Mumbaiwale: A date with Instagram’s Dombivlikar

An anonymous Instagram account offers a glorious glimpse of the fringe suburb. But who runs the show?

mumbai Updated: Aug 21, 2018 10:15 IST
Hindustan Times
The quintessential Dombivli shot. This bridge that crosses the Ulhas river is a photographer’s delight.(@DOMBIVLIKAR)

I know who Batman is. The anonymous operator of the popular Instagram account @Dombivlikar is a family man, a marketing professional, a longtime Dombivli resident and someone who clearly loves his part of the world.

His feed, however, is where he shines as a superhero. Over the three years and 1,500 posts he’s shown viewers that Dombivli isn’t riding on Mumbai’s coattails. The neighbourhood is beautiful, culturally vibrant, full of scenic spots, interesting people and historical surprises.

Run through the feed. There’s fresh fish in the bazaars, rain-drenched greenery, old temples, super trendy hip-hop dance groups, scenes from everyday life, and lots of shots of railway tracks, the area’s lifeline.

Remains of abandoned Chola Power station at Thakurli (@DOMBIVLIKAR)

“I wanted people to see what Dombivli is really like,” says the man behind the account. “Growing up in Mumbai, I’d tease ‘Gao se aaya hai’ when I learned that a person came from Dombivli. But moving here after marriage I’ve grown to love it. It’s cosmopolitan and safe and its people come together to celebrate their culture in a way that happens only in parts of south Mumbai.”

A park for senior citizens. It’s close to Morachi Gaadi (Peacock Train), which was an integral part of local childhoods. (@DOMBIVLIKAR)

Dombivlikar is much more than pretty pictures. “I feel responsible towards my followers, so I also share news of floods and bandhs, even something as small as when an autorickshaw overcharges by Rs 2,” he says. There’s something new every day, much of it now contributed by locals. “When I started, it was hard to find people who were proud of living in Dombivli. Now, I’m bombarded with contributions and people get upset when their pictures are not chosen.”

Dhol-tasha at Phadke Road. Several posts on the Dombivlikar feed feature aerial shots. (@DOMBIVLIKAR)

It’s one reason he stays anonymous. People can be pushy, and young women, especially, have been a little too friendly. He also shares freebies like meals with followers, so it helps that freeloaders can’t identify him. “Plus not being recognised means people are more honest,” he says. “And when there’s an event I’m part of, people ask me, ‘Can you talk to the Batman?’ I say, ‘Sure’ and smile.”

Visit @Dombivlikar on Instagram for details of a photo-walk organised on the evening of August 12.

One of the feed’s most popular shots was taken at Thakurli. (@DOMBIVLIKAR)

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 00:46 IST