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Saturday, January 29, 2011

License to kill…errr..COOK

HULLO Mumbo Jojos!
The QUIRK masters had a meeting and decided to take the quirking a level up. We spoke about art, culture, beauty holidaying but not food. So here we serve you a platter of QUINK!

Would you fancy eating something that the Emperor of Japan has been officially forbidden not to for safety reasons? Would you like a plate of something that is 1200 times more poisonous than cyanide? Would you enjoy eating something that MIGHT paralyze your muscles leading to death by asphyxiation?

After all the ‘would yous’ if you're still interested in trying it …we have ‘FUGU’ for you!

Fugu or the blow fish is a Japanese delicacy. The fish gulps a lot of water, swelling up to a spiky balloon making it impossible to be swallowed by predators. However, the danger we are talking about is tetrodotoxin. One Fugu contains enough of this toxin to kill 30 people. Therefore, it has to be carefully prepared to remove toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat. Only chefs who have acquired a license after rigorous training are allowed to cook it. A Fugu chef has to sample the dish himself before serving it. The deaths that have been known to occur are due to illegal fishing and cooking of the fish.

Records reveal that 6.8 % deaths have occurred due to consumption in restaurants. In the last 10 years, 321 people have fallen ill and 26 people have died in Japan alone. The sale of this fish is forbidden in the European Union.

In Mumbay it is available at the oriental restaurant San Qi at the Four Seasons Hotel.

So go ahead and enjoy the taste of death!

Master Dhoro Zoro.

p.s. there is no antidote to this toxin ;)   

Flight of Fancy

Howdy Mumbo Jojos,
My dream is to fly 
Over the rainbow so high 
My dream is to fly 
Over the rainbow so high 
-Yves Larock

Yves may not have written this song about his desire to fly but it fits that description perfectly. And if you have that desire too, I’m here to tell you how to fulfil it, right here in the city!

I know what you’re thinking. Flying, in Mumbai?  Well, yes. But not the kind of flying you’re imagining (I know we all loved Top Gun but there is no shortcut to becoming a pilot...YET). I’m talking about paragliding!

Paragliding is a thrilling and adrenalin-pumping sport in which a person can fly by maneuvering a hand glider. There are many types of paragliding but the ones available in Mumbai are mountain/hill paragliding and winching. These are classified according to the type of launch: from a hilltop using natural resources or from the ground using the wind and external support.  

Basic, intermediate and certification courses are all available. The basic course varies from a day to a three-day workshop. This is meant for people who want to try it out for fun. The intermediate course is longer and trains you to fly without supervision and earns you a novice level certificate. Although you don’t need a license to paraglide in India, you cannot fly everywhere. Thus a certification course gives permission to fly in specific locations. However, prerequisites for this are ownership of flying equipment and experience of completing at least 50 flights in the country.

The basic course can cost you anywhere between Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 9,500 depending on the duration and the institute.

Now I’m sure you’re dying to find out where it happens. The answer is: Space Apple, Virar! Well, it’s not technically Mumbai but it’s as close as can be. Virar is ideal as it has vast open lands, many different types of hills and favourable weather conditions in the morning and evening.

If you want to go away for the weekend and try it out, Nirvana Adventures, Kamshet (110 kms away) is the place.  Their package is inclusive of food and accommodation.

Although these institutes have licensed instructors, be sure to double check safety measures and ask questions in case of doubts.

Well, itching to try it out? Me too...come to think of it, I’m free this weekend :D

Well...that’s all for this QUINK folks...until next time...I believe I can fly :D

And remember to Quirk up!
-Master Blincca

Check out
Space Apple:
Nirvana Adventures:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

China Calling

Ni hao! (Chinese for Hello)

This is not some post about a Chinese restaurant if that’s what the title made you think. Chinese restaurants are so widespread in Mumbai, you can never be too far from one. And as you know, we do not tell you about the usual stuff that you already know about.

So what do you do on a lazy day when you’re looking to get away from the maddening crowds of the bustling city of Mumbai? Want some peace and quiet? Yes, I’m talking temples today!! So you might have visited the famous Siddhivinayak Temple and the Haji Ali dargah, must-dos on every remotely religious tourist’s itinerary, now how about a visit to the Chinese temple in Mumbai? Did you even know there existed one?
Huan ying (welcome) to Kwan Tai Shek, Mumbai’s only Chinese temple.

Kwan Tai Shek sits huddled up in the quiet lanes of the Mazagaon Docks, far away from the chaos of the city.  This Chinese shrine is more than a 100 years old and buzzes with devotees on the day of the Chinese New Year. At first sight, you might not think that the place bears the slightest resemblance to a temple. It is only when you enter, and find yourself surrounded by the red walls of the tiny temple, do you feel that you’re inside one. Red has been used consciously on the walls as the Chinese consider it auspicious and the temple is devoid of the typical ornamental decorations. Right at the entrance there is a striking picture of the Chinese God, Quan Kung, the mighty and righteous warrior. On the right hand side of the entrance there is a huge drum, which seems to be serving the purpose of a bell, like in the Hindu temples.

The temple, maintained by the donations given by the devotees, is fast losing its funds because the number of devotees has reduced drastically. Where scores of people used to pay homage in the shrine, today the visits are restricted to the Chinese New Year only and this one-of-a-kind shrine is now in danger of becoming a forgotten tradition.

So, K’wan (c’mon) you Mumbo Jojo’s, Tai your shoelaces and Shek your limbs, let us not wait for the Chinese New Year and pay a visit to the Kwan Tai Shek temple today. All you people wanting to pray and ask for forgiveness for your past sins (read: all those epic beer drinking nights you’ve had, tsk tsk) here’s your chance to pray to Quan Kung for salvation. After all, its not everyday that you get to pray in a Chinese temple in India.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Zai jian (Goodbye)

P.S. Now you’ve also learnt to say hello and goodbye in Chinese!  
Until next time guys, Quirk it up !!
-Master Gayu Panda 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tonight's gonna be a good night

Howdy Mumbo Jojos,

One of the reasons we love our city so much is because of its night life, right? The vibe and the energy are so addictive! But aren’t there times you wish the night life experience had more to offer? I bet there are many nights when you’re in the mood to let you hair down and do something different but are bored of the same scene. That’s why I feel as if we, the quirk masters, and the guys behind The Bombay Elektrik Project are brothers from another mother (except that we are girls :D)

The Bombay Elektrik Project (BEP) is a company which provides alternative nightlife entertainment solutions. I love that word alternative. It signifies everything BEP is. It’s an alternative to and freedom from the run-of-the-mill night life options in the city. It’s unique, edgy and entertaining as hell!

So you have Monday Night Poetry Slam, where amateur poets present their work to be judged to win cash and bragging rights for the month, Monday Shorts, a short films screening event showcasing everything from world cinema to queer cinema, open mic nights for budding musicians and amateur stand-up comics (called Unplugd and Krack U Up respectively), beer pong (yes, we finally have your attention, don’t we?) and live gigs by bands from India(such as Shaair and Func, MIDIval Punditz) and all over the world in genres like reggae, electronica, indie, jazz, African music and other such exotic stuff!

What’s amazing about BEP is not only that they organize these events but also that they are serious about providing a platform for talent, be it music, poetry or comedy. They work at the grass root level, organizing workshops in music, film, poetry and art.

Their events are held all over the city but particularly at Café Goa Bistro and Grill, Bandra and Wink at the Taj President, Cuffe Parade.

Some of their upcoming events are

Monday Night Slam on February 7th at Café Goa- This time BEP is going to hold the event according to official poetry slam format as they want to prepare their poets for the International Arena for Spoken Word. So, the poets will be judged by random audience members!

Mingle-A pub Quiz with a difference on February 16th at Café Goa: It’s more than a quiz. It’s an opportunity to meet new people who have the same interest as you-quizzing! Everyone will be assigned a table when they come in and the winning table at the end of the night will have their tab picked up by the venue.

Beer Pong- Happening very soon...

I feel like BEP has a cosmic connection with us party-maniacs in the city because they’ve read our minds so perfectly! All hail the great BEP!

Well, it’s time for me to wrap up here to go and unearth some other quirk treasures..

Until then, remember to QUIRK UP!
-Master Blincca

Check out The Bombay Elektrik Project on Facebook

Café Goa- Agnelo Building, Khadeshwari Mandir Marg, Off St. John Baptist Road, Bandra (W),Mumbai

Wink- Taj President Hotel, G D Somani Rd, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The blockbuster 'Deewar'

Hullo Mumbo Jojos!

Time to get the hidden artsy nerd in you out! Like we promised, we would get something novel for you to do in the city of Mumbay everyday; today’s to do fun would also end up making the city itself quirkier!

Put on some sun screen and get ready for your day with brushes, paints, ideas and QUIRK with (drumroll) ‘TheWall Project’!

The wall project was first started in Mumbay by some Mumbo Jojos who wanted to add colour to the boring grey walls of the city. After certain permissions in hand, these guys literally got art to the streets. 

They first started on Chapel Road in Bandra and later moved on to the Tulsi pipe road from Mahim station all the way upto Phoenix mills. This project was known as the ‘Great Wall of Mumbai’ where everyone from street kids to international graffiti artists turned up. The result-tobacco stained walls transformed into artistic graffiti laden walls worth featuring in hip-hop videos. 

The themes vary from Bruce Lee to global warming. The main idea is to beautify barren walls such that passers by who have no time to look at themselves in the mirror would take a minute, stop and notice the change. Also, it serves as a portfolio for artists who have been known to get job offers based on their work on the walls. These murals also aid Graffiti tourism!

Many walls along the Tulsi pipe road are yet to be painted; for which the permission has already been granted by the B.M.C. Join their community on Facebook and you’ll receive their notifications about any project happening around in which you can help out.

The main agenda is beautification, expression of one’s ideas through art, social responsibility, mutual understanding or the simple idea to do something novel.

I am a part of this project too..In fact these pics are from my first time with the project...

So go ahead…paint the town red, green, yellow or any other colour your mind orders you to!

This is Master Dhoro Zoro paintin…errrr signing off!
Til then Quirk up!
Check out 'The Wall Project' on Facebook:

Induction of new core members: 4th February, 2011

Next painting project: 6th February, 2011 at Andheri

Monday, January 24, 2011

A walk down memory lane...

It all began with rumbling stomachs one early (by our standards!) morning. We were done for the day at 9 am and craved nothing but a big breakfast. By some stroke of fate, we ended up at the Irani café, B.Merwan.  Surrounded by mawa cake, eggs and coffee, while a discussion about the state of Irani cafés ensued, we decided our quirk of the day- touring five of the oldest joints in the city.
A quick Google search showed that all of them incidentally were Irani cafés and in fact, we were at one of them.

B. Merwan at Grant Road was established in 1914 and as we walked in, we felt we had stepped into history. This quaint little place has retained its character through the years; with the characteristic plastic chairs, mirrors (most Irani cafés used them to make the place look bigger) and marble table tops.

We had heard rumours that by afternoon much of the treasured mawa cakes get sold off. Thankfully, we were on time and the sweet smell of the day’s lot of baked goodies assured that we would warm our bellies soon.

B.Merwan has kept its menu the same since the past 97 years. Unlike a lot of other Irani joints, they have not succumbed to selling Chinese food alongside the regular bun maska and khari (that makes us think; have the Chinese not left any business or commodity untouched in India?).

After the first bite of the mawa cake (Rs. 10), we realized why they disappear by afternoon. The rest of the fare was a delicious double omlette fry (Rs. 15) and coffee (Rs. 14). This was the only day when we followed the advice of the doctor about starting the day with a heavy breakfast (We wish we could start our day at these cafés every day though!)

Next up on our list was Café Wellington, believed to be the oldest Irani café in the city, started in the late 1800’s. Although we had the address, finding this café was a Herculean task as we had to navigate through huge crowds in narrow streets of bazaars which looked straight out of the movies. However, we realized that Old Mumbai is beautiful Mumbai and took it all in.

Just as we had almost given up hope of finding it, there it was. Unfortunately, Wellington is no longer an Irani restaurant. Irani cafés in Mumbai have similar stories to tell. They have either closed down, or converted to Indian restaurants or are just simply dying out. There was a time, during the British rule, when they were found at every corner. It’s sad that the numbers are reducing.

Dejected and very hungry (it had been quite a walk!), we stopped to strategize our next move when fate interrupted again. Diagonally opposite from Café Wellington stood Kyani!

Established in 1904 by Farooq Shokri, Kyani is the oldest existing Irani café in the city. Featured in many Bollywood movies (recently in Dhobi Ghat) and believed to be a favourite of painter MF Hussain, Kyani is a symbol of everything an Irani café is. Checkered floor, tables covered with check or floral print table clothes, the same plastic chairs, an old but jolly looking proprietor seated at the entrance greeting you with a welcoming smile while he orders the ‘dikras’(Parsi for boy, meaning waiter) around, bakery and confectionary items stored in huge glass containers, yummy food and modest prices.

We begin with a portion of potato wedges (Rs.20) and staple Iranian diet, bun maska (Rs. 12). The bun maska is exactly what we had expected; fresh bread with oodles of butter and the wedges don’t disappoint (a little oily though but great for the price!) Next we order chicken cheese bhurjee with pav (Rs. 45) and eat to our heart’s content. We finish off with coffee (Rs. 9) and mawa cake (Rs. 10, and yes, we vowed to eat mawa cake at each of these joints seeing as it is one of the most popular desserts here. Also, it was comfort food as it reminded us of our childhood, tasting as it did like ‘Kismi’ bars).

There was another Irani opposite Kyani back in the olden days called Bastani but it has closed down now just like Brabourne.

We were thoroughly enjoying our tour but after walking throughout the better part of the morning, we wanted to give our legs some rest and catch a movie. And in keeping with the theme of the day, we went to Excelsior Cinema rather than the newer, Sterling.

After the movie, we dropped in next door to Excelsior Café, another Irani joint established in 1919. And here again we found the same checkered floor, the same jolly proprietor and yes, mirrors with menu items displayed.

However, we found Excelsior to be the least Irani looking of all the cafés we had visited and one look at the menu confirmed what we had been suspecting. As we had said earlier, many of these places, in order to sustain themselves have changed their appearance to more mainstream and now serve a menu to go with it. Excelsior is such a victim with Lebanese and Chinese cuisine weighing heavily on its menu.

It is also more expensive than the others with bun maska at Rs.20 and coffee at Rs. 25. However, Excelsior has something the others don’t. Its Bombil fry (Duck) is to die for and at Rs. 130 is a steal! Having stuffed ourselves earlier in the day, none of us had the stomach for it but people at nearby tables said they swore by it.

Since we had sort of taken a step back in time, we decided to walk around and had a great afternoon admiring the architecture of CST station, the Courts, Mumbai University and Deustche Bank while discussing how our city must have looked over 100 years ago.

And in no time, we were hungry again. You know how good food fuels more good food right? (Well, not really, we just needed an excuse to eat :D). Next stop, Sassanian.

Sassanian was started in 1913 by Rustom K. Yazdabadi. What is interesting to note is that Rustom Yazdabadi’s elder brother had started Kyani. And in 1947, Sassanian was taken over by an Iranian who had previously worked as a waiter, cashier and baker at Kyani!

Originally a place serving only bun maska, Iranian chai and omelette (along with other necessities like toothpaste, hair oil, soaps, etc!), Sassanian now serves Parsi, Chinese and Continental food. Wait there’s more. Salads and sizzlers and pizzas too. We call for the famous bun maska (Rs. 12). as we can’t get enough of it. Ummm… delicious would be an understatement. The tea and coffee here is available for Rs. 8 and Rs. 13 respectively. We enjoyed the bun maska with the Irani chai. A must have at one of these places.  

The Dhansaak (Veg. Rs. 80 and Non-Veg Rs. 100) is considered the most popular dish on their menu and the Kheema Pav (Rs.30) has also always been a favourite among the customers.

If you’re in a hurry and want to grab a quick bite, Sassanian Mutton and Chicken puff (Rs. 8 and 12 respectively) would be ideal. And if you have some time, then you might want to try the egg items, all between Rs. 15 to Rs. 25, scoring high on our taste-o-meter.

Having nothing to do till dinner, we decided to go shopping to Colaba Causeway.  Two hours and a million carry bags later, it was time for a drink. No place better than Café Leopold.

Yes, we know that many of you know Leopolds. But did you know that it is Irani-run? Named after an Australian King, Leo’s opened as an oil store in 1871. It was converted into a restaurant in 1987 and the pub followed in 1991. Although it looks more like an international café now, it does have some remnants of the old: the flooring, the furniture and of course, the ownership.

An hour later, we were excited to visit our last stop, Brittania Restaurant, circa 1923. Though the name was meant to please the British in the first place, little did they know that loyal customers from the Far East would come demanding the Berry Pulao here, every year!

Our journey had to end with the Berry Pulao (made with a secret recipe by Bachan Kohinoor; the owner Boman Kohinoor’s late wife) and a glass of Fresh Lime juice. A warning though, it is a task finishing the pulao on your own! What one gets served is chicken flavoured and cooked to the core topped with flavoured basmati rice dosed with little berries imported specially from Iran. A glass of Lemon juice and you are done for the day.

However, while there, we received unpleasant news. Kohinoor says the place will stay only till he’s alive as his sons don’t want the family business.

Through our day long journey, we had all realized something. Our city, in a way, was built by the Iranis. The roots of Mumbai lie in their heritage. And if we don’t do something about it now, we’ll lose this heritage, this character, this uniqueness and that would be a shame.

We hope our journey will be a little step in preserving that legacy.

B. Merwan- Opposite Grant Road Station East, Mumbai, 400007

Kyani & Co.- J Shankar Sheth Rd, Marine Lines, Mumbai- 400001

Café Excelsior- 23/A, K Nayak Marg, Opposite New Excelsior Cinema, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

Sassanian Boulangerie- 98, Anandilal Podar Marg, Near Gol Masjid, Marine Lines, Marine Lines, Mumbai- 400001

Leopold Café- Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai-400039

Britannia & Co.- Wakefield House,Sprott Road, Mumbai-400038

-Master Blincca, Master Dhoro Zoro and Master Gayu Panda
(Pics courtesy Master Dhoro Zoro and Master Blincca)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Capoeira Anyone ??

Time for the third QUINK folks.

It's finally my turn, Master Gayu Panda’s, to fill you in on some more about the quirky city of Mumbay. I hope that you’ve tried out the Fish Foot Spa! Now that your feet are all pampered, it's time for them to get down to some serious kicking because today, we have martial arts for you! Now, some of you might wonder what is new or quirky about martial arts. Many of you might actually even know the art. But have you tried Capoeira? Capoeira isn’t just martial art. It is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, music, and dance. Woah !! Imagine all that packed into one art form and you’ve got enough reason to try it out.

Capoeira techniques involve kicks, sweeps, strikes and body throws, along with deadly flips. Phew! Just the thought of it makes you feel fit. That would be one rigorous workout. 

More than a martial art or dance, capoeira is often considered a way of life by those who practice it. 'Cordao De Ouro India' is the first and only Capoeira Group in India started by Reza Massah (whose Capoeira nickname is Monitor Baba!). If you want to check out this quirky martial art before you sign up for the classes, Cordao De Ouro performs live every Sunday at the Carter Road Amphitheatre in Bandra.

Capoeira Mumbai Street Parade

And after you’ve seen the show, you’re sure going to want to kick some dirt. So put on your track pants and head out to the Capoeira class. Sweat it out pals; because you’re never going to get a better chance to combine martial arts, sport, music and dance all into one art form. And you never know, before long you’d have your own Batizado ceremony (baptism in the art of Capoeira!!) and you’ll have your own Capoeira nickname! Now that’s definitely quirky!!

Capoeira classes are held at:
Juhu Gymkhana

SS Sahani School18th Road, Khar (W) Mumbai

Or for further details simply log on to:

Until next time, don’t forget to Quirk Up!!
-Master Gayu Panda