Sunday, August 26, 2012

History and Culture

Nancy and I are really enjoying exploring the extremely varied culture and history of Mumbai.  I don't think we were aware how rich and complex the story of this city is.  Yesterday we had another good day delving into some of that history.
We began with coffee at Karen's house.  Karen is an art teacher, originally from Australia, who has been teaching internationally for a couple of decades and consequently has traveled extensively, especially here in Asia.  After coffee, we headed down to the ChurchGate / High Court area around the former Prince of Wales Museum (now known as Chhatrapati Shivahi Maharaj Vasto Sangrahalaya - though most still call it the Prince of Wales Museum) where there are a number of art galleries and other cultural and historic sites.  We had actually been down to this museum last weekend and enjoyed it's Indian inspired architecture, artifacts, sculptures, and miniature paintings.  This weekend we had planned to be on the prowl for more contemporary Indian art.
We started with a small photographic gallery that Karen had heard about that was exhibiting the work of several of the better photographers. Good stuff. Then we stopped by another gallery where the work was, to be kind, fairly elementary. (Please keep your day job, professor!)  Happily, lunch at a small cafe hidden in a back alley was much more enjoyable, and we walked by an old synagogue.

After lunch, we wandered a little more and stood across the street from the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room.  Founded in 1847 by a group of mechanics and dockyard workers, it still functions as a both a repository of books and a quiet place where members and sit and read or work.  Great atmosphere and architecture. The high-ceilinged main room, lined with glass enclosed book cases reaching up twelve or fifteen feet and furnished with solid wood tables and sturdy caned bottomed chairs took us back years into the past.
By Vaikoovery (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Finally, we wandered down the street to the Bombay High Court, where there was a historical exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the court.  Another great building with both architectural and historical significance.  It was humbling to walk up the worn stairs, realizing how many people, famous and unknown had done the same.  Among other things, on display within the exhibition was both Ghandhi's application letter where he requested admission to the bar as an advocate from the 1890's before he went to South Africa, and the letter signed by all the high court judges some twenty plus years later , removing him from practice because of his arrests for political activities. 
The [[w:Bombay High Court|Bombay High Court]] in [[Mumbai]].

Image taken by  [[User:Nichalp|Nichalp]] via Wikimedia Commons

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