KitabKhana gets busy, it attracts a work crowd on weekdays, so you’re often battling between your next sentence and the conversation at the next table. But it has to be on this list because of the bookshop that surrounds it. You only have to walk through it to remember that good books still have a home (one that does not exist on virtual e-commerce platforms). The range reminds you of the categories life can traverse and why you fell in love with writing in the first place. It has the ability, for something inanimate, to transport you so completely into a new world, to soothe, excite and save. By the time you sit down, you’ll be inspired.
You’ll know you’ve found the right café when the little furry Zizou welcomes you. Gostana is a pet-friendly café tucked into the back of a regular building near Linking Road. Once you’ve found it, however, there’s nothing to stop you from spending hours there, as it’s a café that’s just cozy enough (only three tables and one floor seating). Lovely owners who will do everything to keep you comfortable, great music along with the high chance of hearing very interesting conversations among the regulars at the café make this place a writer’s dream. If you’re hungry, try their burgers, hummus and chicken spread.
It should come as no surprise that Prithvi is on this list. This café remains the go-to spot for anyone in the suburbs with a serious amount of writing to do. Expect to find some peace and quiet in the afternoon hours, along with the regular theatre and film crowd periodically making an appearance. Prices have remained relatively low, particularly if you stick to the sulemani chai, as do most regulars here. Prithvi has also spruced up their interiors, complete with atmospheric China lamps, features a lovely flutist on evenings and weekends, and offers Sangria on Sundays.
Freelancers have been frequenting the Bagel Shop for ages. With great juices, a Parsi chai that makes you smile, and a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, this café makes you feel at home. On most afternoons, you’ll find some other solitary writer typing away at their magnum opus, or a reader curled up with a cup of coffee by their side. The sight is comforting, through the click-clack of laptops and the humdrum of soft conversation, it reminds you that as lonely as writing can sometimes be, you are not alone.
Bagel Shop, No.30, Pali Mala Road, Pali Hill, Mumbai, India, +91 22 2605 0178
Tea Centre is a classic. Open from 8:30am to 10:30pm every day of the week, it is a haven for those who need any form of tea to make their life remotely better. You only have to open the menu to know that they’ve accounted for every occasion, jasmine tea for when your nerves are shot to hell by that chapter that won’t work, herbal tea for when you’re puzzling out structure and need your novel to flower, masala chai for that burst of energy to bring your characters to life and plough through the one scene that isn’t working. It even has a lovely range of food for when you drag your fellow writers there. Waiters serve you and then leave you alone for the most part. It is often a quest to get the check. If you’re still searching for one more reason to visit, it’s relatively close to the Asiatic Library, you can spend the morning navigating those impossible steel chests stuffed with literary treasures and then use the evening to sooth yourself with a well-earning masala chai.
Birdsong Organic Café
Crafted with exposed brick décor and bare bulb lighting, Birdsong Organic Café makes you feel like an avant-garde artist ushering in the next artistic revolution, and all you’ve done is sit down. It doesn’t hurt that it’s nestled in a Bandra by-lane, so when you look out, you see two-story buildings and low greenery that places you in another age. Try to avoid it on the weekends as finding a place can be a fight in itself, unless you book (and writers never book). Do try the hot chocolate though, there is enough sugar there to spark even the most latent of creative juices.
Tea & Tea
‘Hole in the wall’ is a literal phrase when speaking about this charming café, located near the ISKON temple in Juhu. As the name suggests, Tea & Tea serves mostly tea — a mind-boggling variety. Some homey snacks like Maggi and beans on toast are available as well, so you won’t have to take a break from writing to hunt for your meal. It has very limited seating and very non-intrusive staff, ideal for spending the afternoon writing in solitude. We recommend getting a pot of tea and spending the day here when the itch to write strikes next.
Tea & Tea, 2, Juhu Road, Juhu Tara, Juhu, Mumbai, India, +91 98 2170 0041