I have spent many a college nights drinking beer at this ancient, timeless, cafe in Colaba/ South Mumbai – Cafe Mondegar (CM), more favorably known by the locals as “Mondy’s”. Anyone who has visited this cafe will know exactly what I am talking about. This place is usually plagued by tourists and foreigners who seek respite from the fantastic shopping that one could do at Colaba Causeway. Every time I go to the causeway, I find myself drawn to CM, like a snake swaying to the music of its charmer.
I discovered CM when I was in college in Mumbai, way back in 1998. I used to live by myself, and it was such a luxury to have your own two bedroom apartment in the heart of the city, especially when all my other classmates were either living in a hostel or living with their parents. I really discovered a good part of myself when I pretty much had to stand on my own two feet at the age of 18, after having a sheltered childhood and adolescence in Dubai.
Moving on, CM was originally an Iranian restaurant – Mumbai had and still has it’s fair share of Iranians that settled in India not so long ago. Now, it is a vibrant place with a vivacious juke box that spins tunes – both old and new, and it’s walls are covered with caricatures and murals that take you to another place and time. I took this photograph when I was at CM a few weeks ago:
I used to drive down with my friends to CM when I was in college and sip on cold beers and debate on the fate of the city, on the purpose of life, and on the joys of having solid, good friends. Life was simpler then, my only worries and concerns being studying at college and ensuring that I pass all my exams with flying colors. For me, CM was a good old friend that was always there when I needed some chilled beer and stimulating conversations. Over crowded or not, hot or cold weather, pricey or affordable (there were some days when, as a college student, CM was not very affordable for me), I used to always be a happy camper when I was at CM. Here is another picture that I recently took that would probably give you a fair idea of why I am so amused and charmed by this place:
This time when I went to CM, after a hard day’s work of shopping for trinkets and table runners and pillow covers and shoes at the Causeway, I treated myself to a refreshing glass of Chandy (a mixture of equal parts beer and Sprite – Of course, it may come as no surprise to some of my readers that my Chandy usually has more beer and less Sprite). Bob Marley was playing from the Juke Box and for that 1 hour, at around 3 pm, life was good! All my cribbing about Mumbai, the pollution outside, the noise and the people who would never go away….all of it just melted in the background, as my girlfriend and I debated on the fate of the city, on the purpose of life, and on the joys of having solid, good friends. Here’s to good ol’ faithful Mondy’s!