Written by Anand Vasu
Yuvraj Singh, Indian cricketer
For two years, Indian cricket star Yuvraj Singh has lived close to his buddies in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra.
Until very recently, the bright lights of Marine Drive and Colaba in South Mumbai were the places to be seen in India’s most intense city. Mumbai, the financial capital, the home of Bollywood’s thriving film fiefdom, and cradle of cricket – the sport that is now practically worshipped as a religion – was epitomised by its southern tip. But that is changing fast.
As a city forever in flux, changing rapidly with the times and occasionally setting the pace for others to follow, Mumbai’s rapid growth has coincided with a shift in outlook, with the action shifting to the central suburb of Bandra.
“I chose Bandra simply because a lot of my good friends, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, either live there or close by,” explained Yuvraj Singh. “It’s a place I now call home, simply because of how good it feels to be based here.”
In Bandra, which is a mix of residential and commercial space, and hosts some of the hippest bars and restaurants in the city, Yuvraj picks the idiosyncratic Pali Naka as his favourite street. “It’s got so much character,” explains Yuvraj. “And the people have a relaxed, almost chilled-out outlook to life. They’re used to seeing celebrities, whether it’s film stars or cricketers, so someone like me can go and have a quiet meal with some friends or watch a movie at a theatre without being disturbed.”
Yuvraj has a reputation for being a wild thing, a bit of a party animal, but those who know the man personally will tell you that a lot of this is just a vivid figment of the tabloid media’s imagination. Certainly, in the last year, Yuvraj has rarely been spotted at clubs, with his focus being very much cricket.
“The place I spend most time at in Pali Naka is Gold’s Gym”, says Yuvraj. As someone who has access to cutting-edge training routines and physical preparation when with the Indian team, Yuvraj likes to stay ahead when at home. “With the bad luck I’ve had with injuries (wrist, fingers, knee) it’s crucial that I have a place that I can work out at on a regular basis, knowing that I’m in good hands.”
But all those hours in the gym builds quite an appetite, and Café Basilico, a bistro and deli in the heart of Bandra, is where Yuvraj can be spotted when he’s out for dinner. “I love the pastas and the sandwiches, especially the paninis, at Basilico,” said Yuvraj. If it’s a quiet meal with a small group of friends that’s the order of the day, this Mediterranean restaurant is Yuvraj’s favourite.
During the day, however, for a quick snack Yuvraj heads for Gloria Jean’s Coffee. “There are days when it’s raining hard and nothing hits the spot like a good cup of coffee,” said Yuvraj. “And sometimes, it’s not just one coffee, but several, as you get lost in conversation with friends.”
For those who don’t believe that Yuvraj is an early riser, the relish with which he speaks of the breakfasts at Just Around the Corner – a restaurant that specialises in buffet spreads and a generous salad bar – will come as a surprise. “Occasionally, on a weekend, you want to have a long, lazy breakfast out, and Just Around the Corner is the place to go,” said Yuvraj.
Yuvraj, clearly, is very much at home in Bandra.
Ever since he burst on the scene in 2000, announcing himself to the world with a spectacular innings against Australia in Nairobi, Yuvraj Singh has captured the imagination of the Indian public. A clean striker of the ball, canny slow bowler, and athletic fielder, Yuvraj’s impact was instant. Successive injuries and age have, however, taken their toll; but as recently as 2007, he struck six sixes off a Stuart Broad over, and remains the fulcrum of the team in limited overs cricket.
India plays the final Test of its three-Test series against South Africa in Cape Town from January 2–6, then a Twenty20 match (Durban, January 9), followed by five One-Day Internationals.