When you are new to Mumbai and cross into the town (south Mumbai island) from Worli, you would notice a mausoleum in middle of the bay on the left side of the road. This is Haji Ali. There would also be many pictures of Haji Ali in the guide books, a solitary building in the middle of the sea connected by a thin strip of land. The beauty of Mumbai is that the culture changes with every sub community and Haji Ali is no different. The entry to the Mausolem is next to a petrol pump, just after a picturesque police station which is built like a hut. You move forward on the kachha road (paved road) with shops on one side exhibiting and selling cloth and other offerings for the religious place. You notice the sequined chaadar (offering cloth) among the aroma of the halwa. Souvenirs dot the entire way till you reach the thin strip of walkway built in centre of the rocks. At high tide and monsoons this place would have water on both sides. Birds like the egrets and gulls would be flying around or foraging.
After 200 meters or so you will see the entrance and steps leading up the structure. After depositing the shoes with a safe keeper, you are allowed inside to pay respects to the saint. Some people buy a shiny cloth called the chaadar or a string to tie at the gate. Most crowded days are Fridays and during festivals.
This wasn’t a history tour today nor was it site seeing. I had ten seconds to take this picture from my smartphone before hopping into the cab standing infront that took us home. We could’ve walked, it being a beautiful day. What is this building? It’s the central railway station. A longer post about Victoria terminus is here.
When you are not in a hurry like the average “mumbaikar” ( Bombay-ite) and its not yet peak traffic time,( and the weather is fine), its a pleasure to be here. With the crowds shifting to the suburbs, the south island of Bombay is an island of peace on the weekends. We learned last evening to our dismay, that our favorite ice-cream shop had shut shop. Ditto with a food chain we had just discovered. Now the nearest we can go for an ice-cream, is near this monumental structure. And if you be nice to the taxi-wallah, he is very well behaved too and will drop you wherever you want. Being a local-ite has its advantages. You learn more than one way to get to the destination. And all the bylanes too! People recognize you when you go for a walk. And chances are that even in a so called crowded place like Bombay(south) you can still run into friends or neighbors. Maybe in some ways unnoticed, South Mumbai is shrinking.
The first time I created this blog, I assumed it would be a discussion on Fashion and Management , the two things I thought I knew pretty well about. As it grew over time I found it evolving into a photo travel blog. The few posts that I wrote about design got somehow hidden in the species of birds I had identified on the way or the nuances of the cities I was exploring. I was also encouraged by your response and comments to add more and more topics and have been thoroughly enjoying the journey.
If you are following me here on “The Wanderer” for design related posts, you would like to follow the new blog here: A pursuit of Imagination. This blog is an effort to consolidate the thoughts in one place and make it more focused to Design, management and other articles which may seem an aberration here.
For those who are here for the travel, nature, architecture and other inspiration pictures, I’m five years strong and planning to add more posts!Sit tight!
When you mention “Goa” to many people in India, an image of a stereotypical person wearing a Hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and a cane hat arises in the mind. A “Goan” person would be this person (generally a goateed man) sitting in the sun, sipping a feni on the beach. In fact the entire existence of this character was visualized on the beach. Lets blame the media for this and their rigorous campaigning of false stereotypes!
Nothing could be more far from the truth. Most locals I know of, avoid these touristy beaches and hardly can I imagine any of them stepping in the sun to pick a cane topi. But markets flourish. On the beach. In the city center, selling false stereotypical items. ( for example, peacock feathers…. when was the last time we ever bought a peacock feather?) Take Fashion Street in Mumbai for example. The Mumbai-Goa buses are strategically parked right outside this market, dolling out “costumes” that the ignorant tourist will “definitely need” at the end of their journey. These aren’t much different from the street market in colaba causeway selling afghan pants or Janpath in Delhi, selling stuff that many Indian homes haven’t seen.
A look at Anjuna market and you will know what I mean. The 60’s and 70’s tees and kurtas. Overflows and rejects from the once flourishing textile exports markets. They all seem to find a market here. Fulfilling just one purpose, accentuating the stereotypes and giving the experience that ignorant tourists demand. It builds for itself an ecosystem, different from the rest of Goa, but unique on its own. And its good. The economy depends on it.
In primary school, I once brought back home a shiny flaky, plate like substance from the playing field. Our playground had been dug up that day to be leveled with grass and we kids were excited to see the shiny substance mixed in the dirt, sand and other materials, as the workers shoveled heaps of earth out of the playground. We were excited what this possibly could be and stood for hours waiting for “Gold” to reach the surface. It wasn’t until I took the piece home that day that I realized there are many materials in the heart of the earth and one such is “Mica”, which was promptly thrown out, and I was made to wash my hands along with a long lecture about the toxicity.
That incident only made me realize the magical wonders that could be hidden beneath the surface of the earth. It would be a ritual to explore playing fields, parks and other open spaces in the wonder what next could be found, or maybe that glint in the sunshine could be a diamond?! ( While learning diamond grading many years later, I got to know that diamonds don’t “peep” out to the surface but are shaped from a rough, almost resembling a glassy pebble and have to be dug from miles below the surface) My “rock collection” grew over the years benefiting from a lot of travel too! Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Nagaland were some of the places where pieces in my collection came from. I would probe with eyes to the ground, every mile I walked. My obsession grew and even visitors would be requested to carry along a “stone” for my “collection”. That was till high school.
One day, I was just back from a college trip from Bombay and had along the way collected some new pieces to add. On reaching home I was shocked to see my rock “garden” had disappeared and a patch of green instead in the corner I used to store my collection! The new gardener had “cleaned” the stones out from the area to plant some pansies. That is how the larger pieces of my collection were lost. Somehow after that incident, I lost the will to do this exercise again and the remaining pieces are a reminder of the joys of childhood and how I ended up being a Jewellery designer. I got some relief working with diamonds and other stones which were now of the “precious” and “semi precious” category. Though I am satiated with diamonds, after working extensively in storerooms full of thousands of carats of diamonds, the joy of collecting an unpolished stone is irreplaceable.
While I thought my childhood fascination with stones was a phase that was now over, recently an acquaintance of mine messaged me that he had brought me a stone during his trip from the first place that humans have ever walked! I didn’t realize that I must have somehow communicated my passion and felt a bit embarrassed and wondered…was he making fun of me?! People who collect stamps are called philatelists, so what could be the name for my unusual hobby?
Only a handful from my collection have survived till today, but to me, every one of them is more precious than a diamond.