Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Heritage Walk

I attended a heritage walk last week. (I have attended one before this - but that was in a different city and a different person and an underwhelming experience.)

This walk was in a shortish area - a triangular patch of land - and it is an area I thought I know very well. After all, every Mumbaikar knows the area around CST - Metro - Crawford market. Firstly the walk was named Beyond Bazaar Gate - which I had no idea why - until I learnt that the Bazaar Gate was one of the gates of the original Fort.

Heritage walks in places you have no clue about are well, a revelation - because you have no clue anyway. But a heritage walk in a city you know well are a challenge because there are some facts you already know - and thats a challenge for both the person who is attending and the person who conducts the walk.

I learnt that Bhendi Bazaar had nothing to do with Bhendi (Ladyfinger), but it was a corruption of Behind the Bazaar - which became localised as BhendiBazaar (this is particularly hilarious when you think of it). Every building had nuances I had no idea about. This street which I thought knew so much kept us enthralled for nearly 3 hours. For instance, Rudyard Kipling was born on that very street. The Harris on whom the Harris Shield is named had an office there. Both Gandhi and Jinnah started their careers in the Court of Small Causes  (locally known in such a funny way you won't believe it - but thats a secret to uncover when you attend this walk) in Mumbai under the same guru - Gopal Krishna Gokhale - and both call him their mentor.

Apart from this, buildings, stones, street names, memorials, markets - the Phule pagdi, inscriptions and motifs on the sides of buildings - all in all a treasure trove.

And that is the beauty of learning from an expert. You walk in thinking you know everything and as the expert uncovers nuance after nuance and you are left spellbound. What if every subject or topic you picked up could be as unravelling as a 'heritage walk'...

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