Periodically there are rumours that Naaz, the Irani restaurant on Malabar Hill with arguably the best and most panoramic view of Bombay, is for sale. One remour is that Nelson Wang of China Garden is buying it and Parmeshwar Godrej is doing it up with a glass wall three decks high that will make the dancers inside (it would be a disco) feel they are dacning on air over thebay of Bombay. Another rumour is that Vithal Kamat (of Kamat restaurants, Kamat Khandala, Kamat Airport Plaza, etc.) is buying it to sell rava dossas and idli sambar.
The third rumour is that the Iranis are not selling it. Which, I think, would be the best solution of all. Change there must be the best solution of all. Change there must be, but let us not have too much of it.
I remember the old Parisian on Marine Drive, underneath Mr. Nana Chudasama's one-time slogans. A lovely bright white place, open to the sea breezes (none of your air-conditioning), on Sunday evenings it used to be packed with families drinking strawberry milk-shakes from silver tumblers. The drinking straws has just come to Bombay then and children used to collect them, as they do giveaway shopsticks in the more posh Chinese restaurants now or swizzle sticks in Gujarati-owned liquor bars.
Now they have got Talk-Of-The-Town there, which is a good restaurant (anything the Ambassador's have is good), but not the same thing.
And I remember Bombelli's, a little further down the same road, best coffee in town, genuine Italian made in the only imported percolator in Bombay, and rich black forests with layers upon layers of chocolate and cream. Now they have got something called Swapna there. The last time I passed by it, it was very kindly playing loud music for the whole street to hear and enjoy.
And still further down the same road was Gourdons, restaurant and tea-room. It werved very proper English food: brown suop, lamb cutlet with mint sauce, cream potatoes and glazed carrots, lettuce salad with garlic dressing, and carameol custard. Price Rs. 9. And at the tea room next door, every morning I used door, every morning I used to have phudina tea with toast and butter, with a friend, who, the same Mr. Vithal Kamat, standing next-door at his Asiatic, and observing the world with his already sharp, shrewd eyes, though was my secretary.
I have never had a secretary, and I can never have one, since I do not know how to dictate thing and have to do all my own typing.
And the Asiatic itself, the restaurant, has disappeared. First a part of it was sold to Alitalia, then another part to a garment shop, finally the entire restaurant has disappered. It was an old-style Irani restaurant, with waiters wearing smart white drill trousers and shirts, black waist-coats, and chappals.
I think, the family the owned Asiatic was associated with the family that owns Naaz. Which makes the circle complete. And Naaz is still surviving in its original form, let us be thankful for that.