Of Irani cafés, theatre and mem­o­ries

India Today - - MY CITY - Chi­tra Palekar As told to As­mita Bak­shi

Ihave been in Bom­bay for more than six decades and it was a very dif­fer­ent city ear­lier. Now, it’s called “Mum­bai”. I be­lieve it is be­cause of the parochial­ism of cer­tain po­lit­i­cal par­ties and be­cause “Bom­bay” is now cos­mopoli­tan. But in Marathi and Konkani, we al­ways called it Mum­bai. In Hindi, we called it Bam­bai and in English, Bom­bay. And it’s not be­cause po­lit­i­cal par­ties made an is­sue of it.

When I was grow­ing up, I stayed in the town-side near Chow­patty. I re­mem­ber it was very peace­ful and safe back then. So much so that me and my sis­ter would hop on a taxi and come home even if we got late. We used to be told to get in a cab with a Sikh be­cause he would get us home safe. Our build­ing in Gamdevi, which is now a her­itage build­ing, the Saraswat Co­op­er­a­tive Hous­ing So­ci­ety, was the first co­op­er­a­tive build­ing in Asia and was built by my great grand­fa­ther. I re­mem­ber go­ing down­stairs bare­foot to buy things or run er­rands for my mother. We could hear the piano play­ing from var­i­ous Parsi houses on our road, which was called Alexan­dra Road at the time, and I used to love that.

I used to do theatre in the 1970s, when there was no Prithvi Theatre. Most of our plays were per­formed at Te­j­pal Au­di­to­rium and a close knit com­mu­nity of writ­ers, ac­tors, poets and di­rec­tors came to­gether there. I used to won­der then that is Mum­bai re­ally that small be­cause we are all so well ac­quainted and sup­port­ive of each other. I re­ally grew up in quite a dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere than what it is now. The other day, I was pass­ing by this Irani restau­rant that I used to visit with friends and no­ticed it had shut down. I had tears in my eyes. All of us theatre people would sit there and cel­e­brate with beer, and be­fore the beer cul­ture, with Coca Cola. Some­times, I feel like a stranger in my own city. Of course I love Mum­bai very much be­cause it’s where I have all these mem­o­ries.

Chi­tra Palekar is a theatre per­son­al­ity, film­maker and an ac­tor. She is mak­ing a come­back

with Marathi film Happy Jour­ney.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.