In the rush and bustle of a city like Mumbai, it isn’t always easy to find time to breathe, let alone find your muse and write. Writing can be messy. Sometimes, you just need a bit of peace. And sometimes, you need just enough background noise to keep you present but not distracted. Either way, it’s a constant tightrope to be tiptoed across. So, here are a few little nooks and crannies that you can escape to, hidden away within the city.
Kemps Corner staircase
Kemps Corner is loud and confused and usually filled with traffic. And that’s on good days. But opposite the Crossword (with the snug little Café Moshés inside, which I recommend too), on the side of the road that nobody walks on is a mysterious steep staircase ascending to seemingly nowhere. But if you were to brave the traffic and pull open its rusty gate, I promise you won’t be sorry. The stairs open out into a small network of paths and benches, overhung by trees, astonishingly beautiful and peaceful for such a busy area. It’s the perfect place to sit on lazy mornings, unseen and undisturbed. Indulge your creative side – pull out your easel, pen your next great novel, whatever you love to do. It’s the perfect little cocoon of happiness in which to be free.
Meenatai Thakre Garden
For those who live in Navi Mumbai, finding calm and comforting places can be difficult. But hidden away in Vashi (sector 17, to be more specific), is a little garden called the Meenatai Thakre Udyan. Surrounded by residential flats, this garden is a little Elysium for the weary. Empty and silent for most of the day, it comes alive at dusk. Children clamber over the playground areas as their parents watch fondly from little picnics under the spreading trees. Senior citizens take their evening walk along the path that borders the garden, chatting about bygone days. A balloon man sometimes wanders in, and the garden becomes a riot of colour. So, whether you’re looking for some background life to inspire you, or a complete natural silence, this garden is the perfect little haven for you.
When you’ve lived in Mumbai for a while, all you really need is the sea. But every sea-face is crowded and loud, and too expansive to really find a corner to curl up into as you draw your muse upon the tide. So, if you’re in South Bombay and desperately want the view of Marine Drive without all the people and interruptions, wind your way up Walkeshwar Road. Just at the curve of the road, you’ll find a small little crook that’s nothing more than a couple of benches and the roar of the sea. Turn your back to the traffic and take in the perfect view of the Queen’s Necklace and the wide, beautiful horizon. You could sit there for hours, immersed in your own world, and perhaps find the perfect space to take up your pen and write.
Dadar Parsi Colony
It is no mystery that Mumbai is a city with a rich history. Its stones hold enough secrets to fill a dozen novels. But being able to surround yourself with that old world charm can be difficult in such a busy, moving city. The Dadar Parsi Colony, however, lets you do exactly that. Though surrounded by busy roads and incessant traffic, the colony has retained its old world air. Wander around the shaded streets and admire the architectural magnificence of the houses. Sit down and breathe in the quiet in the Wadia or the Mancherji Joshi gardens. Unravel the history that was built into every stone and use it to inspire your writing with new life.
Leaping Windows café
Sometimes, all you want is a cup of coffee and a table in the corner of a café to fire yourself up to write. But most cafés can be loud and distracting, and you can slowly feel yourself going crazy. Leaping Windows, in Andheri West, however, is everything you could ever dream of. Want to sit on a beanbag with an ice tea, surrounded by shelves of comics and books? Check. Want to curl up in a corner with some coffee, surrounded by graphic punk art? Check. Want to sit outside at a little table and breathe in the fresh air with an incredible cup of hot chocolate? Double check. Leaping Windows has it all. Good food, good people, good books, comic art everywhere- what more could you possibly ask for? It’s the perfect place to write and draw, and chances are, you’ll find yourself sitting near someone who’s doing exactly the same thing.
Written by Rheea Mukherjee
Rheea Rodrigues Mukherjee is the author of The Body Myth (Unnamed Press /Penguin India 2019) which was shortlisted for the Tata Literature Live First Book Award. Her work has been published and featured in Scroll.in, Southern Humanities Review, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vogue India, Out of Print, TBLM, and Bengal Lights, among others. She co-founded Bangalore Writers Workshop in 2012 and currently co-runs Write Leela Write, a Design and Content Laboratory in Bangalore, India. Rheea has an MFA in creative writing from California College of the Arts.