History, through its stories, shapes a continent, a country, a town, a person and its future generations. It intrigues people with its power of answering questions of where and how one came from and predicting where will one go. It doesn’t only dwell in great wars and civilizations but also in simple stories of people and their lives. History matters, and it matters greatly when it’s connected to you. The past of where you come from and you grew up is of greater significance to you than the past of an unknown land. Looking into local history ignites in you the sense of belonging, for local can be anything from your country to your very own house. The local history might be eventful or uneventful but it still holds value to its people, as it is HISTORY, the past, their very own past. This write up is about my local area, my local history, this is for my Tardeo, the place that gave me birth and nurtured me and in return, I tried to look into her birth and how she was nurtured.
Mumbai is formed of 7 islands and one of these islands was the Bombay Island and that’s where Tardeo was located, that’s the only statement I got regarding the birth of the place that has hundreds of stories woven together, the internet or the informer in this age doesn’t do justice to this wonderful locality. Therefore, to unveil the story of Tardeo, I turned to the one who is the best at story telling – my grandfather. Recalling the story my great grandmother told him in his childhood, he told me the origin of Tardeo. The Taad (Palmyra Palm) trees grew in abundance in this area of the Bombay Island, also there was a tiny temple of Goddess Taad, the place got the name TARDEO. Then we went down memory lane and recalled the Tardeo from his memories, at a point, it did get a little emotional but stories of the good old days made up for it. The area stretches from Nana Chauk to Haji Ali. He said that the vast area has always been a home to diversity, the diversity may be in economic or cultural classes or in the variety of religions practiced by the people in the area. There was a place for everyone, there were various chawls accommodating lower and upper middle class, there were slums where the lower class lived and there were buildings and colonies where the upper class resided and in all these localities people practicing various religions lived together. If you go to see now, you’ll only find buildings and there won’t be any signs of chawls or slums.
The area had a major role in shaping him, coming from a poor family he shared his experiences of living in the slums of New Jaifalwadi, they started from nothing when they shifted to Mumbai from the village. Living there was difficult and envy for the riches obviously followed but there was that strong urge to always work hard and achieve everything that the riches had. Living in the chawls had its own benefits, although disconnected by blood, they were connected emotionally and lived like one big family. The people were kind and helpful and if they weren’t it taught him how to help himself in difficulties. Back in the days if a kid scored 60% in an exam, the whole chawl used to celebrate unlike now, where a child achieves great success and yet the family is unsatisfied.
Tardeo has several skyscrapers now but in my grandfather’s time there was only one tall building named Usha Kiran and people from all over the city would come to see the magnificent building. There were more open grounds for kids to play, they used to play cricket, hide and seek, tag, land and water, kho kho and various other sports. When malls were foreign for the people of Tardeo, there were fairs at Mahalaxmi temple, Chaupaty, and Tardeo Police Camp for a few days per year they would have access to Ferris Wheels, Merry-Go-Rounds, Spinning tea cups, shooting and the highlight would be the photo booth with a car shaped cardboard cutout and the background picture of tall skyscrapers, everyone would line up to click pictures in these photo booths.
Kishore G Shah, a shop owner near Tardeo circle said that he was in grief when Ganga Jamuna and Diana, the two famous theatres in the area were shut down due to BMC’s orders. The theatres were the attractions of the town. His shop is close to both the theatres and many people used to buy eatery from his shop when they visited either of the theatres, now the number of customers has reduced drastically. He says he misses the old Tardeo where he didn’t have to hear cars and buses honking constantly. He longs for the melodious sound of cycles passing by and singing *tring tring*. He also remembers having an STD booth right beside his shop but now there stands a big Samsung shop.
My Grandmother told me how Tardeo was also known as a major market place, it has the Tardeo Market and Bhaji Galli, then there were two major fish markets in the area, the Tardeo Fish market and the Grant Road fish market. These were the main market places and people from Walkweshwar and Pedar Road would come here to buy fresh vegetables and fishes. The value of these markets went down gradually as the supermarket industry flourished in Tardeo.
My mother told me about her school, it was a municipal school, but the school wasn’t like the stereotypical municipal school, it was a very well disciplined school and gave a lot of importance to sports and meditation. Over the years, with private schools being built, the school lost many students and it didn’t do well, many builders started bidding for the land and now her school is only alive in her memories, a tall building stands where the school used to stand. It hurts her that the school that taught her to read and write is not there anymore.
There exists unity in diversity in Tardeo but there were times in the 1980s when its unity and peace was affected by the religious riots. My mother lived in Tardeo Colony, which is right beside a petrol pump, she told that during one of the riots an oil selling shop nearby was set on fire and soon rumours spread that someone would set the petrol pump on fire and due to this she and her cousins would go and sit on the terrace of the building in order to protect themselves and keep an eye on the petrol pump from above.
These were few stories I came to know about Tardeo and the people living here in the past, they gave me a whole new perspective of Tardeo that nobody ever mentioned in books or online. Tardeo has developed over the years, its shape and structure has changed from its original one filled with Palmyra Palm trees to huge Imperial towers but the past of this place still has a deep impact on the lives of the people it gave birth to and nurtured, every one of them got something from this beautiful place, may it be strength, education, fishes, vegetables, customers or movies. Everyone found a place for themselves in this little diverse place and every single one has a history of their own to share.