st. mary’s church in camp, the oldest anglican church in the deccan

For some obscure misguided reason, I was under the assumption Camp [the Cantonment] area in Pune would be just one road. To add to it, my rather simplistic imagination envisioned Pune’s famed historical churches, built to serve the then Poona’s British Raj gentry, to be standing sentinel on both sides of it in a homogenous line. I could not be more wrong.

After being driven through a maze of wide, empty streets on a Sunday morning, I found myself dropped outside a poker faced, art deco facade by a cab driver with the announcement, “Old church.” Before I could ask or argue he had sped away, and there was I in the slowly rising heat, wondering, my brows raised towards the heavens, where the hell was I?

Almost, as if in answer, a woman with a beaming smile stepped out and wanted to know what I was looking for. Her name was Sheeba Reuben Deshmukh, a counsellor and committee member of the Oldham Methodist Church, the church I had been dropped at.

I explained to her I was a blogger from Mumbai and exploring Pune that weekend.

“Have you been to St. Mary’s?” Continue reading

3 reasons why the bdl tops as mumbai’s most lovely museum

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Do you like museums? I do. Not all of them though. Just those that stand out, whether it be in scale or the splendour of its exhibits, recount a tale which draws one within its folds, or is so darned quaint it looks like it stepped straight out from another world, another time.

I spent this past Sunday at one that fit the last bill.

One does not often relate Mumbai to museums. And when one does, it is invariably the grand Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya which comes to mind. The name itself is a mouthful as is its repertoire of treasures. But there is another that is just as inimitable, albeit in an altogether different way—reminiscent of a large Victorian doll house brimming with charm and pretty things. It is the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla.

Three things set the second one apart and place it firmly as Mumbai’s most lovely repository: Its restored stunning Victorian edifice, a bevy of vibrant clay models which transform the place into a magical fantasy, and its exquisite collection of decorative arts which showcase India’s rich heritage. Quite a heady mix!

Read on to know more. 🙂 Continue reading

36 hours in kolkata

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Let me first clarify that this is not a mandatory schedule, or a list of top not-to-miss attractions. It is instead how I spent my 36 hours in the city of joy—as a traveller, art enthusiast, and a volunteer, and ended up falling in love with it, despite the lousy weather, crowds, and advertised poverty.

It is an attempt to see the city with very personal eyes.

Kolkata aka Calcutta is not a world city. I would not even call it an Indian city. It is Bengali where the faces are round and everyone and all road signs converse in the native tongue, under a colonial mantle.

The mix, I would like to believe, is unique to it. On one side Kolkata is deeply indigenous when it comes to deities and festivals, and the arts and music. On the other, it nonchalantly wears its monumental British legacy with ease and a stiff upper lip. Somewhere in between, the city has become synonymous with charity.

36 hours is not really enough to absorb all that it holds in its folds. But it sufficed as an engaging enough introduction for me, and maybe does for you as well. 🙂 Continue reading

art focus – street art and dharavi

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“Bhaiya, Dharavi chaloge?” (Will you go to Dharavi?)

After being turned down twice, a rickshaw finally agrees to take me on the condition, “I will drop you off at the main road. I won’t get a return passenger from there… You will have to walk to 60 Feet Road by yourself.”

Dharavi is not the usual jaunt or destination for a Mumbaikar, least of all a Hindi speaking woman on her own who quite clearly does not have a clue about the ground realities of the place itself! All I know is some statistics, historical details and that the main road is the 90 Feet Road, and perpendicular to it is the 60 Feet Road which I want to explore for its street art. But more on the art later in the post. 🙂 Continue reading

the grand ol’ english churches of south bombay

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Memorial to the first Bishop of Bombay, Right Reverend Thomas Carr at St. Thomas Cathedral; he died in England. His cenotaph was put up at the cathedral by his wife, in his memory.

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In keeping with the spirit of the festive season, I continue my exploration of Mumbai’s churches—from the quaint to the grand this time. 🙂

South Bombay’s two oldest churches can be traced back to the British Raj. Two very different churches representing two very different chapters from this period. They are also two of the most imposing in the city. Whereas St. Thomas Cathedral is a symbol of early British settlement, the Afghan Church is a dedication to the 16,000 soldiers who died in the first Afghan War. Continue reading

the quaint ol’ english church of malabar hills

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“There is no church here. I have never seen one,” the cab driver asserts as I get off on a quiet lane in Malabar Hills, South Bombay. Google Maps begs to differ. I am pretty confused. 🙂

I am looking for a 130-year old Anglican church that I had read about, built during the British Raj for the British Raj. Continue reading