Living in old Bombay, i keep track of ‘real’ people, happenings & more important the topographical changes that take place around. With these changes we see physical, socio-economic & political changes. Example is now the urban renewal projects -suddenly we see old premises pulled down. Once what would be a quaint old house is being replaced by sprawling sky scraper.
As if the spiralling tall building is not sufficient, with it come changes in the kirana shops, poor around & hawkers are replaced by new faces & more fashion oriented shops. Rather plainly put more expensive shops that compel to part with large sums of money.
Years ago the first smell of change came when a hideous tall building called Pancharatna came up enar our house. My aaji’s simple logic was that building will always have problems cause it is obstructing the wind direction. Well in today’s times it is one of the most jinxed building. Irritating loud, farty smelling Gujju diamond merchants & traders rule from squeaky places. The first six floors are nearly illegal coz they have made unimaginable structural changes. There are thefts, killings, IT raids name it and all crime seems to happen there. More over it looks like a tall cheap chawl!
Adjacent to it was the old Roxy theatre. I would go frequently to Marathwada after the earthquake in 1993. After one of my trips i had to go to click a snap to the Election Commission’s unit enar Central Plaza cinema in Girgaum. I decided to take walk around. Suddenly i saw there was no Roxy!
I began calling out for help. Tears had filled my eyes & i enquired around what happened to the building, as if i lost a child. People or workers were amused to see my state and asked why i was so affected. Why?? I lived in that area. Conspiracies of taking over potential buildings have always taken place. But this was the theatre which i could rightfully call my own. The others were Royal Opera House which actually had boxes meant for viewing musical operas built in British raj. Now some maharaja has taken over & left for the building to simply crumble! There was Majestic cinema & other such theatres.
Change on the street also meant our old bhaiyajis have vanished. The shop that sold fugen gum! Remember the sweet chewing gum that was smooth & one could blow HUGE bubbles! Then the imly, awala wala more so all the sandwichwalas have disappeared. They would grill sandwiches on coal grill…well they all simply vanished.
The street side scenes too have changed. Kiranawalas have been replaced by dress material & Bnagkok returned dresswalas. The footpaths have become higher uff, much higher. Its cumbersome to climb them. Old trees droop or have fallen. Newer faces, many people migrated far away from these areas. Change on the streets are not mean, but very evident & obvious… they are far hard hitting.