Every day, for the past few decades, Dayanand Shenoy has taken an early morning train to Grant Road station in south Mumbai from his home in the suburb of Borivali. Initially, it was for work but now it’s just for oven-fresh mava cakes from B Merwan.
The bakery, on the ground floor of a dilapidated four-storey building, has many admirers in India’s financial capital. Hundreds line up daily, some at sunrise, to buy cups of sugary tea and some bun maska (sweet milk bread slathered with butter).
“I don’t remember how long I have been coming here, ever since I can remember,” said Shenoy, a retired businessman. “It is far away, but I can’t do without having some mava cake every day.”
Merwan, set up 100 years ago by the Irani family, opens at half past five each morning, serving municipal workers, shopkeepers, vegetable vendors and schoolchildren who sit in grimy chairs and wait, bleary-eyed, for their food to arrive.
A cup of tea and a bun maska sets patrons back by 16 rupees (25 cents), one of the city’s most inexpensive breakfasts. The cafe also serves omelettes and scrambled eggs. There is an even longer line at the takeout counter where locals pick up the famed Merwan puff pastries and mava (milk solids) cakes that sell out in a couple of hours.