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Old among the new

Sixty-four-year-old Jayant Jategaonkar shivered at the thought of losing the ethnicity of Girgaum to the high-rise culture, reports Amrita U Kadam.

mumbai Updated: Oct 02, 2009 01:51 IST
Amrita U Kadam

Sixty-four-year-old Jayant Jategaonkar shivered at the thought of losing the ethnicity of Girgaum to the high-rise culture.

The Jategaonkar family, which runs a small hotel in the area are among the oldest residents of Girgaum, trying to adjust to the changing trends of the city as high rises replace chawls they grew up around.

The Malabar Hill constituency, post delimitation, represents the diversity Mumbai is known for. The 2.7 lakh voters of the constituency are spread across the middle class Maharashtrian-dominated Girgaum and the rich Gujarati and Marwari strongholds of Malabar Hill and Peddar Road.

Grappling with redevelopment issues, Girgaum is the area where people are most protective about retaining the flavour of old Mumbai.

Recalling the bittersweet memories of the years gone by with a 60-year-old lawyer friend Satish Bhide over a glass of nimbu pani (lemonade), Jategaonkar said he misses the old Majestic theatre that used to hold Marathi talks. “Rekha (his wife) and I used to visit Majestic often. It has now been torn down as a modern structure has been built up there.”

Bhide interrupted: “We do not let the greedy builders flock around our chawls.”

But the love for their homes comes at a heavy price. The house gullies are often a mess and an eyesore.

“The MLA woos voters by repairing the house gully attached to a particular chawl but cleanliness is not maintained and that leads to disease,” said Jategaonkar.

Lack of parking space is a big issue-— something old residents of the area would have never imagined decades ago.

“I park my car a lane away,” said Jategaonkar. Six months ago someone stole the stereo system from his car.

The other side of the spectrum is comfortable in its secure surroundings.

Chandru Fatnani (65), a real estate agent who owns a flat in swanky Malabar-Cumballa Hill locality said: “When I sell the flats here I tell my client about the security and infrastructure that would come along with it.”

Rates of some flats are as high as Rs 80, 000 per square feet. Malabar Hill area also houses India’s billionaires and well-known socialites.

However, parking problems that have aggravated in the past five years have also kept his clients at bay.

“Most builders provide with parking spaces but a lot can be done to solve these issues like the widening of roads and increasing the floor space index,” he added.

Traffic problems at Teen Batti chowk in Walkeshwar and at Peddar Road are problems that have not been addressed. “There is no control over the traffic that comes into this area,” Fatnani added.

Sitting MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha said, “My main focus would be to get the traffic problem in place by pushing the work of Haji Ali to Nariman point sea- link.”

Lodha, the three time MLA has so far spent his funds evenly for widening of roads, laying water pipelines and solving sewerage issues most of which are civic issues to be looked after by the civic body.

Being a part of the old city this area also has old box-type drains that are now crumbling.

Only last month, a portion of Peddar Road at the Cadbury junction caved in after one such drain collapsed.