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Mumbai eating! The communal dining experience at LPQ

I cannot stop gushing about my weekend trip to Mumbai with the kids and I truly apologize for those who are getting sick of it. But there are a couple of more fun things that are share-worthy, so bear with me!

After the Elephanta trudge, Rachna introduced us to this really neat place Bombay-ites speak of fondly. LPQ is La Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain started by Alain Coumont with the simple objective of serving healthy, tasty, fresh bread. The food was delicious indeed, supposedly locally sourced and organic, superbly put together and subtle in its flavours. We ate tartines, grilled fish and lots of bread plus the delectable apple crumb, entrenched in the memory of my taste buds!

But what really stood out was the experience of communal dining that LPQ offers. They asked us if we wanted to sit at the communal table when we entered and it seemed like a fun idea. I didn’t expect much, however. Perhaps being a Dilliwali I thought it would just be a formality with people continuing to interact within their own groups. Boy, was I wrong!

Within the first few minutes, I had made my first eye contact with a dignified lady who was eating alone near our seats. I think she was amused by my smart-alecy reply to Aadyaa’s smart-alecy question, I forget what it was. Many smiles flew back and forth.

After a bit, a young mother and her cute son moved from a separate table onto the communal one. Soon enough, the kiddo was commenting on what we were doing and saying. Then he threw some question at Aadyaa, she answered back with some help from me on how to frame sentences in English, Hindi being her first language. Soon, the two kids were chattering away and strolling through the space and they had successfully broken the ice for the grown-ups to chat. An elderly couple (European, I thought) across from the young mommy wanted to know what she was drinking, and a lively discussion on drinks ensued with us listening in.

We must have spent two hours plus there, nibbling away at our food, chatting, laughing, just being. Got me thinking about how insular we are usually, going out to eat and only talking to the people we already know really well. Sometimes even hesitating to smile at strangers, avoiding eye contact even; or rather, not bothering to seek out contact. I am always having fun smiling at strangers and seeing how they will react. Some return surprised hesitant smiles, some broad ones and others just stare back. It’s entertaining. At LPG, however, things are set up so you broaden your social world and it’s a great thing! I found this article about communal dining that lists its pros and cons, for those of you who want to know more (there is an entire coffee table book on Alan Coumont’s philosophy at LPQ, fascinating!). Personally, I quite enjoyed the experience and would be excited to try out other communal dining restaurants in my future travels.

Udai, engrossed in getting his lemonade just right!

Udai, engrossed in getting his lemonade just right!

Nupur watches

Nupur watches

Noses inside the menu...Boy, were we hungry!

Noses inside the menu…Boy, were we hungry!

The communal dining table

The communal dining table

Aadyaa's friend

Aadyaa’s friend

Two imps with a slate, having a great time on the steps....

Two imps with a slate, having a great time on the steps….


Quaint Parsi bakeries & the heritage feel: Pune wanderings- Apr 19, 2012

On Tuesday morning, after the exhausting long jaunt to Sangli the previous day, Nipesh (my colleague at mHS) and me were up and raring to inhale a new set of experiences in Pune. My friend Varsha had promised to spend some time showing us around and Nipesh’s curioisity about Pune’s Parsi bakeries set us off on a most enjoyable jaunt to Main Street via leafy, quirky Koregaon Park. Full of colonial buildings and exuding a quaint old world charm, we walked around carrying the load of Shrewsbury biscuits Varsha had bought us to take back home. Here are a few clicks from that morning depicting the old and the new, capturing (I hope) the flavor of the laid back excitement we experienced that morning!

Pune is littered with these flamboyant pieces of contemporary architecture. It is clearly a developer city, with each brand desperate to make its mark contributing such wonders (hear the sarcasm drip, folks!) to the cityscape....

For us, coming from Delhi, this was hilariously funny!

Used to be standard clothes when I grew up in Mumbai; now its rare to see people wearing the traditional cap and the shirts with the loose paijama

The infamous chappal stalls outside the Osho Ashram in Koregaon Park simply did not match upto the Sarojini Nagar and GKI chappal waalas #snobbishdilliwali

Could not believe these were for sale too....Nippo (fond nickname for Nipesh) suggested these were the discarded footwear of the gora ashram-ites that they leave behind when they return home...blessed with hash, love and free #@!....

Nostalgia for what used to be the only means of private transport for middle class Indians when we were growing up! Dad drove a grey Lambretta and then a bright green Bajaj Chetak!

A heritage movie theater, refurbished and saved from being torn down and was aptly named Victory once the legal battles were done and it could re-open!

Twine in many colors at the legendary Kayani Bakery

This Parsi lady in the unchanged Kayani Bakery was so totally apt, it was almost as if my camera conjured her up!

Nippo outside Kayani Bakery....the smile says it all!

Crumbling old mansions all around.....

Another Parsi bakery called Marzorin. Varsha took us crazy architects to it because it had "an old staircase and lovely flooring" and because she went there as a college kid 🙂

Me, experiencing Marzorin's magic....Nippo obliged by getting behind the lens!

In the end, the real fun was the catching up! Varsha and me posing....

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