A topnotch site

Category: Heritage

Dhundhli Hai Aaj Kanha Ke Bansuri Ki Dhun

The future of our country is in the hands of the “Youth”!

Oh definitely! “Youth” fixating on the oh-so-awesome rap music and dancing to house, techno and hip-hop tracks makes reminiscent of what it used to be like when the Garbe Geet were pure and devoid of remixes interspersed with senseless english words like “baby” and “you drive me crazy”, and the prayers were reverb-free. In a country with 28 states (and hopefully no more), scores of languages, hundreds of dialects and thousands of Gods (so much for delayed wishful thinking) and cultural heritage thick and delicious as Rabdi , Saakli and pakda-pakdi has been replaced by Nintendo Wii, switches by remote controls, rooftop summer nights by year-long air conditioning. If it were possible, India would be another Western Country in the East (applause for the youth)

In times like this, I am grateful somethings never change. At least not so speedily.


Its half past midnight. Slight drizzle. The unusual Mumbai monsoon. “Yaha baaju mai laga do” I tell the autowala as he approaches this building. The numerous strings of lights hanging down from the terrace of the 2 storey building and the sounds of the shankha and bells immediately draw my attention. I walk into the compound. Here I am, for my annual pilgrimage to the “Brindavan Gurukul” – Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia’s Gurukul in Andheri. Versova to be precise.

On every Janmashtami, as has been the tradition since more than 26 years  now (If I am not wrong), Panditji , the great exponent of Basuri (Indian Bamboo Flute) and one of Indian classical music’s living legends, and his students pay their respects to the ultimate musician – Lord Krishna.

The Gurukul has 3 rooms on the ground floor. The central one is where the idols of Krishna & Radha have been installed. A small room to the right serves as the kitchen and one on the left, is where Panditji teaches his students. There are two floors above. I have never been upstairs though.

The Janmashtami celebrations start off with a pooja offered to the Lord. Done in traditional Hindu rituals, it sets the devotional and celebratory tone for the day. At promptly 12.30am, the aarti is sung. All 200 odd devotees (of Krishna or of Panditji, I could not tell which) present, take part in the aarti. And then as soon as the rituals end (the moment for which everyone has been waiting) Panditji , with his basuri, takes his seat right next to the idols Everyone settles down and the incredible rendering of the most melodious instrument begins. This will continue for the whole day i.e. 24 hours (that’s right), till next midnight.

Now Indian classical music has a very rich past. The depth and the variety of the music, though difficult to grasp at first , is very enriching. As we know, our music draws a lot from our philosophy and spirituality. In fact the birth of music and dance in India, in the Vedic period that is, was aimed at worshipping the Almighty. The performances would take place in the temple courtyards. Later shifting to the royal courts and now of course to air-conditioned auditoriums.

Why I am delving into this is because this event, the Janmashtami celebrations at Brindavan Gurukul, is not just another Classical concert, where the artist plays to please the audience. Here the artist plays for the Lord, facing the temple, offering all that he has learnt over the many decades. The audience sits, on the “dari”, very close to the Guru, and the Lord. The music played is without any restrictions, straight from the soul. This is what makes this event, this celebration very pure and an experience you will never forget.

Panditji started off with the Queen of all Raagas, Raag Yaman. He extensively played the Alap-Jod-Jhala, almost lasting 2 hours, followed by a couple of compositions. He was supported by his students, including Rupak Kulkarni – one of his very talented disciples. Pt. Bhawani Shankar accompanied him on the Pakhwaj along with Pt. Anutosh Digharia on Tabla.

I reluctantly left at 4 in the morning. Panditji also left at around the same time, only to come back afresh during the day to continue the musical offerings till midnight. His students however would continue in his absence.

The 3-4 hours that I spent there, reinforced my faith in Indian classical music. It is rigorous, highly complex, intuitive and soul stirring at the same time.

For those who have keen interest in music (and even for those who don’t ) I would advise you to come to Brindavan Gurukul on Janmashtami next year, which Google says is on Wednesday , 28th August 2013. The experience, a refreshing change from this life (if it is even worth living), would be undoubtedly unforgettable.


Disha Deshpande.

Photo credits: Google Images.


Purvi Handlooms – An Aficionado’s Delight

Weaving magic with the skeins of the finest yarn into the finest fabrics, the weavers of the handloom industry have kept alive India’s rich textile heritage. The indigenous handloom cottage industry is the backbone of many a village economy in different parts of India. So much so, that villages and regions have been named after their famed handloom products. Most notably Benaras, Chanderi, Pochampalli, Kanjeevaram, Kanchipuram, Maheshwar, Mangesh, Bhagalpur and many others.

A modest village handloom.

India is the only country in the world that can boast of a rich heritage and spectrum in the realm of fabrics. Not only is the range of textures myriad, but the methods of sourcing, processing, dyeing and finishing the fabrics lay a proud claim to originality and continuity. In the arena of creating a rich legacy, the weavers continue to work diligently, untouched by the winds of modernity. Sadly, in many parts of India, impoverished artisans, like farmers, are leaving their centuries old vocation in search of greener pastures, exhausted and defeated by the mass-producing industry of fabrics that lack character and taste.

The advent of powerlooms along with apathy and lack of awareness have been contributing factors to the decline of traditional textiles. Amidst this dismal scenario, the Purvi boutique stands out as the custodian of our rich heritage in fabrics comprising the bales of running material, dupattas and sarees that vie for attention.

The Purvi boutique.

At a time when the current market is flooded with cheap, synthetic fabric, it remains a comforting haven for the more discerning buyers. The modest corner shop located at a turning in Seven Bungalows, Andheri (West), is a textile aficionado’s answer to the Bollywood-inflicted fashion.

Started around two decades ago by the (now late) Mr. Chandrasekhar Iyer, the enterprise continues under his son, Gautam Ganesh. Catering to women, Purvi aims to revive ethnic fabrics that have lost preference over the flashier pizzazz of recent trends. The store is swarming with regular patrons on a lazy weekend but invites casual browsers on weekdays.

Annie Mascarenhas supervises the transactions and the genial staff. Mr. Sanjay Mahadik has been working with them for fifteen years and is a repository of knowledge on the materials he proudly displays. He was patient and obliging with my queries, enlightening me as I examined the ethnic material in the shop.

They had a tremendous variety of handspun yarn, he said with pride, like Gichha, Noil, Tussar and Mulberry Silk. I examined an Ikkat dupatta he held for me. Pure fabric? I wondered aloud. “Of course!” he smiled in surprise. “We have our very own looms in the South, as well as in Indore and Bhagalpur. We have always ensured purity of fabric.”

Their extraordinary Banarasi weaves, however, are purchased directly from the artisans, he clarifies. He leads me to a counter at the end of the shop where he begins to spread out the wares. “We use spice and vegetable dyes,” he says quickly, giving me a crash-course in our heritage couture whilst attending to the other customers. He spoke quickly and began spreading the fabric on the table as he described them.

Ikkat,” he said. “from Andhra and Odisha. Different weaves dyed in different shades.”

Mr. Mahadik (left), attending to a customer.

In this manner, I knew in fifteen minutes flat, that Pochampalli was from Andhra Pradesh as well, that the pattern of Kalamkari sarees were created by block printing, that Kanthaa embroidery hailed from Bengal, that Bihar’s Madhubani sarees are hand-sketched.

The Chanderi and Maheshwari dupattas were aesthetics personified. The Bamanchi sarees and dupattas from the South were a rare find. The Mangalgiri and Venkatgiri borders shone bright in gold in a beautiful contrast to their backdrop in different hues. It was interesting to learn that vegetable dyes made from indigo, turmeric, spices etc were used in the printing of fabric. The hand-painted Tirupati dupatta had a motif of a man and a woman.

Tirupati dupatta with human motifs.

There was a fusion of hand-painted design on cotton Pashmina from Bihar. Jute dupattas from Bihar had beautiful block prints as did the cotton silk materials from Bhagalpur. The Batik work on the Maheshwari dupatta from Indore was a treat. The rich Kalamkari dupattas and material with block prints, all done by hand, were a sight to behold.

Block print on Bhagalpur cotton of Buddha.

Bamanchi sarees from South.

Combination Kalamkari on Ikkat.

Mr. Mahadik tirelessly reiterated the significance of the weaves even as he attended to the other patrons. The staff granted me the liberty of photographing the shop and the fabric on sale. There was also a pictorial chart on display above a wall, which captured the process and elements of the exquisite weaves. Still, no picture does justice to the actual texture of the finished product and the thread-like finesse of the patterns as they criss-cross under your fingers. 

Block printing.

Spice – a fascinating ingredient for fabric dyes.

A visit to Purvi left no doubt in my mind that this landmark modestly nestling in a non-commercial area has indeed been a sentinel of our cultural heritage in fabrics. But for an enterprise like this, the richness and purity of our handlooms would have been lost to the powerloom mixed fabrics that have inundated the markets. The keen eye and discerning taste of Purvi have ensured that our proud tradition lives on, also in the process gaining one more customer.


Mani Bhavan…..A history lover’s paradise

Whether it is the August Kranti Maidan or the buildings of Colaba,  Mumbai  bursts with history.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji / Victoria Terminus and the area around it seems like an Indianised England. It looks and feels absolutely amazing. The first time i went to that area was for this project. I was taken aback. The area was like a different land altogether. A completely different part of south mumbai.  The general post office built in 1913  by John Begg, the small Blackie House at its diagnol and the grand Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus in front of it were all unique in expanse and design.

I went to the general post office to explore the heritage building for it’s  design and later blog about it. I was not satisfied. It was huge, but appeared like a bank. Add to this, the philately section that they boast about was closed! I was frustrated. I took a day’s break from the project. The next day i went out to eat chaat with my  friends to Laburnum road lane. I had come to this street often and would always admire this beautiful house over there.  It appeared like a  villa. It was chocolate-brown and white in colour. I always thought to myself how cosy it would be to live there. I mentioned this to my friend who to my horror and happiness both, replied that it was Mani Bhavan , Gandhiji’s residence in Mumbai. I didn’t have a clue about it till that day.

I immediately decided to discover it. The wall outside Mani Bhavan has the symbolic Khadi Charkha and a stone inscription of the significance of the residence. Mahatma Gandhi started satyagrahas from here between 1917 and 1934. I entered Mani Bhavan and a garlanded structure of gandhiji stared at me. I looked around to see Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s  candid pictures with important people like Jawaharlal nehru, Ashfaqulla khan, Subhas Chandra Bose.  On the left was a board of stamps issued in his honour by several countries like Britain, Bhutan, Trinidad, Tobago, U.S.S.R. As i proceeded there was a library on the pillar of which were some of  Gandhiji’s profound sayings, about respecting women, rights and duties and his definition of freedom.

The old staircase had walls with scraped paint,  revamped with Gandhiji’s childhood photographs. When i reached the second floor on the left was the Gandhi smarak office. On the right was a room containing photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s struggles, visits and Ashrams. At the centre was a model of Gandhiji’s Sevagram Ashram- the mud hut . I was deeply intrigued to see framed letters of Gandhiji to Herr hitler, President Roosevelt.

Albert  Einstein’s tribute to Mahatma Gandhi went like this, ” Here was a  man unsupported by outward authority, committed to the cause of upliftment of his people and one who scorned the use of force.”  a corridor on the left  carried unique pictues of Gandhiji posing for sculptor Joe Davidson in 1931, with Charlie Chaplin etc.

The third floor was a complete surprise. On the left was a room with  belongings of mahatma gandhi. On the right was a room dimly lit.  I went in and saw, I was awestruck. It was as though history had been remade into a toystory. All the main events in M.K. Gandhi’s life  were shown in the form of miniature models. Important incident’s  like his committing a theft in his own house, being racially discriminated at Maritzburg, meeting the King of England in a loin cloth were all on a colourful, enchanting display. Every detail had been carefully translated onto the models.

The Gandhi Smarak Nidhi had redesigned Mani Bhavan to preserve it as a memorial to Gandhiji. Harjeet Singh a philately collector and expert had contributed to the stamp exhibition. He had collaborated with a fellow  Gandhian to come up with this  magnificent, most engaging piece of art. I could see the hard work put into the whole idea.

Mani Bhavan  to me has broken the monotony of  a mueseum by unfolding history in a fantastically different manner. All I can say is for those who love history but don’t want to see it in books Mani Bhavan is  unexpectedly a delightful experience.






Mumbai Heritage Precinct- Khotachi Wadi

The old-Portuguese style of architecture.

I remember those days, about nearly 3 years ago, when my friend named “Jinal” and I used to go for tuitions together at Gai Wadi. We used to have a pleasant walk, all the way from Prathna Samaj to Gai Wadi. One day, she told me, “Ruchi, let’s take a shortcut. It will help us to save our time.” I agreed and followed her.

She took me through some unfamiliar narrow lanes which were in zigzag layout. It was quite confusing for me because I felt like; I was solving a puzzle while walking. On my way, to Gai wadi, I got a glimpse of all the houses that were built there. I noticed there were houses/ bungalows which were very beautifully designed. It consisted of  vivid colours, the old-Portuguese style of architecture: tiled roofs, hand painted fences and walls, wooden staircases, large verandas in front of houses and St. Teresa Church. It had a peaceful, calm atmosphere unlike the chaos of the city just a road away. Only two-wheeler vehicles could enter the narrow lanes. I felt like I had entered a modern era; something very similar to Old Goan Village. I was amazed to see that place for the first time.





We soon reached the end of the lane. I asked my friend, “What is the name of the lane?” She replied, “Khotachi Wadi.” All the way from there to our destination, I kept wondering, “Why is the name Khotachi Wadi given to the lane?”; “Who are the people who stay there?”; “What is its history?”; “How many houses are there in the entire wadi?”


After returning home, out of curiosity, I asked my dad about Khotachi Wadi. He told me, “I have a friend named Dipen Savla who lives there. We can meet him tomorrow and maybe he can help you in finding answers for all your questions. He has been staying there for a quite long time.” After hearing this, I was super excited to visit his place and explore more facts about Khotachi Wadi.

The next day, around 11am, my father and I visited Mr. Dipen’s place. He lived in building -29A. We climbed stairs and reached the second floor. After greeting each other, I asked him about Khotachi Wadi- all the questions that I had in my mind (as mentioned earlier). He said, “Khotachi Wadi means the hamlet of the khots.” Suddenly, I asked him, “What is the meaning of Khots?” He replied, “Khots means land owners.” After that, I asked him about the history of Khotachi wadi. He replied, “Around 1536, Khotachi Wadi was owned by Portuguese. A century after they arrived, they gave away Bombay to British. Seven years later, the British government leased its control to the East India Company. In the second half of the 19th century, a man named Prabhu Pathare- Dadoba Waman Khot started receiving lands in Girgaum- collecting revenues from Hindu farmers only. He extended his collection to the East Indian Christian Community. Acknowledging the role played by the Khot family in its development, the locality had officially adopted the name of Khotachiwadi.”

Later, I asked him the about present scenario of Khotachi Wadi. He replied, “There are approximately 15 ‘original’ bungalows that have survived from that time. Many new bungalows were been built after. In addition to it he said, the original inhabitants of Khotachi Wadi were Christians and Maharashtrians, but now even Gujaratis and Marwaris have located here.”



With this our conversation ended. I thank Mr. Dipen for sharing all the information he had about Khotachi Wadi.


The Bombay High Court – A Story Embedded in Stone


Standing tall and overlooking and the bustling Fort area of the city, the Bombay High Court remains an imposing structure, reminiscent of the long-gone colonial era. The resonating street noises are muffled inside the ambient quietude of the courtroom. Indoors, the silence is punctuated by the murmuring of its day-time occupants, the rustling regalia of lawyers as they rush past along with the buzzing of printers and keyboard clicks.

It is this institution that justice and integrity are preserved, a duty that has remained in continuance since its establishment in 1862. Being one of the oldest High Courts in the country, the Bombay High Court celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2003. I have had the privilege of accompanying my mother, a practicing High Court advocate, into the hallowed portals of the establishment. “This is just like Hogwarts,” her client had remarked in admiration as they ascended a spiraled flight of stairs.

I remain, till date, in agreement with that observance.

The legal history of the city and High Court have traversed a long-winding distance down the ages. This featurette is an endeavour to briefly trace the origins of the Court with insights into its architecture and the stalwarts that have graced it with their presence down the march of history.


Bombay’s legal history began in 1661, when the island town was gifted as dowry at the marriage of Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza with Charles II of England. Thus, it came under British possession and was leased to the East India Company in 1668.

The earliest court sittings were held in the Custom Houses of Bombay and Mahim. Gerald Aungier, Governor of Bombay, was dissatisfied with the prevailing judicial machinery and sought to make changes. Thus, the First British Court of Justice was inaugurated in 1672 with great pomp and show. George Wilcox was seated as its first judge.  English laws gradually found favour over Portuguese rules and procedures.

The judicial system evolved from the Admiralty Court (1683) to the Recorder’s Court (1798) and the Supreme Court (1824 – 1862; not to be confused with the nation’s Apex Court). These courts had their own set of inadequacies (most notably the overpowering influence of executive).

From the ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861 stemmed the Charter of High Court of Bombay, which was issued on June 26, 1862. The official Bombay High Court website states that, “The Charter of the High Court also made it the supreme and final court of appeal in all cases, civil and criminal, decided by inferior courts, except such (cases)… demanding a further appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.”


The construction work of the present High Court building began in April 1871 and was completed in November 1878. Lieutenant-Colonel John Augustus Fuller of the Royal Engineers had fashioned the structure in the early English-Gothic design.

It was completed at the cost of Rs. 16,44,528, which was Rs. 2,668 less than the estimated cost. The basalt and sandstone of the walls and columns respectively along with the Porebunder stone of the roof parapets etch a figure of daunting solidity. And perched on the architectural marvel on octagonal towers of Coorla basalt, 120 feet above the ground, are the Statues of Justice and Mercy. While one stands blind-folded, holding a sword in one hand and a pair of scales in another, the more merciful counterpart reflects humility with her folded hands.

The interiors consist of Gothic arches and columns with the corridors running the complete length of each floor. A peculiar feature of the Court are the wall carvings of botanical motifs and a menagerie of animals, reptiles and birds.

There has been much curiosity regarding the strange depictions – a monkey judge with an eye-patch, foxes wearing lawyers’ gowns and so forth. Versions are aplenty. But there are no definitive answers.


It has remained an enduring feature of the Bombay High Court that the best legal brains found expression in its lofty platforms. From the booming voice of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who defended Lokmanya Tilak in his sedition trail, the erudite oratory of Nani Palkhivala, the humble presence of Mahatma Gandhi (who opted for the public life as a better option) to the arguments of Fali Nariman, the constellation of the brightest stars illuminated the courtrooms.

Other prominent names include Soli Sorabjee, T. R. Andhyarujina, Ghulam Vahanvati, all to stride the Supreme Court later as the Attorney/Solicitor Generals of the country. The Benches of the Judges have seen no less the presence of legends. Their stellar judgements and brilliant minds have defined the lives and rights of people. These judges have remained the beacons of hope and justice for the common man, worthy of eulogies.

Notably amongst them were Justice Sujata Manohar (the Court’s first Lady Judge), Justice Lodha, former Chief Justice of India Y K Chadrachud and Madhukar H Kania.

The following list would remain incomplete without a special mention of Justice Lentin and his famous deliverance of his guiding tenet – “Strive always to keep alive within your breast the eternal flame called conscience.”

This ideal, the Bombay High Court intends to hold true for the years yet to come.






Come! Behold This World (body), Which Is Like a Decked Royal Chariot, Wherein the Foolish Immerse Themselves; But for the Wise there is no Attachment – Dhammapada 13/5


As the ropes of timeless urgency bind our beloved city, the one and only buddhist temple amidst the chaotic Worlinaka provides peace, tranquility and a chance to unwind, to the those who desire it. Unlike the usual setting for a temple of such sorts, this one breaks the stereotype of a large compound and architectural excellence.

The Nippozan Myohoji Japan Buddhist Temple was built in 1952 by the charity of Raja Mohandas Baldeodas Birla’s family. The 13th century by a Japanese monk, Maha Bodhisattva Nichiren said that the ultimate salvation of humanity lay in India. In 1931, Japanese monk, Nichidatsu Fuji, founder of the Nippozan Myohoji order, arrived in India with a mission to fulfill that prophecy and founded the temple in 1952. It is open to all sects of people, which, at that point in time, seemed rather broadminded. Harijans, and followers of other forms of Buddhism were welcome, back then. Only those with contagious diseases where asked to refrain from entering the temple, which isn’t such a bad request. The caretaker of the temple, Bhikshu Morita, has been in India spreading the message of peace and love for the past 36 years now. He alone walked the deserted and destroyed streets of Mumbai during the communal riots of 1992, with nothing but a drum-and-stick in his hand, chanting namu-myoho-renge-kyo. Some may call it foolishness, but the purity of his intentions in turbulent times is what drew the people to him. He sits at ever prayer session, to this day, in simple cotton clothes and a drape one one shoulder, the look of of calm on his face.


The simplicity associated with the temple is what attracts the few who trickle in during the prayer hours between 5-7 am and 6-7.30 pm. The gold statues of Gods watch over the pure white bust of the Buddha illuminated by a few diyas and a tube light. Paintings depicting the life of Buddha adorn the walls along with preachings from the Dhammapada engraved into the walls. Stone beams separate the various sections of the temple while the soft carpet invites all to sit and pray as one. Minimal paraphernalia and statues are neatly arranged around the temple so as to help the devotees un-clutter their minds.Neo-buddhists and believers do their tiny bit by coming to the temple during the prayers hours by beating an enormous drum with a curved stick, chanting Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo. The steady drone of the drum-beat and the low hum of the chanting along with the temple’s holy fragrance surely assists the main purpose of coming there. The structure has two main sections, the front the temple, and the back where the monks now reside. Surrounded by banyan trees and other beautiful plants, the boundary walls separate the meditative environment from sheer chaos.

The paradox of its existence in one of the busiest places in Mumbai definitely calls for everybody, Mumbaikar or non-Mumbaikar, to take a look at it themselves. The sound of the drums, the hum of the chant or the fragrance of the temple vanishes as soon as one steps out of the temple. What remains is the sublime feeling of peace and instant gratification.

Because one has banished evils, one is called a Brahmin, and, One is called a Monk (Samana) by just conduct. Because one has discarded one’s impurities, Therefore, one is called a Recluse (Pabbajita) – Dhammapada 26/6

-Disha Deshpande



Whenever one could not communicate anything to another person face to face (i.e. emotional, official, casual talks) it was observed that the use of letters played an  important role. It just took some time for an individual to pick up a pen and a paper and write with a continuous flow of words, depending on the nature and purpose that it respectively tried to convey. The practice of writing letters , dropping them in post boxes and the post man becoming as a mediator between letter writers and receivers can be considered as a trademark that can be added in the traditional flavours of Mumbai.

In fact, Bollywood movies itself observed this traditional trend and featured it as a wonderful and satisfying task that most of us would undertake. ‘MAINE PYAAR KIYA’ is a movie which focused on the skill of writing letters. The letters were featured as the only way to bring the emotional connects between two lovers and were delivered by using the Pigeon as a mediator to do so. Later on, the Bollywood movies moved forward to bring up precise scenes with a personal touch. ‘Border’ conveyed the importance of letters and post boxes in its song-

Sandese aate hain, hame tad pate hain
toh chitthee aati hai, toh puchhe jati hai

Throughout this song, there were scenes shown where a soldier’s wife longs for the arrival of her husband’s letter. It tried to bring out an emotional approach of the important role the letters play which in fact is received with the help of post boxes and post men.

The kids of this generation hardly even see the post boxes around. ’Technology’ is now become a necessity which includes SMS, EMAILS, FACEBOOK CHATS etc. This in fact discourages writing of letters and dropping them into the post boxes. Is technology fully to be blamed for this change? Will the technologies bring a dead end to post boxes?

To find out the answer of these complicated questions, interviews were taken up by me and visits to different post boxes in were done as well. A planned trip to find post boxes in Vikhroli east and west, Andheri east and west, Vasai west was undertaken and got to knoe the views of different people.

The first search was completed when I could find a post box in the lokanwala area in Andheri west. Through interaction, A watchman said, “Even though I have a mobile, I prefer to write all my feelings for my wife and put it in a post box. Nothing else can convey what a letter can convey meaningfully.” Mr Deepak said. “Woh Jamana chala gaya jaha chitti se kaaam hota tha , ab toh ‘FAST-FAST’ jamana aa gaya hai.”

There was another post box found in the eastward chakala area of Andheri which conveys a different scenario as there is only one post box that is apparently restricted to be used from past 4-5 months. When people around were interviewed, these were the responses. Mr Atul stated, “ I can hardly see 4 or 5 people inserting letters in this post box and most of which the senior citizens do the needful.” Mr. Narayan said, “We middle class can’t go on filling balance in our mobiles, it’s far better to post letters. But right now due to restrictions, I am sorry to say that may be such post boxes will be shut down soon all over Mumbai”

In Vikhroli, Mr Sudarshan said, “This post box is hardly used. Oolta yeh toh thookneh ki jagah bun chukka hai, BMC bolti hai maintenance hamaree jimmedari nahi hai aur government bolta hai dekha jayega,,, aakhir kaun eeska jimmehdar hai?”

When the post master of Vikhroli said, “Gone are those days of 20,000 letters. Instead right now we just get 3000 to 4000 letters per month. This count does not mean the post boxes will not be seen, if it is not seen in the city area it will surely be seen in rural corners where there is more need of it.” Mr V.P Naidu said that if the post box disappears then the facilities of teaching the poor how to send emails should be made available.

Taking into consideration the entire different views, one can come to a conclusion that the disappearance of post boxes will continue to take place and there’s a need to utilize this small sign of heritage, which can be done only by writing valuable letters and appropriate maintenance.




‘Returns’ of Single-Screen Theatres

In this era, where multiplexes are everywhere, we have somehow forgotten that few years ago the only thing we had were single-screen theatres.

At the age of the multiplexes, it is believed that nowadays single screen theatres are not meant for the families but the“rowdies”. People say that these theatres are not safe for them and for their families because of the crowd coming there. But how much truth lies in this statement?

Regal theatre in Colaba

Today multiplexes have taken over the single screen theatres. They have added an element of comfort during watching the movie. They have made it so good that upmarket society prefer to go to multiplexes because there they can see people like them, the so-called sophisticated lot. From the owner’s angle too multiplexes are very profiting. They get to share 50% of the revenue while single screens only get theatre rent, which is a very small amount and sometimes it cannot even take care of their electricity bills. As per the statistics, the number of single-screen theatres in Maharashtra has come down from 864 to 722 and in Mumbai and Thane from 100 to 81.

Even though nowadays producers are making more products which will suit single screens, but owners are more interested in the government paying attention to their needs and demands. Because they have to give too much of entertainment tax compared to other states and also they do not have shares in the total revenue.

But now the trend is changing.

Film traders says that a film like Zindagi Na Mile Dobara grossed 25% cent of its box office from single screens, Murder 2 grabbed in 40%, and Ready and Bodyguard 45% each. The number of single-screen theatres may have come down in Mumbai and Thane over the years, but there is a quiet change happening. Today one cannot ignore the single screens as they make a major contribution, around 30%-50%, to a film’s box office collection.

In our country where cinema is a craze, this change in watching films is in a way a change in the lifestyle. Today’s cinema lovers have become very smart, they want better air-conditioning and a more Upmarket atmosphere, but at an affordable price. So, several single-screen theatre owners are renovating their theatres to satisfy the crowd which is coming back from the multiplexes. Single screens are matching multiplex standards now. Hence, the cinema-lovers are turning towards the single-screen theatres which are maintaining their position.

Chitra theatre in Dadar

Technically also single screen theatres are better than multiplexes. To see the beauty of landscape or to watch long shot scenes one should prefer single screens because it gives better quality due to long projections in the big halls. Compared to multiplexes, single screens have much more capacity and have big screen which gives true sense of watching film on “big screen”.

Single-screen theatres now have a nice mix of the audience. The multiplex audiences are returning to balconies while lovers of single screens continue to grab the stalls. Paradise cinema in Mahim, Edward theatre in Kalbadevi, Chitra, Plaza and Nakshatra cinema in Dadar, Regal in Colaba and Aurora in Matunga are now a cinema hall for family viewing.

Beauty and the Beast

Heritage and its history go hand in hand. In the book called “Fabricating Heritage” by David Lowenthal, Heritage is tales and myths that instill faith and devotion to one story. It is about identity and belonging. We drive our sense of nationalism and identity from the unifying myths and legends that are constructed and amassed throughout our history. What defines and unifies us is our heritage. For most of us heritage draws a curiosity & zeal for studying history. Heritage plays an important role in liberal democracy like India to function politically and socially. As Charles Taylor writes, “to form a state in the democratic era, a society is forced to undertake the difficult and never to be completed task of defining its collective identity.” Winston Churchill once said “We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.”

Mumbai has the privilege of having numerous heritage buildings, which not only adds an element of beauty to the place but also attach a royal notion to it. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, The Kalaghoda parking lot which is surrounded by the Army Navy Building, David Sassoon Library, Jehangir art Gallery, Rhythm House, the Khyber Restaurant, BMC office, Knessel Eliyahoo, Asiatic Library, Old Customs House, Old Secretariat, colleges like Sophia, Xavier, Elphinston and Wilson are some of the leading heritage buildings of south Mumbai. However, the story does not end here because like fairy tales it too has its beast. Privately owned heritage buildings are taken care of up to a certain extent. College managements are pretty much maintaining their buildings because it attracts film and advertisement makers but the condition of other places are wretched. CST looks magnificent from outside, but gives the opposite impression from inside.

‘Negligence can lead to destruction.’ In a country like India where engineering and medical are considered mainstream professions, fields like archeology and related courses remain untouched by the youth. Therefore, importance of heritage and its history becomes area of negligence by the citizens and government of the country.

Heritage sites, which are in possession of government, are in process of renovation, mentioned by Mumbai Guardian Minister Jayant Patil, “We are preserving 14 heritage properties in the city which are in possession of the State Government. We have alloted Rs 15 crore for the restoration work.” Statements are made a number of times but the result is hardly seen. Despite of government efforts, major improvements does not take place because of less cooperation from the Mumbaikars.

Ashwini hospital in Colaba for defense personnel was first a heritage building but now they have built a new one. They only have a photograph of the original in the sitting area of Ashwini. One less from the list?????? One should not prohibit the use of old buildings, but creatively manage changes without losing the heritage value.

Among the top colleges of Mumbai, Sophia College is not only popular for its academics but also for its beautiful edifice. Its history goes back in 19th century, originally called Somerset House named after Sir Henry Somerset, commander-in-chief of the forces of Bombay presidency and owned by the East India Company with rich Parsi families. In 1923, Maharaja of Indore of Holkar family bought the property and in 1937, he sold it to the maharaja of Bhavnagar who hardly lived here and later bought by Sacred Heart. Principal of Sophia College, Sister Anila Vergeese said, “We are trying our level best to maintain our college infrastructure but the students seems to be very careless. They don’t understand the importance of its existence.” She also added that, “There are very few people who know the history of Sophia and with time it will be forgotten.”

These colonial architectural buildings divulge British era of our country, which is more valued by the tourist than us. Gothic archways of these heritage buildings define their infinite beauty but this beauty needs protection from the beast. The most important point to be kept in mind here is, who is this beast? ME, YOU……? Karl Kraus said, “When a man is treated like a beast, he says, ‘After all, I’m human.’ When he behaves like a beast, he says ‘After all, I’m only human.”

Solution to this problem is in front of us, the sooner we find it, the faster it is solved……………………..

Unnati Maharudra