This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of the DNA newspaper published on February 27, 2012 (pg.6).
I did my first 4 years of schooling in Mumbai and without fail the annual school picnic followed the same pattern—a visit to the Byculla Zoo, followed by lunch in the grounds there; then a quick visit to the Gateway of India; and finally a drive along the Marine Drive to the Kamala Nehru Park at Malabar Hill. This is part that we kids would be waiting for—a romp in the grounds and a visit to the Shoe House in the Park (and not necessarily in that order).
The Shoe House, which is supposedly inspired by the nursery rhyme “The Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe”, was the star attraction for us. A larger than life shoe-shaped house, painted a bright yellow with red shoe laces, a red roof and red chimney—it was every kid’s dream house. We would climb the narrow stairs in twos and threes to the balcony and wave out to the other classmates and feel that the Shoe House and the world belonged to us ! Ah the thrill and joy that little climb gave us.
My family left Mumbai in 1980 and that was the last I saw it. Till last February, that is, when I visited the Kamala Nehru Park on a sudden whim. I was delighted to see that the Shoe House was still standing and children were still running in and out of it. What was surprising was that there were so many adults who competing with the children and running up and down the stairs, and posing and getting their photographs taken. I too waited my turn and climbed up to the balcony and waved to the people standing below. And felt on top of the world, with all my nostalgic memories rushing back.
Of course, the yellow of the Shoe House had faded, the shoe looked dirty and scuffed, but it was charming nevertheless. But then so is nostalgia, isn’t it? 😀
Mumbai Lens is a photographic series which, as the name suggests, is Mumbai-centric and is an attempt to capture the various moods of the city through my camera lens. You can read more posts from this series here.