Sunday, December 27, 2009


Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and also one of the sacred months of the year. Being religiously very significant, many rites and rituals are carried out in this month. The tenth day of this month is noteworthy being the death anniversary of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Processions are carried by the mourners on this day. More info on Muharram can be read here and here.

Street besides an Iranian Mosque

Imam Hussain sacrificed his life in the battle of Kerbala. The whole story of the sacrifice quite much revolves around water. The tragedy happened to be a hard one where the people fallen prey were refrained from having a single drop of water. They were un-courteously killed for having water or even being able to go near any water body. This is the reason why, today, during the month of Muharram one can find people courteously serving water on all the road sides. Stories of the martyrdom are narrated and acts are played on the same subject to make people aware of Islam and its virtues.

Decorations done on streets

Water being served on the streets

Last week, when we (me and my friend Dj) were on one of our Mumbai exploring days under the JJ flyover, we encountered a lot of rites and practices that were being followed for Muharram, that being the first day of the month and those were all the preparations for the tenth day. Water was being served on all streets and corners. The water stalls had been decorated with illustrations and holy writings that depicted and recited the tragic story. Muharram being the month of mourning, black color was a dominant one on all the decorations. Beautifully embroidered cloths were hung all over the place which illustrated the story. At the first glance I thought these clothes were printed, but a close look to it proved to be of a wonder! These were all machine embroidered cloths with aari embroidery in majority along with other kind of stitches. Embroidered with bright and bold colors on a black base gave these cloths a different look. These cloths reminded me of the patachitra paintings of Bengal, Mata-ni-pachedi of Gujarat, Pabuji par of Rajasthan and even the Pichvai paintings of Nathadwara all illustrating stories of gods and goddesses.

Cloth depicting the story of the need for water, killing of Imam Husain's horse etc

All these beautiful cloths are embroidered

We also had a chance to see some in-house decorations done for the occasion of Muharram. These decorations include a dummy horse of Imam Hussain, beautiful ornate metal (possibly silver) hands (each hand here represents each martyr) and many other things; all embellished by fabrics of glitter and sheen. Here are a few pictures showing these decorations.

Muharram decorations inside a house

This was indeed a very lively, welcoming and enriching explorience!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Britannia & Company

Not to be missed is the rooster logo!

Rooster: The Logo

Being a food fanatic, I love to keep track of what sells best and where!! Being a total veggie does not stop me from knowing what is best in what is not so veg! Like the baida roti from Bademiyan, seekh kababs from Al Rehmani, tuna sandwich at the Subways, etc. This week has been quite an explorative one in terms of travel and food in south Mumbai. Let me not go round about and then come over to food, so here I am directly on to veg berry pulav, chicken berry pulav, mutton berry pulav, kheema berry pulav and much more…

A plate of Veg Berry Pulav

Chicken berry pulav

One of the known things in Mumbai are the Irani cafes. To name a few are Stadium at C
hurchgate, Kayani and Bastani at Dhobi Talao, Sassanian at Dhobi Talao again, Kooler & Co. at Matunga etc. Apart from luscious food and ancient architecture another thing common in these Irani cafes is their furniture and fabrics. Very antique and nice wooden chairs accompanying square tables with red and white gingham check table cloth covered with an exactly fitting glass sheet. And beneath the glass is the menu card all safe and protected!! (The size of the gingham varies at each place.) Among these there is Britania & Company at Ballard Estate holds a kind of different specialty. Very well-known for a variety of berry pulav, Britannia & Co. is open only for lunch from 12 to 4 pm. And you need to reach there early to hit and not miss the berry pulav. And we (me and my friend Dj) were there right on time!

Britannia & Company: The Exterior

Britannia & Company: The Interior

Antique wooden furniture and the gingham check

Tissues with the Rooster!

Very kindly a very cheerful elderly uncle greeted us wishes for this season and asked for what we want to call for. The menu is short and limited and we knew we were there for the berry pulav and it was on our table within ten minutes. Not steaming hot so that you can hog it quickly with deliciously treating your taste buds. Yum! Yum… the pulav was with a hint of tangy taste of the plum colored berries. OK!! Now I’m sure you are wondering of what is so special about this berry pulav or the berries for that matter??!! When inquired the cheerful uncle gave told us the story of these berries and the berry pulav. He said, “All these white boxes here (A wall was lined with packed white boxes) have these berries called barberries. In the whole world barberries are only grown in Iran, and these are all imported from Iran. They are grown on a bushy tree. My wife used to make this pulav which has a very special preparation process and thus it is here." The fact that these berries are imported all the way from Iran especially for you makes the pulav all the more special and priceless.

In this photo: Extreme right: Cheerful uncle Boman :)

"Hope you liked it?!” “Yes uncle we did like it. It is very tasty!” “Hope to see you again”, he said. It was a very happy and yummy experience!! And you too should not miss it. It also serves a variety of biryanis and amazing Parsi food with yum caramel custard!

Caramel custard..cant wait for it!

PS: For more info on barberries, please google it!

Apart from uncle’s little story, he gave us an old magazine cutting to read and said, “This was published in a magazine in the US.” The magazine article reads:

Rule, Britannia!

Office workers enter Mumbai’s Britannia and Co. in packs as if they were tigers converging on a fresh kill. Plates of food arrive in heaps within “ten minutes”- a span of time that is both part of a mission statement and a feat of efficiency matched only by the efforts of the city’s roadside snack vendors. One of a dying breed of eateries called Irani cafes- for the homeland from which the Zoroastrians of India fled- Britannia has been a fixture in Mumbai’s Ballard Estate district since 1923, when, after signing a 99 year old lease, Rashid Kohinoor opened his doors to British officers who were stationed in what was then called Bombay.

It is doubtful that the d├ęcor has changed much since. Open only for lunch, Britannia is lit mostly by the three filtered afternoon sun and cooled by a battalion of fans mounted high above the customers, who sit in imported Polish chairs and dine at tables swathed in red-checkered cloths. Kohinoor’s son and the current Boman, is the place’s most prominent fixture, usually stationed near the entrance manning the diner’s hulking, old cash counter or eating with his brother or son at one of the back tables. The junior Kohinoor admits that, in colonial times, Britannia served “bland food” in order to appeal to unadventurous taste buds. During World War II, the Brit’s even occupied the restaurant, turning it into a military headquarters before returning it to the elder Kohinoor’s brother in 1947. When the Kohinoor family decided to return to Iran in 1970s, they sublet the space to another restaurateur, but they came back to India after the fall of Shah in 1979. They reopened the establishment in 1982, and since then the Britannia menu has been a showcase of such Parsi fare as dhansak, a mutton and dal stew; sali boti (mutton) or sali chicken cooked in sweet gravy and topped with crisp sticks of potatoes; and the beloved berry pulav, Britannia’s signature dish. Introduced to the restaurant by Boman Kohinoor’s late wife, Bachan (Boman and Bachan;s son Romin now mans the stove), after they returned from Iran, it is an adaptation of the Persian zereshk polow; her version consists of rice pilaf piled on saucy stewed chicken, mutton or vegetables and garnished with fried cashews, crisp onions and zereshk, a dried currantlike berry, which the Kohinoor’s still import from Iran. The exact recipe for the pulav remains a highly guarded family secret.

Britannia’s slogan, printed on all the menus and napkins, is THERE IS NO LOVE GREATER THAN THE LOVE OF EATING. One can only hope that when the restaurant’s lease expires in 2022, the next generations of Kohinoors will keep that in mind and continue to give Mumbai a taste of Parsi goodness.

-Melanie Mize Renzulli

Christmas decorations at the Britannia

Parsi ladies enjoying their lunch!

The most awaited... menu card!

Experience it! Enjoy it!!

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing you a Merry Merry Christmas!! much happiness!! and great cheer!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Season's Greetings!

May this season bring you colors of joy and chirps of success!
Season's Greetings to you.

I worked on this illustrations for my first ever Season's greeting i
nspired from colorful decorative hangings made in Gujarat and Rajasthan. I have also got them printed and sent to clients, colleagues and friends.
Wish you all health, wealth and happiness this season! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Glimpse of JJ Flyover

Acknowledgements: DJ :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reindeer & Reindeers

Writing a story is difficult. I tried hard to write a story on reindeers supporting the designs but no just couldn't make it :( Thought some words, sentences and paragraphs could bind these four visuals together and create an interesting anecdote of its kinds... but nooooo, I was too bad at this reindeer story atleast. If you could built up a story around these visuals I would be glad!

PS: These designs are developed for table and kitchen linen for the eve of Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woven Fabrics

New woven textures from Cannanore, these are fabric swatches developed for upholstery. A combination of color, weaves and textures makes this a complete collection of dobby fabrics.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Find me !!

NID's 30th Convocation was held on 8th December 2009. We all were so excited for this day. We worked so very hard for this day, but the day got over too soon! The above is a group photograph of 223 students convocating this year along with the faculty members at NID.

The Chief guest and speaker on this event was Padma Bhushan Sir Mark Tully, an eminent broadcaster and writer. His speech was very energetic and indeed very inspiring. We were given our graduating certificates by Mr. Salman Haider, Chairperson, NID Governing Council.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Match the pair

Yesterday while I was walking past streets in Cuffe Parade, I saw kids decorating a Christmas tree well in advance! I'm sure each day the Christmas tree has more added ornaments to it. And here I think of the gifts and the socks. Santa, gifts and the socks builds up the Christmas excitement!

More on Christmas here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

All that is satin is not mashru

But this is. Another one from my sewing explorations... the mashru potli or better I call it ikat mashru potli. This makes it specific and justifies the fabric too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Tree

... worked another one for Christmas today.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Patched-up Bag

This happens with me many a times; when I am frantically looking for something, I never get that and instead I get something else which is interesting in some other way. Today morning the same thing happened!! I was looking for some old left over embroidery threads and instead I found this pretty bag. I had stitched this bag about two years back during my sewing tutorials. Made from leftover pieces of fabric, this bag uses a variety of fabrics like block prints, batik, ikat, regular screen prints, kota, extra warp patterned and other woven textured fabrics.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This is called ‘kamandalu’.

Kamandalu was used in the olden days to carry water or any liquid for that matter. It was carried usually by saints. I found one this at my grand fathers place. He had bought it long back he doesn’t even remember when and says, “30 to 35 years ago may be!” It is heavy and is made of brass and copper. The kamandalu has a very sacred and religious use. Now-a-days it is seen only in temples to give out the tirtha. It is nothing but a lota with a handle and spout. The same ingenious ‘lota’, that Charles Eames identified as the paradigm for Indian design.

Photo Credits: pzore

The above photograph illustrates Samarth Ramdas Swami carrying the kamandalu; one of the utilitarian products he always carried with himself.