Tag Heritage

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Take a Heritage walk in Mumbai city

Mumbai heritage buildings are largely in Art Deco style. These buildings can be seen around Fort and Marine Drive
The Art Deco buildings at Marine Drive
  1. The Taj Mahal hotel in South Mumbai has an image trademark for the design of its building.
  2. The Rajabai Tower modelled after the Big Ben in England, was added to the World Heritage Sites in 2018. As the story goes, construction of the tower was donated by Premchand Roychand a prosperous broker. It was for his blind mother (and her eponym) and the chiming of the clock tower made her aware of the time.
  3. There are two prominent style of buildings in South Mumbai, Art Deco and Victorian style. Eros and Regal, the last remaining single screen theatres, are built in Art Deco style.

These are just few of the details we learnt on Mumbai heritage, one weekend this April on a Khaki Tour. All thanks to my friend Gargee a history buff and someone who conducts her own walks in Mumbai (stay tuned for details). She wanted a birthday gift we could experience together. 

Why is heritage important

Heritage of a city provides it with an identity and a way of remembering. Hence it is good to know that there are many heritage buildings in Mumbai that are UNESCO protected. It is my hope that my grandchildren will see them one day.

As an Indian, the attacks we have had on our monuments and people, has established that we are living on borrowed time. We need to treasure what we have around us. More importantly we need to make the right choices that we may live in a more equitable world. In Mumbai, itself we are spending crores on structures in the middle of the sea. I think it is more important to use that money to preserve our marine resources. Monuments should not define a generation or be a tick off your bucket list.

Bombay Vintage 

We ended our day quite serendipitously at a place that was serving Mumbai fare. Bombay Vintage a restaurant that as the name suggests, serves dishes from different Indian communities. Since we had a friend observing lent we tried both the veg and non-veg options at this restaurant. While the dishes maybe similar to the fare in Indian kitchens the prices are not. They are normal Mumbai rates which would be approximately 1500 Rs. per head with drinks.

Experiencing Mumbai through its food

Vagerla Channa is a spicy Gujarati style salad, an ode to the business community in Mumbai
The Vagarela Channa Salad

For starters, we had Vagarela Channa(type of legume) SaladGujarathi style– with channa dal, raw mango tempering. This was as Chatpata (Spicy) as the city of Mumbai and just as tasty.

Malabari syro beef fry tempered with curry leaf and roasted coconut is not to be missed
Malabari syro beef fry

We also went with the Mouthwatering Malabari syro beef fry: Roast beef tempered with curry leaf and roasted coconut. This particular recipe is a Syrian Christian invention and it did not disappoint

Parsi Jardalu Salli Boti dish is part of Mumbai heritage along with Mumbai's buildings
The famous Jardalu Salli Boti

For the mains, we had Jardalu Salli Boti(Mutton and apricot with potato sticks),which was apt for the evening given that it Is a famous Parsi dish. On our tour, we received an education about the Tata buildings. This included the exclusively European hotel that Mr. JRD Tata was denied entry to because he was Indian. Story goes that it was this incident that prompted him to build the famous Taj group of hotels. Similarly, we also saw buildings built by the wealthy Parsi Mr. ReadyMoney as well. Parsi seemed to be flavor of the evening.

The Bharli Vangi is a traditional Maharastrian dish and quite tasty
The Bharli Vangi from the Konkan coast

Bharli Vangi (Stuffed Brinjal): Traditional Konkan stuffed eggplant dish cooked in a spiced peanut sauce. However, Gargee who is from the Konkan coast felt that the dish was not true to the recipe but tasty nonetheless.

As a Mumbaikar (native of Mumbai) I love the fact that I am from one of the most cosmopolitan cities in India and feel grateful to be born here where my accessibility and mobility is high. Still I do not want to take for granted the metamorphosis this city undergoes, because tomorrow it may not land on its feet. Hence I hope that this article encourages more people to take an interest in Mumbai heritage and support its preservation. Though it should not be at the sake of the resources themselves. 

Pro tip:Khaki Tours open bus tours is great for travelling with the elderly. As compared to walking tours, it is a pleasant drive around, on top of the bus, even in summer.

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Kochi with a twist

“This is your time to travel, you may not get this much time again.” Encouraged by the husband to travel, I researched on where I could possibly go. As luck would have it, there was an art festival happening in a city, I always wanted to go back to.

Sunsets in Kochi

The Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018 is in its 4thyear. Having read about it over the years, I thought this would be a great time to visit. The trip was surprisingly easy to plan. I managed to convince a friend, she booked us cheap air tickets and I booked a cheap Bed& Breakfast. We were set. Sometimes taking the easy route is a good decision.

The first thing you will notice is the way the Biennale is spread out in Fort Kochi. It lets you soak in the culture of the place. The art has Dutch, Portuguese and Keralite venues as the backdrop, not to mention the sea following you throughout. Truly a beautiful setting!

As mentioned the choice of Fort Kochi to host this Biennale is spot on. Some of the reasons to attend:

Beautiful settings to take a break at, Dutch building -David Hall and fresh catch on display, at Fort Kochi!
  1. The place gets properly intertwined with the show and leaves you feeling as if you have got a proper taste of Kochi
  2. Kochi is one of the safest places I have travelled to in India. I would recommend it for women travelers  
  3. Kochi can be as affordable or expensive as you like and the quality of the south Indian fare will still be good. This is my experience after my second visit.

My travel partner asked me if I think the theme of the Biennale ’Possibilities of a Non Alienated Life’ went with the art that was on display. For me it did make sense. It opened my eyes to the conflict in different parts of the world. We may not be touched by it directly, but it is important to be aware. The art was engaging and composed of paintings, installations, movies and experiences.

I highlighted artists that were memorable to me. However I would not want to judge one over the other. I commend the Biennale for the number of topics dealt with from across the world and India, that made me a more knowledgeable world citizen. 

So, in no order of importance some of the artwork that stayed with me includes: 

Walid Raad- ‘I thought I escaped my fate but apparently’
Waalid Raad’s tongue-n-cheek work – ‘Comrade leader comrade leader

Artist Walid Raad– ‘Comrade leader comrade leader- you’d better be watching the clouds.

This artwork made me outright laugh.Quite aptly his political commentary is satirical. I loved the idea of middle eastern leaders appearing as flowers, which in reality has been used as a code for their names. And the piece ‘I thought I’d escape my fate but apparently’ are quotes taken directly from the media and represented in the artwork

Shilpa Gupta- ‘However For in your tongue, I Cannot Fit- 100 Jailed Poets

Shilpa Gupta’s – ‘However For in your tongue, I Can Not Fit- 100 Jailed Poets’.

This installation is beautiful beyond belief. It does not allow you to view it complacently, but you will get pulled into it. It features individuals incarcerated for their politics and poetry. You hear their voices all at once above the mikes. It makes one think about the freedoms we take for granted were what someone else sacrificed their life for. The stories make you feel grateful for being born in a democratic nation, where it is not the rule but rather the exception that the government will snuff out your voice.

Shirin Neshat’s -‘Turbulent’.

We didn’t sit through all the videos as there were many and we didn’t have enough time. However, this video touched me. The explanation said that in Iranian culture women are not allowed to sing to an audience. Then watching the woman singer, sing her unintelligible song to an empty audience, bought home the point of female oppression so clearly. (No picture available)

Henri Dono- ‘Smiling Angel from the sky’

Henri Dono- ‘Smiling Angel from the sky’ and the ‘Trojan Ships’

This artwork fascinated us with its light, movement and colour. This installation came alive because of a button on the door and yes, we kept pushing it. No wonder this form of Indonesian puppetry, is considered visual art.

While I love visiting new places, I also love getting deep into oft visited places especially if there is more to explore. So here’s a shout out to the universe to make it happen many more times with Kochi.There were also student & collateral pieces that were housed in different places off the main Biennale venues. We tried to take in as much as possible and I will be doing a pictorial representation of more of the artwork- so stay tuned.

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