Like most memorable things, it was a surprise when the New York Times reached out to us with a story. They approached us to help them bring their idea, of documenting the culinary traditions of the Parsi community, to life. To our added excitement, it was decided that Anthony Cotsifas, who had travelled with us before, will be working on this story. On the request being communicated, our legwork began. The Parsi community, being a well-knit and closed one, required us to do a lot of groundwork before the journey could commence. We reached out to a lot of members, establishing some friendships along the way, which helped us get permission and access to exclusive clubs and culinary spaces in Mumbai.
One fine day, Anthony arrived in Mumbai with his assistant. We decided to do a quick recce of each café to understand the timings and logistics that would ultimately have to be factored in while devising a shooting schedule. Our first stop was the Ripon Club. With the help of our friend, this famous club restaurant, frequented by lawyers, was welcoming. We headed next to Yazdani, where we were greeted by its proprietor, who gave us permission to shoot the next day afternoon. Yazdani was the smallest of all, a traditional Irani café that dealt with only bread and pastries.
Britannia & Co. had earned quite the reputation for the colour of its walls and the aesthetics, and Anthony was very keen to shoot it. The day we asked for being a Sunday, the owners refused to open the café for us. A little disappointed, we proceeded to our next café. A popular breakfast place, Kyani & Co. begins its day at 7 am. The owners were a bit hesitant to let us shoot, allowing us access only during its usual business hours and not earlier. Our final rendezvous was with the owner of B. Merwan & Co. An affable octogenarian, he allowed us to shoot on Sunday afternoon. The problem was the café was situated right next to the Grand Central Train station and was almost always overflowing with activity. Even after a lengthy explanation, the owner was not ready to open it for us on Sunday morning. Only after a lot of convincing, the owner yielded a little, agreeing to leave the café open for a little longer.