New India Assurance Building
Art Deco is not an architectural style most people would associate with India. But, in fact, Mumbai has one of the largest collections of Art Deco buildings in the world, second only to Miami.
The Art Deco buildings on Marine Drive and those along the nearby park, the Oval Maidan, were designated last year by Unesco as a World Heritage site, and activists hope the new designation will help preserve the neighborhood. According to The New York Times, Atul Kumar, a resident of Marine Drive, founded the nonprofit Art Deco Mumbai in 2016 to raise awareness of these buildings on social media, as well as to document them in an online repository. The final list is estimated to total 600 buildings, built between 1930 and 1950 with streamlined forms and geometric motifs.
“What is special about Mumbai’s architecture, and about Art Deco in particular, is that unlike Delhi it is not all monuments or public buildings,” Mr. Kumar told The New York Times. “It is homes and schools and cinemas, spaces we have lived in, grown up with and can relate to.”
What the Times did not report is that many Baghdadi Jews lived in the Art Deco buildings near the Maidan because the neighborhood was in walking distance of the Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue. During our visits to Mumbai, we pass by the Regal Cinema, the New India Assurance Building and the Maidan on our Shabbat walks, and stop to admire Mumbai's architectural and Jewish heritage.
Read the full New York Times article here.
India, the land of yoga, meditation, and spirituality, has long held a deep fascination for Westerners. Famous travelers to India have included the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Beatles, Oprah Winfrey, Mick Jagger, Prince Charles, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
In March 1962, Jackie Kennedy and her sister, Lee Radziwell, spent two weeks in India and Pakistan, riding camels and elephants, enjoying a boat ride on the Ganges and posing in front of the Taj Mahal. They were accompanied by John Kenneth Galbraith, the United States ambassador to India, and his wife, Kitty. In India, the sisters were greeted by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi. Crowds lavished them with flowers and gifts.
Lee Radziwell gathered 89 photographs from the trip in a blue album embossed with gold letters that read, "Visit of Mrs. John F. Kennedy to India." It includes a photo of Jackie in front of the Taj Mahal in a green dress and white gloves. After Radziwell's death this past year, the album and other memorabilia are up for auction at Christie's. Read more from The New York Times here.
When we travel to India on our tours, crowds of people don't throw flowers at us on the streets, but we are welcomed privately with garlands of flowers, necklaces to ward off the evil eye, tikka dots and more. We stay at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in Mumbai as Jackie did, and often pose in front of the same bench at the Taj Mahal as she did!
We marvel at India's tolerance, culture and spirituality as well as our own Jewish contribution to India's achievements. There's no place like India!