Façades: Allbless Widows’ Chawl
Murzban Colony, Gilder Street, Tardeo.
Early modern housing for widows in Bombay was custom made to their conjugal condition. Widows were accommodated in single rooms in structures called ‘chawls’ and paid the lowest rent on the plot. In contrast the rest of the housing project consisted of multi-room flats in ‘buildings’ that were designed to facilitate working class family life.
‘Widows’ were listed along with fitters, mechanics, clerks etc as the professions of the householders on the plot. Investing ‘widows’ with the social meaning of occupational activity was one of the few, feeble ways through which their presence was assimilated into the housing landscape.