Here are some of my favorite things.
Favorite non-fiction book about India: In Spite of the Gods by Edward Luce
Favorite description of Mumbai in a book:
Ayyan loved this about the city – the humid crowds, the great perpetual squeeze, the silent vengeance of the poor. In the miserly lifts and hand stuffed trains he often heard the relief of afternoon farts, saw scales on strange faces and the veins in their still eyes. And the secret moustaches of women. And the terrible green freshness when they had been newly removed with a thread. He felt the shoves and pushes and the heaviness of paunches. This unnerving constriction of Bombay he loved, because the congestion of hopeless shuffling human bodies he was born into was also, in a way, the fate of the rich. On the streets, in the trains, in the paltry gardens and beaches, everybody was poor. And that was fair.
(from Serious Men by Manu Joseph. The book had a lot of covers. Here’s why.)
Favorite fancy store I just found: Bungalow 8. Since this sells housewares, as well as clothing, I reckon I could just move in.
Favorite Bollywood dance scene [IT’S ON A TRAIN YOU GUYS!!]:
Favorite source of roughage: Arugala and spinach salad with wasabi granola (and prawns) at Salt Water Café
Favorite fake macrobiotic café: The Yoga House
[I really like this place, but they really need to stop pretending they are macrobiotic. Gwyneth would be so pissed, if she gets pissed.]
Favorite artisanal technique: Dhrangadhra stone carving
Favorite source of messages for me to bring back to Hillary Clinton from her NUMBER ONE FAN: Brittania Restaurant. Also favorite berries pullao and Bombay Duck I guess. Oh, and favorite place to peruse (forcedly) a sheathed photocopy of a manifesto called “Let’s Bring Back the Brits.”
Favorite mind-boggler: WHAT AM I DOING FOR FOOD
Favorite source of mysterious foreigners who appear out of nowhere: Aer
Favorite guilty pleasure: Double serving of bhindi fry and roomali rotiyon from Khane Khas [see, I even bring it to the airport:]
Favorite curiosity: visiting foreign investors who are bullish on India, and use that phrase specifically
[Apparently this photo is actually from Nebraska, but you get the point.]
Favorite road feces: goat (it just rolls away usually)
Favorite threat: “I really want to come visit you!”
Favorite Indian news source: Firstpost.com
Favorite rarified view of the city: Dome at the InterContinental on Marine Drive. For me, this has the edge over Aer because the chairs are more comfortable, there is a dome (!!!!), and it’s usually not filled with mystery people who look like they fell out of a SkyMall catalogue.
Favorite ‘keepin’ it real’ view of the city: Mahim Bay, not blocking your nose.
Favorite smell: flower stand near Hill Road, Bandra
Favorite new ingredient: desiccated coconut
[shown here in Bon Appétit’s Ambrosia Macaroons, which I look forward to making again this Passover. My pictures did not turn out so well.]
Favorite daydream: Whole Foods – I like to picture myself wandering down every aisle in my head, amassing thousands of dollars of things in my cart (equal parts fresh, leafy produce, prepared foods, and deep, dank meats and cheeses), get to the check-out, realize I live in India, and leave sobbing with just a handful of okra
Favorite homemade snack: sad handful of okra, covered in olive oil or cooking spray, salt, and curry powder, 12 minutes in the toaster oven at whatever is the one temperature my toaster oven uses. I call these Witches Fingers to the no one else in my apartment who’s listening.
Favorite source of fearmongering: my landlord
MMNFD: Mumbai “literally steeps in its own waste.”
If that’s not your style, here is a satellite picture of yesterday’s dust storm. While this photo doesn’t verify this, I’m pretty sure this hit my lungs today (source):