With each new café that we open, we write a story deeply rooted in Bombay history or culture. This story, known to us as the founding myth, informs all aspects of the restaurant’s design. We spend months researching the Bombay of the period and combing the city for the right furniture, both vintage and new. In a way, you walk across our thresholds into our stories.
The phone keeps ringing shrilly through the flat. Nauzer holds his head in his hands, palms clamped over his ears. “Beta, the phone!” He forgot his mother would still be here. He can’t have her answering in case it is Devia. He runs into the corridor to pick it up. It stops just before he can reach it. Breathless, he looks up and sees his mother in the kitchen.
Nauzer stands straight, squares his shoulders. For a moment, he is taken in by her smile. He can believe that this interview is the result of him focusing his energy, heart and mind on working hard, on helping his community; that his pursuit of profit is honourable; and his is a success story worth writing about.
Thursday 12th April – 1973, BOMBAY. It is almost light outside. It must be about six. He’s been awake half the night trying to figure out what to do. Lying on his bed, he stares through the rotating blades of the ceiling fan which only serve to stir the close warm air of his room. He needs to think – he’s running out of time. But his eyes feel salted and his head throbs.
BOMBAY, 1949. A sultry June evening. Lights glow golden. Candles flicker in the warm breeze that arrives gently through the large open windows of the café.
Crisp and organised, Roda Irani leads her daughter through the narrow gullies of Swadeshi Market. “Come, let us get to the café.”
It is a hazy November morning and it is already warm. The roads are thronged with bullock carts, cycles and pedestrians.
It is a close and heavy monsoon night on Marine Lines. Despite the weather, there is a jostling of people outside the Bombay Roxy.
BOMBAY, MARCH 1923. Botanist, ecologist, and all-round man of the people Patrick Geddes reclines on a long-armed rattan chair.
November. 1967. Heathrow airport. A young man leans against the Oceanic terminal’s high windows, waiting for the final call for BOAC flight 774 to Bombay.
One January morning in 1928, a young Irani – not long arrived in Bombay – was waiting to collect a parcel at Victoria Terminus. Unusually, the train was running late...
One day, an eccentric old Irani Café (born circa 1930, Bombay), creaking slightly at the seams, made the long trip from Bombay in 1970 to London in 2012. Tired from the long journey, it shuffled into an empty space in Shoreditch and made itself comfortable.