Category Archives: Furnishings

Prints for my prophet, pictures for my yogi

4 October, 2016
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BW (6 of 29)

Furnishings: Meher Cold Drink House (1939)
Mackawee Mansion, junction of Gunbow Street and Parsi Bazaar Street, Fort (presently Rustom Sidhwa Marg).

In the religious economy of Bombay, picture production got off to a shaky start in the 1850s with prophets appearing one-eyed and blurry in the papers.

Rudimentary lithographic printing equipment was no doubt to blame but other factors, like the strong hold missionaries had on the print economy, their distaste of local idol worship, and the valuing of the educative potential of the printed word, all played a part in devaluing the pictorial.

In the 1870s presses specialising in picture production had begun and did a brisk trade in selling mythological images, particularly of Hindu gods and goddesses. These images were inspired by various mythological dramas that played to packed audiences in Bombay. Dramas portrayed gods with a penchant for the miraculous- sparkling swords, disappearing acts, severed heads. Audiences stood up from their seats in reverence to these holy offerings.

Coloured lithographic prints of gods and goddesses were eagerly purchased by city goers. As for picture production’s shaky start, images outnumbered books by the thousands in volume and circulation.

Photo by Baba Badani of Byculla.

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Boarding without lodging

1 June, 2016
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A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi Sri Krishna Boarding

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.

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Welcome to The Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon

13 October, 2015
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IMG_1934_1 1. The Union’s VOC cafe on the veranda is open to the public. VOC is the acronym for Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company.
IMG_1932_1 2. Unwrap and enjoy the Lamprais, the Union’s signature dish, a portion of mixed meats and rice packaged into a banana leaf.
IMG_1940_1 3. The chocolate biscuit pudding is very Marie!
IMG_1972_1 4. Kevin, our wonderful waiter and guide (middle), with two other members of staff. Kevin addressed Miss Bombaywalla as ‘Miss’ and Miss Bombaywalla was in heaven.
IMG_1948_1 5. The insignia of the Union is prominently displayed. The VOC’s more interesting insignia with grinning lions and a grumpy seal can be found at the Maritime Archeology Museum in Galle and above the inner entrance to the Galle Fort.
IMG_1962_1 6. A tour of the upper storey of the Union, meant for members only.
IMG_1964_1 7. The dining area for the members, on the upper storey.
IMG_1975 8. A pukka view of the Union.

Furnishings: The Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon (1908)

Cinnamon Gardens, Junction of Buller’s Road (presently Bauddhaloka Mawatha) and Serpentine Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The third and final post in our guest city series on Sri Lanka.

While at Bombay’s Ripon Club, a very Parsi gentlemen’s club, the lift is not available for going down and a Parsi member is certainly required for going up to the club and partaking of a meal of Dhansak, at The Dutch Burgher Union in Colombo everyone is welcome to enter the VOC cafe and go dutch over a meal of Lamprais.

It is even possible to become a visiting member of The Dutch Burgher Union, despite having no strain of Dutch blood. The pukka members of the Union are as mixed as the lamprais they serve with strains of Dutch, European, Sinhalese and other ethnic roots.

Indeed if clubs of these kinds are to be maintained, The Dutch Burgher Union is a better example.

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Dr Miss Bombaywalla

16 September, 2015
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Furniture: St. Antony’s College (1950)

62 Woodstock Road, Oxford, England.

Miss Bombaywalla is happy to report that she has passed her viva examination and has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Her examiners were Dr Faisal Devji, University Reader in Modern South Asian History at the University of Oxford and Dr David Washbrook, Research Professor in South Asian History at the University of Cambridge.

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The hotels of Galle & Colombo, Sri Lanka

29 August, 2015
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Srilanka_Chips1.The crockery at the Amangalla hotel in Galle still carries the hotel’s original name, New Oriental Hotel.
Srilanka_GalleFort_Flowers2.Purple lotuses wake and sleep like the guests at the Galle Fort Hotel.
Srilanka_GalleFort_Entrance3.The lourves that line the entrance of the Galle Fort Hotel sway.
Srilanka_DecoWhite4. Hotel Deco on 44 in Galle ads some modernist sparkle to the city.
Srilanka_Prawns5. The good thing about Sri Lanka’s luxury hotels is that one can afford a meal or two at them, unlike Bombay’s luxury hotels. Here are the Za’atar Grilled Tiger Prawns at the Amangalla in Galle.
Srilanka_GalleDrink6. A drink at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo to recover from the pestering touts and gem salesmen across the city.
SriLanka-GrandOrientalHotel7. The facade of the Grand Oriental Hotel on York Street in Colombo.
Srilanka_OrientalProblematicThe sculpture facing the Grand Oriental Hotel, of a young native boy pulling a pipe totting European saheb, should be removed. Srilanka_Postbox8. The post box at the entrance of the Grand Oriental Hotel, that should stay.

Furnishings: The hotels of Galle & Colombo

Sri Lanka.

The grand and boutique hotels of Sri Lanka retain their colonial flavour. Their names, advertisements, signage, the brief tours offered by the hotel management, all suggest that there is a comfort with and a utilisation of the colonial past.

It is these grand and boutique hotels that form the bulk of the higher end hotels in the cities. What could be described as Sri Lanka’s ‘national hotels’, the resort hotels designed by the renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, are mainly located on the fringes of main cities or in small towns near main cities, like The Blue Water Hotel in Wadduwa near Colombo and the Jetwing Lighthouse on the edge of Galle.

This landscape has meant that cities in Sri Lanka remain conspicuously colonial while the powerful, private, modern architecture of the independent nation stands like fortresses in the outskirts.

Our third and final post in this guest city series will be on The Dutch Burgher Union in Colombo, which reminded us of Bombay’s Ripon Club.

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