Rioting for puppy love

Rioting for puppy love

Urban legends scattered throughout the needle-narrow alleys of Bhuleshwar tell tales of hidden gems. The city’s sole sun temple, a pair of cool cannons embedded vertical in the ground for horse reins once tethered to them and, nearby, the old Cotton Exchange frieze depicting an event chain from the fibre bolls-and-bales stage to the final cloth packed for London... Photo: Bharat GothoskarInset: Sketch of Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, 1857 Here, too, stands the Panjrapole. Bombay’s largest animal shelter was funded by two soft-hearted sethias, Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and Amichand Shah, following what were possibly British India’s…Read more
It’s a Date!

It’s a Date!

Last week, on May 20th, I wished a friend, sharing how her birth date held great childhood appeal for me. The film My Fair Lady’s release left my brother and me lisping its every epic lyric. Listening non-stop to Lerner and Loewe’s music boom, “Next week on the 20th of May, I proclaim Liza Doolittle Day”, we ensured the parents pronounced this Movie Day, to watch a film together each year. “May 20 is also Balzac’s birthday,” said my friend, a French teacher after all. It’s fun creating personally meaningful dates. Besides ticking…Read more
First epidemic hero

First epidemic hero

Statue of Dr Acacio Vegas outside Framjee Cawasjee Institute at Dhobi Talao.  Breathing relief between virus waves, we should honour the Goan physician who discovered the bubonic plague that ravaged Bombay for two decades from its outbreak in 1896. Not only did Dr Acacio Viegas identify the first plague victim – Lukmibai at his Mandvi clinic – but he also inoculated 18,000 residents cramped in narrow, sewer-infested lanes. They came for treatment afflicted by fever and lymph node swelling from bacterium spread by rats carrying infected fleas. Researching the disease’s quick and deadly…Read more
A scientist’s word

A scientist’s word

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, 1960.  Image Courtesy – Wikimedia Commons The recent popularity of the serial Rocket Boys reminds us of a promise scrupulously kept. In a talk she delivered some years ago, oral historian Dr Indira Chowdhury, who is also the co-author of the biography, Masterful Spirit: Homi J Bhabha, along with Ananya Dasgupta, described the interesting genesis of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Everyone knows the present location of TIFR. Its birthplace was Kenilworth, the Peddar Road home in Bombay of Bhabha’s aunt, his mother’s sister Cooverbai Panday. Announcing the plan during a lecture on cosmic…Read more
Wooing, old Bombay-style

Wooing, old Bombay-style

Romantic hotspot Bombelli’s at Breach Candy, with its van in the foreground. Picture Courtesy: Anita Bombelli In the month of Valentine’s Day, here’s a throwback to how the mid-20th century city romanced. Wooing and wedding changed after Bombay’s inaugural swing show on September 15, 1948. The highlight was Frank Fernand’s original piece, Prabhat, inspired by an audience with Gandhiji. Pacing musicians for genres classic to cabaret, Mickey Correa became the first Indian to form an independent orchestra, roping in Chic Chocolate, George Pacheco, Johnny Baptist, Eddie Tavares and Leslie Weeks. The young in…Read more
The other Gandhis

The other Gandhis

Kalbadevi’s Princess Street is renamed after Shamaldas Gandhi (inset), free India’s astute statesman. Courtesy/Midday Infomedia   The Mahatma’s upcoming death anniversary is time to remember two less well-known Gandhis who have left their public stamp on Bombay. Rowed with 19th-century buildings, Princess Street in Kalbadevi is officially sign-boarded Shamaldas Gandhi Marg. The son of Anandlal Amritlal and grandnephew of Mohandas Karamchand, Shamaldas Gandhi (1913-1998) supported the freedom struggle rather uniquely. When the princely states decided between accession to India or Pakistan, the Nawab of Junagadh chose Pakistan. The majority opposed his stance. Shamaldas…Read more
RIP Gerson: Keep Bombay blessed

RIP Gerson: Keep Bombay blessed

For a metro that has mourned several remarkable fathers – including Charles Correa, Alyque Padamsee, Anil Dharker – our recent loss leaves us especially bereft. Yet, the best tribute to activist, adman, theatre actor and poet Gerson da Cunha, would be to continue living by his beliefs. Celebrating his immense knowledge of and hope for the city he held so close to his heart. Besides inspiring deep admiration for multiple civic affairs and artistic concerns he worked dedicatedly for, Gerson exemplified twin qualities stunning us all. Ebullience and energy. Even in his eighties,…Read more
Xmas lunch with the Desert Fox

Xmas lunch with the Desert Fox

Lieutenant Erwin Rommel in the Italian front, 1917. Image Courtesy - Wikimedia Commons Everyone has favourite Christmas stories… This bittersweet one took me by surprise. I was a rookie reporter with The Illustrated Weekly of India in 1985. Researching a feature to mark 40 years since the Second World War ended, I discovered an unusual desert tryst. Sent scouting by my editor for veterans, I happened to interview the charmingly doughty Dhun Mehta. He flew fighter planes as a young RAF pilot. “I had Christmas lunch and tea with General Rommel, the Desert…Read more
The mascot who taught Bombay laughter

The mascot who taught Bombay laughter

Image Courtesy : Air India With the recent national airline acquisition evoking much cheer, it’s time to retrace how its chubby mascot was cleverly conceived. The 1946 inspiration of Bobby Kooka, Air India’s commercial director, was executed with rare flair by the artist Umesh Rao. This creation of the iconic Maharaja involved trying thousands of designs and different girth measures for the closed-eyed, bowing figure. He was originally intended as an overdressed flunkey, not courteous royalty. By the 1960s, the carrier produced some of the world’s best airline advertising. The billboard fronting the company’s…Read more
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