Furniture: Jones Lodging House
Rachel Lodge, Merewether Road, Colaba.
Lesser than a hotel and more than a boarding house, lodges were a popular form of accommodation in Bombay in the early 20th century.
They offered something of the privacy of a hotel, without the convenience of in-house catering, and were preferable to the intimacy of the boarding house, where Bombay’s landladies embarked on bouts of excessive drinking with their boarders and even died from an overdose of alcohol.
Boundaries: The Island of Bombay (1838)
Even 30 years after the Island of Bombay was connected to Colaba by a causeway, Colaba was far from a fashionable locality.
Sanatoria and asylums, warehouses and store rooms, printing presses and cotton presses commanded the precincts of Lower, Middle and Upper Colaba.
A strong military presence in the locality meant that the options for an evening’s entertainment were limited to viewing H. M.’s 103rd Royal Bombay Fusiliers perform “The Artful Dodge” at the Colaba Theatre or attending a temperance meeting where the evil effects of the Canteen system were set forth.
**Lower Colaba, also called Small Colaba, was the area that comprised the Old Woman’s Island.
Proprietor: Ling’s Pavilion (1990)
Apollo Bunder, Colaba.
Fresh off the heels of International Yoga Day, we would to remind our readers that in Bombay there is only one baba- Baba Ling.
Wearing his signature safari suit, rings and bracelet, 66 year old Baba effortlessly conducts his restaurant, Ling’s Pavilion, from a podium near the entrance of the establishment. Baba greets and helps seat the legions of customers that visit the restaurant, ensures each table is well-attended to and even comes by the tables to explain the intricacies of the Chinese dishes being served.
Baba was born in Bombay to a family of Chinese migrants from Shantao city in the Canton province. Being the youngest sibling, he was called Baba, his proper name Sen Thanling, was seldom used. Similarly, his brother is popularly called Nini Ling (Sen Thonling). Nini also runs Ling’s Pavilion, though from a more discrete location – a room on the lower level of the restaurant.
Many thanks to Kunal Merchant and Indira Nuthakki for facilitating this post.
Interiors: Afghan Church (1858)
Church of St. John the Evangelist, Colaba.
Whenever Britain went to war in the 19th century, Bombay’s various communities would gather to pray at churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and fire temples.
‘O Almighty God! We pray to you that the Queen of this country be granted an honourable victory in the present fighting. The King of Kings should grant her army and navy special strength and wisdom, bless the Queen with a long life, and ensure the prosperity of her empire.’
Prayer gatherings offered avenues for a leveled participation in the Empire. They required no monetary contribution, only an emotional earnestness, and if the war was won, all could claim to have played a part.
An Acharya armed only with his camera.
Kamal Mansion, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba.
The Queen’s Necklace has turned into a noose for Bombay’s gay community. In 2012, the city’s iconic gay landmark, the Voodoo nightclub, finally shut down after a raid by Vasant Dhoble, the killjoy, hockey-stick wielding Assistant Commissioner of Police.
Voodoo had welcomed city’s LGBT community in the early 1990’s when most of the other nightclubs kept them out.
Bombaywalla urges all Indians to face the direction of the Supreme Court and sing
Gay gay, gay, gay gay, gay
Gay re saiba
Pyaar mein saudaa nahin
in light of its shameful verdict recriminalizing homosexuality.
Photo by Bipin Kokate from the Mid-Day website. Thanks to Mustansir Dalvi for suggesting the song.