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.
Signage: Banaji Atash Behram (Fire Temple)
(1845), junction of Queen’s Road and Thakurdwar Road, opposite Charni Road Station.
Ladies and children of all faiths can find solace in the nursery surrounding the Banaji Atash Behram, where several species and shades of plants grow side by side sukh thi ne samph sathe (in happiness and harmony).
Signage: Admiralty House (1764)
Apollo Street, Fort (presently Great Western Building, Bombay Samachar Marg).
This building holds the distinction of being put to the most high-profile uses in Bombay. It has variously served as the admiralty house, the governor’s residence and the recorder’s courthouse.
In 1883, Jewanjee & Company opened The Great Western Hotel on the premises. The Hotel was furnished and fitted to ensure ‘the greatest comfort to Residents and Visitors’. Not only did every bedroom have an attached bathroom with a constant supply of water, the setup had the approval of the best scientific authorities.
Jewanjee & Company did know a lot about technology.
Signage: B. Merwan & Co. (1914)
Frere Bridge, Grant Road.
There was nothing chummy about getting your chums in 19th century Bombay. Ladies in menses were confined to a special room, made to sleep on beds that resembled funeral biers and kept away from any festivities, ceremonies or socializing.
On the rare occasions when menstruating ladies made public appearances, as witnesses in cases at the Supreme Court for example, the entire courtroom was made aware of their condition.
The priests who swore the witnesses refused to let the ladies touch the sacred book while taking the oath. When the judge ordered ‘Tell him to swear her in the proper way, or I will dismiss him’, the priest was forced to put the book in the lady’s hands and his own hand over the book as he swore the witness.
Signage: Falkland Road
While the census of 1864 listed 44 Parsi prostitutes in the city, the census of 1872 listed none. This swift cleansing of the Parsi prostitute population was spurred by the enforcement of the Contagious Diseases Act in 1870. The Act required prostitutes in the city to register with the police with details of their caste, residence, age etc, pinning down a community members’ participation in the profession, much to the embarrassment of Bombay’s many communities.
Parsi leaders responded briskly, much as they do today, and drew up a proposal for excommunicating any Parsi prostitute and her offspring.