Earlier this week, on a typical Mumbai August day with the clouds playing hide and seek with the monsoon rains, we sauntered our way to the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.
Unlike when I was growing up in the city, the Taj post the havoc created by terrorist activity is now a heavily guarded space. As we passed our way through the metal detectors and security guards, the images of that infamous day in November which made this Mumbai landmark a hotbed of violence with a good chunk of the hotel burning down came to mind.
Resilience is the word that rang in our heads as we walked our way from the new wing to the completely redone older part, passing by photographs of the rich and famous who had rested their head at this iconic property.
The Sea Lounge is a coffee shop done up in beautiful shades of blue, evoking an old world grandeur and charm. We were fortunate to nab a prime window seat. It tickled us to find a movie star on a date adjacent to us and hear about the intricate wedding planning activities of a wealthy bride to be a few seats away.
Of course, what makes the trip to the Sea Lounge so completely worthwhile is the microcosm of Mumbai life that you can take in from its windows. Staring at us was the expanse of the Arabian sea with the sky changing colors from light to dark before thundering down some rain. The majestic Gateway of India was crowded with families on an outing, locals and visitors feeding the swarm of pigeons that congregate here, hawkers offering everything from food to photography services, horse-drawn carriages moving tourists wanting an old world charm and of course, the many couples seeking a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city.
As we waited for our coffee and masala milk (a Mumbai delicacy of milk served hot or cold flavored with saffron, cardamom, pistachios and sugar), my eyes honed in on one particular couple. There they were smiling, laughing, teasing, almost alone among the crowds in their own world. As the rains drops came trickling down, out came a single umbrella, its profusion of flowers a beautiful contrast to the darkening clouds. As they playfully twirled their umbrella, we returned to focus on our delicious drinks.
Scanning the room, we saw a mix of locals and visitors, romance mixed with business, playfulness blended with intensity all within a lounge with old world grandeur and charm.
Depending on how hungry you might be, the Sea Lounge offers a plethora of menu options. In my opinion, one goes here for the view and ambiance with food being a secondary thought.
If you are in Mumbai even for a day, the beautiful Taj Mahal Hotel is certainly worth a visit and if you can manage to sneak in a short getaway, do stop by for a bite at the Sea Lounge. The Sea Lounge is located on the first floor of the hotel. More details on the lounge can be found here.