2018 Primetime Emmy
& James Beard Award Winner

An Utter Lack of Judgement Is a Bar’s Best Quality

Photo: Alan Levine

An Utter Lack of Judgement Is a Bar’s Best Quality

Old Monk in Bombay

Where I’m from, you either choose to be a well-behaved Indian girl or a rebel who drinks. It’s black and white with little room for error.

I grew up in a fairly liberal home. However, as soon as I was old enough to start seeking adventure, I realized drinking in public and coming home sloshed was off-limits.

However, one of the best things about Bombay is that you can find a place for yourself, even if you’re a confused college student with little pocket money and a desire to be young, wild, and free.

This is how I found myself trekking to Sunlight three years ago on my birthday with a few friends. Sunlight is a dive bar located in what we refer to as “town,” the southern part of the city with its generous share of old money and an abundance of kaali-peelis (black and yellow taxis.)

I visited the bar again recently, three years later. Suffice to say, Sunlight, with its dim lighting, blaring jukebox, and mostly bare walls, was comfortingly the same.

I carefully trudged up the steep stairs and made my way to the nearest staff member. When I told him I was looking for a table, he looked at me dubiously. “A table just for you?” he asked. This sentiment was echoed by a kind stranger who offered to let me sit with her group of girlfriends.

I gratefully accepted the invitation and slid into the seat. “Do you booze?” the girl at the table asked me. “Of course,” I responded, ordering my faithful glass of Old Monk. Dark rum which has ruled the hearts of Indians since 1954, Old Monk is rather strong, with a distinctive flavor and a promise: you will feel the buzz in all its glory.

My companion for the night went out briefly to withdraw some cash from an ATM. She brought back with her tales of being stalked by a man whom she avoided by talking on the phone. Her friends defiantly finished their beer and declared that they don’t need men.

I left soon after and vaguely registered the cabbie staring curiously as I fumbled for money in my bag. I grinned, pretending I was back inside Sunlight’s familiar interiors, swaying to the music and soaking in the complete and utter lack of judgment.

Up Next

16 Things to Know Before You Go to Mumbai

Featured City Guides