Let's showcase Mumbai
As one settled down to a steamy cuppa, surrounded by delightfully decadent frames and curios inside one of Bandra’s most popular cafes, the crispness of a Sunday morning in January added to make for an engaging brunch, leisurely company notwithstanding.
Doing a quick scan of these frames that adorned most of its walls, we noticed that it was a sweeping ode to all things Western — British and American vintage advertisements and signage. The odd one paid tribute to Mutton Street a.k.a. Chor Bazar. We managed a smile at the mother city acknowledgement. Nothing wrong with the décor, or the interiors. In fact, the space, with its warm environs and vast menu remains one of our all-season favourites.
But this is about the larger picture. As is the norm across most city cafes, delis and restaurants, there is a gaping void in showcasing city memorabilia, its landmarks and its sights — how often have you spotted city restaurants dot their walls with frames of New York skylines, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, London Bridge or an Alpine range in chilly Switzerland?
With a few exceptions that have gone to great extent to retain the city’s vibe, most so called ‘Mumbai-themed’ restaurants (how many can you count?) do a less-than-competent job of highlighting the city in all its multi-faceted splendour. Take a step outside the café and walk into the new-age curio shop. It’s the same story. Barring a few brands, stores and enterprises that are making a serious (and bloody good) attempt to highlight the city, its lingo, its people and, most importantly — its unique character, you will spot Western-influenced themes, colours, hues, fonts, and designs. Pray, why?
Aren’t we surrounded with enough inspiration to showcase it on our walls, our photo frames and our eating spaces? The lack of this identity throws up the all-important question — Do we care enough for our city to flaunt it around? Such thoughts are only reiterated when one walks into a cutesy, quirky gift shop dressed in all its inviting, whitewashed charm, but which stumps you if there’s no trace of even the remotest slice of vintage Mumbai stamped on a pen stand, a Gothic inspired building on a wall clock or a frame of its breathtaking skyline.
Surely, the city deserves better. And surely, our young, budding entrepreneurial class can take a leaf out of this gaping void. We’re hoping that the next time a trendy new restaurant or a kitschy, bohemian store opens up we see a hint of the city in its soul and setting.
Mumbai deserves its place of pride on the mantlepiece.
— The writer is Features Editor, MiD DAY