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Travelogue (Part II) – Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Things had changed. Bombay has metamorphosed into Mumbai (shining India is also more parochial); Sahar airport had been renamed (as Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport) after the great Maratha leader Shivaji, who happens to be a villain in our textbooks for having defied the Mughals.

September 14th, 2010|India, Indo Pak peace, Pakistan, Published in The Friday Times, Travel|18 Comments

Madam Nur Jahan

A common Punjabi aphorism, loosely translated, states that there never was and never will be anyone like Nur Jehan. With her incredible talent, fiercely independent persona, flamboyance and ingrained humility, she surpasses even the best of global icons. The complexity of her life and times have yet to be appreciated: breaking with convention, she defined a new set of rules in the patriarchal entertainment industry, manipulating it where possible to ensure that she would not become the archetypal exploited South Asian singer. Her wit and lust for life remained till the end, and with the exception of not having died in her beloved Lahore, she died with no regrets.

Lost Imaginations

jinnah_with-fatima-and-dina2By Raza Rumi

Sixty one years have gone by but the creation of Pakistan is still a heated debate: contested, fractured and bitter. That history has been the preserve of the victors and the powerful is well known. But to spin and whirl the truth to the extent that it becomes empty and farcical is an art form practiced by the Pakistani state and its mock-historians.
In early January of this new year, a heated controversy entered the public domain. A famous Urdu columnist writing for the largest vernacular newspaper reiterated the widely-known fact that the pragmatic Mr Jinnah had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan and given up the demand for Pakistan in 1946. However, it was the […]

Bombay – Nostalgic shop owners refuse to change name

Read the captioned story in the Times of India today- politics of war mongering can be such a disruptive influence on ordinary lives. In Pakistan, we have shops and businesses named as Bombay restaurant, Bombay cloth house and even a Bombay sweet house. And of course Hyderabad’s premier bakery – the Bombay bakery as reminded by Kazim. I am posting an image of the Hyderabad outlet during my recent, fleeting  visit to the city.

Deep down, the links continue despite 61 years of turbulence…

MUMBAI: Karachi Sweets in Mulund is not the only business establishment that bears the name of a Pakistani city. TOI came across at least seven shops, offices, halls and restaurants named after Karachi, Peshawar, Multan, Sindh and Lahore-most of the owners probably could never forget their hometowns that they had to leave during Partition.

“How can the MNS ban shop names like Karachi, Lahore or Sindh as most of the owners are refugees from Pakistan?” said a shop owner in Bandra. “Even my shop is named after a Pakistani city and we have been running this business for the past 100 years. A lot of sentiment is attached to the name.” He added that it was unfair to target innocent shop owners who have settled down in India and are patriotic. “We just carry a Pakistani city’s name on our signboard. We are true Indians and not Pakistanis.” […]

January 23rd, 2009|Personal|22 Comments

The best of Mumbai posts

My friend Annie’s post on Mumbai is a remarkable piece of writing. I am cross-posting it here:

The other day, I went shopping for veggies at the nearest supermarket, and found it almost empty. The girls employed there were kidding around with each other. I heard the word ‘terrorist’. One girl told another she’d set the terrorists after her friend. The other one alleged that she was one herself. Light laughter. Odd, somehow. Perhaps, necessary, somehow.

Yesterday, I’d stepped out with my own bag and a laptop, boarded a train and opened a book. My station arrived, I got off and ten seconds later, wondered why my shoulder felt light. I’d forgotten the laptop in the Ladies compartment.

In a mad rush, I turned back. I had no way of tracking down that same train even if I did follow it in the right direction. The train had started moving by then, so I jumped into the nearest compartment. I almost fell. A stranger reached out and grabbed me at the door, pulled me inside. Others asked me to sit down, catch my breath, relax. I was too worried to step away from the door. […]

December 9th, 2008|Guest Writer, India|3 Comments

Opium City:The Making of Early Victorian Bombay

Courtesy Three Essays Collective, I found this book review on an important yet less known facet of South Asian History:

Opium City
The Making of Early Victorian Bombay

By Amar Farooqui

REVIEW in ‘Mid-Day’

MUMBAI’S OPIUM PAST
by Mahmood Farooqui
December 23, 2005

It sometimes appears, from the nature of current historical debates, as if the British empire in India was purely an orientalising mission whose discourses generated a politics of identity but that it was little more than an ideological apparatus that hegemonised us. It is difficult therefore to connect back to the earliest nationalists who decried the drain of wealth from India, who lamented India’s deindustrialisation and the economic exploitation of our people by foreign occupiers.

It is easy, in the miasma of post-colonialisms emanating from American universities, to forget that the Empire came into being and remained in force as an economic entity, that it was instituted by traders, that there was also something called economic imperialism.

Amar Farooqui’s Opium City — The Making of Colonial Bombay is welcome because it reorients us to the fundamentals of how and why we were colonised by the East India Company. It is a new title by the Three Essays Press, a Delhi-based outfit, which has been publishing tracts in the form, as its name implies, of three essays in slim volumes by renowned and radical academics in a style and on subjects that are of general interest. […]

August 28th, 2008|Arts & Culture, books, History, India|2 Comments