Mumbai Diary: Friday Dossier

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

'Steeple'd in history
In the late 1800s, its tower and steeple served as landmarks for incoming ships to Mumbai’s harbour, while its construction was the first in the city that put local stone to such imaginative use.

St John the Evangelist Church (popularly called Afghan Church) was built as a memorial for the martyrs after the the conquest of Kabul in 1842. Bishop Carr of Bombay had written to the English authorities of the need to erect a church in Colaba.

Work began in 1847 based on designs by Henry Conybeare, the then city engineer. Our almanac alert buzzed when we noticed that the church was consecrated by Bishop Harding on January 7, 1858, 158 years ago. Its striking tower and steeple (60 metres, 198 feet) was completed later, in 1865.

This treasure boasts of a stunning assemblage of memorial plaques, intricate stained glass panels shipped from England, and china mosaic panels. A museum within a church, it’s worth a dekko.

Birthday mashup ode to AR Rahman
A Capella group Voctronica has created a ripple on social media with their latest mashup, Evolution of birthday boy (January 6) AR Rahman that features renditions of Rahman’s songs, including Ek Mohabbat, Mustafa Mustafa, Gangsta Blues and Rang De Basanti.

The group, comprises of Raj Verma, Clyde Rodrigues, Arjun Nair, Meghana Bhogle, Warsha Easwar and Avinash Tewari. We think the band has a sound future. Pun intended, entirely.

Sky's the limit
Architect and photographer Robert Stephens gazes at a few of his frames during the preview of his show, Mumbai North: Contemporary Aerial Photographs of Mumbai’s Suburbs at Artisans’, Kala Ghoda, last evening.

Pic/Bipin Kokate
Pic/Bipin Kokate

The exhibition features black and white photographs taken from 15,000 ft. above sea level between 2014 and 2015. 

Relive the magic of SD Burman
As if on autopilot, we tuned in to the soulful SD Burman tune from Sujata (1959) as soon as we heard that author Sathya Saran will be conducting an illustrated book presentation and will also speak on the book, Sun Mere Bandhu Re: The Musical World Of SD Burman, tracing stories and anecdotes from the composer’s life.

SD Burman
SD Burman

For instance, Burman’s habit of playing football. “I will play two recordings of the book readings by Ameen Sayani. You can’t get a better reader than him, and he had even interspersed the reading with musical clips, which are part of the recordings,” she says.

To be held on January 9 (6.30 pm onwards), it is part of Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s ongoing exhibition of JH Thakker’s vintage photographs from the golden age of Hindi cinema. Interested? RSVP ccardoza@bdlmuseum.org

From Jaipur to Galle
Literature fests are in fashion. And, leading the way is the Jaipur Literature Festival. Big names and even bigger itineraries are expected to be rolled out at Jaipur’s famed Diggi Palace. But an integral centrepiece of the festival so far — the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature — that we’ve been used to cheering for years, will be missing from the five-day event.

(Clockwise from above) Neel Mukherjee, Akhil Sharma and Anuradha Roy. Pics courtesy/Francesca Mantovani-Opale, nick tucker & bill murray
(Clockwise from above) Neel Mukherjee, Akhil Sharma and Anuradha Roy. Pics courtesy/Francesca Mantovani-Opale, nick tucker & bill murray

The coveted literary prize, according to the DSC website, will be announced at another prestigious Asian literary gathering, Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, on January 16. This time’s shortlist includes Akhil Sharma: Family Life (Faber & Faber, UK), Anuradha Roy: Sleeping on Jupiter (Hachette, India), KR Meera: Hang Woman (Translated by J Devika; Penguin, India), Mirza Waheed: The Book of Gold Leaves (Viking/Penguin India), Neel Mukherjee: The Lives of Others (Vintage/Penguin Random House, UK) and Raj Kamal Jha: She Will Build Him A City (Bloomsbury, India). May the best book win! Jaipur’s loss will be Galle’s gain. Watch this space for news about who bags the big one.

Kumbh kaleidoscope
In case you’re one of those who gets a spiritual high by visiting India’s religious sites but cannot make it to for the ongoing Ardh Kumbh in Haridwar, at the moment, fret not.

Huge crowds at Haridwar throng to take a holy dip in the Ganga. Pic/PTI
Huge crowds at Haridwar throng to take a holy dip in the Ganga. Pic/PTI

As part of the just-opened The State of Architecture event in the city, drop by an exhibition on Kumbh Mela that will also showcase the book, Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity by Harvard University South Asia Institute.

This will be held on January 18 (6-8.30 pm) at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. From what this diarist hears, it promises to be a mesmeric panorama of frames from one of the biggest religious events in the world.

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