Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas lights in Mumbai

I took these pictures a couple of days after Christmas, in the vicinity of Sacred Heart Church in the Mumbai suburb of Santa Cruz. This church was built in the 1930s, I think in place of the Santa Cruz church from which the area got its name. The old church was destroyed long ago. Below is a picture of lights in the church driveway.

Below is a picture of the intersection of Church Avenue and Hasanabad Lane. A street with a Christian name and a church on it, and one with a Muslim name and a mosque on it. The neighborhood is home to plenty of Christians (nearly all Catholic), Muslims, Hindus, and no doubt other religious minorities.

Up to perhaps the mid-90s, the surrounding lanes were lined with cute little cottages that belonged mostly to Christians. The houses had names like "Carmel", "Villa Linda", "Aurora", "La Petite Fleur", "Violet" and "Homestead". Some still exist, but others are replaced with ugly buildings like the one at the intersection below. Many of these new buildings have names that reflect cultural poverty -- "Silver Symphony", "Silver Melody" and "Silver Harmony". One unpretentious villa (I think it was Violet) got torn down in the years I was away from the city, and in its place sprang up a little pink fortress called, equally incredibly, "Pinky Cottage". I have to wonder if such strange names are chosen by people who insist on using the English language despite having no feel for it. That is sad. Why not name your home something nice in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Sanskrit, or whatever? Do the people who name them have no beautiful vocabulary they can call their own?

Below, a closer look at the star. It says "Love was born at Christmas, star 'n' angels gave the sign", and then hope, love, joy, peace, and "Wishing you a merry Christmas".

I don't know for sure what this little bit of road is called. I'm just calling it Convent Avenue. It's the lane right across from the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana. Every year the entire lane is lit up, and for some reason it always reminds me of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.

Below, the star on Convent Avenue.

I think from a distance this star looks like an LED dragonfly.

I took the picture below with a flash, so you can see the Christmas lights intertwined with tropical bougainvillea. India is north of the equator so technically it's "winter" in Mumbai, but that just means about 15 degrees Celsius (roughly 60 Fahrenheit), so I was in T-shirt and sandals.

I walked past the dragonfly/star, and took the picture below.

Below, a closer look at the star/dragonfly. It was a lot of LED bulbs strung around a wire frame. Probably nothing special to look at in the daytime, but quite pretty at night. I thought the sign dangling below struck a jarring visual note. FWIW, it says "The star guides you to the Christ, Prince of Peace".

Somebody's home on either Convent Av or St. Francis Road.

Below, a vinyl sign at the corner of Convent Av and St. Francis Road, put up by the Congress Party. Mumbai can always count on its politicians to uglify everything with their poor aesthetic sense. There was a bigger, uglier Christmas greeting put up by the BJP near Sacred Heart Church, but I didn't take a picture. If they want to make our neighborhood ugly, the least they can do is make us laugh - Baba Siddique should have worn a Santa suit for this picture. Next election I'm not voting for anyone unless they wear a Santa suit in their Christmas poster.

Below, a dilapidated cross outside a dilapidated cottage at the corner of Hasanabad Lane and St. Francis Road. My camera is straight, the cross is crooked.

Below, festive decorations outside a coffee shop in Santa Cruz East.

Happy 2010!


Celly said...

I like the picture of the crooked cross.

moi said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Celly, and thank you for the comment. Glad you liked the picture!

Celly said...

No probs. Always like to be supportive!