Mumbai – Parsis – Iranis – Chai – a very logical and binding connection. And who can forget the nostalgic Irani restaurant down the corner. Bun Maska or Brun Maska and chai – the staple snack for 100s of Bawajis in the good old days. takes you down memory lane, into the labyrinths of unforgettable nostalgia.

As the intro to the site says – “Irani Chai, Mumbai exists to remember and document, through words and visuals, the Irani cafes of Mumbai.”  “… … the aim of the project is to present the story of Mumbai’s Irani cafes – and its Irani community – online. What sits behind the nostalgia for these unmistakably Mumbai social spaces? What are the stories of the families who started them, and what are your recollections of time spent at your favourite Irani? Beyond the fading allure of bentwood chairs and marble tabletops lay a multitude of memories. Irani Chai, Mumbai invites you to share yours.” The site invites your comments and / or sharing of memories for the world at large – but alas, those who have never visited and experienced, would never know how it actually felt !

The metamorphosis of Leopold Cafe, the story of Cafe Universal, Fort, Hindi retro sounds live from Koolar & Co., Matunga, the disappearance of Crown Bakery, Stores & Restaurant from Mahim are all well documented. Jimmy Boy, B. Merwan and Kyani jostle with the lesser known cafes, to make the list exhaustive and complete. Personal experiences, laced with some great founders’ stories, all combine to make this site a must see, for oldies and youngsters alike. The pictures, sprinkled all over like gems in a crown, are rare and phenomenal – tables and chairs, signboards, mirrors, ads, instructions (no asking for change, no combing hair, no asking for directions !) take you back to the British days when Irani chai was a daily pleasure and a delightful outing. You can almost feel the smells and the sounds as you browse through, basking in the simple pleasures which are a rarity these days.

Documenting a part of history and uploading it online for posterity – does a great job. You could almost get lost once you are browsing through – so you better set an alarm to wake you up, before you venture to dip in !


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