The Cafe hidden away in plain site.
This morning I throw my leather strapped man bag over my shoulders and head on down the stairs with excitement as to what lies ahead. In Mumbai, as the weather turns a colder in the mornings, well a little colder, I find myself being able to walk along and really enjoy myself, taking in the sites of an old city bathed in the early morning amber light.
This story doesn’t start here though, it starts last night around 6:30pm-ish where I was feeling the need to get out a bit and explore. The narrow lanes and roads framed with old classic buildings look so charming I am quite happy to be the gawking tourist. This continued for about an hour and a half, walking past little what I call pocked businesses (so small you could fit them in your pocket) such as shoe repairmen, tailors, fruit vendors and general stores. Often with a person busily working away, the street is their lobby with a never-ending supply of clientele. Through this slow and windy journey, I chanced upon a cafe that looks like it was ripped up from the streets of Richmond (an arty inner suburb of Melbourne) and plonked right in the middle of a bunch of single story or double story houses in Bandra. Their lighting golden, the polished concrete floors, wooden table and chairs is so creates a perfect colour pallet for me to enjoy.
Ok that sounds a bit wankey, let’s just say it looked really nice and homely, inviting like a log fire on a cold day. However I had a problem. It was 6:30 pm, so do I risk having a coffee now and proceed to stay up for the entire night. What if their coffee is exceptionally strong and tasty!? Chances are the coffee is, a place like this doesn’t seem like they would go to all the effort to make it look so stylish and welcoming and then the coffee just say “Aahhh bugger it, just give them instant coffee”.
So sadly I am reminded that I am an adult and so I need to make big boy decisions, with a heavy heart I walk away and decide to come back tomorrow and see what it’s like. I also take a photo of the place to use the GPS to mark its location. I honestly have no idea where I am in reference to our house so there is a real risk I would never be able to find this place again.
The next morning I pull up the photo, use the app I have loved for years and years and years (Day One) for it to tell me where this place is. So let me introduce you to the place I am walking to this morning! Birdsong Organic Cafe!
It’s off the main road nestled in Nagrana Lane. Google Maps know where it is through so I lock in the location and set to walking! Bloody hell Bandra is charming early in the morning! Once again I walk through laneway after laneway where I stumble on a park where a group of guys are playing a morning game of cricket with a tennis ball instead of a cricket ball, dirt instead of grass and whatever clothes they want to wear instead of a uniform. That aside they play with a ferocity as if they were representing their country on our hallowed ground known as the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). I take a moment to lean up against the fence to watch the game. The bowler runs to the wicket and delivers a lightning paced ball to the off side. The batsman with a smooth action hits the ball for a comfortable single. With the ball returned to the bowler he walks back to his mark and inspects the tennis ball for I guess imperfections, turns and approaches. His run up is about 20% faster than before, the arm whips back and forth to deliver a lightning ball aimed directly at the stumps! However it bounces a little short and being well a tennis ball it bounces really high and the batsman anticipating this gracefully smacks the crap out of the ball to the right side, he finds the gap between to running fieldsman and scores a four!
I can’t help myself I launch into applause! Such a bowl and shot demand no less! About three seconds in and being the only person at the ground watching who wasn’t playing actually applauding a near fieldsman looks at me and visibly beamed with pride. We exchange a knowing universal nod of the head and I finish my applause. The fact that he was beaming and yet his team had just had four runs scored against them speaks volumes. Wonderful heartwarming volumes.
I couldn’t stay, I made a note to come back past this way on my return walk and watch the game a while. However my destiny sees me with a lovely cup of coffee from a place that knows how to be appealing and cosy.
It’s part of the charm of the place that it’s nestled in a laneway. If the coffee works out I can see this being my morning place to come to and charge up for the day. I walk through the wooden French doors and takes the place in. There is a nice elevated area and wooden stairs leading up, this adds to the comfy feeling however under that was a single table in the corner. Yeah, that has my name on it 🙂
Checking with the clerk if they take card he rushes up to me as I am about to sit down and apologises, the card machine is not working right now. The technician has been called but he doesn’t know when he will arrive.
I need to start carrying cash all the time!!!! I think to myself!
I am visibly crestfallen, this means that all plans are off, no coffee for me… bugger.
This is when he says, ‘what were you looking to order’
‘Oh just coffee’ I answer resembling a six-year-old child on the verge of a good sulk.
‘No problem, I will make for you, if the machine is not working is ok, we will work out’.
‘Really!? Because you have my word that I will pay! He gives me that nod of the head that I now know it’s a visual version of us Aussies saying ‘No worries’ and heads off to make my coffee.. Warmed by a stranger putting trust and faith in another stranger I sit down and take in the cafe.
This place is just so damn charming! You can see the houses on the other side of the lane, the hanging lights and the simple chair table combination. This is the absolutely perfect recharge spot, meeting spot a place to be enjoyed by yourself or with company. The light isn’t harsh which does have a somber effect on the photos taken but rest assured it’s extremely cosy and a pleasure to just sit in.
A classic porcelain mug here. Sure you know me and how much I like a coarse handheld mug but this doesn’t take anything away from the experience, there is ample thumb room as well.
I ordered a strong latte and my god does it deliver! This one is strong! You know that end scene of Guardians of the Galaxy when Quin is holding the infinity stone? When he finally realises it’s power and barely contains it.. Well that’s me for this coffee! The taste just keeps on building until I sit back in my chair eyebrows raised until it eventually subsides. Oh hellooo! This is the slap in the face I have been looking for!! Oh it is rich and strong and rich and strong and rich and strong and wow am I going to be bouncing off the walls!!! The only down side to this rough ride of a coffee is that I would normally order a second but time I abstain. Instead, I just soak up the view and atmosphere.
However like all things this visit comes to an end. It’s time to find out if the technician has arrived and he or she has waved their magical wand and order from a chaotic world has been restored. Or am I to walk back home and gather the cash which should have grabbed in the first place.
The machine works, I pay and walk outside to the waiting daylight.
As I walk through the lanes and alleyways I come across the cricket match still in progress. I have no idea what the score is, however, I stand against the fence under the shade of a tree and just watch a while. The two teams are playing for keeps, one batsman in particular is giving Sachin Tendulkar run for his money. I wonder if the ball has offended his mother or something to cause that level of insult because he is smacking the absolute crap out of it. I hear the crack or the wood on, well, whatever tennis balls are made from, let’s call it ‘felt’ and the ball tears off in every direction. One such smack was high in the mid centre and three fieldsmen run to claim the sacred catch, hands outstretched their calculations were way off as the ball lands in the perfect middle of their triangle. The bowler is not pleased at all. Hands are waved, words are said and feelings are expressed. I can’t blame the bowler, this over is going to be terrible for him and to finally claim this wicket after such damage would of been a balm to sooth the sting of being smacked around the field. His over is, well, over and another bowlder steps in. Eyes the batsman with menace and then delivers his spin bowl.
Next delivery kicks up extremely high, the batsman moves forward to belt the ball but this time misses! The ball moves quickly to the wicket keeper who in smacks the ball with on hand to the wickets and he is stumped out! Cheers erupt from myself and two other people watching the game. Not for the loss of the batsman or for the team who got him out, but for a quality piece of cricket witnessed on a Diwalli afternoon.
Sadly though it’s time to go, reminded I have to pack as for tomorrow I travel back to Australia to photograph a few weddings!