I know it is now called Mumbai but I will always call it Bombay. That is the name I know it by.
At first I had decided to skip Mumbai as it is a subject in itself, a place in itself and too much of a subject to be covered in this blog.
As this Blog is about Costal India, it would have been an anomaly to skip Mumbai. Nobody can ignore Mumbai be it the MNCs of New York or the terrorists from Pakistan. All of them find something to do with this place. The problem for THEBLUEDRIVE is of time and choice of what do look for. Ultimately I decided to do a very selective note on South Mumbai.
South Bombay invoked nearly four decades of personal memories of various types.
The walks from Churchgate to VT in hot afternoons. The business meetings in congested offices and equally congested restaurants.
Spending time in South Mumbai on a Saturday evening made a huge difference. For once South Bombay and I saw each other, relaxed.
My alma mater. She gave me three degrees between 1978 and 1983.
The stretch from VT to Handloom House, the opposite side where I hunted for my philatelic material bargaining with the Mukhis and Slatewallas of India’s philatelic world. The old Mr. M M Mukhi selling me my first stockbook is a memory which is almost 40 years old now. I still have the stockbook. In many cases stamps I can even now tell where I bought the piece and at what price. I wish this hobby had continued but it now appears that is heading rapidly to its demise. I will however continue to collect and perhaps will buy something from this very place.
This same stretch also housed the General Insurance Employees Union of which I was a member.
The visits to BNHS as a student member is another memory still strong. I cannot forget the strong smell of naphthalene balls in the wooden drawers at the Hornbill House which stored the specimen of bird species many of whom had been shot by Dr. Salim Ali himself.
I still remember the admonition from Mr. Humayun Abdulali to rush back to Goa and stop people from hunting the frog- Rana tigrina instead of spending time with dead birds. I also remember the friendly advice from Mr. Ulhas Rane at the early stages of my interest in birds.
There are also those memories of a few minutes spent on the Queen’s Necklace late in the evening whilst staying at the Guest House of my employer United India Insurance Co. located close to Express Towers.
The Churchgate station and the cinema opposite. India’s first Revolving Restaurant, a place never visited but in memory.
The examinations of Chartered Insurance Institute, London, which I appeared for somewhere in this area will always be in my memory although I cant remember the exact building.
The Taj Mahal hotel where I appeared for an exit interview by the CEO of my last employer (so far) in India. It was early 2009 and the hotel had just started functioning after the terrorist attack.
Let me cut short the nostalgia part now although there are many more memories.
TheBlueDrive has been tracking the Lighthouses and we cannot default here. Mumbai seems to have one new and one dysfunctional lighthouse. There are some other structures resembling lighthouses. They are located in the Navy’s domain but can be photographed from a distance. The first one is certainly not a Lighthouse. The first one does not look like a lighthouse.
Mumbai docks and the harbour had a glorious past. Everything has its day. The importance of the port declined substantially after the JNPT across the harbour became operational with a container port. Mumbai would have been an impossible town at today’s volume of cargo traffic.
Mumbai’s Parsee landmarks are something which all visitors must have a look at although non-Parsees don’t have access to them. This includes the leafy area of Malabar Hills where the Tower of Silence is located. I wish every town in India had a green place like this.
Not far from here is the world’s most expensive residence.
And then probably the most famous Dargah in the world. Haji Ali. A large number of Bollywood movies have shown this for one reason or the other. Currently it is in the news because some women want to enter the part of the place where women are not allowed. You are right. Women are not reasonable.
The other such popular appearances in Indian cinema are for the Sun & Sand Hotel at Juhu and the Gateway of India. Every leading lady of Indian cinema in the 1960s, 70s and to a lesser extent 1980s has dirtied the waters of the swimming pool at Sun & Sand.
Whenever the destitute hero from UP or Bihar lands penniless in Mumbai, he finds solace in the groundnuts sold in paper cones at the Gateway. Later on he manages to buy the expensive properties at Juhu and Bandra. VT has been the favourite destination station of the Indian hero. Most of the time he landed here. A few times he also landed at Churchgate and Mumbai Central and did not make it big. Of late they come by air from Lucknow and Patna and land at Santa Cruz.
Bombay or Mumbai if you want me to relent, is an endless place and the space for me is limited. Thank you for reading.
Delayed by non-availability of Internet.