WORDS: CHERYL-ANN COUTO
PHOTOGRAPHS: HASHIM BADANI
GREAT FROM: All metros
GREAT FOR: The fussy gifter
Mumbai has everything to offer the avid shopper – budget treasures, luxury retail, and even that wee fey boutique that will press your credit card dry. Make it easy on yourself and throw in one more criterion: discovery! A few names swim to the surface – young, indigenous, small-scale labels, familiar to only few as of now.
Start in the western suburb of Bandra, the city’s style and street-shopping hub. Dodge the bargain hunters on the arterial Hill Road and head to its quiet end to the lifestyle and art store Kulture Shop. Founded by muralist and digital artist Jas Charanjiva, her husband Arjun Chiranjiva, and Kunal Anand, the label champions the work of Indian graphic artists by imprinting it on everything from T-shirts to stationery and wall art. Pick a Don’t Mess With Me T-shirt starring Jas Charanjiva’s own pink-lady-with-knuckle-dusters art, currently a symbol of the pro-Planned Parenthood resistance in the USA. Or, pick iPhone skins with grimacing, gap-toothed goddesses by up-and-coming artist Jasjyot Singh Hans.
Amid the maze of bylanes and quaint houses in Chuim Village sits Bungalow No 29, where you’ll find the matchbox-sized paper-craft store Sky Goodies. The walls are lined with kitschy paper trucks, grand pianos, typewriters and tea sets that double as cardholders or just storage. Owners Amit and Misha Gudibanda believe in the therapeutic power of making by hand, and their pre-cut, pre-folded DIY sets are fun projects for kids.
A few metres down is Koinonia Coffee Roasters, a single-estate coffee company, whose cool, dark interiors are suffused with the fruit and chocolate notes of beans from South India. Co-founder Siddhartha Merchant wants to create a culture of educated coffee drinkers and, to that end, you get an impromptu brewing lesson, as you wait for the beans best suited to your coffee habit to be packed The foamy iced-latte makes for a good tasting sample.
Closer to South Mumbai, in Lower Parel, the no-fuss Trilogy bookstore and library calls for old-school browsing through shelves teeming with carefully-curated titles you’re unlikely to encounter at bigger chains or online. Discover regional-language literature and books from indie imprints here and abroad.
Wending your way across Mumbai can be exhausting and, at furniture boutique Magnolia nearby, you’ll be tempted to curl right up in a gorgeous bed or plush lounger. Quirkier metal accents like the lovely hand-painted bins and wooden figurines sourced from around the country, can also be found here.
Nicobar, in the Kala Ghoda District downtown, is a home decor and fashion haunt for the craft-sensitive hipster. This young offshoot of Indian luxury goods giant Good Earth, evokes beach days and gin-soaked brunches with its muted tropical palette and modern retelling of Indian textiles. The Maasai-themed kulhars are the perfect chai-time accessories.
When you’re leaving Mumbai, pre-order many of Mama Z’s sweet and savoury pies to gift people back home – that way you can keep several for yourself, minus the guilt. Home chef Zarine Davar’s spare but homey menu is a lot like love, and her banoffee pie-in-a-jar can convey serious affection.