Flora please, not Frere

13 May, 2013
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Flora Fountain

Fountains: Flora Fountain (1869)
Junction of Hornby Road, Esplanade Road and Churchgate Street, Fort (presently Hutatma Chowk).

Flora Fountain is a defining landmark in the city so much so that it has become an address in itself, which any Bombaywalla will easily recognise.

Though originally named Frere Fountain, after governor Sir Henry Bartle Frere (1862-67), the architect of the new Fort district, the Fountain has always been referred to by its adopted name. Flora is the Roman goddess of flowers and the season of spring; a minor deity in Roman mythology, a major madame of Bombay.

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Signage: Eros (1938)

10 May, 2013
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Eros

Eros (1938)
Queen’s Road, Churchgate (presently Maharshi Karve Road).

Art Deco cinemas like Eros were the beaming symbols of Bombay’s modernity. The experience of arriving in an automobile for a night at the pictures, being seated in Eros’ dark blue Rexine seats, displaced older forms of public entertainment like the theatre, where early audiences were subject to battle scenes with uncooperative horses on stage and ill equipped actors.

At Eros, audiences in 1939, gazed at the suave Ronald Colman, whose ‘love making was as dangerous as his sword play’.

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Proprietors: Britannia & Co. Restaurant (1923)

6 May, 2013
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Britannia & Co. Restaurant (1923)
Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate.

Despite the fact that British officials destroyed all the ‘posh’ furniture at Britannia & Co. during the Second World War, when the restaurant premises were temporarily used for military purposes, proprietor Boman Kohinoor’s fondness for imperial rule is legendary.

91 year old Mr. Kohinoor is Bombay’s most beloved restaurateur. An effortless host, no diner can refuse his recommendations: ‘6 fresh lime soda sweet, to beat the Mumbai heat’. Here he is photographed with fellow proprietors, Afshin, his son and Merwan, his brother. (Left to Right, Photographs: Jasmine D. Driver, Parsiana.)

See our gallery above to savour some Berry Pulav, Fry Bombay Duck and Caramel Custard.

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Motifs: St. Thomas’ Cathedral (1718)

3 May, 2013
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St. Thomas’ Cathedral (1718)
Church Gate Street, Fort (presently Veer Nariman Road)

The colonial government regularly reminded Bombay’s citizenry that it subsidized the cost of divine worship at St. Thomas’ Cathedral. Pew rents, a common means through which churches generated income by charging worshippers for the use of pews, were not imposed, states city directories from the late 1800s.

Notice a lady’s Louis Vuitton handbag in the corner that could well do with subsidizing.

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One sip at a time

29 April, 2013
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Meher Cold Drink House

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

Well into the late 1800s, strict caste and purity codes prevented the experience of inter-dining amongst the native populations of Bombay. Pan-supari, rosewater and nosegays, were distributed at the end of public/semi public gatherings, but no food. As the benefits of inter-dining were felt, cold drinks were first introduced for consumption, gradually making way for solid foods.

Meher Cold Drink House, although a sprightly 74, is an example of the early establishments that facilitated the experience of cosmopolitan drinking and eventually dining.

Young Bombaywalla was introduced to the delights of Meher Cold Drink House by her mother Veera, a regular at the unassuming eateries in the Fort.

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