Image and Text contributed by Sohail Akbar, New Delhi
This photograph, as the handwriting below tells us was taken on the 31st of March, 1957 at Bombay Airport, Santacruz. Among the many photographs that adorn a very beautiful album maintained by my mother, Dr. Rehana Bashir, I find this picture the most fascinating, perhaps because of my love for airplanes and airports but also because it is the first picture of a photo album that is primarily a pretext to my mother’s life in England as a student. This picture is clearly my mother’s favourite too as it the opening image of that album.
My mother Rehana was the only daughter born to Prof. Bashiruddin and his wife Shafiq Begum (standing left most in the picture) in 1930. Her father was a Professor at the Aligarh Muslim University and was a true modernist. He sent his daughter to St Mary’s Convent in Allahabad (UP), one of the best missionary schools in the state. She did well in studies and qualified to study Medicine at Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi. The year was 1949 and India had only recently achieved Independence, though the scars of partition were very visible.
The best story that she has about going to study in Delhi is the scare that her father’s friends had tried to instill in his mind – of sending a young Muslim girl to study alone in a city where a number of people of the community had lost their lives in the partition riots. But my maternal grandfather was brave and did not succumb to pressure. His daughter found an admission into the Medical College. Needless to say that she was the only Muslim girl in her class. She recalls the time during the admission process – her father had stayed in old Delhi with his friends – and there was night curfew and an electric fence was drawn and turned on around the locality at night.
Lady Hardinge Medical College exposed my mother to a cosmopolitan life and new friends. She remembers riding a bicycle around Connaught Circus, having ice cream at Wengers, (Delhi’s oldest bakery) and watching films at the Regal theatre (the first cinema theatre constructed in Delhi).) She completed her MBBS in 1953. The same album has a lovely photograph of hers in a black graduation gown holding her degree, posing at perhaps one of the famous Connaught Place photo studios.
Her first job brought her back to Allahabad, where a hospital had been opened in the premises of Anand Bhawan, the residence of the Nehrus. It was called the Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital. This was a prestigious first job, where Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru would drop by whenever he was in town to see how things were. After working for four years and acquiring much needed experience my mother, Rehana, decided to go to England for higher studies. England was still the most favoured destination for education and she already had a couple of her friends in London.
On 31st of March 1957, Dr. Rehana Bashir took a flight, possibly the plane behind her (Flying Tiger Line), or maybe an Air India flight, from Bombay Airport to spend the next three years garnering a Diploma in Gynecology at a hospital in Brighton, England. A whole band of friends and family had come along dto see her off. In the photograph are my grandmother (left most), my two uncles and an aunt. My mother is in the center wearing dark glasses, holding a bouquet of flowers. Next to her is a close doctor friend Pushpmalti who had travelled from Allahabad just to say bye. The lady standing behind my grandmother in dark glasses is a friend from Medical College, Dr. Urmil Shah, their host in Bombay (now Mumbai); this picture is perhaps taken by Dr. Urmil’s husband, Gunvant Bhai and my mother recalls that the three gentlemen standing on the right are friends of Urmil and Gunvant. If we look closely, one of them holds the camera case.
I have often discussed those years in England with my mother and what is fascinating in today’s context is that she says that for three years she did not hear her parent’s voice. Phone services to Aligarh from London were not possible then. It is indeed incredible that we are living in the grand leap of technology.
Aug 01, 2016 | Categories: 1947 India Pakistan Partition, 1950s, Aircraft, Airport, Aligarh University, Allahabad, Arrivals & Departures, Bicycle, Bombay, Bombay to London, College, Cotton, Delhi, Doctor, Dressed for an Occasion, Education, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Graduation Gowns, Hindu Muslim, Islamic, Masters, Men's Clothes, Movies, Muslim, Photography, Previous, Riots, Santa Cruz, Sarees, Silk, St. Mary's Convent, Travel, United Kingdom, Uttar Pradesh, Western Clothes, Women, Women Empowerment | Tags: 1930, 1947 India Pakistan Partition, 1953, 1957, Airport, Aligarh Muslim University, Allahabad, Anand Bhawan, Arrivals & Departures, Bombay, Brighton, Connaught Circus, curfew, Delhi, Diploma, Dr. Rehana Bashir, England, Flying Tiger Line, graduation, Graduation Gowns, Gynecology, Hinduism, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, MBBS, Medical college, Mumbai, Muslim, Old Delhi, Phone, Prime Minister, Regal Theatre, Riots, Sarees, Shafiq Begum, Sohail Akbar, St Mary’s Convent, Sunglasses, Wengers | 1 Comment »
Image and text contributed by Prasad Ramamurthy, Mumbai
Both my grandparents’ families were Tamil Palghat Brahmins and migrated from Kerala over generations through Karnataka to finally settle in Bengaluru (Bangalore) . A few years after they got married my grandparents moved from Bengaluru to Bombay in 1932.
In the late 70’s when all you had was a single airline called Air India to fly you out the country to anywhere, you really needed to ‘know’ somebody to help you get Emergency Quota tickets air travel and that was a well and truly a big deal. So when you set off somewhere or returned it meant the entire family, extended family and the house staff turned up to say hello or bid you goodbye.
Like, when my grandparents who had gone to Iran to visit an uncle of mine (he worked for the Tata’s and was building power plants for the Iranian government then) returned. We; my parents, the three of us, my uncle, the house staff, my uncle’s office staff and two others I don’t even recognise turned up garlands in hand and with those curious things that every newly married couple was made to hold onto in those days while greeting guests at the marriage reception. I’m sure my uncle was thankful that when he set off a few years later, on what then to us was an epic trip to the US for three whole months, we didn’t do the garland-bouquet routine. But of course there always was a mandatory picture, family, extended family, staff included!
Jan 27, 2011 | Categories: 1970s, Airport, Arrivals & Departures, Bombay, Brahmin, Corporate Job, Hindu, Indian Clothes, Iran, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Men, Men's Clothes, Migration, Sarees, Tamilian, Western Clothes, Women, Women's Clothes | Tags: 1930s, 1970s, Air India, Air tickets, Airport, Arrivals & Departures, Bangalore, Bengaluru, Bombay, Brahmin, Corporate Job, Emergency Quota, Extended Family, Family Photograph, Flight, Garlands, Hinduism, Iran, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Men, Men's Clothes, Migration, Power Plants, Prasad Ramamurthy, Sarees, South Indian, Tamil Palghat Brahmins, Tamilian, Tata, Travel | 4 Comments »
Image contributed by Minal Hajratwala
This image was photographed when my second cousin, Dalpat Kapitan and his family were at the airport, en route to a family vacation in India. This was also at the height of “petty apartheid” in South Africa, when all public places were being segregated. Kapitan and his family owned a restaurant in Durban, South Africa, and his father and my Great great uncle, G.C. Kapitan is credited with inventing the fava-bean version of the “bunny chow.” The bunny chow, a loaf of bread filled with curry, is considered by some to be South Africa’s national dish.
For more images of my family, please click here
Oct 08, 2010 | Categories: 1960s, Airport, Apartheid, Curry, Food & Drink, Migration, Racism, South Africa, Travel | Tags: 1960s, Airport, Apartheid, Bread, Bunny Chow, Cousin, Curry, Durban, Food & Drink, Kapitan, Migration, Minal Hajratwala, National Dish, Non white, racism, Restaurant, Segregation, South Africa, Travel, Vacation | 2 Comments »