Photo of the day: flat-hunting in Bombay

Photo of the day: flat-hunting in Bombay

My last nostalgia photo was from my first day in Bombay – now Mumbai – in January 1983.

Exactly 40 years ago.

As I work my digitising-and-scanning-way through my old photos and my hundreds of thousands of transparencies (I kid you not…I was prolific 😛 ) memories keep reaching out to me, so there will be the inevitable chronological jump.

Not that you, dear reader, would criticise me for it, now, would you?

So today, we fast-forward a few years from January 1983 to spring 1989.

To put things a little bit in context, I am now married to the man I met within 3 weeks of landing in india 🙂

We have a 6 month old baby.

And we have just arrived in Bombay from Paris, to start a posting there.

We were flat-hunting in a city that – then – was a bl***dy nightmare for rentals. The building boom had not yet happened, so the pool of nice flats in south Bombay was extremely limited and no-one, but no-one, wanted to rent to an Indian. So we tramped from flat to flat – some were hideous, some were eye-wateringly expensive shoe-boxes, and some were in need of complete renovation (that would be the one confiscated from a smuggler who trashed it before it was taken from him. Literally took a sledgehammer to the place!)

And just occasionally there were seriously weird moments. Like this one I’m about to share, which is the backstory to my photo of the day.

We went to look at a flat that our French colleagues were interested in, near the Towers of Silence, the Parsi burial complex in south Bombay.

To this day I don’t know if the broker was joking, but he said that the only drawback to the flat – which was indeed very nice – was that the occasional body part got dropped on the balcony by the vultures.

And That Was That.

It was such a bizarre thing to say, and the broker must’ve known that for just-arrived-for-the-first-time-in-India foreigners (like our colleagues) it would be a complete no-no…so perhaps it was actually true and he was being brutally honest.

I’ll never know.

But I did take a photo of the view from the flat, which overlooked Napeansea Road, a part of town that I happen to know quite well, since some of Himmat’s family live there:

For fellow Bombay-lovers, you obviously recognise that open area by the sea as Priyardashini Park, which was not quite finished at the time.

I’d love to go back to that flat and check out the view now, almost a quarter of a century later.

Another thing that strikes me about this photo is that Napeansea Road is quite free of traffic, with not that many cars – well, compared to today…

I’ll be back in a day or so with the latest instalment of my Bombay Dreams 🙂

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