It's that time of the year when our sutradhars pick deserving names of city landmarks and developments based on their wanderings and well, gupshup.
Flora Fountain. Pic/Ashish Raje
"Was I imagining things or was it you that I had spotted shopping for mufflers at The Bombay Store last weekend?" Lady Flora gently nudged her walking companion and confidante, Sir PM Mehta into spilling the beans. It was that time of the year when the nip in the air meant that Bombaywallahs enjoyed a hint of winter, and our sutradhars also seemed to be in good spirits due to the pleasant weather during what appeared to be their last walk of the year.
"I'm liking this new muffler and peak cap look that you are sporting, Pheroze. It suits you. So, tell me, are you ready with your list of names?" she asked. Sir PM looked perplexed. "What list, lady?" He was stumped. "Didn't I tell you to come back for our next walk with a set of names of places you felt deserved our annual awards?" Lady Flora, reminded him, looking a tad irritated.
Clearly, Sir PM had forgotten to, in the midst of a family wedding and Christmas festivities. Trying to make amends, he replied, "...but I can help right now, at least?"
"We'll see," she replied. "Very well then, here is my contribution. I think, I did justice to all concerned," hoping it wouldn't ruffle any feathers. She pulled out a scroll and rattled off from the list:
Finally, it's ready award: Flora Fountain. See, this was a long time coming, Pheroze. So many years of toil. And, we finally saw the light of day. All credit to the heritage bosses and the architectural team for their resilience. The ideal plan for a public square.
Best show on the global stage award: Bombay's fantastic showing at the UNESCO Asia Pacific awards in Malaysia. We did so well with all our popular landmarks -- there was me, the Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue and Gloria Church that earned global applause.
Favourite heritage locale award (by popular/public vote): steps of the Asiatic Library. It's such a delight to see how many couples and models use the steps to create photo opportunities. I thoroughly enjoy watching their child-like antics.
Resurrection of the year award: Ma Hajiani Dargah, this beautiful jewel by the Arabian sea got a new lease of life. It's worth checking out, Pheroze, when you are in the mood for a longer walk.
Sustained public interest award: St Thomas Cathedral for ensuring that place of worship and its many treasures that are linked to the city's timeline, were in the public domain for all to admire and soak in.
This one's for the kids award: The children's museum at CSMVS made me smile. It's just what the city's ideas-deprived children need. And, Pheroze, did you spot the bookworm shaped library that popped up too? Such a delight!
Survivor of the year award: Esplanade Mansion. My word! The stunning iron marvel is in such need for care and conservation from the right kind of experts. I dearly hope that your old bosses see reason for retaining it in all its splendour.
Party pooper of the year award: The Metro work and its fallout on the city's resources (Aarey's trees, and the flora and fauna of SGNP) win hands down. But I must quickly add that with the relook of The Coastal Road Project, we might have a close second winner in 2020. God help our fragile marine ecosystem and my Koli brethren.
Eyesore of the year award: Stained glass mess-up at CSMT. The childish artwork and sculptural gaffes would have made FW Stevens turn in his grave at Sewri.
She had reached the end of her list."I see you haven't interjected even once. Do you agree with the inclusions?" she asked her friend. "You are spot on, Lady. I am impressed with your curating skills. But, may I add one category?" he asked. "Of course, Pheroze," Lady Flora replied. "Well, a definite pat on the back to the owners of Cafe De La Paix in Girgaum for being visionary about their cafe by giving it a new lease of life. Kudos to them," shared Sir PM. Lady Flora was pleased with his choice. They shook hands and headed towards old friend Viegas and gargoyle to share their list. And, yes, she got Sir PM to promise to take her soon to try the bun maska and chai at the cafe.
It was their last walk of the year, and they did seem keen on making the most of the pleasant weather. They knew that Bombay was looking at a challenging year ahead. And they, for sure, were looking forward to playing their roles.
From Lady Flora, Sir PM and yours truly, here's wishing every Bombaywallah a rocking 2020, one that's filled with memorable milestones.
mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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