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.
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.