So long Strand

28 February, 2018
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1) It was during the intermission of the English films at Strand Cinema, that 23-year-old T. N. Shanbhag hoped, the audience would browse and buy the books at the stall he set up there in 1948.
2) In 1956, Mr Shanbhag acquired new and spacious premises for the book stall at Dhan Nur building on Phirozeshah Mehta Road, while still maintaining the original counter at the Strand Cinema in Colaba. 3) Phirozeshah Mehta Road, was a relatively recent locality, dominated by insurance companies. Irani and other restaurants were present at every corner. 4) Mr Shanbhag and his staff would go for a ‘single’ (tea) to Bristol Grill nearby. 5) He offered the iconic 20% discount right from the beginning. 6) Mr Shanbhag’s son, Arun, joined the family business from America, sourcing titles that had made it to the top of the charts. 7) His daughter, Vidya, launched branches of the store in Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad and Poona, and the mega Strand sale at the Sunderbai Hall in Bombay.

Doors: Strand Book Stall (1956)

15C Dhan Nur, Sir Phirozeshah Mehta Road, Fort.

The iconic Strand Book Stall will shut down today after a 72 year run.

Hersh Acharya captures the last days of the institution.

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Welcome to Karfule, Bombay’s most stylish service station

16 January, 2018
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Infrastructure: Karfule (1938)

25 Sprott Road, Ballard Estate.

In the 1920s and 30s, burglary was rampant at the newly developing district of Ballard Estate, with thieves scaling the drain pipes of the Grand Hotel to steal jewels from the guests’ rooms and terriers persistently barking to alert their masters about armed intruders.

By the 1970s and 80s, drug addicts had made Ballard Estate their nightly abode, stealing any valuable metal they could find like the brass grills at the Karfule service station. Eventually only one brass grill was left. The proprietor, Kevin Sequeira, decided to paint the grills white, making the original and new indistinguishable to all. Even his son Daniel (pictured above) cannot identify the original!

This was also, possibly, the only instance when white paint was used to good effect at the service station. F. G. Sequeira, the founder, had fought to keep the façade the original Malad Stone, dashing off a letter to the Caltex petroleum company in the 1980s stating that he would not comply with their new regulation of painting service stations white. Caltex stopped supplying fuel to Karfule. F. G. Sequeira maintained his stance but agreed to let Caltex paint the station white at their own cost.

Now when the painters arrive every two years, Daniel ensures that they highlight the Art Deco elements that were expertly designed by architect G. B. Mhatre in the 1930s.

Photos by H. I. Badani, who made sure all the paint was scrapped off the Art Deco heirlooms he recently inherited.

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Season’s Greetings from 1931

25 December, 2017
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Archives: Season’s Greeting Card (1931)

By the 1840s, Bombay’s ladies had had enough of the tiresome custom of personally inviting female relatives and friends to a wedding in their family, two days before the wedding and again on the morning of the wedding itself!

They decided to send invitation cards to their lady guests instead.

Gentlemen already received letters of invitation. Now households began to receive two sets of invitation cards for the sexes.

And the ladies of the wedding party found themselves less fatigued and with a little more free time to enjoy the festivities.

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Welcome to Puthu & Sons

21 November, 2017
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1) Premanand Puthu Mankatty has been running the washing company his father Puthu founded for the last forty years. 2) Being one of twelve siblings, the second youngest of eight sons, it was only fitting that the company’s name was changed from Puthu & Co. to Puthu & Sons. 3) Premanand remembers the father of the current proprietor of the Gamdevi Hair Cutting Saloon near by, whose mooch was like Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s.
4) Customers’ clothes are cleaned and returned in two to three days. During the monsoons it can take five to six days. Sunday Closed. 5) When Premanand’s father Puthu migrated to Bombay from Kundapur, Karnatak, he worked at Cecil Laundry near by before starting his own business. 6) The shutters of the shop next to Puthu & Sons are permanently closed. An Irani restaurant, Gamdevi Restaurant, had its premises there.

Doors: Puthu & Sons Washing Co. (1934)
H. M. Akhalawaya Building, Gamdevi Road, Gamdevi.

By the 1860s, bathing and washing clothes in Bombay’s public tanks had become a threefold problem of public health, community and decency.

The Municipal Commissioners were concerned that the ‘mass of floating filth’ generated by the bathing and washing was the source of the most offensive effluvia which would be harmful to public health.

The native gentry, particularly the Bhattia and Bania communities, wanted to reserve the tanks for the purpose of drinking water.

And a poor woman had to write to the Bombay Gazette, under the sobriquet of ‘Saaf Owruth’, defending her daily routine of body washment at the Dhobee ka tallao, ‘that place I make washment one long wall is, so man cant see from street. If must come that way what for not turn head away, he not a proper man. I little English know but write true, you can laugh.’

Photos by Hashim Badani, a proper man.

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Hair cutting and costing

17 October, 2017
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1. Dinesh Jadhav is the fourth generation of the Jadhav family to run the saloon in Gamdevi. 2. Youngsters want the latest cuts while old-timers want the original styles from Dinesh’s grandfather’s time. 3. Dinesh’s grandfather Baburao (left) and his great-grandfather Trimbuk (right), who founded the saloon. Trimbuk Jadhav served in the Indian Army. 4. A photo from 1948 of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Santsena Samaj, the association that governs the Nhavi caste, to which the Jadhavs belong. 5. The annual licenses of the establishment from the 1930s and 40s.
6. Three storeys of the building have already been demolished, leaving the ground floor standing with its shops for the time being.

Furniture: Gamdevi Hair Cutting Saloon

40G Jethabhai Kalyanji (J.K.) Buildings, Harishchandra Goregaoker Road, Gamdevi.

Local barbers in Bombay were bound by both the Bombay Municipal Act and their caste association, the Santsena Samaj, to such an extent that the intervals at which the floor of the saloon was swept, the type of bin for the reception of hair and sweepings, the price of the hair cut, and even the fitness of the barber himself, were all pre-determined.

The saloon’s licenses could be suspended or revoked, the barber and his family could be ostracised by their fellow caste members, if he did not comply with the conditions of costing and cutting.

Photos by Hashim Badani a Number 1 Photographer who gets a Number 2 Haircut.

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