Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mumbai Memories – Empress Court

MUMBAI MEMORIES 

I Spent the Six of the Best Years of My Life in Mumbai – 6 glorious years from the years 2000 to 2006.

During these 6 best years of my life  I lived in EMPRESS COURT  my all time favourite home – the best house I have ever lived in during my entire life.

I wish I could have had my retirement home in that lovely neighbourhood  or nearby  but then  can an honest Naval Officer afford a house in South Mumbai...?

Maybe a Merchant Navy Officer can afford a house in So Bo (South Bombay) – but if you have spent your life honestly serving the nation in the “Fauji Indian Navy  forget about Mumbai  you will not be able to afford a home in the heart of Pune  and  you would probably have to settle down in some faraway suburb like Wakad or Baner or Kharadi  or  in one of those military veteran “fauji ghettos” like Mundhwa, Kondhwa or Mohammadwadi  where most retired defence service officers have settled down.

But in your mind’s eye  you can always hark back  and relive your “good old days” with nostalgia. 

That is what I am going to do in the next few blog posts – I will reminisce about my glorious Mumbai days.

Here is the first post – on Empress Court

EMPRESS COURT 
My Home in Mumbai For the Six Best Years of My Life
By 
VIKRAM KARVE
 
The next time you visit South Mumbai  go to Churchgate, admire the beautiful Art Deco style façade of the Eros Cinema, an architectural landmark, which marks the beginning of the Art Deco district of Oval Precinct.

Then  start walking southwards down Maharshi Karve Road  passing Eros  and – Sundance Cafe to your right  the verdant Oval Maidan across the road to your left.
 
Keep walking past splendid Art Deco buildings like Court View, Queens Court, Greenfield, Windsor, Rajesh Mansion.

Stop at the T-junction with Dinsha Vachha Road  look across the road  and  you will see the most magnificent building of them all – Empress Court.
 
Pause for a moment to appreciate the splendid pista green building with its exquisite façade. 

Then cross Dinsha Vachha road  walk towards Empress Court – enter the building through the elegant entrance of Empress Court  climb up the wooden spiral staircase to the second floor (or  if you prefer – ride up in the ornate lift)  and  ring the doorbell.

If you had come around 15 years earlier 
 maybe  I would have opened the door – for this is the place where I spent the six best years of my life.

Oh yes! 

How can I ever forget Empress Court – the best house I have ever lived in.
 
Let’s go in.

A huge hall 
 dining room to the left  drawing room to the right  airy windows  and a cute circular balcony.

Stand in the Balcony 
 and  admire Mumbai University’s Rajabai Clock Tower right in front of you across the Oval  the High Court to its left  and Old Secretariat to the right.

All the buildings across the Oval are iconic Gothic Style majestic structures in stone.
 
Walk through the airy cool rooms  each with a balcony with excellent views. 

Open the doors and windows  and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. 

It’s heavenly. 

Words cannot describe the blissful delight I felt when I lived here in Empress Court. 

Close your eyes and think of GB Mhatre  the architect who crafted and designed this elegant apartment house.
 
Empress Court  facing the Rajabai Clock Tower – is located on the western side of the Oval – and  is a part of the heritage Fort Precinct. 

The lush green Oval Maidan  a Grade I Heritage Precinct  an open space colonial pattern esplanada of scenic beauty  acting as a buffer between two architectural period styles:

1. The Gothic buildings of the Mumbai University  the Bombay High Court  and – the Old Secretariat to the East of the Oval (Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil Marg earlier called Mayo Road)

and
 
2. Art Deco district to its West of the Oval (Maharshi Karve Road earlier called Queens Road)

 
The location of Empress Court is ideal.

There is the Oxford Bookstore next door 
 where I spent delightful hours browsing books on elegant orange rocking chairs  refreshing myself with delicious cups of invigorating teas in the Cha Bar.

Just a short walk across Shankar Jaikishen Chowk 
 and past the Cricket Club of India (CCI) – and  you are on Marine Drive. 

Opposite Empress Court is the lush green Oval Maidan  ideal for brisk walks in the mornings and evenings  and rollicking times playing with your pets.

The Business and Art districts, education, museums, sightseeing, shopping, good food, entertainment, night life, clubs, sports, bus and railway stations – everything is so nearby. 

You are right in the centre of everything that’s happening in Mumbai.
 
I shall never forget the clock atop Mumbai University Rajabai Tower – whose chimes woke me up at 6 every morning – to watch the glorious spectacle of the metamorphosis at sunrise  as the sun rose every morning  between the tall Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Building and the Rajabai Clock Tower.

How can I forget the soothing green Oval Maidan  the Football Matches at the Cooperage nearby – just down the street  and – the calm tranquil soothing sunsets on Marine Drive.
 
Thank you Empress Court ...!!!

I shall always cherish the 6 years I spent with you 
 yes six glorious years from 2000 to 2006 – the best years of my life  in the best place I have ever lived in

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
This Story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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