Scenes from Kala Ghoda
Take a Minute. Look Around
‘There is so much beauty, but how many of us stop to look around, at our buildings, our history?’ Shraddha, our heritage walk guide asks. We are standing on a curb close to the massive CST building; hundreds of commuters walk past us. Some give us dirty looks for slowing them down. I’d do the same in their shoes. In stead I focus on the architectural details I’ve overlooked all this time: tiny carved animals scurrying around the pillars; flowers, shrubs and trees fanning out on stone; a peacock displaying full plumage; a train engine, a ship, and an elephant and its mahout, etched in place for a life time; rock solid portraits watching over the city, along with an army of gargoyles and lions; delicate stained glass portholes peeking out between elaborate wall carvings. They all have stories to share, if you’re willing to hear them out.
Up on a Rope, Above the World
He is of slight frame. His wears a red turban, yellow kurta and white pyjama. He also carries a long stick, which he holds across his frame. His colleagues are on the ground. One man plays the dhol, another calls out to visitors, encouraging them to watch the show. Each beat, each slogan, sees a foot being place in front of the other on the tight rope strung high above. The man walks with ease where there should be none. There are no safety nets, just a crowd and stone below. And yet he glides across. He lies flat on the rope. He sits cross legged. He rolls from one end to the other on a cycle wheel. At the end of his performance, he accepts applause and any change you can spare.
A Box of Paint, Lots of Ideas
There are big green ants crawling about. They have headlights for eyes, and bodies made from retired motorbikes. There is a giant dabbawala, Mumbai’s famed lunch box delivery guy. Dressed in typical white, he holds a lunch box and the city on his tray. There are painted rickshaws, modified vespas, there’s even a shiny coin studded fiat. And in quiet corners, there are paintings, sculptures and other delicate art works. There is talent awaiting new homes, all you need is a bag of money to claim them.
Messages, Statements and Common Sense
There is a lot being said. Voices rise through colour and artistic expression. There is a plea for change, a demand for improvement, encouragement for those making an effort. Doors are opening, carpets are being dusted and the linen is getting washed. Like the installation says, you are the engine.