Watchman you don’t have to pull out the big stick

25 May, 2016
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Staircases: Ballard Estate

When small migrant communities were establishing their presence in Bombay in 1870s, the professional tools they carried as well as their turbans, became important markers of their identity.

Sticks helped quickly identify the community of ‘Purdasees’, hillmen from the North West Provinces, who largely served as watchman in the city.

Hersh Acharya pulls out his big camera.

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National logistics?

14 May, 2016
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Signage: The National Hindu Lodge

1st Floor, Prathna Samaj, New Queen’s Road.

It was probably the presence of a large number of modern facilities such as lodges, hotels and hospitals, that were meant for the exclusive use of particular communities that led to the term ‘Cosmopolitan’ being included in the names of establishments that were open to all.

Cosmopolitan Restaurant & Stores, a corner cafe across the National Hindu Lodge at Prathna Samaj is a good example of that.

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Where have all the Catholics gone?

28 April, 2016
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Staircases: David & Company (1953)

1st Floor, Rivendell House, 2nd Dhobi Talao Lane, Dhobi Talao.

The Catholics of Dhobi Talao may have all ‘migrated to the suburbs’, yet David & Company continues to grow, diversifying their business of printing invitation cards to selling wedding gowns, christening outfits and religious goods.

The firm even wanted to buy the premises of the erstwhile Bastani & Co. on the ground floor, but seems to have settled for enclosing their existing balcony and the Art Deco grills that adorned it, on the first floor.

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Good Luck Bombay!

13 April, 2016
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Horseshoe

Doors: Cosmopolitan Restaurant & Stores

Sir Hurkisondas Nurrotumdas Hospital, junction of Sandhurst Road and New Queen’s Road.

In Irani restaurants and bakeries across Bombay horseshoes are found at the entrances of the establishments. They symbolise good luck.

Humin Irani of Cosmopolitan Restaurant & Stores explains that his grandfather and father were very interested in the ‘spiritual line’; they prayed at the store counter, fasted, read people’s faces and befriended Israeli tourists of a spiritual bent.

Humin asks ‘Have you read The laws of the Spirit World ?’ ‘No? I will give you a copy’.

Picture by Hashim Badani who is very interested in the ‘photography line’.

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Mr. Leo, the lion of Aden

7 April, 2016
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People: Messrs Cowasjee Dinshaw & Bros. (1854)

A post from the guest city of Aden, Yemen.

Daily business at the firm of Messrs Cowasjee Dinshaw & Bros. in Aden was determined by Mr Leo, an African lion gifted to the Dinshaws by the ruler of Abyssinia. Here Mr Leo is seen taking ‘his usual bath’ surrounded by the firm’s staff.

In Bombay on the other hand, such activity would have taken you straight to the magistrate, as three Persians roaming the city with a cheetah found out in January 1870.

This post has been kindly sponsored by the Adenwalla family.

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