Progress! Development! Modernisation! and now, Smart!
These are weighty terms whose burden our cities have been carrying over the years and will continue to do so for some time to come. Not that they are in any way malicious to the millions who dwell there but it is the way we are shaping the urban spaces in the name of progress and development is what is concerning. A superficial observation only indicates that progress is synonymous to concretization. Idiosyncrasies are being lost in this race as everyone around involved in “developing” the nation seems to have gone for a standard design. Whether it is really possible to preserve the character of our cities is debatable especially in the backdrop of the ferocious figures of our increasing population and poverty, nonetheless it is a debate which the makers of the modern India must constantly engage in.
So when my wife took to me to Hearsch & Co. I was somewhat surprised. I had not imagined an old sprawling premises albeit devoid of diligent maintenance to have housed this famous bakery in the Pali Hill, Bandra. Today when every little space available is being given up for redevelopment this was an oasis, a small bakery in the corner of a big compound with a vintage look reminiscing the years gone by. The menu had a variety of fast food, priced generously and the counter was busy taking orders from its patrons, I would believe, who had come for a Sunday evening feast. I went for the Frankie and my wife ordered some fried rice for herself and found ourselves a seat in the natural ambiance around to enjoy the food we had just got. While we sat and ate people kept coming in, there were couples out on a weekend, friends and families. It evoked a rare sense of legacy, not to be found in the modern cafes. Age old as it is this bakery has quite an interesting background. The name was not Indian so I looked it up on web and found out that the founder J Hearsch was of German origin. He fled back to his home during the 1920s when the relations between the British and the Germans soured. Before leaving however, he had handed over the bakery to Sophia Liberata Fernandes, a Goan who herself had experience in the trade and was looking out for a new venture. Since that handover the bakery has stood there and the world around it transformed. I am sure that there would be many who had been visiting this bakery for years and will have some interesting anecdotes of their own etched in their memories.
So I was thinking that there certainly is some merit in preserving such legacies like Hearsch And Co. which add to the urban folklore, otherwise what would our cities be?