“Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.” ― Percy Bysshe Shelley

“From Gini to Ginis” …something near to my life!

In keeping with my resolve not to fiddle with political write-ups for the time being, I’m taking liberty to dig into innocuous nostalgia that might be of some interest to those who keep a tab on history of Mumbai aka Bombay.

I’d landed in Bombay in 1973-74. I can’t recall with surety the exact date. It’s not important. And after a few unsuccessful stints in journalism and film industry elsewhere, I joined the ‘Monginis Restaurant as captain.

This restaurant originally belonged to an Italian family. After changing several hands it landed with the Bohra family that was the pioneer of Super Market Concept in Bombay. They didn’t go for the goodwill of name MONGINI and called their venture – Monginis!

You will find stray hints about ‘Mongini Hotel’ of pre-independence era in Ruth Jhabbawala’s award winning novel ‘Heat and Dust.’ You can also read about social and political understanding and acumen of Amjad Ali in the Urdu novel ‘Panch Loafer’ (Five Scoundrels) written by famous Urdu novelist Krishna Chandra.

The character has great resemblance to the new owner of Mongini and Sheriff of Bombay.

However, what intrigued me to write this peace is a story that has appeared in ‘The Hindu’ daily today.

“A Hundred Years Ago July 30, 1917
Fan accident case: suit dismissed.

At the High Court today (Bombay, July 30) Mr. Justice Kajiji delivered judgment in the suit filed by Mrs. Blanche Edith Catesy, a nurse and midwife, against Messrs Mongini Brothers for the recovery of RS 15,000 as damages and cost.

The fact of the case are briefly as follows: On 4th May 1916, the plaintiff and her daughter went to the defendants’ restaurant to have lunch and when they seated at the table, the waiter switched on a fan overhead. The plaintiff wishing the fan to be stopped…..the waiter switched it off.

The fan immediately fell down with armature and severely injured the plaintiff. She was seen to the hospital where her wounds were attended to. The plaintiff alleged that he was under medical treatment owing to the accident for one month, had to incur expense on that account and was incapacitated from carrying on her profession.

Under the circumstances she claimed Rs 15,000 as damages. The defendants admitted the accident but they did not admit that there had been any injury to her body. They denied that the fall of the fan had been due to any negligence on their part as alleged by the plaintiff.”……end of the quote.

We know that memories always have a way of evolving, becoming either more gentle with the passing years or taking on added dimensions of intensity. At times we may also need to sieve through our memories of people whom we have known in the past to determine their degree of accuracy.

I’ve been attached to Monginis Group for nine years and the mother family for the later 24 years. The parting gift I had received from them was a ‘prototype steal ship’ with nickel coating in glass box with a blue velvety background – nothing written on it.

It still stands singularly on the corner table of my drawing room. It stares at me, at times reminding me of a proverbial ship than ran aground. Often it whispers in ears about the futility of loyalties, trusts and relationship, and finally a thought that does flash like comet – an acceptance of the fate.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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