Bademiya's baida roti* has to be eaten to be believed. What the roadside chef could do to an egg would have made an egg roll over onto its back and kick its legs in the air in ecstasy. An egg ceased to be an egg. It became luxurious and otherworldly with a prominent halo around it.
Everybody who came to Colaba in South Mumbai made a beeline for Bademiya's. Royalty rubbed shoulders with cabbies and jostled with mendicants at this Mecca of epicures. The great equalizer, as some nerd once described it. And for once I would have patted the nerd on the back and beamed at him.
There was a Bade Miya making egg rolls here when I was a finger-licking boy of eight and there still was a Bade Miya making egg rolls here when I became a finger-licking man of sixty four. Everything was the same except that I no longer shouted whoopee. And that's because sis frowns on it. She says I should eat like a gentleman. Even if it's a gentleman with egg yolk smeared all over his face. But then she always has been conservative and orthodox in her views.
The stall being just behind the Taj Mahal Intercontinental it was not unusual for gentlemen in three piece suits to quaff single malts on the rocks at the Harbour Bar and then shamelessly nip out the backdoor to make pigs of themselves at Bademiya's.
Then the mogul expanded. From a small stall with a modest sign declaring he had no branches, he bought a room in the same alley, decorated and furnished it and distributed menu cards with raised prices.
I am told by reliable sources that the place has gone to seed. Egg rolls without the sour odour of sweat kneaded in just don't taste the same.
the barkeep's disdainful sniff
at my orange juice
Editor’s note. Baida roti, a popular street food in Mumbai, is often translated as egg roll. It is not to be confused with the Chinese egg roll although the basic concept isn’t too dissimilar. Bademiya is a chain of kebab shops/restaurants that was started by a man known as Bade Miya, sometimes transliterated as Bade Mia or Bade Miyan.