The streets of Colaba are no ordinary roads, they speak of an India beyond, which is riddled with snakes, charmed by monkeys and elephants, and bewitched by fakirs and maharajas. The hawkers here don’t sell chappals and handkerchiefs, no. No vegetables or track pants and T-shirts, no, not here! Here, instead, they suffuse the pavements with exotic perfumes and indigenous drums beat. On the streets you will find copper compasses and ivory tortoises, silver walking sticks and bedizened fumes of spices and incense sticks. And beads, old telephones with hand sets as heavy as dumbbells, horns picked up from rickshaws and lined neatly on the railing of the footpath, scissors, daggers, necklace, maps (outrageously outdated!), clocks, chimes and smoking pipes, sadhus with their own cornucopia of herbs, and swarms of firangs lining up to these hawker to buy little odds and ends at exorbitant rates for their antique value. The high streets with neon lights, booming with the biggest banners, look somberly at spectacle. And in the middle of this pandemonium, stands Café Mondegar.

Café Mondegar is crowded beyond the norms of any normal café. Café Mondegar serves you wines and beer, steaks and chips, fries and prawns, poatatoes, tomatoes, chillies and cardamom, on a table that is no bigger than the computer screen you are reading this on. Puffs of tobacco and pungency of rings of onions dipped in vinegar, and conversations hanging on to glossy lips like cigarettes, and busy waiters signaling each other in their own coded smiles and frowns, businessmen and lovers, guitarists and philanthropist, kurta-clad communists and beady eyed socialites, all find their place in this haven. And like cerulean blue waters soak the background of a Japaneese painting, there is the hum of good music that fills in the little gaps that still remain in the din. Notes from Pearl Jam, Guns and Roses, Pink Floyd, Allman Brothers, U2, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, find their place at the end of every unfinished sentence of yours, vibrate with every movement of your breath, and then remain pasted on the graffiti that adorn the walls. Time ticks, old faces move out, new faces move in to take their place. Mondegar never stops, metaphorically being alive through the joys and whims that satiate the tables, chuckling at the fancies of Adam and girl…

The Gateway of India is a mere ten minutes walk from the Café. A mosquito net protecting the great monument against the inequities of weather, and the motor-hums of ferries that are roped to the T-shaped rocks, the cloudless inky sky, the sound of moccasins of the beetle-mouthed sailors, calling you to join him in swelling seas at night…

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