1934 : a "Peculiar Gift". .

It’s been a few years since we first came across this gem; please forgive our tardiness in sharing it with you :-)
The writer of the Indian National Congress Guide for delegates in 1934 to its significant meeting in Bombay that year let it be known – without reservation – that the city’s Irani restaurants were a peculiar gift of Bombay to civilisation…more than a restaurant. What strikes the visitor is not the service the place gives, but the wonderful cosmopolitanism of it. 
The guide’s beaming evaluation of the corner Iranis of the city continued the Irani…has done more to break down orthodoxy, tradition and racial and religious aloofness than any social institution.

Wow, we thought to ourselves when first reading this amid musty dusty library shelves. For the author of the 1934 guide appears to be consciously constructing an image of the Irani café as an open, tolerant space – where one could avail oneself of tea and snacks {and other assorted products} no matter who you were or what your religious or ethnic background. 

One of the earliest references we have located that positions the Irani café as a space of tolerance and multi-ethnic cosmopolitanism. 

Image : 
Indian National Congress Committee. 1934. Congress Guide. Bombay.


Poetic License does B. Merwan

Ritesh Batra and Poetic License hosted another of their nights at beloved Grant Road Irani B. Merwan this week.

Farah Khan spoke.  So did Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Here’s a video diary of the event - with thanks to bLOGiMLY who was there on the night!


Ritesh Batra and Poetic License embrace Mumbai's Irani cafes

Ritesh Batra, director of hit flick Lunchbox says he is out to save Mumbai’s Irani cafes. Those that are still left, anyhow.

To that end his production company – known as Poetic License – will be hosting events at Irani cafes from time to time. The first event was held at Ali and Aamir Irani’s landmark Café Koolar at Kings Circle. Events at Kyani in Dhobi Talao and Café Excelsior in Fort followed soon after. 

More info here :


IMAGE : Ritesh Batra with Radhika Apte and Kharat Kataria upstairs at Kyani, Dhobi Talao. Courtesy K. Ahswin of IndianShowBiz.com