Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

End of dabbawala era?

As we get wary about bombs in tiffin boxes, Mumbai's oldest service sees 25 per cent reduction in manpower

October 28, 2012

Kranti Vibhute

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They have been around since the last decades of the 1800s and their efficient service has not only got them a meeting with Prince Charles but also the attention of the business world. Their CEO has been called to give a talk at IIMs and they have received a mention in the Harvard Business Review. But, is the era of dabbawalas coming to end?
Fewer youngsters want to join the profession, preferring the lives in their villages to the gruelling schedule of a dabbawala. File pic used for representation purpose only
There are two associations in the city that run the supply chain that ensures that all of Mumbai’s office goers get to eat home-cooked meals even at work — the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust and the Mumbai Dabbesaunstha Lawad Samiti. Between them they serve the city with 5,000 dabbawalas.
However, members from these organisations say that their numbers have been gradually reducing since 2006, following the train blasts and now, they are down by 25 per cent. “After the blasts (in which bombs were kept in pressure cookers), schools and offices have become cautious and many people have discontinued our services,” says Yamnaji Ghule, the president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust. He adds, “There is a lot of screening at these buildings and we are not allowed to wait. Thus, our services are no longer viable.” Many schools and offices have in-house catering services which completely negate the need for a dabba from home.
This, added to inflation, has led to many dabbawalas leaving the city altogether and returning to their villages to farming. Thirty-four year-old Vilas Shinde, a dabbawala who lives in a slum in Andheri (W), says, “Most of us are from villages around Pune. Initially, the tiffins were provided to mill workers. Later, when the mills vanished the city’s corporate offices started using our services. But, that too is reducing. The current owner of the company we serve uses our service only because his father believed in our work and sincerity.”
Between them, Shinde and his wife, a domestic help, manage to earn Rs 14,000 per month out of which Rs 3,000 is just for rent. “I used to pay Rs 300 for rent once. Gas prices have shot up so much that we are wondering if we should start using a mud stove. Inflation is so high that our people too are going back to their villages. If they can earn the same salary in their villages tilling their own land, why would they stay here?”
Shinde, who cleared his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC), lives in a 100 sq ft hutment with eight other members of his family, including his two children and mother.
What is adding to the problem is that fewer youngsters are eager to join the profession. Shaila Yevle, wife of a 35 year-old dabbawala Baban Yevle, says, “My children study at private schools their total fee is Rs 2,400 per month. My husband has to take up two shifts to make ends meet. This is not a profession my son wants to join.”
Yevle says, “The young generation won’t be able to work in a city like Mumbai and hardly anyone is coming to join the team now. When our villages are developing why would we work here? We can live a peaceful life there with the same salary.”
Though the dabbawalas receive an annual hike of Rs Rs 50 to Rs 100, says Shinde, the dabbawala community fears that may not help as even customers are beginning to feel the pinch of inflation and are cutting costs. Kamlesh Natha Gadade, 50, who has been working as a dabbawala for the last 30 years, says, there was a time when he would pick 50-60 tiffins a day. A number which has now reduced to 20. “I earn Rs 8,000 a month and my wife supports me by working as a domestic help. Every year I pay Rs 7,000 for my son’s education. He will be want he wants to be. But will not enter my profession because no well-educated youth would like to do our job.
“I work from 8 am till 5.30 pm. People who are leaving us are either those who have become very old and can’t carry tiffins on their heads or the ones who feel that they want to earn peacefully and return to their villages.



As Mumbai debates over phasing out Victoria,Ahmedabad's cool Victoria--



Horse and carriage ride in Florence

Horse and carriage ride in Florence
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The horse-drawn carriages that give tourists a guided tour of Rome's most famous sights are facing a ban after being condemned as cruel by Italy's tourism minister.

Horse drawn carriage, St Peters Basilica, Rome, Italy
============================================================================Activists rally in Italy for ban on Victoria horses-IN MUMBAI[

MUMBAI: The overworked Victoria horses of Mumbai now have an ally in RomeItaly, where over 100 Italians on Thursday protested outside the Indian embassy to press for a total ban on Victorias. Upset that horses in Mumbai are forced to pull overloaded Victoria carriages for the "benefit" of tourists, the Italian animal lovers decided to organize a loud but peaceful protest.

One of the protesters, Helen Dufton, who is also an India enthusiast, told mediapersons, "I have often been told that the Victorias are part of the city's charm and that tourists love them. This is completely untrue, as many European tourists find it rather pathetic and deplorable to see weak and injured horses being made to run for money."

Dufton added that the Italian protesters want to send out a loud and clear message to the Indian government that they do not want to see the poor horses being subject to cruelty in the name of tourism. The protesters distributed pamphlets regarding Mumbai's Victoria horses to passersby in Rome, along with recent cases of accidents involving the horses on the city's streets.

"We are very happy that prominent international tourists, like those from Italy, have organized this protest to save Mumbai's horses. The activists even knew about the public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue of banning Victoria horses that is currently being heard in the Bombay high court,'' said Mumbai-based animal activist and lawyer Ambika Hiranandani.

She added that earlier this year, over 2 lakh Mumbai residents had signed a memorandum initiated by the citizens' movement 'Mumbai For Horses' to push for a ban on Victorias. Just this Wednesday, another Victoria horse was left injured opposite Regal Cinema in south Mumbai because of a mistake by its reckless handler.

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye[mumbai]-but do not notice the log that is in your own eye[italy]THESE CARTS ARE THE HERITAGE OF BOMBAY/MUMBAI-

a stud farm owner in Ahmedabad is set to offer rides in this air-conditioned horse-drawn carriage. He insists that his horses are well taken care of and have featured in several royal weddings.


When going to the movies was an art

When going to the movies was an art
A picture of Regal cinema dated 1956 published in Bombay Deco by Sharada Dwivedi and Rahul Mehrotra (Emminence Design)

As Regal cinema enters its 80th year, here's a look at the 'theatre of firsts'

It was a regular school day back in 1957 when a group of primary students of Rosary High School from Dockyard Road in Mazgaon made the trip to Colaba. It was to catch a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Rope. The venue — Regal cinema.

One of the boys, then five, was hooked enough to spend the rest of his life making repeated trips. Rafique Bagdadi, now a noted film critic and one among Mumbai's bestknown amateur historians, is brimming with stories of the glorious days. "Going to Regal was like going to Rome or another European city. Behind it was the Taj Mahal hotel. In front of it stood the majestic Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall, which is now the NGMA. The insides of the theatre were as dreamy as the set of Hollywood films screened here," he says of the Art Deco architecture style that Regal shares with other South Mumbai cinemas like Liberty and Eros. Inaugurated on October 14, 1933 by Mumbai governor Sir Frederick Sykus, Regal was built by film exhibitor Framji Sidhwa and his friend KA Kooka. And it had quite a few firsts to its credit. Asia's first centrally air-conditioned theatre, it was also the first to introduce Cinemascope and offer basement car parking to its patrons. The reinforced concrete structure built at a lavish cost was conceived by Charles Stevens, son of famous 19th century English architect Fredrick Williams Stevens, while the interiors were designed by Czechoslovakian artist Karl Schara. Old-timers remember the sun ray Cubist motif in orange and jade green in the atrium.

For Deepak Rao, retired IPS officer and member of the Bombay Local History Society, Regal stands for an afternoon Arlem beer. While working at the Mumbai police headquarters across the road from the cinema, he'd hop over to its refreshment room that could house no more than six guests.

Regal's historic value preceeds its construction, says Rao. "The lane behind Regal is not named Battery Street for nothing. The site at Apollo Bunder on which the cinema stands was owned by the British army, and was occupied by an old saluting battery. When viceroys and VIPs arrived, they were greeted with a gun salute. The British government decided to lease the property in 1926, which is when it was acquired by Mr Sidhwa and Mr Kooka of Globe Theatre Ltd.," says the 62 year-old.

Sidhwa's life, say documents, was as dramatic as the movies he screened. Born in 1883 in Tarapore, Gujarat, in a middle-class home, he moved to an orphanage in Parel before gaining admission to Bharda New High School, which stands right beside the theatre he would build in 1928 — Capitol at VT. The student of St Xavier's College had to drop out due to thinning finances and move to Rangoon in 1903 to find a job. Starting out as a clerk in Singer, he later took up an insurance job.

It was in 1913 that he established a small syndicate and launched his film exhibition business in Rangoon. Two years later, Globe Theatre Ltd. was born.

"Behram Contractor, in one of his essays, said going to the cinema was an art," says Rao. And Regal played its part.

Baghdadi calls it an "experience" — South Bombay movie lovers would book tickets way in advance, dress up in finery and land up at the movies. "There was a soda fountain, a pantry for balcony audiences, and we'd dig into ice cream while musicians would perform live," he shares.

Social worker, champion bridge player and MP Milind Deora's mother Hema Deora's memories of Regal stand testimony to Baghdadi's description. As a 10 year-old in the early 1960s, Deora didn't understand cinema, but that hardly mattered. "For me, the draw was the ice cream served in the cinema's restaurant. The cup resembled a wine glass. It was a family affair. I'd wear my best dress, and we'd return home in a tonga," Deora reminisces.

Wodehouse Road - Mumbai Flashback
The beginning of Wodehouse Road, near Wellingtpn fountain (Regal Cinema). The road is approximately to Colaba Causeway. Notice the Holy Name Cathedral and colonial buildings flanking the road--1875?
Regal Cinema

Regal Cinema in 1935
General information
Architectural style Art deco
Town or city Mumbai
Country India
Completed 1933
Design and construction
Architect Charles Stevens

Regal Cinema, c.2012

5th Filmfare Awards - 1958: Yashwantrao Chavan presents the Best Actress award to Nargis for 'Mother India' at the 5th Filmfare Awards in the year 1958. at Regal Cinema(Courtesy: Times Archives)
1958 Filmfare Awards: J C Jain, general manager of Times of India group of publications, addresses the gathering at the 6th Filmfare Awards function held in Bombay. Also present on the occasion are (left to right) cine stars Dev Anand, Vyjayantimala and film director Bimal Roy.

1958 Filmfare Awards: J C Jain, general manager of Times of India group of publications, addresses the gathering at the 6th Filmfare Awards function held in Bombay. Also present on the occasion are (left to right) cine stars Dev Anand, Vyjayantimala and film director Bimal Roy.


  The film, Haunted, was being screened at Regal Cinema in 3D Mumbai [ Images ] ...



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Kalyan was a Jewish colony-- 2nd century AD

When Kalyan was a Jewish colony

MUMBAI: Bombay's history, like the history of most cities by the sea, is inked in blue. Traders arrived by water, colonised and rearranged the land, and as colonisers are wont to do, recast it in their own image, beginning with that elemental grain of identify—faith. While most historical tracts burrow into the economic, social and cultural realities of the Portuguese and British campaigns in the islands and adjacent mainland of Salcette, few observe the simultaneous politics of religion that occupied the times. Fr Benny Aguiar hopes to build up that lean body of historiography, with his recent book The Making of Mumbai: A History of the Metropolis and its Catholic Past.

The historian, now 86, has himself come to reside by the sea near Bandstand in a sanctuary for ailing and aged Catholic priests called Clergy Home. Outside, the sea trashes about like a pack of demons. Fr Aguiar, despite a recent illness that twice hospitalised him, shows no fatigue; instead he picks out details from his brain as efficiently as if he were fishing them out of a filofax.

"In the 2nd century AD, Pantenus, a Stoic philosopher arrived from Alexandria to argue the merits of Christianity with the Brahmans.

 In Kalyan, he found a copy of the Gospel of Mathew in Hebrew, in the handwriting of the evangelist himself," narrates Fr Aguiar. In his book, he goes to say that the Gospel had been brought to India by Jesus' apostle Bartholomew. However, Kalyan lost this invaluable heirloom when Pantenus pocketed it on his return to Egypt. Why did Bartholomew trek to Kalyan in the first place? Presumably because it was originally a Jewish colony, Fr Aguiar writes.

A distance runner in the fields of journalism and history, Fr Aguiar was the second Indian editor of The Examiner, the 162-year-old Catholic current affairs weekly. He led the magazine for 31 years, while writing also for international publications like The Tablet and National Catholic Reporter. He started to research the Christian history of Bombay and Salcette 10 years ago, when he embarked on a serialised account of it for the religious periodical, Awaken in Faith. "I continued researching the subject even after I stopped writing for the magazine, and eventually took the manuscript to St Paul's, which published the book."

Specialised as it may be, his research disinters several long-forgotten facts of Christian life in the islands and their surrounds. He illuminates the missionary efforts of the 15th-century Franciscans, who came in on the coattails of the Portuguese colonists and started to proselytise with speed. "It is said that every missionary converted three to four hundred persons every year. This may be an exaggeration, but the fact remains that by the 17th century, the whole of the population: kunbis (peasant farmers), kolis (fishermen), bhandaris (toddy tappers) and agris (salt pan workers), were Christianised," according to Fr Aguiar.

While Salcette was the site of feverish church-building, the islands of Bombay in 1630 had four main churches: NS da Esperanca on Bombay Island proper, NS da Salvacao at Dadar, St Michael's at upper Mahim and NS da Gloria at Mazagon. Incidentally, of the four, the church of Our Lady of Expectation—which, in a series of relocations, was ultimately moved right off the map—was originally fixed in the centre of the plot on which CST now stands. Not all their churches were movable; one of the caves of Kanheri that housed the chapel of St Michael stayed put, but it was the priests who eventually decamped.

Where there were churches, there was conversion. "Conversion was chiefly effected by persuasion, not coercion," says Fr Aguiar, alluding to the fringe benefits of orphanages and schools built for those who switched lanes to Christianity and also better employment opportunities for those who came recommended by the religion and its attendant education.

Adept as they were in 'faith'craft, Christian missionaries were wholly unprepared for the censer to swing back at them when the British came along and rolled out similar sops to those willing to convert to Protestantism. If that wasn't bad enough, schismatic forces were busy dividing Christianity itself, as parishes and people split ranks between Portugal and Rome, or Padroado and Propaganda, as the two jurisdictions were called. It was around this time (in 1794) that Christians in Bombay were allowed to elect their own priests, subject to the Governor's vote. Hell naturally broke loose, even if it did lead to the erection of new churches, one of which was the church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Mazagon.

As Fr Aguiar's research has shown, the Christian history of Bombay was not without its intrigues and counter strikes. Do they continue to exist? Only a future book will tell.

Saturday, October 20, 2012



Click on images to enlarge (opens in a new window)
Dehri Rohtas Light Railway's locomotive number 5 on 14th January 1980. This is an 0-6-2T built by Avonside of Bristol as their number 1856 in 1920. and was one of four similar locos built by Avonside for the DRLR between 1902 and 1920. (Mick Pope)
Dehri Rohtas Light Railway's locomotive number 6. Another Avonside product but this one being an 0-6-4T, works number 1982 of 1926. It is seen on special train arranged for the Industrial Railway Society, again taken on 14th January 1980. (Mick Pope)
A 2'6" gauge 0-6-0T built by Baldwin, works number 50789/1918 at Kalyanpur Lime & Cement, Banjari, Rohtas district, Bihar on 14th January 1980. This loco was obtained second hand in 1933. It was originally No 7 on the Bengal Provinces Railway. (Mick Pope)
Two locos of the Bombay Port Trust A class locomotives. Numbers 19 (Naysmyth Wilson 1363, built 1921) and (Naymsyth Wilson 1360 also built 1921) were part of the 30 strong A class 2-6-0T locos built by Naysmyth Wilson and Vulcan Foundry between 1913 and 1922. Taken in late 1979. (Mick Pope)
Bombay Port Trust's Wadala shed during the IRS visit in late 1979. Seen in this view is A class loco number 21 (Naysmyth Wilson 1365/1921). (Mick Pope)
A shot of Bombay Port Trust A class locos 16 and 19 taking a train to the exchange sidings of Indian Railways on the IRS visit of January 1980. (Mick Pope)
More BPT A class locos. Here 14 (Naysmyth Wilson 1111 of 1915) and 29 (Vulcan Foundry 3574 of 1922) sit withdrawn from service at Wadala shed on 4th March 1980. (David Churchill)
More modern traction on the BPT system. Number 50 (CLC 3036/1961) is one of seven 0-6-0DH 320hp locos delivered by the Canadian Locomotive Co for the Bombay Port system in 1961. Taken on 4th March 1980. (David Churchill)
BPT number 37 (Hen 29549/1957) at Wadala shed on 4th March 1980. This is one of ten Henschel DH440 type locos delivered to the BPT. The same type of loco was delivered to Indian Railways where they were classified as WDSx. (David Churchill)
BPT 35 (Hen 29547/1957) and 44 (CLC 3018/1961) head an oil train on 4th March 1980. 44 was one of three B-BDH supplied by the Canadian Locomotive company to be used a hump shunters by the BPT. They replaced two 2-10-2T locos supplied by Naysmyth Wilson in 1922. (David Churchill)
BPT 50 again in company of 45 (CLC 3019/1961) both dead at Wadala shed on 4th March 1980. (David Churchill)
Calcutta Port Trust number 43 (Mits 874/1956) was part of a batch of twenty 0-6-2T locos delivered from Mitsubishi of Japan in 1955 and 1956. There were 45 locomotives of the same design delivered to CPT between 1945 and 1956. The design originated from the Hunslet Engine Co who delivered the first 13 locos and then further batches were built by Hunslet, Henschel and Mitsubishi. Taken during an IRS visit on 5th January 1980 (Mick Pope)
Another view of CPT No 43 along with two other locos of the same class taken during the IRS visit of 5th January 1980. (Mick Pope)
D53 (CLC 3013/1961) at Calcutta Port Trust's Hide Road shed with an unidentified 0-6-0DH CLC loco. D53 was one of ten B-BDH locos supplied by CLC to Cacutta Port Trust, they are the same as the locos supplied to Bombay Port Trust. Taken 1st March 1979. (David Churchill)
An unidentified 0-6-2T loco at Calcutta Port Trust on 1st March 1979. (David Churchill)
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