Meera: How to Get a Bicycle

Pics of Meera riding a Bicycle by Arun Shanbhag
How to Get a Bicycle? Just ask Pappa.
Pics of Meera riding a Bicycle by Arun Shanbhag
Meera on her brand, spanking new bicycle.
Here is the phone call with M:

M: Just because Meera cries does not mean we should buy her a bicycle.
A: Absolutely right, no bicycle for Meera.
Meera on phone (in soft lilting voice): Pappa, cycle jaay (I want cycle).
A to M: Buy bicycle for Meera!

Just like that, Meera gets a new bicycle.

PS. In a couple of years she’s riding in Boston.



Meera Highlights:

Meera Turns Three

Meera loves chocolates. At M’s home in Mumbai, she finds a small pot of chocolates and promptly finishes them off. Pictures were patiently captured by M.
Happy Birthday Meera!


Time for Meerathon:

Chinmaya Maruti; New Year Greetings 2011

Picture of Hanuman Maruti by Arun Shanbhag


Jai Hanuman Gyan Guna Sagar
Jai Kapis Tihun Lok Ujaagar

Glory to Hanuman
Limitless ocean of wisdom and virtue,
Glory to leader of primates
Whose fame lights the three worlds

In the New Year!
May the gracious Hanuman guide you
To overcome weakness, and
Use your strength to serve the Divine!

Meera, M & A

Continue reading “Chinmaya Maruti; New Year Greetings 2011”

Video: Making Rava Dosa and Masala Dosas

(move your mouse out of the video frame, to lose the black border)
Growing up in Mumbai, dosas were a staple in our home. We never tired of them. Could munch dosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the expert hands of my mother, dosas were easy; its the parathas and North Indian fare she avoided. We didn’t miss those. Continue reading “Video: Making Rava Dosa and Masala Dosas”

Gita Press Bookstore: Karma Yoga in Action

Gita Press Gorakhpur Bookstore

Tucked away on gritty Princess St and across from Parsi Dairy Farm is one of my favorite book stores: Gita Press Ki Dukan (Bookstore of the Gita Press).

See, I came late to this genre of Hindu scriptures. Educated in a convent school, I drank deeply of the Kool-Aid that western writers were the axis around which the Universe rotated. We studied Browning, Byron, Keats and O’Henry, and passed on Dnyaneshwar, Eknath, Kanaka Dās and Tukaram. I knew more about priests and nuns, and zilch about Alvars and Nayanmars. Romeo & Juliet was a Classic, Ramayana a myth. We doted on Shelley, Hemingway and Shakespeare, but skipped Tulsidās, Mirābai, Tyāgarājā and Kālidās. I knew more about St Peter than Bhagwān Ādi Shankarāchāryā or Swami Madhvāchāryā.

Thankfully I graduated and real education could begin. A tiny booklet of Swami Vivekananda’s lectures bought at a railway station was the spark. And what a roaring fire it kindled. Was engrossed in it for days. Followed hungrily by the Bhagavad Gitā, Upanishads, Purānās, commentaries of various masters and Bhakti poetry. I had just scratched the surface. Continue reading “Gita Press Bookstore: Karma Yoga in Action”

Video: Best of Mumbai Ganapati Street Dancing


Ganapati is a fabulous time for our extended family. At the end of five days of festivities, Ganapati Bappa is taken in a procession to Chowpatty for consigning to the waters. Behind the truck bearing the Ganapati, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, meera, friends and family, all walk or dance along. Enjoy the unique ishtyle of Mumbai street dancing!

See blog post on Meera’s Tolay-Bhaar, where Meera gets weighed in bananas, at the GSB Seva Mandal.


See my different Ganapati posts


Ganapati and Gauri Puja

Aarti of Ganapati Mumbai Arun Shanbhag

Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra tarakam
nema vidhyuto bhanti kutoyamagnihi |
tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam
tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati ||

Sun cannot illumine him, nor the moon, nor the stars
Lightning cannot, much less this little flame I wave |
Verily, when he shines everything is illuminated
By his light alone all of us shine ||

~ Kathopanishad II v 15


Continue reading “Ganapati and Gauri Puja”

Kailash Parbat: Pav Bhaji & Chole Bhatura

Kailash Parbat in Colaba is certainly one of our favorite restaurants in Mumbai. We end up there at a drop of a hat. It is walking distance and close to the Maruti Mandir that we try and visit every day. Importantly, Meera is very comfortable there and their wait-staff are quick to bring her a small dish of kurmura (puffed rice). Below, you can browse some of their other dishes from prior visits.

A couple of our favorite dishes:
Pav Bhaji! I get a few extra ‘pav’ (bread). Notice the butter soaked in the bread.
Pav Bhaji Kailash Parbat Colaba
Continue reading “Kailash Parbat: Pav Bhaji & Chole Bhatura”

Parsi Dairy Farm – Still the bestest

Parsi Dairy Farm best place for mithai in Mumbai

True Mumbaikars know the place for delicious sweets, desserts and even milk is Parsi Dairy Farm on Princess St, Mumbai; at the ramp for the Marine Lines Flyover and across the street from the Gita Press bookstore. Milk was delivered by their dudhwallahs in khaki shorts and cobalt blue shirts. They’d balance the handa (milk pot) on their thigh and carefully measure out the milk. Continue reading “Parsi Dairy Farm – Still the bestest”

Meera as Shakuntala

Meera as Shakuntala by Arun Shanbhag
For her Play School Annual Day, Meera was given the part of Shakuntala. Teachers were coaching the kids for 2 months, mainly teaching them NOT to run off stage when they see their parents.
Continue reading “Meera as Shakuntala”

Colaba Vegetable Market

Picture of fresh fruits and vegetables at Colaba Vegetable Market Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Growing up, most evenings we’d end up around Colaba Market. It was centrally located and many friends lived around there. Even today, when we go for a walk with Meera, we shop our way through the market enroute to Kailash Parbat for some chaat. Continue reading “Colaba Vegetable Market”

Butta, Roasted Maize at Elephanta

roasted maize, corn, Elephanta caves, Gharapuri
During this visit to Mumbai, we took Meera on a day-trip to the Elephanta Caves at Gharapuri, Mumbai (see Google Map). I worried how Meera will take to the hour-long boat ride. Nothing to worry, she was her curious self and a real trooper. Meera pics in another post. Continue reading “Butta, Roasted Maize at Elephanta”

Best Street Food: Asli Vada Pav, Sandwich and Bajjiyas

picture of vada pav colaba mumbai food
You are not a Mumbaikar if you haven’t tasted the street-side Vada Pav. Not the sterile globs you get in a restaurant. You gotta eat from the street stall. If you haven’t, may I ask you to kindly turn in your Mumbaikar card!

During college days, the vada pav wallah near Fountain (Hutatma Chowk) was the best and my source of daily nourishment. This one is right across from Regal Cinema on Colaba Causeway, next to the entrance of Sahakari Bhandar. Look at that dynamite red chutney and those roasted green chillies! You know you want them on your vada pav! *smacks lips* After a couple of these, I rush down the street for ganna juice to put out the fire in my mouth! ha hA!
Continue reading “Best Street Food: Asli Vada Pav, Sandwich and Bajjiyas”

Mumbai Blasts: Previously Unseen Pics from 26/11

While covering the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai last year, I found myself racing from the Leopold Cafe to the Taj and to the Nariman Bldg; shooting pics, updating my twitter feed and simultaneously keeping an ear on what the locals were telling me. Everything happened so fast, there was not much time to think ~ just do! I shared with you all many pics of events as they unfolded. Now on this one-year anniversary, I want to share a few more pics from those horrific three days last year.

At the top level TAB here: Mumbai Blasts, you can find links to all my previous articles, photographs and related press coverage.


Thursday am: This was from the first morning when Mumbai woke up to the terrorist acts which started the previous night. Early that morning as I got out of the house to go for my run I encountered scores of assault weapons toting commandos outside our bldg, a block behind the Taj. I scampered back, got my camera and ran to the Terrace, from where I took many of these pics.

Part of the Taj is smoldering from the fires the previous night – but all the domes are still intact.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Previously Unseen Pics from 26/11”

Flower Sellers at Dadar

pictures of Young girls selling roses at the Dadar Flower Market, Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Few years ago I wrote about the Dadar Flower Market, in Mumbai. Tucked under the bridge next to the Dadar train Station, like alien slime it oozes into adjoining alleys and walkways, filling every doorway and cranny. So jam-packed, my cousin cautioned, “don’t even try to put your hand in your pocket, it will go in someone else’s.” Aaargh! Only in Mumbai. Continue reading “Flower Sellers at Dadar”

Video: Making Ganna Ras – Sugarcane Juice


Each evening when we take Meera for a walk, we stop by the Poornima Juice Center on Colaba Causeway, for their freshly squeezed ganna ras (sugarcane juice). At 8 rupees (16 cents, US) a glass, it’s a steal. Meera greedily gulps it too. As a baby, this was the first juice we gave her. This goes superbly well after ingesting some spicy vada pav, or batatavada. See this photo essay on making jaggery from sugarcane juice, in rural karnataka.
Continue reading “Video: Making Ganna Ras – Sugarcane Juice”

Video: Making Puran Polis

When in Mumbai, we attended a puja at my aunt’s place in Jogeshwari. There we enjoyed a delicious south india lunch, served on banana leaves. Freshly made, warm puran polis, dribbled with home-made tuup (clarified butter), was one of many desserts. The catering crew were making it in the back. Enjoy the video.

puran poli sanzori konkani foodsAnd see this older post, where I describe how our extended family comes together to make Sanzori, a variant of the puran poli. So much fun.

Here is Shilpa’s (Aayis Recipes) excellent recipe for puran poli (also called Obbattu).

And another recipe for Puran Poli from Sailu’s Kitchen.



Some of my Other Videos:



Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai

swine flu Mumbai face masks pics by Arun Shanbhag
No, he was not trying to hijack the BEST bus in Mumbai; he was terrified about the nasty virus causing swine flu!

But that makeshift mask in a crowded bus surely got me panicky. Should I be around Mumbai using public transportation, where the buses and trains are stuffed tighter than, … than, … mumbaikars in buses and trains? And when I had Meera with me?

During my August visit to Mumbai, everyone was in full “epidemic” mode. Even at the Airport! Before reaching immigration, we filled out personal history forms and the overworked health workers simply waved us on. I hope you feel reassured.

Headlines in city newspapers screamed at every cough and sniffle. The Mumbai city council finally ordered schools, colleges, tuition classes and many govt offices closed for 3 days. Private companies gave employees furlough to work from home! And this was supposed to be my vacation. We all came through fine, and a renewed interest in Ayurvedic attempts to strengthen the immune response. Continue reading “Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai”

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