I woke up bushy tailed despite the late night to pick MinCat up from Bombay Central where she was coming in on the Rajdhani. The technology of the railways has improved with me being able to check the train status online in addition to keeping in touch with MinCat on whatsapp. Since I was up earlier than usual, I strolled to our local bakery for some buns. The prices have doubled since I was last there but everything else is the same.

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Then I took an auto to Bandra station, where I sheepishly handed over a Rs100 note to buy a return ticket. The station looks just the same and I walked to the local platform on autopilot, only stopping when I realised I couldn’t find the ladies compartment. The train was empty and it was a peaceful ride. I had been to the non-local section of Bombay Central only once or twice in my life during my days as a reporter but I still managed to find it easily, because I remembered the long overhead corridor.

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After buying a platform ticket, I plonked myself on a deserted bench on the sunrise-dappled platform and waited. Around me were trolleys piled with bottles of water and sheets. A man was cleaning the platform with one of those automated vehicles, a step up from the manual labour of the past. The blast of the horn of departing trains took me back to fun-filled train journeys as a child. The train journeys I took alone as an adult had taken the sheen off this form of travel for me, but clearly the romance of it had not died entirely because I found myself fantasising about doing a train journey with my kids. Actually this is not entirely new because before I had been discussing with V taking a train through China with the kids before I left.

MinCat disembarked and we took a local train back, gossiping along the way. There was a hilarious moment when we stood cluelessly on the curbside in Bandra because I had no idea where we could go for breakfast. Curly was consulted and came through with suggestions which worked. We landed up at Eat around the Corner, formerly Just Around The Corner which used to be my permanent adda as a twenty-something. Only there were big No Smoking notices to which I reacted in horror to the amusement of the security guard. The brekker was delish though.

Clueless moment of the morning #2 was when we traversed the length and breadth of 18th road in search of MinCat’s uncle’s house only to finally check with the local grocery and discover that the building was on 17th road.

Laden with books that MinCat had brought back for me, I headed home hopeful for a nap but it was not to be. Cousin arrived with kids in tow and then dear friend from building who happened to be in town came over. We had a nice catch-up down in the building like old times, complete with her dad shouting out to us from the balcony that he could hear every word we were saying.

Went back home for a quick lunch before another friend and her baby popped over. I was wilting by the time she left but no time to rest, because I had to rush off to the spa. I had booked a facial for mum and a pedicure and massage for me at Jean Claude Binguine at the recommendation of Ashwathy (Thanks for the recco, you were spot on!). It proved to be worth the hazaar rupees it cost. My mom who never does this stuff unless I am there dragging her off could not stop raving and yesterday when I told her that she should go again, she didn’t decline.

Only had time for a quick shower before heading out again with MinCat and Curly for drinks at Bonobo, which is a very nice open air place which makes lovely cocktails that we availed off aplenty due to happy hour. Before the trip, I had been fantasising about smoking, in service of which I bought a whole carton of Malborro Lights from duty free but with no time to breathe over the past two days, had not managed to even open the carton. Finally, at Bonobo, I reached for my bag, only to discover I had left the cigarettes at home and was reduced to buying Classic Milds from the bar. Hmph. We had a nice girly discussion about everything girls talk about before I finally crashed for the night.

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