Tag Archives: Caltex

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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