Matunga – Southern Surprise in aamchi Mumbai

South Indians who visit the ‘City of Dreams’ for the first time are enchanted by its magic but still hanker for life back at home. Indeed if you look forward to listening to the sweet strains of MS rendition of the Suprabhatam in the morning as you tuck in a nice breakfast of Idli-Vada or Ven Pongal followed by the delightful Kaapi – you need to look no further than visiting Matunga.

It is still the home for many South Indians though older families have started to shift to the suburbs where they can afford bigger homes. And if you are lucky enough to live here, life can go on just as it was at home.

Collection:The India Today Group Credit:India Today Group/Getty Images
Collection:The India Today Group
Credit:India Today Group/Getty Images

The morning scenes are not very different although you are now in the heart of the modern megapolis of Mumbai. Matunga proudly hosts acclaimed schools and colleges and yet the old familiar routines are not lost. You will spot the decorative ‘kolams’ (Rangolis) welcoming you to a South Indian home. Early in the morning, people still visit the nearby Temples for prayers and socializing. Priests are seen going through their morning rituals and planning for the events of the day.

Alternately you may prefer the healthier option of spending an hour exercising at the landmark ‘5 Gardens’ enclave that is popular with the locals. It is a rich cultural legacy that needs to be guarded preciously – we have every right to regard it as our version of the famous Cubbon Park in Bangalore.

The market scene is equally busy – vendors sell the popular flowers be it the Madurai Malli (Jasmine) or the Kanakambaram (Aboli). Looking for special options like the right green Mangoes for Vadu Manga pickle or Vazhaipoo (Banana Flower),  have no worries you will not go back empty-handed as all the popular South Indian vegetables too are available here. You can also shop for popular spices and masalas that are essential in the kitchen. Care for authentic South Indian Coffee – you have the option of selecting the Coffee Beans and getting them ground to create your own personalized mixture.

The market is the hub of the popular and the exotic. All the popular Tamil weekly magazines – Kalki, Kumudam, Ananda Vikatan are readily available. Hankering for a bit more than popular culture then you can still grab hold of religious books and Carnatic music that are not readily found elsewhere.

There is no dearth of Udupi eateries to serve you gastronomic delights at very affordable prices. You can arrange for even monthly passes if you choose.

The hub has become a solution provide for a variety of needs – classes to learn Bharatanatyam, shopping for Silk Sarees, attending popular Temple events during festivals, attending music kacheris and arangetrams etc is  also available for the ardent follower.

Things are changing gradually as the younger generation  does not have the time or energy to follow all the rituals and traditions as was done by their parents. A modern compromise is always struck to assuage a guilty conscience against the lack of appreciation of our culture and the roots. Changes are inevitable but one hopes that not all will be lost in this microcosm of old Madras. We have the right to remain hopeful for every time you visit the place, it does remind you of home and  looks like it would last forever.

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