April 09, 2017

Of Nameplates and Neighbourhoods


Name Plate

Dr. M. A. Misquita’s Family’

The nameplate bearing the name of the doctor is set in the wall, held firm by four iron clamps that betray their age, that of the nameplate, and of the house.

The neighbourhood is even older, among the oldest in the city.

The use of ‘family’ leaves no doubt that Dr. Misquita intended for succeeding generations to share the same roof, through thick and thin, in turn contributing to the neighbourhood retaining its cultural identity.  

Two more nameplates hang from the wall.

Dr. Apolinario Fernandes

Dr. Lawrence Fernandes

They’re both new relative to the one bearing Dr. Misquita’s name and hang from nails and can be easily lifted off the wall unlike the older nameplate that’s held fast by metal clamps.

While all three are doctors, the latter two include their professional qualifications (M.B.B.S) while the former doesn’t, likely indicating a medical degree of an earlier provenance, maybe from before independence.

Since medical profession seems to run in the family, I wonder if succeeding generations from the Misquita family will in turn affix newer nameplates, designed after practices of their time, each occupying a pride of place amidst those from before.

The difference in the design of the name plates, their wall fixings, the noting (and the lack) of medical qualifications attest to changes in practices over the years just as the renovations to old houses in old neighbourhoods sit uncomfortably with the older layers and constructs.

Like layers of earth exposed during archaeological digs, each succeeding layer revealing an earlier era, so do neighbourhoods in transition, where continuous habitation of homes by succeeding generations ensures that time trails off slowly, the passing of each moment frozen in elements surviving from an earlier time, of an earlier people, of an earlier way of life.

When Bombay loses its old neighbourhoods as it certainly will, replaced by high rises with entrances turned away from the street, walking through neighbourhoods will be no different from walking among nameless, indistinguishable boxes with little of no indication of the lives within, for, in the tell tale signs visible from the street, neighbourhoods talk to passers-by, welcoming them with signs of habitation that attest to identities by way of nameplates among others.

Without nameplates and doors facing streets, neighbourhoods are poorer on their identity.

6 comments:

am said...

Good to see a post from you today. Hope all is well with you. I had not noticed that you had YouTube videos until now. I enjoyed watching the one about the market.

Long ago I mentioned a carved wooden toy that belonged to my father because it reminded me of a photo of a wooden toy you posted on your blog. It was given to my father as a boy in early 1900s by missionaries who had been in China. You expressed curiosity about the toy. At the time I had been unable to find the toy. have since found the toy. I may have already showed this to you, but if not:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBRzzDQ6SXA&t=128s

Kind wishes,
am

am said...

Something tells me I gave you the wrong link. If so, this is the correct link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBRzzDQ6SXA

Anil P said...

Am: Thank you. Great to see your comment. Hope all is fine with you.

It's been a very long time. Things are okay. Bumpy roads and flat stretches.

The 'Market' one is a glimpse into the hinterland, one that is memorable to me for many reasons.

The post you refer to was about Varanasi/Benares where a vendor was selling wooden toys.

I remembered you mentioning the toy before but had not seen it. Your link worked. It's a very well crafted toy. Beautiful. Very life-like. Things must've changed in China from the time the toy was made, and even to those living there, toys such as this must be the only trail of a life and times past. A treasure.

VioletSky said...

It's always a joy to read your posts.
I fear there is a lack of permanence in our 21st century society.

Anil P said...

VioletSky: Thank you for your kind words.

I agree. There's a palpable lack of permanence now. Maybe it's got to do with lack of time to remember anything permanently.

Dwiti R said...

True... most cities have moved from becoming familiar neighbours to strange looking building... from helpful friends to nameless surroundings...

Btw, nice blog.