Friday, 30 July 2010

Thursday, 29 July 2010


This month I went to Deolali [a small non-touristic hill station in the Nashik district, Maharashtra] with my mother to bring in her birthday. Although my family has a holiday-home there, it was my first visit and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was largely a Gujarati settlement [apart from the military base that is]...
Lazy afternoons on porch swings, lunch in the Jain canteen across the road, healthy sandwiches and thandai for dinner, Jain derasars [temples]... the works!

I was most impressed by the cozy tourist accommodation or 'arogya bhavans'. Old houses converted into comfortable guest houses equipped with an attendee to suit the needs of a typical Gujarati family. One can opt for the attendee to clean, help out in the cooking [chopping, washing, we know how fussy our ba's and nani's are about 'doing it themselves'!] or even do all the cooking in your very own kitchen typical maharaj-style! How awesome is that! And what better way to maintain these wonderful houses than to convert them into guesthouses, instead of breaking them down and constructing fancy hotels.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Sunday, 18 July 2010

the Irani Restaurants of Bombay

Anyone who lives in Mumbai feels a sense of nostalgia about its numerous family-run Irani cafes because they have always been there and they have never ever changed.

As soon as you enter in one it's like you are transported back in time...; the circular darkwood chairs, marble tables, checkered tablecloths, brun maska, kheema pao and the famous milky chai... and not to forget the eccentric owners and waiters who impose 'rules' such as 'no sitting for long', 'no combing of hair', etc...! Most of us have so many memories of time spent in an Irani Cafe... bunking college lectures, they were the best and most affordable places to go to!

And so, anyone who lives in Mumbai is also saddened as they are fading out, mainly due to changing social trends: changing tastes, increased competition, and no successors to carry on the business. Who would have thought :(

also see:
my earlier post on britannia and company

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Monday, 12 July 2010

mumbai monsoons

from my rickshaw

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Bombay: Hidden Beauties: Horniman Circle and Victorian Architecture

Some years back while I was attending a Sufi Show, called Ruhaniyaat in the Horniman Garden, I discovered the beauty of Horniman Circle in the background. I thought to myself, I wish I could have a cocktail party here with light live music playing, the buildings lit up in the background, the fountain inside the garden in a playful mood sprinkling its water.

On close observations you see that the "banking street" that’s I would like to call it, has so much of wonderful architectural gems. The buildings, like most street buildings along the roads in South Bombay enclose footpaths at the ground levels. This was done to protect pedestrians while walking in the hot unbearable sun in the summers and from the heavy showers that were received during the monsoons. What an insight they had while the planned and designed! The space thus created is a cool arched passage and an absolute pleasure to walk through...

The niches have various heads/busts of people on each floor and on every building, each head being slightly different from the next; a different hairdo, a differently styled beard, a different expression...

Buildings around this area have a sort of romance in them, Elphinstone House, the Red coloured Mumbai Samachar Building, the St Thomas Cathedral, Brady House/ building that houses the ABN Amro (today the RBS), Readymoney Mansion are all such beauties.

Our modern day managers while taking care of their branding have sadly plastered and destroyed some of their facades so that their establishments could get good visibility.

Horniman Circle also has the Town Hall, this place has such historical importance, and very few people know that the declaration of Queen Victoria as the Empress of India was made on the very steps of the Town Hall after the Sepoy Mutiny.

South Bombay never disappoints me I always discover something new. Despite of being there so many times, it was only on this trip that I discovered the Bombay Port Trust building’s two beautiful ships that were jetting out. The building is a very simple stone building but these two ships take them to another level, so well thought of, small details make so much of a difference!

- Text by Francis D'Costa!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Bombay: Hidden Beauties: The Church of Saint Thomas

The Bombay Fort had a few gates to get into it, one of these gates lead to the Church of St Thomas and hence the gate was called Churchgate and this is how the Railway station got the name "Churchgate"!!! After the walls of the fort were brought down the gates were gone but the area still continues to have the name! I have lived in Churchgate all of my childhood and I did not for the longest time know this!
The St Thomas Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Churches in Bombay, the wood and their Brass is well polished, the stained glass is the prettiest I have ever seen. Stained glass in most of the Churches in India was imported in parts, probably from Western Europe and assembled here on location. That is why one can see the joints in the glass [check out Jesus's limbs!] and this makes it look really abstract and 'modern' today...

Many Britishers that died in India are laid in the complex building of the Church, Generals, young soldiers, maids all lying in silent, some of their wall marble tablets have beautiful quotes from the Bible, poetry that makes you feel that these people were of great honour. Even though some of them died fighting Indians during the Ist war of Independence which they called the 'Sepoy Mutiny', you feel sad for them because of the beautiful depiction on the marble tablets.

[My friend, Francis who knows so much about the secrets of this city took a few of us on a long awaited tour of the city! Thanks Francis for the lovely insights!]