You know you have boarded a flight to Bombay or Mumbai when its favourite junk food Dabeli and two samosas cost Rs 100.
The financial capital of the country or the city of dreams, the mesmerising sea or the twinkling sky, the windy breeze or people sweating on the streets, there is indeed a different smell to this city.
But there is one thing that remains unchanged, the grandeur of old heritage buildings in the city. From the Gateway of India to the skyline of Cuff Parade, the Nariman Point or the far flung Mumbai University campus. The effrontery of Victorian eclectism and Gothic architecture swarms across the city and one can't help but wonder and gasp at the fact that these structures won’t be built again.
I live in a 156 year old heritage building in the heart of the city, and I travel to Nariman Point for work every day, in those 30 minutes, I come across at least twenty old buildings which are now safe guarded with green cloth as if a beautiful woman is heralded in an abaya, with an albatross hung around its neck which says,'Under Reconstruction'...the charming balconies and the beautifully carved buildings facing the breezing sea and part of the world's most elite skyline is waiting for its turn to metamorphose into a mammoth of swanky steel and glass.
The live example is the Napean Sea Road stretch, the home of the effervescent and the crème de la crème of Mumbai, yet a sight at any of these homes looks more like an antithesis of its glorious past...
One doesn’t even need to look farther, as Nariman Point, once the business centre of the city and the address to be, has lost its sheen to its peers in the suburban districts. With various Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) laws, some of these buildings which are in dire need of rehabilitation will fall prey to some wealthy developers. And some of these contractors are more than eager to convert them into international standard buildings, which effectively means- glasses imported from China and of course India is over producing steel these days.
Off late, the city has become a replica of what Dubai was two years back, plethora of still cranes holding up in the sky awaiting its turn to churn more homes to add to the concrete jungle and a series of boards stamped on its face saying, ‘’To Let’”. Yet in all these madness a heritage walk down the street on a lazy sunday is always refreshing and rejuvenating, as its opens our eye to what there was and what there will be. In all this hullabaloo of recreation and stepping into new frontiers of building designing, iIt’s not just the building, it’s the heritage which will bid adieu someday, and once again some sixty years down the lane, this steel and glass shall be history.....