A Led Zeppelin glass framed poster is the first thing that catches one’s eye at the Mazda Bungalow on 22-A,Wellesley Road. Wooden tables and colourful tiled flooring reveals the beer cafe’s age. Yet,there is no music around. Occupying a small space at the side of the bungalow,the 100-year-old cafe today reflects only a part of what it was before. On the right,a puppet hangs,next to which the cashier sits chatting with a group of people. Women are not allowed to enter here. Twenty years ago,this was a popular place till the owners decided to pack it up into its present state.
A number of places – eateries,cafes,bookstores,kirana kiosks that once defined M G Road – have closed down in the past few years. For instance Maha Naaz,Jaws,Latif’s Cafeteria and so on. Manney’s is the latest one to add to the list. The iconic book-store that fuelled the reading habit of generations. In March this year when the bookstore closed down,several readers from all age groups spoke of their relation with the store.
Wrapped in a colonial style seating arrangement,the Mazda Bungalow itself lends a character to the street. At the Mazda Bungalow one still gets a chance to taste the food. As one relishes a plate of mixed vegetable pakodas and chilli sauce,regular patrons keep walking in. Sudhir Kale,who works in a bank has been visiting the place for the last six years. Its a very free-spirited place,which is why I love coming here. Its difficult to find such places these days. Most of the older ones are shifting or shutting down.
For anyone who has moved into the city recently,Maha-Naaz is just a name people take with a lot of nostalgia. In its place stands the coffee chain,Barista,occupying a prime position on MG Road. But five years ago,Naaz was an important landmark for the city. Customers frequented the place and spent hours sipping tea and devouring the popular samosa and ban maska. In September 2006,the Jafari family decided to close the place because no one in the family was really keen on carrying it further. A few months later,Hasan Jafari received a letter from one of the regular visitors narrating his relation with the eatery. I was so touched, says 30-year-old Jafari who immediately acted upon it. By December the same year we opened this place with the same name. Mahanaaz,today sits at one end of Taboot Street. It is half of its original size,but caters to the same people . Its like a relation with that place. One can’t ignore that. I realised it’s not just a walk-in eating joint. You form a bond with the place its not just brick and mortar, says Jafari.