The many moods of Mumbai through the city's many balconies

Sep 22, 2013, 10:56 IST | Phorum Dalal

Call them the lungs of the building, Sunday brunch venue or an escape to solitude, balconies are where you watch the world go by. Ayesha Taleyarkhan's photo book, Beyond Bombay Balconies, captures the many moods of the city, finds Phorum Dalal

For the past one-and-a-half years, Mahalaxmi-based photographer Ayesha Taleyarkhan has been galavanting all across the city to capture the views from Vernacular, Art Deco or Modern architecture-styled balconies in the city.

“I was only photographing what my lens eye spotted. I took around 5,000 photographs to architect Rahul Mehrotra and other experts, who explain each of the styles in the book,” says Taleyarkhan. Conservationist Abha Narain Lamba has written the forward, where she explains that the balcony is a natural architectural response to the climatic context of the city. It not only protects the building’s interiors from the rain and sun, but also captures the sea breeze and offers a view.

While every chapter begins with photographs taken at construction sites, Taleyarkhan says they were most fun as she would never really know what to expect until she walked in. “The workers would go about their business as usual, leaving me to my camera,” she smiles.

For the last chapter is called Metamorphosis — Adapt and Adorn, Taleyarkhan invited herself to homes of friends and friends of friends who boasted of a balcony worth writing about. “There are three or four shots where I walked into strangers’ homes requesting them to let me shoot in their home. They were really nice,” says Taleyarkhan.

Worth a dekho: An Art Deco building on Marine Drive shows off a curved balcony, which adds softness and modulation to the façade

Roti kapda makaan: The balconies in Mumbai’s chawls are decorated with dripping clothes left to dry.  Narrow and cramped, these balconies offer respite to large families that live here in claustrophobic interiors

Secret window: View or no view, a balcony can uplift any mood as seen for this lady at a chawl in Mahim

Wah taj!The Gateway of India as seen from the arched balcony of the Taj Mahal Hotel at Colaba

While a sea-view balcony is a rarity, for some, like the residents of this house in Grant Road, the bazaar view is literally a stone’s throw away

Memory book: According to conservation architect Brinda Somaya, people always relate to their physical environment. It gives them a sense of continuity and links them to their past

Open house: A construction worker takes a break during a long day at work

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