Arre o sambhar | india | Hindustan Times
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Arre o sambhar

If you’re a non-vegan, acquiring a Malabar Hill residence is as contentious as choosing between sambhar and sushi, says Ashok Rai.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2008 17:32 IST
Ashok Rai

It is the belly button of south Mumbai, associated with the four-letter word posh. It is also getting thickly crowded and prejudices prevail in certain pockets as they do in parts of the city.

And you can become terribly nervous, if you’re a non-vegan (nearly as bad as a cigarette inhaler nowadays), acquiring a Malabar Hill residence is as contentious as choosing between sambhar and sushi.

Yet something surprising occurred in the compound of one of its sprawling housing complexes. Elections were on for the committee (secretary, chairman, president and managing committee) of Simla House recently.

Change is good
There have been tiffs and face-offs, but burying all differences, the various sections — veg, non-veg, non-onions — came together to form a new set-up entirely. Tawheed Sofia emerged as secretary and Ashish Shah as joint secretary. The balconies were strung out with hoardings crying, “Change” and “We will overcome”, as if a revolution were on.

The grouse was against the earlier incumbents of the housing society. When they were voted out by a vast majority of votes last Sunday, the various sections of the complex lit firecrackers.

Soon, there will be a celebration banquet. In keeping with the sentiments of scores of residents, the others have agreed that the banquet will be shuddh vegetarian to “which secular celebrities” from all over the city will be invited.

Many objections
Over the decades though, differences have been rarely sorted on the long-and-winding sea-face stretch facing Priyadarshini Park. After residents of flanking housing societies objected to the Roti restaurant serving mutton kheema, chicken and the works, the joint closed down rapidly.

Indeed, the stretch is considered ‘unlucky’ for restaurants. The ones which have defied the superstition merely ended up doing fair to middling to terrible business.

For a while it seemed as if Pastry Palace and then Papa’s had its regular flow of clients and even hangers-on like Jackie Shroff in his pre-stardom days. No dining restaurant could last there without a beer or liquor licence. Those which tried to be ‘dry’ met with a drier death.

Location matters
Sun is the only restaurant that exists in the heart of Malabar Hill. Located at Petit Hall, it is so indifferent to the idea of attracting a clientele that perhaps few know about it — like nearby residents Nitin and Neil Mukesh. Neither father nor son look the leafy salad sorts though. Sun is the Seeta to its equally plain Geeta sister branch on Warden Road.

For a newcomer (like me), getting a paying guest room on Malabar Hill is half a life’s dream come true. Next, maybe there will be a building where there’s no I’m-veg-you’re not divide.

And where I can have my fish-and-chips without feeling guilty about hurting the nose buds of the adorable peas-and-carrots girl next door.