food. If we go for a morning show, then it is our chance to hog the famous breakfast fare. If we go for evening summer entertainment, the amras puri is a must."
    If you are a foodie theatre buff, ISKCON serves many needs. But other auditoriums in the city invariably fall back on the humble vada for spicing up their menus. Shivaji Mandir and Yashwant Natya Mandir are quite known for their hot vadas as of now.
    But as the myth goes, no other vada tastes better than the famous Chhabildas Vada. This vada sold like a hot cake during the glorious seventies' era of the Chhabildas Theatre movement, which operated from the small school hall in Dadar.
    Deriving its identity and taxonomy from the theatre performers of the time, the vada provided culinary dimensions to the theatre of those times. Many years have passed since the movement died down. Newer outfits have replaced older theatre organisations.
    But the Chhabildas vada is etched in theatre history. Vended on the crowded old street outside Dadar station, it is part of the city's consciousness.
    — Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre
    In pic: Vada hua sanam: The street near Dadar station with its trademark Chhabildas vada. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #32 Worli fort: The sea, city and a village WORLI Fort is located near a fishing village. The smell of fish is naturally all pervasive. Built by the British in 1675, this fort is also like a watch tower and gives a splendid view of the city of Mumbai and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The fort is well-maintained and has a temple as well as a gym. Subash Mehra, 34, Walkeshwar resident says, "The view of the city including that ofs the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is majestic. I love coming here with my wife to enjoy the cool, evening breeze on weekends." Pushpa Manji, a resident of Worli village who sells snacks says, "My vada pav and chips stall gets a lot of patronage from hungry fort visitors. Fishing is our primary occupation but many women do a part time business of selling refreshments to visitors here to earn an extra buck." "A splendid view of small fishing boats in the sea, Mumbai's skyscrapers lining the horizon on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other is what this fort offers. I am a fan of history and love visiting the forts in the city as they are part of Mumbai's rich history," says Natasha D'souza, 29, a history teacher. — Maleeva Rebello
    In pic: Fortress: Worli Fort stands like a sentinel. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #33 Book it: It is the four letter word your teacher will never admonish you flaunting, read. The lost art of reading must make a comeback. Do not just browse in bookstores and then settle down on the couch for a cup of coffee. Today, bookstores sell magnets, bags, luggage, coffee and and and… lest you forget… books too. These though, are not the only places to pick up a book, and at times, the prices will negate the stress free factor. Try the city's few circulating libraries. If there is one fairly close to where you live or work, become a member. If not, then try the city's famous pavement libraries. There are a couple in S Mumbai and at several train stations too. How these work is that you pick up a book you want to read and pay a certain charge for it. Then, after you finish, you simply return the book and you get back a certain sum of money. The rest, the bookseller keeps and that, dear reader, is your reading charge. A neat and nifty arrangement. Go for it, get a book and lose yourself in it. — Hemal Ashar In pic: Hook that book: A great habit. Do not let it go. Pic/Getty Images
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #34 An arts circle helps and heals
    With a flourish
    A Matunga address ensures that it does all to keep tradition alive
    THE 37-year-old Karnataka Sangh premises, situated on the Kataria Marg of Matunga, are best known for the traditional Yakshagana folk form shows which run late night. Not just those hailing from Karnataka, but Mumbaikars of all hues have preferred this space for watching the colourful troupes who present (from dusk to dawn) the interactive form that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style. There are many who go to the Sangh's main Vishveshwaraiyya Hall to catch Tulu theatre groups in action. But this theatre is home to an uninterrupted Sunday musical feast for the last 21 years. This perasure, was set up in response to the negativity generated by the seriforming arts circle, a multi-regional platform to promote aesthetic pleal bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993. As with the rest of the city, Mahim and Matunga areas were adversely affected by the explosions, naturally resulting in reduced socialization and interfaith mingling. The Karnataka Sangh body (now completed 80 years) thought music could serve as a healer in these turbulent times. Thus was born the Kala Bharati arts circle! Initially, it was difficult to attract patrons, who felt insecure about getting out of their houses on Sundays. Recalls the Sangh president, P G Burde, "Those were the days of Doordarshan and its most popular Ramayan and Mahabharat serials. We had to therefore weather tough competition for the Sunday slot. We sent invites and brochures to residential hotels, embassies and consulates."
    Today, the Kala Bharati mornings are a source of immense joy. Sundays spread over two decades have witnessed a variety of performances, featuring 22 foreign artistes. Artistes from different fields have chipped in, ranging from Sudha Karmarkar to Ustad Zakir Husain to Father Barbosa to Juhi Chawla. The Karnataka Sangh is a title that denotes a 'regional' nomenclature, but its Sunday offerings show a clear preference for a varied cosmopolitan national menu. Karnataka is a unique state where both Karnatic and Hindustani music is popular, which is why Kalabharati features artistes from both streams. Some Sundays are kept aside for one-act plays in Hindi and Marathi. Senior singer-artistes from Marathi musical dramas are also given pride of place in the schedule. Marathi theatre flourishes in Karnataka Sangh, to state the least. — Sumedha Raikar-Mhatre In pic: Song sangh true: Prakash G Burde, president Karnataka Sangh. Pic/Suresh KK
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #35 Street eat treat: Cartoon character Jughead Jones, part of the Archies comics series is known for the formidable stacks of burgers he can down and milkshakes he can quaff in one go, at the Riverdale hangout called Pop Tate's, featuring in the comics. Even if you cannot keep up with this Jones, appetite wise, the city's street food says only one thing, dig in and zone out. Go street food eating, and hang like they say in local parlance, the hygiene. Which of course, does not mean that every street food corner is unhygienic but you know what we mean, sometimes in life, it is time to go with Juggie Jones's philosophy in life: when in doubt, pig out. So, make the nearest nukkad yours for a day. Mumbai has so much to offer, crisp dosas straight off the tawa that can resemble flying saucers, sandwiches now available at your calorie-conscious corner in white or brown bread with less butter more butter and even 'diet' sandwiches. Waistline va va voom? Who cares a damn, give me a vada pav straight from the frying pan. Then of course, are the chaat busters like sev puri, paani puri, bhel, ragda pattice and now the Oriental version of the bhel, the Chinese bhel, which may not be the Dalai Lama's favourite but gives credence to the Chinese adage: Let China sleep, when she awakes the world will tremble. But, why politicize street food? Simply slurp and burp. Disgusting. — Hemal Ashar In pic: Eat is on: The famous Anand vada pav, opposite Mithibai College, Vile Parle. Pic/Nimesh Dave
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  • 35th anniversary special: 35 ways to chill out in Mumbai
    #33 Book it: It is the four letter word your teacher will never admonish you flaunting, read. The lost art of reading must make a comeback. Do not just browse in bookstores and then settle down on the couch for a cup of coffee. Today, bookstores sell magnets, bags, luggage, coffee and and and… lest you forget… books too. These though, are not the only places to pick up a book, and at times, the prices will negate the stress free factor. Try the city's few circulating libraries. If there is one fairly close to where you live or work, become a member. If not, then try the city's famous pavement libraries. There are a couple in S Mumbai and at several train stations too. How these work is that you pick up a book you want to read and pay a certain charge for it. Then, after you finish, you simply return the book and you get back a certain sum of money. The rest, the bookseller keeps and that, dear reader, is your reading charge. A neat and nifty arrangement. Go for it, get a book and lose yourself in it. — Hemal Ashar In pic: Song sangh true: Prakash G Burde, president Karnataka Sangh. Pic/Suresh KK
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About The Gallery

Whether it is indulging oneself at a spa or sweating it out running, Mumbai de-stresses in different ways. We list down some 'chill out' mantras for Mumbaikars

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