All quiet in Bombay – sunday

After the turmoil of weekdays previously Sunday seems oddly quiet. Taking the train from Vile Parle to Byculla is less crowded than Exmouth to Exeter and a damn sight cheaper – 10/- for the 30 minute ride. Its certainly the fastest way to get around. I arrive at Dr Lad museum 5 minutes late for the English guided tour but catch up with them without any todo. A boy of about 25 is giving a very well-spoken exposition of Mumbai’s history to a group of a dozen Indians. It is very pukka to speak English to fellow countrymen, shows you have class and standards. Rather like the Russian court speaking only French. The girl with him is similar and she does the artistic stuff. Unfortunately her voice is barely audible.

The place was originally built mid-19th century and called V&A. You can see why.

The ceiling reflects the original benefactor, David Sassoon an Iranian jew who came in exile in the early 19th century.

Judging by some of the Pottery, the Art school that was set up in conjunction was highly sophisticated and developed. Obvious strong influences from William de Morgan and Morris.

The boy’s recital of the geographical development throws up strong parallels with Venice. Islands set close together in marshy swamp, developed by reclamation and infill gradually until contiguous and all driven by commerce, first the Portuguese, Dutch and of course finally the East India Co. They reckoned the life expectancy for young officers was maybe two years. It was a disease-ridden hole.

Some last minute shopping after a further 5/- ride down to CST at the end of the line is limited by most markets being closed on a Sunday. You are so accustomed to the endless retail that you forget to make allowance.

An hour sitting on the Quay in the shadow of the Arch watching the hordes taking boat rides out into the harbour.

And then a return to Delhi Darbar where we had had a fine meal at the beginning of all this. It was again good and the waiter Tashrique, even remembered me!

Walking back to Churchgate station I passed the big maidan where we played that first fraught game. It was complete chaos games cheek by jowl and balls flying everywhere. Most of the bowling was chucking and the batsman very wristy well-timed hits in the air in the Vee. But then there would be fielders scattered out there taking amazing running catches.

The train this time back to Vile Parle is suddenly different, packed solid as only Mumbai can be. I manage to ease onto the correct side for exiting eventually and am back after a classic sort of day.

Time now for a final shower and packing.

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