In the sec­ond part of our Groove with Honda se­ries, the Jazz and I de­cide to drive around and find out what tugs at Mum­bai’s mu­si­cal heart­strings


The Jazz and our res­i­dent singer dis­cover mu­si­cal Mum­bai

MUM­BAI. THE CITY OF DREAMS. WITH ITS roots deep in Bol­ly­wood as well as a very ac­tive western mu­sic scene, is one of the hubs of all that is mu­si­cal in In­dia. In­deed, no mu­si­cal ex­plo­ration of the coun­try is com­plete with­out a visit to this city. If you look in the right places, you’ll find a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal gen­res that per­fectly suit your taste. Whether it’s some heavy dance­hall or a chilled out all-girl band play­ing an acous­tic ses­sion, Mum­bai of­fers it all. But Mum­bai in the mon­soons is a daunt­ing task that’s best avoided. How­ever, after my drive through Pune in the Honda Jazz, I was quite con­fi­dent that if I had to head for a rain-washed Mum­bai then this was the car to do it with.

The 150-odd kilo­me­tres sep­a­rat­ing Pune from Mum­bai turn out to be a breeze in the Jazz as we wind our way up and then down the wa­ter­fall-lined ghats. That, com­bined with the mist and the glow­ing green­ery that Ma­ha­rash­tra in the mon­soons is fa­mous for, feels like magic. It’s hard not to break out into a song. “You’ve got the kind of lovin’ that can be so smooth,” sings Rob Thomas while San­tana weaves his magic through the Jazz’s mu­sic sys­tem. I keep pace with them. It’s ac­tu­ally quite re­lax­ing.

All too soon the high­ways are gone and I find my­self bat­tling Mum­bai’s traf­fic, the Jazz by my side, the clear sounds of the ra­dio from her mu­sic sys­tem help­ing me stay sane. I cut across town and head for Chem­bur East for that’s where my mu­si­cal ex­plo­ration of Mum­bai will start.

The sign on the wall says Ada­gio and I know this is where I have to go in, but can it re­ally be this in­nocu­ous a place? I won­der, for there are no flash­ing neon signs, no bounc­ers and none of the usual trap­pings of a des­ti­na­tion that us mil­len­ni­als nor­mally head to. Just an artsy brown door with a gui­tar’s fret for a door han­dle. Yet, this place has been highly rec­om­mended by my friends. I push the door open gin­gerly, only to be trans­ported to a dif­fer­ent world.

An hour and a half later I walk out hav­ing spent the time in the com­pany of to­tal strangers. Hud­dled around a turntable, we lis­tened to song after song from Led Zep­pelin’s ‘House of Holies’. Ada­gio is a reg­u­lar gui­tar class through the week, but come Thurs­day evening the place throws its doors open to mu­sic afi­ciona­dos. Aman Singh Gu­jral, the man be­hind Ada­gio, and his team of en­thu­si­asts play mu­sic the old school way – on vinyl records. It’s a warm at­mos­phere and with none of the ac­cou­trements of other main­stream mu­sic des­ti­na­tions. This is a place you only come to if you’re in love with your mu­sic. It’s the per­fect way to kick off a mu­si­cal jour­ney. The beauty of Ada­gio lies in its sim­plic­ity of ap­proach where the as­pi­ra­tion is to give

as pure an ex­pe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble. Not un­like the Jazz and its sim­ple yet sleek de­sign. In ei­ther case, you’re hooked.

My next stop is Raasta in Khar, about 11km away from Ada­gio. Google says it should take me no more than an hour, but this is Mum­bai. An hour can eas­ily stretch into two. Stuck in an end­less ocean of ve­hi­cles, I stretch like I can only in the Jazz. Com­pact though it is, there is no short­age of space here. In fact, quite the op­po­site. I like the way this dy­namic Honda can trans­form it­self from a youth­ful hatch­back into my own pri­vate co­coon, per­fectly in sync with my ac­tive life­style.

A per­sonal favourite, Raasta is the per­fect hang­out for all bac­cha­nal and dance­hall lovers. The walls are cov­ered with var­i­ous car­i­ca­tures that re­sem­ble Ja­maican mu­sic cul­ture and it hosts some of the coun­try’s best em­cees, DJs and live reg­gae acts. After booty shak­ing my way to the front of the stage, I feel I fit into the crowd al­most as per­fectly as the Jazz fits into my ac­tive life­style.

Less than half a kilo­me­tre and just about five min­utes

away in the sprightly Jazz, we stop at Tun­ing Fork – Com­edy and Mu­sic Café inside Ho­tel Uni­con­ti­nen­tal in Khar West. The café turns out to be a tiny place that can barely hold 50 peo­ple. Yet the ta­lent to be found here is noth­ing short of hu­mungous. Saun­ter­ing in, I am still try­ing to re­mem­ber the fa­mil­iar strains of mu­sic when I re­alise there isn’t a sin­gle male voice. This has to be my lucky night! The Bas­sic is per­form­ing at Tun­ing Fork and for those of you who don’t know, The Bas­sic is a Mum­bai-based all-girl rock band. Their reper­toire in­cludes cov­ers, both old and new, dished up with their unique twist, along with a host of orig­i­nals. I can’t help but won­der at their panache and style, just like my friends back in Pune had been taken in with the hip style of the com­pact Honda hatch­back. As a woman per­former, watch­ing the girls do the gig is a bit of a high re­ally.

The power of the per­for­mances aside, what sets Tun­ing Fork apart is the plat­form they pro­vide for up­com­ing In­die artists, to record their mu­sic on a pro­fes­sional level. They record the au­dio and vi­su­als of tracks for the artist. This is ground break­ing be­cause to get an orig­i­nal or cover song mixed and mas­tered along with video on a mu­si­cian’s pay­roll, you might as well sell your kid­ney. A bit like the Jazz and its CVT au­to­matic, which makes it so sim­ple and easy for a new­bie to break into real world driv­ing.

About 30 min­utes away is Razzberry Rhinoceros in Juhu. The lo­cals call it Razz. They have al­ways called it Razz. The tang of salt in the breeze and the sand un­der my feet re­minds me of a time long gone. Razz had al­ready made head­lines as a mu­sic hub when I was still in di­a­pers in the ’90s. It was the place where peo­ple with #par­ty­goals went to long be­fore hash­tags be­came trendy.

More than a cou­ple of decades later, things haven’t changed much. This is still the place to go to in Juhu. Again, the par­al­lels I find with the Honda are amaz­ing. Back in 2009 when the Jazz de­buted in In­dia if you wanted a premium hatch that fit­ted into a dy­namic life­style then the Honda was per­fect. Eight years later, it’s still as apt as it ever was. Back to Razz, the en­trance is lined with ex­cel­lent graf­fiti and is a treat for sore eyes. But graf­fiti isn’t why the Jazz and I have weaved our way through some hor­ren­dous traf­fic, which the Jazz made short work of, to get here.

Tonight, the dis­tant hyp­notic notes of a bass gui­tar pull me in in­ex­orably, as I tune my­self into the heavy hip-hop in­flu­enced sounds that as­sault my senses. The Razz is also a pop­u­lar after-party haunt, thanks to its prox­im­ity to the beach. Our night here kicked off at half past eleven and car­ried on into the wee hours.

By the time I got on the road again, this time headed for home, the city with a rep­u­ta­tion for never sleep­ing was al­ready in slum­ber. The Jazz and I drove silently away, cour­tesy that su­per-re­fined 1.2-litre petrol i-VTEC en­gine, a smile on my face. To­mor­row, there would be another city to ex­plore, another set of sounds to en­joy. Another date night beck­ons me, and my trusty Jazz. ⌧

Above: The door to Ada­gio is in­deed a por­tal to mu­sic heaven. Left: A per­sonal favourite, Raasta is the per­fect hang­out for all bac­cha­nal and dance­hall lovers. Fac­ing page, top:

The Jazz is dy­namic enough to fit into ac­tive life­styles. Fac­ing page, bot­tom: Many of our des­ti­na­tions are tucked away in nar­row lanes – good thing then, that the Jazz is com­pact and easy to drive

Fac­ing page, top: Tun­ing Fork pro­vides a plat­form for up­com­ing artistes to record their work pro­fes­sion­ally. Far left: The Jazz with its spa­cious cabin is per­fect for a city like Mum­bai

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