I must have seen it any number of times during my many stays and visits to Mumbai. I never gave it a second thought, taking it for granted as being part of the landscape. Gilbert Hill is easily a remarkable piece of our history that needs to be shared with the rest of the world and more importantly, all my friends from Mumbai.
Thanks to the great efforts taken by a friend who was my colleague in a company in which I was employed 25 years ago, I attended a reunion yesterday of some more colleagues from the late sixties and seventies of the last century. The reunion was arranged in Mumbai where seven of the attendees now reside with my friend coming from Bengaluru and I going from Pune to make it a nice nine attendees.
The venue was a restaurant attached to a Gymkhana in the Eastern part of Mumbai and for me to enter that suburb and exit was not difficult as traffic on Sunday was light. When all of had assembled, I was the second last to land up, there was a lot of hugging and shouting at each other and the management of the restaurant seeing the rowdy behaviour of such old codgers decided to give us a basement room exclusively for our use and made two waiters wait exclusively at our table.
All of us are over sixty and two are still employed and one is running his own business in a town some distance away from Mumbai. Bar me, all are grand parents and five of them had children overseas. Like the cartoon above, all of us kidded each other about our appearances. I was meeting all of them except one after 25 years. The one exception keeps coming to Pune and has been in touch regularly even otherwise.
Except for the friend from Bengaluru and the businessman, the seven others were all colleagues who had worked together with me in Mumbai and one had worked with me in Kerala too. We were all salesmen who grew within the company into managerial roles and had a lot of old stories to remember and reminisce about. We caught up with who is where, who died, whose health is bad and so on and bringing the reunion to a close was extremely difficult.
We have now decided that this group, plus a few who did not come due to various reasons, will meet regularly at Mumbai and Pune and keep in touch. What a day!
This morning, I got a phone call from my sister who is visiting her son in Bengaluru who suddenly put me on to speak to another lady on the phone who turned out to be a childhood friend from Chennai from the early fifties of the last century, now settled in Bengaluru and there was so much to talk about our respective mothers who were the greatest of friends and the rest of the family. Another great nostalgia trip that too culminated in promises to keep in touch and meet at Bengaluru and Pune.
Eventful two days.
I went on a day’s trip to Mumbai and back yesterday and these two photographs show the intensity of the rains on the highway. Please forgive the quality of the photographs. They were taken with my mobile phone.
Monsooon should have settled over our part of the world by mid June but it did not leading to wide spread panic about the possibility of a drought after many years. Luckily since the last three days, there has been enough and more rain to raise hopes that the Met may just be right in predicting that the rest of the season will see enough rainfall to wipe out the deficit experienced during the one month that we did not have rains.
It was a tiring if somewhat nostalgic trip for me into the island of Mumbai. It is after many years that I drove through some of my old very familiar areas including passing by the building where my parents lived when my brother and I were born way back in the early forties of the last century. The rain played a spoiler but for all that, it was nice pointing out to my chauffeur the landmarks as it was his first visit to Mumbai.
I was forced to go to Mumbai as one of the clubs in which I am a member insisted that I come personally to prove that I am still alive and to pose for a photograph and sign in their presence so that a new RFID card could be issued for me. I was duly photographed and mollycoddled into signing four times because my signature was too big for their requirment and finally sent off by a very courteous and cheerful young lady who thought that I was a fragile antique piece needing careful handling. I enjoyed that handling and left after complimenting her for her efficiency.
My work got over in just under fifteen minutes but I spent about two hours and forty five minutes on the island stuck in traffic! But for all that, I am happy that I went and saw Mumbai from ground level and in pouring rain. That is the Mumbai I have etched in my mind from having lived the maximum number of years anywhere next to Pune.
On the way back, I made brief halts to meet two of my cousins on the mainland and those were not very happy visits as in both places I had to meet people with health issues.
All in all a satisfactory, if somewhat tiring outing.
PS. Please do read the post and the comments, to which I have given a link under “my signature”. One of my treasured stories and the comments combination in my blog.
When I came across the name Bombay Beach, USA I was intrigued. I carried out some research and am not only intrigued, I am stunned that something like this can exist!
Neither the clip nor the Wikipedia link give you as much as you can find about this place from the film Bombay Beach.
It took some effort but it was worthwhile finding out about this town and all that it stands for. The original Bombay now known as Mumabai is a completely different cup of tea!
Having finished reading the book Mumbai Fables which briefly appeared on my earlier post Doppelganger I want to share some information about the cover of the book that I found at the end of the book. I quote the author and reproduce an image of the original poster that inspired the self portrait.
“Consider the contemporary artist Atul Dodiya’s Bombay Buccaneer. The self portrait assembles multiple fragments that share no organic connection but depend on artifice and imagination. A poster of the Hindi film Baazigar (1993) is its formal inspiration.In the original, the images of two female protagonists are mirrored in the sunglasses worn by the film’s psychopathic antihero.
Bombay Buccaneer replaces them with the reflections of the painters David Hockney and Bhupen Khakhar. In place of the menacing antihero, there is an ordinary office worker, collar unbuttoned and tie askew, but armed with a gun, the fixtures of everyday urban life frame the portrait – the open doorway of a suburban train, a metalled roadway, and the ubiquitous yellow and black taxi, broken down. Dodiya intermeshes art and cinema, Indian and Western, pop culture and high art, to brilliantly capture Mumbai’s kaleidoscopic urban experience.
This books is an amazing piece of writing which can be truly appreciated only by some one who has lived in Mumbai and before that Bombay. I have lived there during both phases and have first hand experience of many insights that Gyan Prakash brings into the city’s history and present. It is a book that I will read again and most probably once again.
Anil, thank you for this wonderful gift.
Since I was born in Bombay both of us have spent many years there and have fond memories of that place, my friend Anil thought that it would be a nice gift for me when he came across a book called Mumbai Fables. I am reading it and it is everything that Anil expected me to find in.
Do you think that I have got the older version of the model for Dodia’s painting? I most certainly do. Unless he is a doppelgänger.
I should know. The older version is my cousin Srinivasan. When he was younger and when he too was based in Bombay, he most certainly looked like the buccaneer, though he was a banker. I however cannot imagine my cousin ever holding a pistol in his hand, nor wear his wrist watch on his right hand. But the resemblance is uncanny. I wish I had access to a photograph taken during his younger days!
I wonder if he had a side business of modeling. What say cousin?