Sometimes I walk over to visit this place in the late evening to stand at the fence and watch the sun go down on the Rajabai Clock tower and the Bombay High Court, built in early English Gothic style, across the Oval maidan where people, young and old, spend their time playing cricket. The 260 feet high Rajabai Clock tower now stands still in the Mumbai University gardens. It is named after a Bombay stockbroker’s mother in whose memory he contributed to its construction in the 1870s. In those days it played ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘God Save the King’, and Handel Symphony among other tunes. Today it merely imitates the Big Ben.
There is something about the late afternoon sun in the Fort-Colaba area of Mumbai that enriches the old structures it lights up in gold. Watching them turn to gold, I’m reminded of the Midas story I read back in school. I like to watch the shadows lengthen from the cricket bats and wickets used by players in the centre as the sun dips behind the Mumbai skyline, covering the ground in large, urgent steps closing in on the players in the middle. Occasionally I carry my camera to take a few pictures. As the shadows sweep in across the Oval, I watch the cricketers hurry up with their match to beat the approaching dusk. There is a certain languid feel to the whole scene that I’ve come to cherish and treasure, a certain old-world feel that I can fall in step with and walk to the pace of decades ago when Mumbai was a place you came to work because you wanted to and not because you had to, when time stood still when you paused, moving only when you did.