Strolling along a side street in Juhu (I should explain, I'm spending the term teaching in Chennai but this was on my mid-term break in Mumbai), I chanced upon a step well or baoli.
And there sunning themselves, or swimming in the pea green water, were ... turtles. Dozens of them! I have always had a soft spot for these creatures, and it's so rare to see them in the wild in quite this profusion. ...
This is Brahma Kund on Gandhigram Road, a minute away from the world famous Iskcon 'Hare Krishna' temple and close by where many Bollywood stars live (I was on my way to visit one such star, I'll have you know, when I spotted the turtles). The step well seems once to have had a religious function, but no longer.
Locals are concerned that the stagnant water is a breeding place for mosquitos. But I guess people must be feeding the turtles, as I can't see there's enough food in this tiny pond to support them otherwise - so they do have some Juhu allies. Long live turtle power!
I've just come across this marvellous image on Twitter and couldn't resist posting it. It dates from 1948 and was the work of Mario Miranda, a Goan artist and cartoonist who died as recently as 2011. He outlived the 'Illustrated Weekly of India' - once the pre-eminent Indian weekly which numbered Khushwant Singh among its editors - by almost twenty years.
I love the way it captures the bustle of Bombay in such a kind and unthreatening manner. The design is dated, over romantic, but heart warming as well as charming..
The early 1930s - the high noon of the Raj. A powerful set of images from inside the elite. I was given them by a friend, who bought these photos and negatives at auction thinking that they were something else. There about a dozen photos and a few negatives, all relating to Sir Frederick Sykes - as far as I can make out, the balding guy in the centre of the front row above with the light coloured socks - who was Governor of Bombay from 1928 to 1931, but remained in India until 1933. There's a newsreel clip of Sykes, including his remarkably cultured and measured voice, here.
The photograph on the right is, according to a note on the reverse, of a farewell tea party given by Sir Ali Muhammad Khan Dehlavi at Poona in August 1933. It all looks very self-satisfied, and distinctly opulent.
In this photo, Sykes is two from extreme right, looking at the camera and with the faintest glimmer of a smile. Dehlavi was a member of the Legislative Council over 1924-37, for a time its president - and was an important member of the Muslim League, the party which eventually demanded and won the creation of a separate nation for the sub-continent's Muslims.
Among the cache is a mounted photograph (mounted on card, and with the subject mounted on horseback) of Lady Isabel Sykes - it could have been taken in the home counties, but it was almost certainly snapped somewhere in the Bombay presidency. On the back is a small stamp saying: 'BACKHOUSE & CO / PHOTOGRAPHERS / POONA.'
Lady Sykes was the daughter of the Tory Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law, and the auction was of an archive relating to Bonar Law and his family.
Among the images are several taken at the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra, now a UNESCO world heritage site - I've posted a couple below. There are also photos and negatives of a rather elaborate ceremony at Kolhapur railway station. I wonder if these are all mementos of a final tour round Sir Frederick's onetime Bombay presidency domain. I suppose they should be passed on to an archive.
LATER: These photographs are being given to the British Library which already holds records and photos relating to Sir Frederick Sykes.
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