Staircases: Liberty (1949)
New Marine Lines.
The opening of the great cinemas Regal in 1933 and Liberty in 1949, can neatly mark the age of Art Deco in Bombay.
During this period, the style of Art Deco transformed the cityscape with its streamlined forms, colourful facades and iconography of speed and travel.
Hashim Badani gives Liberty a good dekho.
Interiors: The Friends Union Joshi Club
381-A, Narottam Wadi, Kalbadevi Road.
Back in the 1970s, chances were that customers could end up becoming good friends with the proprietor of the Club.
If a customer lost weight after a month of eating at the Club and climbed onto the weighing scales stationed at the premises to prove it, the proprietor marked the month’s meals free!
This anecdote, narrated by Yogesh Purohit, son of the late Mr. Khimjibhai Purohit (pictured above), offers an interesting angle to understand the presence of weighing scales in eating houses in Bombay.
Furnishings: A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding (1942)
1st Floor, Market Building, Matunga Railway Station, Matunga.
Matunga’s iconic eatery is in fact not much older than the suburb of Matunga itself. In the 1920s and 30s, Matunga was transformed from a thinly populated village to an organised suburb with apartment blocks and recreational facilities.
The suburb was soon populated with migrants from South India who had settled in Bombay. For these migrants, A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi provided a wholesome and affordable meal; boarding facilities without lodging, as the owner Sashant Nayak explains.
We would like to thank Sashant Nayak for his warm hospitality. ‘The owner of the restaurant also eats here’, we are informed.
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.
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.