Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Who would have thought?

Churchgate Station then...
That Churchgate Station in South Bombay (now Mumbai) looked like this over a hundred years ago. In fact, it hardly looked like a railway station; it looked more like the entrance to a market where you could buy fish and vegetables.

The station, which got its name from Church Gate Street (now Veer Nariman Road), extended up to Colaba until 1931, the year it was terminated at Churchgate, as it is today. It was part of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway which is now called Western Railway and which I have been using for the past thirty-five years.

...and now.
When I saw the vintage picture, the first thing I noticed were the men in white shirts and pants—the sleeves rolled up above the elbow and the pants rolled up in a single pleat, a distinctive fashion in those days. My father wore these in 1950s & 1960s. Then, I think, it went out of fashion to be replaced by gaudy shirts and flares and bellbottoms with absurdly wide hems that you could sweep the floor with. I didn't have my father’s dress sense for I wore them for a brief while.

Today, the new Churchgate Station building is an eyesore, a metal and glass monstrosity that I refuse to look at whenever I enter and exit the terminal. Even its previous avatar, a yellow-painted concrete building, looked more inviting.

It feels nice to be able to identify with the generation that belonged to my parents and their parents. They suffered more hardships than we do now and yet they led simple and happy lives. Sometimes it feels like I have been there. I think of their era as a generation bridge rather than as a generation gap.

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