Swami Vivekananda Jayanti

Sw Vivekananda at the Gateway of India, Mumbai
Sw Vivekananda at the Gateway of India, Mumbai

For Swami Vivekananda’s 151st birthday, wanted to share these pics of the Statue of Sw Vivekananda at the Gateway of India in Colaba. And here is his speech at the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. Continue reading “Swami Vivekananda Jayanti”

Lights at the Gateway of India

Pics of Lights at the Gateway of India, Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag
On a recent visit, the Gateway of India was lit up for a Classical Indian Music Program. Other than the loud screeching, jostling crowds and ugly barricades, it was a wonderful evening. Continue reading “Lights at the Gateway of India”

Visiting the Gateway of India

Portrait of a Tourist from Madhya Pradesh wearing an Ochre Turban visiting the Gateway of India by Arun Shanbhag

Since I grew up around the corner, visiting the Gateway of India makes my Mumbai visit complete, like visiting relatives, or a nearby temple or eatery. Gateway of India is home. On a recent early morning visit, I noticed this group of out-or-towners striding to the waterfront. Women in colorful sarees and ochre turbans of some of the menfolks caught my eye.
Continue reading “Visiting the Gateway of India”

Mee Mumbaikar

Lady Sweeper Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag
Portrait of a Mumbaikar: Sweeper at the Gateway of India

Reading the blogs, I notice a subtle tension between those who refer to themselves as Mumbaikars and Mumbaiites. When our city was called Bombay, we were all Bombayites. We are no longer Bombay.

In 1509, returning from a conquest in Dabul, the Portuguese first landed in the bay off Mumbai and massacred the local kolis (fisher folks); then in 1534, took control of nearby towns of Mahim, Thana and Bassein by treaty. They referred to the tiny island of Mumbai, as Bombaim – ilha da boa vida (Bombaim – island of the good life). Bombaim itself did not mean “island of the good life,” it was simply how the Portuguese said Mumbai. After more than a century during which they fired canons at the exquisite sculptures at Elephanta Caves, the Portuguese turned over the city to the British as dowry in 1661. The British called it Bombay. The British left in 1947 and in 1995, Mumbai got its name back. Colonial sympathizers need to just get on with the program.

But what do you call a resident of Mumbai? I have previously used Mumbaiite. It does not sound right. As the word rolled over my tongue, it seems to catch. A cultural misfit – an elitist “ite” grudgingly grafted onto a gritty “Mumbai.” So incongruous. I would have preferred Mumbaikar.

pic of Aamhi Marathi sign by Arun Shanbhag Mumbaikar has a certain resonance, characteristically Mumbai. In hindsight it’s so obvious – a perfect match of the indispensable Marathi bai and the enigmatically reserved 'do-er', kar.

The “-ite” ending on Mumbai seems elitist, particularly in this graft. A pseudo-phoren lingo, best vocalized with a western drawl and a flourish of the stylishly held cigarette. Walk down the streets of Mumbai today; can you see that paan wallah, fruit wallah, dabbah wallah or zhaddu wallah mouthing Mumbaiite? Guess not! Mumbaiite seems the exclusive domain of the Peddar Rd-stomping, Barista-sipping, crowd.

Yes, Mumbaiite is exclusive, in that it excludes the likes of Ramu, busing tables at the tea shop, or these laborers pulling Haath Gaadis, or these vendors selling street side vada paav and sandwiches. It excludes all those who make the city go, albeit in fits and starts! Excludes those police – men and women, picking up the 'pieces' after the 7/11 and 26/11 terrorist attacks. It excludes that fabled, but tired, Mumbai spirit.

Mumbaikar absolutely!
It is democratic, a social leveller, inviting everyone irrespective of which school you studied at – if at all, irrespective of your social class. Mumbai belongs equally to those who ride posh cars and flick cigarette butts out the window, as it does to the sweepers picking up the butts. Mumbaikar, invites you to this city of broad shoulders and a big heart.

A few of my favorite Mumbai Posts:

Sweeper at the Gateway of India

Lady sweeper at the Gateway of India Mumbai pics by Arun Shanbhag
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Early one morning at the Gateway of India, I noticed this sweeper busy keeping the plaza clean. She was not distracted by morning walkers, joggers or amateur photographers. It was good to see the city doing something about the trash. Now if we could only get people to not throw trash on the streets … !

For bearings, my back is to the ocean; behind the sweeper at the 11 O'clock position is the Taj Intercontinental. Just behind the third figure, notice the imposing statue of Shivaji Maharaj and at the 4 O'clock position, the Gateway of India itself.

My related picture posts:

Boats at the Gateway of India

Early in the morning, tourist boats at the Gateway of India (GOI) were still bobbing at anchors. Very few visitors this early and a great time for an aimless stroll. (see Lights at the Gateway of India)

Gateway of India bathed in the glow of the rising sun.
Pics from the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Inside the GOI, construction was going on.
Pics from the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Outside detail
Pics of outside detail from the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Boats at the GOI
Pics of boats docked at the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Pics of boats docked at the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Boat deck
Pics of boats docked at the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

The monsoon rains were ending and a devotee had left flowers to “Varuna” God of the rains.
Pics of boats docked at the Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

See also:

Kabootar at the Taj Hotel Mumbai

A few pics from Mumbai, which go with this previous post

At the Gateway of India (GOI), I was hoping to capture the 'swoosh' of kabootar (pigeons) flying away. So I positioned myself, and asked M to dash into the feeding flock and scare them away. Easier said than done! She traipses towards the pigeons, murmuring “kabootar ja ja ja, kabootar ja ja ja.” I think more pigeons were drawn in, than flew away. After multiple futile instructions to “dash in,” I settled on this pic to capture the ambience at the GOI that morning.

The older Taj Hotel. Still the most charming Hotel in Mumbai!

Guard at the Front Entrance of the Taj

The rising sun gave the Taj a nice golden glow!
[click image for a larger version]

One more!
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See a few related posts:

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