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.
Windows: Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (1903)
Merewether Road and Strand Road, Apollo Bunder.
Legend has it that the Indian industrialist Jamsetji Tata begun the Taj in 1903, in retaliation for being denied admission into the European run and owned Esplanade Hotel or Watson’s Hotel in Bombay. This account is highly implausible.
The Esplanade Hotel hosted Indian guests as early as 1871, the year of its opening. Three young Bengalis, fresh from passing the Civil Service Examination in England in 1871, stayed at the Esplanade before their return to Calcutta.
In another popular account Tata begun the Taj after being barred from entering Pyrke’s Apollo Hotel in Bombay. This is also an implausible anecdote.
Apollo Hotel (1887) was run by a Parsi proprietor, Hormusji Modi. E. W. Pyrke was made a partner proprietor only in late 1904, a year after the Taj had opened, and after which the business was conducted under the modified name of Pyrke’s Apollo Hotel.
This post is dedicated to the cities, citizens and structures that have been brutally attacked by terrorists in recent months.
‘Shine on’ says photographer Hersh Acharya.
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.
Folks our blog turns one today. Thank you for all the support, encouragement and generosity.
Simin, Sitanshu, Hashim, Hersh and Dj.
Clocks: Victoria Terminus (VT) (1888)Hersh Acharya captures the clock that compromised first.
Dr Prashant Kidambi is a Senior Lecturer in Colonial Urban History at the University of Leicester.