Category Archives: Structures

A Colaba Man In Hot Blood

29 April, 2017
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People: Commander Nanavati (27 April 1959)

An excerpt from Bachi Karkaria’s new book hot on the trail of India’s most dashing naval commander-

“Nanavati comes out of Setalvad Lane, but doesn’t know the location of the nearest police station. He’s always been a Colaba man on the southernmost flank of South Bombay. Instead of turning left to go the way he came, he turns right, and goes up Malabar Hill. Near the rather obviously named ‘Teen Batti’ traffic signal he sees the ornate gates of Raj Bhavan, the Governor’s mansion. He asks the sentry, and is told about Gamdevi Police Station. Deciding not to go round in circles trying to find it, he heads for familiar territory: the home of the navy’s ‘head cop’, the Provost Marshal.
Commander Michael Benjamin Samuel, like the socialites of Setalvad Lane, has just stirred out of his afternoon siesta, but he’s shaken wide awake by what he hears from one of the navy’s highest-rated officers: ‘I think I have shot a man.’
‘Why?’
‘Because he seduced my wife.’
Commander Samuel picks up the receiver of his phone, and says sombrely into it, ‘John? This is Provo Samuel. I’m sending Commander Nanavati to you. He has had a quarrel with a person, and he has shot at him.’

At Crime Branch, the Central Investigative Department’s two-storey building in the compound of the Bombay Police Commissionerate at Crawford Market, another phone on Deputy Commissioner John Lobo’s desk jangles. ‘Sir, this is DI Gautam from Gamdevi PS. There has been a shooting in our jurisdiction. A Mr P. Ahuja has been fatally injured. We are proceeding to the spot and will revert.’
The deputy inspector has followed procedure in such serious cases, alerting both the deputy commissioner of the division and the deputy commissioner, Crime Branch, CID. This ensures a pooling of resources to nab the culprit ASAP.
But the ‘culprit’ has already presented himself.
A strong voice outside demands, ‘Lobo sah’b ka kamra kahaan hai?’ (Where is Lobo sahib’s room?)
The orderly checks with the boss, and ushers in the impressive naval officer dressed in slacks and a shirt.
‘I am Commander Nanavati,’ he says in the same authoritative tone. He appears to be impatient to get a weight off his chest.
‘Yes,’ replies the deputy commissioner. ‘Your Provost Marshal called. What is the problem?’
‘I have shot a man.’
Lobo puts his sinewy arms on the table. Every inch of his small-built frame indicates a man who knows his job, and will do it. He looks the naval officer in the eye and says, ‘He is dead. I have just received a message from Gamdevi Police Station.’
A muscle tightens perceptibly on Commander Nanavati’s chiselled jawline.
The DC offers him a cup of tea, not a gesture normally shown, but this is not a run-of-the-mill accused.
When he declines the tea, and asks for ‘just a glass of water’, Lobo pours out one from his own flask. Several eyebrow-raising courtesies will be extended to this man over the next five years.
Having shown him this consideration, Deputy Commissioner Lobo gets down to business. He says, ‘Commander, I will have to do my unpleasant duty. You have killed a civilian in his flat and the law will have to take its course. I’m calling in my officers, Superintendent Korde and Inspector Mokashe, to question you.’
They stride in, their uniform as smart as their salute.
They go with Nanavati to retrieve the weapon and unspent bullets from the glove box of his car parked outside the commissionerate. Lobo tells Nanavati, ‘We will now begin our formal investigation. Let me assure you that it will be conducted with complete fairness and impartiality. To start with, we are placing you under arrest, and will keep you temporarily in our custody.’
Again, because he is no ordinary undertrial, Nanavati is not marched into a police lockup, but is kept in one of the office rooms of the Crime Branch. The lofty officer wryly consoles himself that dusty files are preferable to scruffy felons. But Navy Headquarters and his own Parsi connections will ensure that he is soon spared even this company.

And what of the two others of that love triangle? A stunned Sylvia has been picked up from Metro and bundled off to her in-laws’ house.
The lifeless Prem has been lifted off the floor and put on his bed by the servants, too shocked to remember not to disturb the scene of the crime. Mokashe’s team arrives. Their observations and investigations will be triumphantly presented by the prosecution and vehemently countered by the defence. But let’s not jump the gun here, or with the findings of the coroner’s court. Let’s wait to hear these hotly disputed details when we come to the trial which ignited a legal, political and social forest fire.”

Race to buy the unputdownable In Hot Blood (Juggernaut Books).

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Get Me to the Church on Time: Being a Practical Guide to Locating Bombay’s Milestones by an Enterprising Lady

25 April, 2017
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Inquiring minds should proceed to the Victoria and Albert Museum and Agri-Horticultural Gardens, beautifully laid out in Byculla, to spot this milestone. Formerly located near the Arthur Crawford Markets on the Esplanade, the milestone has been carefully relocated to the Museum for safekeeping.
Avail of H. D. Johnson’s Hansom Cab service at the Byculla Railway Station and direct the driver to Gamdevie, to that piece of ground bounded on the South by the House of Krishnarao Goregaonkar, on the North by the Railway Tracks and the West by the Public Road. Herein lies the second milestone marking ‘The Limits of the Town of Bombay’.
Explorers are encouraged to attend the public lecture on ‘REFORM’ at the Budhi-Varshak Society on Kalbadavie Road before proceeding to the southern end of the Road to locate the milestone marking ‘I Mile from St. Thomas’s Church’. Newly reformed, explorers will refrain from consuming intoxicating drinks at the Sunlight Restaurant & Bar, a nuisance in the locality.
Having journeyed through the native town on foot, explorers may hail a hack buggy and enjoy the sea breeze as they ride through Chowpatty to Tardeo Road to find the milestone ‘III Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’. The bungalows opposite the milestone have been lately occupied by two Parsee families, the Jessawallas and Adenwallas, whose ladies are well known for their beauty and daring.
Walk a short distance from Tardeo Road to Gowalla Tank to identify this milestone marking ‘3 Miles from the Cathedral’ a peculiar specimen with all the signs of being a later entrant– giant proportions, burnished in the sun and a number instead of a Roman numeral!
European explorers can stop and rest at the Byculla Club and native explorers can enjoy ICES! ICES!! ICES!!! at the Byculla Refreshment Rooms before making their way to Chinchpoogly to locate the milestone ‘IV Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’. The works of lighting Bombay by gas are proceeding very rapidly at Chinchpoogly, and pipes are being laid for the purpose along the main Parell Road, so that in a few months explorers will realize the long cherished hope of finding milestones IV and V at Parell Government Gate Road, by night.
The explorers may have the good fortune of receiving a carriage from His Excellency Sir Bartle Frere to proceed as a party to Dadur to spot three milestones in quick succession- ‘VI Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’ opposite Chitra & Co., photographers and general merchants lately developing motion picture technology; another ‘VI Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’ on Dadur Main Road and ‘VII Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’ outside Mr. Antonio Da Silva’s Anglo-Portuguese School.

Gentleman are requested to wear their Sola Hats and ladies their Straw Bonnets for the final leg of the excursion to Sion, the limits of the Island of Bombay, where the milestone ‘VIII Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’ is situated.
On achieving this milestone, the whole party is invited to celebrate with a pic-nic at Sion Fort.

Boundaries: Island of Bombay

Miss Bombaywalla begs to return her best thanks for the assistance she has received from Messrs. Aadil Desai, Vistasp Mehta, Dj Murty, Atul Gandhi, Bittu Ahmadullah & Miss Nergish Sunavala in locating the milestones and examining photographic impressions of the specimens. She also wishes to thank the PUBLIC at large for their timely assistance when she was knocked down by two youths furiously and negligently driving a two-wheeler on the wrong side of a public road.

** Mr. Forjett, Deputy Commissioner of Police, confirms that milestone ‘II Miles from St. Thomas’s Church’ has been destroyed by the chief leaders of the notorious Dhobee Tulao Thalimkhana gangs, who have extended their reign of terror northwards to the junction of Parell Road and Sandhurst Road.

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Two ceremonies & a 160th anniversary

4 April, 2017
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Signage: Lady Willingdon Building for the Parsi Ambulance Division (1932)

1 Esplanade Road, Fort (presently M. G. Road).

Bombay’s buildings were inaugurated with two important ceremonies- the foundation stone laying ceremony and the opening ceremony.

These ceremonies drew from colonial civic practices, masonic rituals and indigenous customs such as marking the first stone with vermillion pigment and breaking a coconut over it, and opening the door to the building with a set of keys and declaring the building open.

The one-storey Lady Willingdon Building for the Parsi Ambulance Division was built remarkably fast with sethia Sir Hormusjee C. Dinshaw laying the foundation stone for the building on 18th October 1931 and Sir Fredrick Hugh Sykes, Governor of Bombay, inaugurating the building on 9th April 1932.

4th April, 2017 marks the 160th birth anniversary of Hormusjee Dinshaw.

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Saal Mubarak & Navroze Mubarak

21 March, 2017
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Bombaywala logo-4thAnniversary

Motifs: Bombaywalla

On Navroze Day, we turn 4! We are excited to announce that Bombaywalla will soon be made into a company which will conduct walks through Bombay’s various localities and celebrated structures.

Thank you for all your support, love, likes and enthusiasm!

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A Gentleman’s Guide to Cooking for his Gentleman

14 February, 2017
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B1417-Gentmelman-BrownRice-01

by Vikram Doctor

Brown rice doesn’t have the best of reputations.

I am not talking, of course, of the Parsi version, dyed a rich dark brown with caramel and served as an accompaniment to dhansak.

But real brown rice, cooked with the husk on. Its known to be nutritious, but also a bore. All too often it becomes edible chewing gum, coarse and heavy to eat with endless chewing and leaden in the stomach.
 
Yet brown rice can be delicious the way I make it for my boyfriend and me. Like many Indian men he’s finicky about food and has just turned vegetarian. A New Year’s resolution which is still going strong in February so it might be lasting.

Start with the rice. Never brown basmati. Overused as it is, basmati still has its place at the table, but I’m not sure that brown basmati does. It neither works as brown rice or basmati.

I use Indrani, an excellent variety grown in the Konkan close to Mumbai. It is rounded and cooks soft, but doesn’t collapse into mush too easily and has a great ability to absorb aromas. You can get good brown Indrani at organic food stores or the Farmer’s Market that takes place in winters in Bandra. But I’ve also found it being sold on the road to Goa, on the interior route which we take when we drive down with Sheroo, our black Lab. After the national highway, when we turn off at Nippani to cut across the fields of the Deccan plateau and then the ghats down to the Konkan, on the side you will find local traders selling rice, papads, pickles all locally grown and made. It’s a good place to stop and buy brown Indrani.

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The key with brown rice is soaking it. A few hours at least and perhaps even all night. This is the one thing you need to remember in advance, but soon it becomes routine. Soak and then wash away the cloudy water and wash again and again and once more.

Next make the base. It can just be onions, but is much better with other vegetables as well. Carrots are very good, adding sweetness and vivid colour. Zucchini gives a green edge and releases so much water you should add less.

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Chop the onions and other vegetables finely. A food processor helps a lot here. I’m not giving quantities. You should guess what works in your pressure cooker. Because of course you have a pressure cooker.  

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Put it on the fire and heat some oil or ghee. If its oil I prefer sesame, the original, ancient oil of India though surprisingly hard to find. I buy mine in a bookshop, the Gandhi Book Centre near Grant Road station, where it comes cold pressed from the Yusuf Mehrally Centre in Panvel outside Mumbai.

Or use ghee, which can’t be beaten for taste. Coimbatore’s ghee is famous in Tamil Nadu where I grew up and you can find it in Mumbai in P.Ramalingam’s shop in Matunga, just as you climb down from the Z-bridge walkway.
 
I also use buffalo ghee which is excellent and stupidly looked down on by people who fetishize cows. Buffalos are far more suited to India, produce excellent milk replete with butterfat from which really excellent ghee can be made. I buy it from the Punjab & Sind stall in Khar, at least partly because it’s also an excuse to buy some of their wonderful, lightly salted and soft paneer.
 
We’re almost ready to start, but of course there has to be a secret ingredient. Not my secret as much as that of professional caterers who use it to add flavour to their rice dishes. Sometimes they are unscrupulous about it since what it adds is the nutty, almost popcorn aroma that is close to basmati, and that’s what they will claim they used.

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Samar Gupta of Trikaya Agro grows it at his farm in Talegaon near Mumbai, but ever since he shut his stall at Crawford Market it’s become harder to find. Luckily Sunil, the smartest vegetable seller in Mumbai sells it from his stall at Pali Market.
 
You can trust Sunil to get produce no one else in Mumbai has – and to sell it to you for a price that reflects this. Luckily you can get a large quantity of pandan leaves for Rs100 and they will last you a while in your fridge. They actually seem to become more aromatic as they wither and dry.
 
Now it’s quick. Sauté the chopped onions in the hot oil or ghee. When they’re getting brown add the chopped up veggies. When these are well cooked – you want to braise them rather than fry them, so add dashes of water if it’s getting too dry – add the drained rice, a few pandan leaves, plenty of water and then just enough salt. You want all the flavours to come through, so too much salt is a mistake.

When the water has just started boiling close the pressure cooker lid – but don’t put on the weight. Kavita Mukhi who runs the Farmer’s Market gave me this tip for brown rice. She said the steamy heat of the almost closed cooker will work on the rice, but the slight escape for the steam prevents the rice overheating and destroying the nutrients.

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Cooking it this way also prevents the rice become mush. You want it soft and slightly sticky, but not mush. And when you cook it this way with pandan leaves the steam that escapes is replete with that wonderful warm aroma, making everything in your kitchen and house smell better.
 
The only problem is that the aroma will make you insanely hungry. And you shouldn’t hurry this, since you want the rice to cook well, till most of the water is absorbed or evaporated. As it cooks you will see a plume of steam coming off the cooker, and when it looks like it’s slowing down, that’s roughly when you know it’s done.
 
And here is the other advantage of the unweighted cooking method. Since it doesn’t allow the steam to build up to scary levels, you can open the cooker almost at once. Release the lid and let it drop on its own and then savour the intense burst of warm rice aroma that surges up with the steam. Fluff up the rice with a big spoon, remove the pandan leaves.

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Vikram Doctor’s On My Plate column has the best of reputations and his Real Food Podcasts make for a most charming Valentine’s date.

Our mascot Manuel is ready in red courtesy Cyrus Daruwala.

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