Assignment: Reading Review

“Since Max Weber, it is customary to view modern life as disenchanted, freed of gods and myth. but what was colonial Bombay if not enchanted? The physical, social, and political geography forged by colonization in the double sense became its “natural” landscape. To its inhabitants, the city looked, felt and smelled like a new environment. it was different from the towns and urban life that most immigrants had encountered elsewhere. The modern city’s infrastructure, technology, institutions, neighborhoods, society and daily life presented a novel sight and experience. The newness of its second nature, the everyday reality that its institutions and the built environment had forged, became objects of wonder and reflection. Bombay’s rapidly changing visual landscape fostered a form of urban writing that described the city in terms of images.”

Source: Urban Pictures, Chapter 2 The Colonial Gothic, Mumbai Fables by Gayan Prakash

In support of the passage above, I would first like to share the following pictures in order to portray the idea of colonial Bombay.

1940_muriel_collett_national_games_bombay_2nd_left-2 bf6798a6-85e1-4788-a696-2b24a525caa4old_glory_bombay_28 BOMBAY_C_1890 breakfast1858 ca3a6264-e47a-4ddb-a4a3-267a55cf6a2dOld_Mumbai_Apollo_Bunder ca4ded44-6475-4095-a659-eca042003524Old_Mumbai_Walkeshwar_Road cad92c87-864b-4215-a6f9-03fa87c9bf269058747 ea869dcf-1889-4826-8e88-35472d7d91b8188863590_bebc7df406_o f803e05e-a16c-4671-8565-6586a3af5fa2Old_Mumbai_Cuff_Parade mumbai_train_1940

images source: Rare old Mumbai pictures:

Now I will post pictures of the present transformation of Bombay into Aamchi Mumbai:

Through the images above, I have tried to capture the comparison of colonial Bombay and the present Aamchi Mumbai. In light of, what Gayan Prakash has highlighted colonial Bombay as the city of enchantment, we observe a somewhat gradual-radical decline in its quality of life. I would particularly like to refer to Salman Rushdie, whose description of Mumbai in his novels as a lived space is a mixture of nostalgia, alienation and misery of aesthetics.

In modern day Mumbai, people seem to be deprived of their sense of belonging to home. As a busy metropolitan the city only serves as a clinging point where people pause and move forward. Their food, shelter and clothing, everything depicts shabbiness for a majority of middle and lower middle class citizenry. People are living in imaginary homelands.


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