Saturday, 25 April 2015

Bombay Chronicles #3 - Beautiful Bombay

Bombay is a very old city and by that merit, has some very old building, albeit in very good shape. It is not only the old ones though that are picturesque, modern buildings hold their own in competition. They just lack one thing, the weight of history that defines their older counterparts.

This is the third and final part of the Bombay Chronicles series. You can read the first and second parts here.

The BSE is a building I had wanted to see up close from a long time. The Bombay Stock Exchange, the centre of trade and commerce that essentially makes the city the financial capital of the country is an imposing structure and one can only describe the feeling of staring up at it as one of awe. The scroll of companies listed there and the giant screen outside the building coupled with high fences, roadblocks and what seems like a whole battalion of security personnel truly presents a visage that goes with something as important as the protection of a nation’s finance. And yeah, I got told off for trying to put national security at risk by almost clicking a picture of the building.

The Haji Ali Dargah, the mosque that is literally in the sea, is another place that I wanted to visit, thanks to Bollywood. The mosque, although thronging with tourists and the faithful is a place of immense calm if one were to look for it. Sitting on the edge of the border wall, staring into the water, one can feeling peace wash over with the salty breeze and crashing waves.

A happenstance led us to Horniman circle, an area next to Dalal Street which looks like Connaught Place in Delhi. We, as media students, decided to visit Bombay Samachar, India’s oldest newspaper. It was amazing to see that the old building was exactly how it would have been when it was first constructed. More files than computers, more fans than air conditioners and senior journalists looking up over the edge of their glasses at this bunch of prospective media persons. There were three different types of printing machines. And the best thing: They don’t use key cards to log entry and exit, they use the quaint punching system to remind them of the values that were integrated with the paper.

Marine Drive, where the wave of humanity meets the waves of the ocean at the edge of land (or rather the island). Watching the place in movies does no justice to the place… at all. Need a place to unwind at the end of a hard day but don’t want to do so at the bottom of a bottle, this is the place to be. The sunset, the water, the rocks, the concrete, the crows and the crabs present such a vivid mix of sensory perceptions that one can absolutely be lost in the fine line between nature and civilization. The pure energy thrown off by the city behind and the water in front, the clash of opposite forces and the feeling of being equidistant from both, in no man’s land so to speak is an experience unlike any other. It is truly the refuge of the tired mind weary heart.

The Gateway of India, one of the two most prominent ‘Gates’ in the nation is beautiful after sunset. Obviously, selfie-crazy people need to go before that but the beauty of the yellow stone, the lighting and the hilarious signboards together with the history of the place gives a sombre reminder of days before Independence. And of course, the Taj hotel just next to it adds up to the whole experience of patriotism as symbol of steadfast reserve of the Indian people and their ability to bounce back from anything at all.

The Gateway of India.

This was all the beauty I managed to cram into my short stay in Mumbai and the rest… perhaps another time.