Mumbaiwale: One-of-a-kind city souvenirs you’ll never want to part with
Tile-themed wallpaper, postcards of mill areas, a map through a UNESCO site and other collectibles
There’s a column building up in my mind about the questions I get asked as a Mumbai columnist. Being everyone’s first port of call for city queries is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I have no power over (or interest in) the BMC’s garbage collection system in your locality. On the other hand, some questions are wonderful gateways to understanding how people see Mumbai.
All winter, as NRIs descended, friends kept asking me for recommendations on gifts that represent our city. There was a time when they could be placated by the odd autorickshaw fridge magnet, a vintage print of Flora Fountain, or a three-tiered stainless steel dabba with a personal message engraved onto it. There’s more to choose from now. If you’re looking for presents or souvenirs, these go beyond the usual clichés.
Bharat Floorings & Tiles’ 2019 book: It’s not a book in the conventional sense. Eight sample cement-tile patterns from the 80-year-old bespoke flooring company are bound into one gorgeous volume. For me, that was reason enough anyway – BFT has tiled some of the city (and country’s) most iconic homes, offices and institutions. But each sample is designed to open out four-fold, with perforations at the spine to tear away and form a giant sheet of wrapping paper. There’s a tiny strip with the pattern’s name and details. They released the book late last year, quietly, on Instagram, taking orders on DM. It’s a beautiful, unusual souvenir of a beautiful, unusual side of Mumbai. I bought two.
Simran Arora’s postcards of central Mumbai: The 23-year-old architect and researcher loves Mumbai is a way few of us do. She also likes making maps. So when she announced on Twitter (@Simran_Aro) that she was turning some of them into postcards, I knew they’d make great keepsakes. Five mills feature in the works, offering a bird’s-eye view of Ghodapdeo and United Mill No. 2&3. The neighbourhood is fast changing, and her pen portraits capture the areas beautifully. There’s a small heritage trail route at the back of the postcards. DM her for details. They’re on my must-have list.
Filter’s textile-label prints
Filter’s textile-label prints: At one point of Mumbai’s history it was the centre of the textile trade. And when bolts of mill cloth needed to be sealed shut, the stickers used were emblazoned with artwork featuring logos, brand-names and mascots in a style that was perhaps the first mix of East and West. The Kala Ghoda store Filter’s wall prints are a great way to appreciate beauty, commerce, history and whimsy all at once.
Simran Arora’s postcards of central Mumbai
Art Deco Mumbai’s fold-out map: When south Mumbai’s ensemble of Victorian Gothic and Art Deco structures became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, the city rejoiced. One organisation did more. Art Deco Mumbai, a small team dedicated to documenting Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings and advocating for their conservation, put out a much-needed guide to locating and understanding the structures. The map (main pic) is a thing of beauty, with illustrations and photographs marking locations, landmarks, design motifs and their relevance to the city’s design heritage. They’ve even included lettering and a walking path. The team also has a set of beautiful bookmarks featuring design elements from Mumbai’s Art Deco cinema halls. Get both.