Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

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…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

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…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

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…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

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…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

One hundred years of gratitude Cover announcing the special mass to mark the centenary year of Spanish missionaries in India Fifteen years ago, 12 of them graced this city – the last Spanish priests, in St Stanislaus (Bandra), St Mary’s (Mazagaon) and St Xavier’s (Fort). Lucky to have met some of them, I stay struck by their beliefs and extraordinary dedication. This week, a special mass at Holy Family Church, Chakala, commemorated a century since Spanish Jesuits arrived in India. Priests planted faith along India’s west coast from across the globe. The Portuguese…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Tale of a tangy treat The paperweight gift at the spice giant’s centenary (1883-1983) function, embossed with the trademark ship motif   An especially wet week, at the end of the season suited to snacking on hot bhajias and vadas with chutney, is the right time to recap a spicy story. I was researching a column on Cinema Road, which backs Metro theatre. Cornering the lane is May Rose Restaurant, at one end of Kapadia Chambers. Formerly called Ava Chambers, the 1938 property first belonged to Gustad Khodadad Irani. While his wife’s name graced…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Olympians and Bandraites Leo Pinto, gold-winning field hockey goalkeeper at the 1948 Olympics, presented a plaque by Homi Dastoor on his retirement from Tatas. Pic courtesy Meher Marfatia It’s a heady feeling we’re left with, fresh from the power and glory tasted by some of the 56 women athletes – the country’s largest ever female contingent – at the recent Tokyo Olympics. Did you know, the presence of our women at the Olympics owes a great deal to a dance. Mary D’Souza, India’s first woman Olympian and Double International, was a student and…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

United We Stood Fitting to start this anniversary month of Independence with mention of a unifying communication tool, rooted in the power of peace. A fast-fading ideal today. Kulsum Sayani with her sons Ameen (left) and Hamid, outside their Kemp’s Corner home in the 1940s Founded in 1942 by Gandhiji, the Hindustani Prachar Sabha conducted classes in spoken Hindi and Urdu, so promoting Hindustani as a link language. Dadabhai Naoroji’s granddaughter, Perin Captain, lived above Orient Club at Chowpatty. She helmed Sabha activities from neighbouring Adenwalla Mansion.   A companion newspaper advocating Hindustani as…Read more
Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

Piyo Chai, Suno Kahani

When Yusuf Saab came calling With the world no longer graced by Dilip Kumar, I recollect some interviewees sharing encounters with the thespian. Photo: Movie Poster of Anokha Pyar (1948) – featuring Dilip Kumar with Nargis and Nalini Jaywant In La Kozy Mansion, the 1891-designed Chowpatty seafront gem with a sparkling white jharokha-and-jaali facade, I learnt that filmmaker MI Dharamsey once occupied a top-storey flat. Dharamsey directed Dilip Kumar for Anokha Pyar, with Nargis and Nalini Jaywant. That casting coup inadvertently brought the matinee idol to perfumer Shishir Mehta’s home a floor below.…Read more
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