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   I have lived in the Churchgate area now for so long... (January 16, 1990)

I have lived in the Churchgate area now for so long that I think I will finally die there.

For most people, it may be a railwaystation, for me it is my home territory. I buy my tel-walla tur dal and special deluxe basmati at Jyoti, my vegetables at Suryodaya, my bread and eggs from a man siting under a tree opposite the CCI.

I have my hair cut at Air-Cool, where they play military marches over the police address system (same as at Samovar) and where the barbers are the fastest anywhere in the world, with an average in the world, with an average of seven minutes per head. I am so used to the place that when they replaced the barber shop with a video games' parlour for a few months, I did not have my hair cut.

The post-office is next-door and Dr. Dayal, with his healing touch for all coughs, colds and viruses, the door after the next-door. And downstairs there are wheel-barrows filled with plantains, oranges in the season, watermelons, bhel-puri, and, late in the night, pau-bhaji stall. How many times, finding myself without food and with the restaurants closed for the day, have I assuaged my hunger with a 1 a.m. special pau bhaji in Amul butter (aah, Amul…!)

For many years, I used to have my dinner at the Churchgate station cafeteria, one day fish curry and rice, the following day mutton curry and rice, then repeat, fish curry and rice, etc. The rice weighed, according to railway catering regulations, and served in so many ounces, two thin pieces of a thin pomfret, the curry spiced and tangy. The cafeteria si smodernised now, they only serve chutney sandwiches and medhu wada in packets.

And all the other restaurants in the area that I have patronised: Gaurdon's, lamb cutlets in mint sauce, and lettuce salad with flakes of garlic; and Stadium, pulao-dal on Mondays, dhansak on Thursday s, fish curry on Friday s, mutton curry on Sundays. I used to pop down on Sunday afternoons for the mutton curry, then rush back home to hear AFST, angry and shouting on the radio. Those were the days of the radio. Now, when somebody mentions radio, I ask - what's radio?

Gourdon is gone, the Arabs have opened a bank there; and Stadium has been modernised, like the railway cafeteria, it has become an Irani restaurant serving Chinese food, Khomeini would have never tolerated it.

But there are other restaurants: Berry's, at least the food, and Gaylord is Gaylord (also, at least the food), and, ah, yes, Society, the only restaurant in town serving authentic continental food. That is my certificate.

And all my drinking holes are just arround, Ritz, though they have sawn-off the bar in half, or more than half; Ambassador, the CCI bar, and the little Hut, a shack selling illicit liquor on the periphery of the Brabourne Stadium.

The Oval on one side, the sea on the other, now the added pleasure of the Rajabai Clock Tower lit up nightly through kind courtesy of two-time Sheriff Nana Chudasama. Chruchgate has been a good place to live in and it may be a good place to finally (after many years) die in. for one thing, the Chandanwadi crematoriun is next door; I wouldn't have to call a hearse, I could walk across.

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