Of special treatment and forgotten geniuses

May 15, 2012, 07:15 IST | Fiona Fernandez

The month of May is special to the Mumbai commuter.

On May 5, as women commuters boarded their ‘Ladies Dabba’, little would they have realised that it was 20 years to the day since the world’s first ladies special started, on the Churchgate-Virar sector of the Western Railway. An instant hit, soon the Central Railway introduced a similar service, on July 1, between CST and Kalyan. Today, these services are second home, chill zone and therapy session, all rolled into one.

Women commuters have a parallel life on the local train

While tracking history on Mumbai’s railway lines, how can one forget Frederick William Stevens? This Englishman’s 165th birth anniversary fell on May 11. An accomplished architect, he set foot on Indian soil in Poona as a 20-year-old on the threshold of creating some of India’s finest Gothic landmarks. He went on to create the largest building then erected in Asia — the Great Indian Peninsular Railway terminus (today’s CST).

In fact, few know that Stevens designed all of the ornamental detailing inside the terminus. Rightfully, his services were saluted by the then Government in the form of his appointment as a Fellow of the Bombay University. If you’re in Sewri, drop by the sprawling cemetery where this genius lies buried in a nondescript grave. 

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