‘’Those were the days,my friend, we thought they’d never end, we’ll singand dance for ever and again” so sang MaryHopkins,not so long ago.Yes, those were the days, the simple pleasures of life one enjoyed in good old Bombay. The Sunday morning jam sessions at the popular disco Venice opposite Eros Theatre,which was also a night club where Biddu,known as The Lone Trojan belted songs of The Beatles, Trini Lopez, and other popular numbers and The Ritz which was also much frequented and popular for its conventional music and dancing. Sunday morning jam sessions were packed with teenagers as well as oldies. Age no bar. After a morning show either at Strand theatre or Eros, making way towards Venice was only natural. As sometimes the sessions began at 2 Pm. Really don’t recollect how we managed the finances but we always did manage within the group, with eats and colas as well. Life was uncomplicated, no strings attached just permission needed from home which was given readily. Mind you we did get home on time. Thus we worked hard to win over the confidence of our parents. Life was fun.
Image Credit :Instransit Blogs - NYTimes
Image Credit : Biddus Orchestra Niravna Vinyl Cover from here
Sometimes for a change we went to hear Usha Iyer (Utthap) sing in her deep throated voice at The Talk Of The Town the catchy numbers of the time. We loved the lyrics she composed impromptu which she sang accompanied by lovely tunes. I recollect she composed a song on the lambretta which had just come into the market, at the snap of the fingers and soon we were swaying to its catchy tune and amazing lyrics. Such was her spontaneity. Unbelievable but true a couple of years ago when I met her at an event in Bangalore, I dared to ask her whether she remembered singing a song about a lambretta and guess what she was humming the tune!
Eating delicious pastries and oven fresh mutton patties at Gourdon (which was near the current Asiatic department store) was a treat so also occasionally a buffet lunch at The Taj which was just Rs 50! Well how much can one eat. For the perpetual hungry collegians could anything be better than this. I know 50 bucks then was a lot of money. But splurging on eating those luxurious items was like a new lease on life. The famous Gaylord restaurant was also popular in its heyday with mouthwatering fare and continental food. The cream rolls and mutton patties at Marosa Bakery were a must when in Fort area. So popular was it that the owner once told us that Raj Kapoor used to visit it very often, travelling all the way from the suburbs. The fish and chips from Victory Stall near Gateway of India, run by the Womens’ Wing of the Times And Talents Club was also on the agenda. How can one overlook another famous fish and chips stall beside the Taraporewala Aquarium.
Those were the days when some of the prominent buildings like the Victoria Terminus, the Municipal Building, the Times Of India were lit up to the tee during the Republic Day.Lorries would be organized by (still don’t know) the residents I suppose of different colonies, at night, to go around South Bombay for viewing the lights. I remember going on one such tour with a group - most of them who were Parsees from Parsee Colony and Christians and a few Gujarati families. Everyone was loaded with food which was exchanged and gorged till not a morsel was left. New friends were made without any qualms and addresses were exchanged for the organizing the same for the next year. En route there was much bonhomie, screaming, singing and cracking jokes. Honestly till minutes ago one did not know a soul and in the next there was embracing and laughter.There were no traffic cops to man the route nor any security since the return was always scheduled for early morning. Today this would be unheard of in the maze of traffic Bombay has developed over the years. With hardly any traffic in the mornings, skating down Marine Drive was sheer delight. The wind whipping into your face. It was a thrilling and an exhilarating experience as well.
A ride on the tram and atop a double decker bus admiring the city view was equally pleasurable. Long distance journeys by train were always exciting. One looked forward to the journey. The trains were spick and span and travelling by first class or in a coupe was a luxury where personalized service by the railways was assured. Linen was clean and starched stiff. Waiters in starched uniforms lurked around the compartments, however much you wished to ignore them, waiting for you to give them the orders for the next meal. Breakfast was on request “eggs to order” – the typical “ferang way”. I guess the colonial influence had still not rubbed off. Railway platforms were clean and were washed every day. Minimum tea stalls occupied the platform. Only tea and sandwiches were sold. The concept of vada - pau and other accompaniments was non-existent. The waiting rooms and toilets were clean and were fit for sleeping in case you were catching an early morning train or a late night train. Just like the railway platforms, the roads in Bombay were washed every day.
Hence walking was a pleasure. Eating was a pleasure In short living in Bombay was a pleasure.
Image Credit: Wiki
No doubt a burgeoning population and intra - migration has made inroads into Bombay’s undeveloped infrastructure but at least we can keep the city uncluttered and safe and make normal and everyday life saner!