“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.
images source: Rare old Mumbai pictures: idleclick.com
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.