Irani cafes: They are a glorious part of South Mumbai, where any time is a good time to stop by for a delicious meal. I remember having breakfast at one of these cafés every morning. Unfortunately, air-conditioned places with fancy menus and hiked-up prices are replacing these iconic establishments.

Coast to canvas

By Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

Updated: Jan 17, 2019, 13:26 IST

In his new travelogue that unfolds through delightful illustrations interspersed with pithy text, Paul Fernandes takes the reader on a journey of Mumbai, and continues southward along the coast

Nothing is as surprising and satisfying at the same time as a different view of something familiar. Something you thought you knew — no, you didn't know it all," writes Gerson da Cunha in his foreword for Paul Fernandes's CoastLine: An Amuseum of Mumbai Musings (with a quick trip down the coast for good measure).

Paging through the book, which features a running commentary from Fernandes's co-author Chicku Jayadeva, you realise soon enough why da Cunha says so. A glimpse of Mumbai's past and present that serves as a charming introduction to its iconic buildings, eateries, modes of transport and ways of life, it is as much a fascinating insight into the city strewn with little surprises for a seasoned resident, who takes pride in knowing it like the back of his hand.


Regal Cinema: I used to live down the road from Regal, with my office in the vicinity. So I could just dash in to catch a show of the latest movie. Those were the days of hand-painted cinema hoardings, and watching an artist at work was a pleasure.

The book, Fernandes tells us, is an outcome of his three-a-year visits to Mumbai for 40 years, his five-year stint in the "unforgettable" city in the mid-1980s as an advertising professional together with his travels down south. The 60-year-old gallerist, illustrator and cartoonist, who now lives in Bengaluru, is in Mumbai for the launch of the book this Saturday.

"Part of the job of working on this book was to revisit these places as many times as I could," Fernandes says, when we ask him about his highly detailed, illustrated top-view of the part of South Mumbai that extends between the Gateway of India to the east and the Air India building to the west and everything in between (if you know your SoBo well, test your knowledge on this double spread).


Dharavi: It is such an integral part of the city. Just to walk there can be truly fascinating. Of course, the hardships its residents face are enormous, but it is only when you visit them that you see how life goes on despite the odds, with people soaking in the simple pleasures of life.

That Mumbai stayed with him long after he moved on shows in the personal touches in the accompanying text. "Rhythm House was an experience. The telephone operator answered, in a suitably sing-song voice, with just one word: 'Rhythm'," reads the part on the iconic music store in Kala Ghoda. Here, Fernandes takes us through five such snapshots of the city that have made their way to the book.


Chor Bazaar: The place is too fascinating for words. You can spend an entire day in one shop. I made the mistake of taking my wife there, and our Bengaluru home is full of lovely things we buy from Chor Bazaar on every visit to the city there on. The area is being pressured by real estate demands, and it is sad to think that it may all cease to exist one day.

Log on to Online bookstores after January 19 (The book will also be available at Fernandes's aPaulogy gallery in Worli)


BEST buses: The BEST bus is one of my fondest ways of travelling in Mumbai. I remember running up the spiral staircase of a double-decker bus (introduced in the city in 1937, with very few plying on the streets of Mumbai today) to occupy the first seat facing the front view window. I would often go to the last stop, and come back all the way in the same bus. It was a tad disorienting for me to have no bus to hop on to during this visit, because of the strike; (right) Paul Fernandes. Pics courtesy/Paul Fernandes


Paul Fernandes

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