Morning Walk to Sewri Fort and Jetty in Mumbai

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On way to the Sewri jetty, located at the eastern edge of South Mumbai.

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Flamingos and other migratory birds, arriving from Gujarat, are usually spotted here during the second half of the year.

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Beholding the sea…

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Inside the 17th century Sewri fort built by the British as a watch tower.

Mumbai Through My Eyes

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Marine Drive, South Mumbai

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Marine Drive, South Mumbai

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Cuffe Parade Garden, South Mumbai

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Cuffe Parade Garden, South Mumbai

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Worli Seaface, one of the seven islands of Mumbai

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Cuffe Parade reclamation area

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Cuffe Parade Garden, South Mumbai

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Cuffe Parade Garden, South Mumbai

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Mumbai Fort area, built by the British; also a business district hosting large institutions such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, Reserve Bank of India and the Tata Group

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Fabindia store in Mumbai Fort area

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Cuffe Parade Garden, South Mumbai

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Municipal Corporation Building in South Mumbai

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A procession showing the idol of Hindu elephant god ‘Ganesha’ being taken for immersion into the sea.

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A jogger’s park in Dadar area

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Oval Maidan in South Mumbai

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National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

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Prithvi Theatre, Juhu suburb

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The trees of Mumbai!

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One of the sea-facing art deco buildings in South Mumbai

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Inside the World Centre Complex of Cuffe Parade, South Mumbai

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View of the Meethi River from Mahim Nature Park

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Afghan Church

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Dadar Parsi Colony

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On way to British-era nature park, the ‘Rani Baug’, in Byculla

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On way to British-era nature park, the ‘Rani Baug’, in Byculla

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Inside the historic botanical garden, the ‘Rani Baug’, in Byculla

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Inside the historic botanical garden, the ‘Rani Baug’, in Byculla

The 50:50 Home – Journeys beyond Mumbai and back

A new art exhibition in Mumbai explores the circular journeys of migrant families between the city and their villages in Maharashtra’s Konkan region.

The title of the show, “Mumbai Return: Journey Beyond the City”, personifies a life divided between the twin spaces of the adopted home (Mumbai), and The Home (the migrant’s place of birth and early life). By implication, the exhibition is also an ongoing narrative about themes of home, belongingness, ancestry, and alienation from the migrant’s perspective.

However, the scope of its inquiry and research is not only limited to the familiar themes of home and dislocation. Curated out of a research project by an urban planning collective and a think-tank studying the future of global mobility, the exhibition analyses the transformation of cities and villages as a consequence of migration.

What does home mean to the migrants? Can a migrant belong to two different cultural and geographical spaces at the same time? What is the impact of that migration on their ancestral home? How do the “circular” migrants’ cultural roots shape their life in a new city? The exhibition, on view at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, seeks answers to these questions through mixed media art-works such as installations, films, architectural models, photographs and the traditional Warli painting.

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“For many Mumbaikars, home is here and there, stretched between two inescapable and complimentary polarities,” says the exhibition’s curatorial note. Just as the village house is transformed into an “aspirational city house”, thanks to the new money, some residential areas in Mumbai emanate the communal atmospherics of rural life. The transforming village home and the city flat constitute “the two inescapable and complimentary polarities”, cemented by the migrants’ desire to simultaneously belong to both these spaces.

Such “homegrown” neighbourhoods are Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Naigaon, Shivaji Nagar and Dharavi, the exhibition shows. The community of migrants in these areas live in close proximity to each other just the way they would, back in their villages, according to urbz architect Marius Helten. However, the proximity may also have to do with the city’s space constraints, unlike a village that has a lot more open space.

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Public transport systems of the railways, auto-rickshaws, and buses inevitably contribute to the paradigm of the circular migrant’s life. Artist Sandeep Bhoir essays this back-and-forth movement of migrants onto a large circular “canvas”, placed at the exhibition’s entry. Bhoir’s traditional Warli art-work represents two worlds, the idyllic pastoral life and the rhythmic chaos of cities. The folk element, which personifies the Warli art form, pervades the city-village representation. Perhaps, it’s an implicit pointer to the fact that the memory of “the historical” never fades, irrespective of a migrant’s present geographical location.

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The question of belongingness continues to return, or haunt, the migrant’s narrative. In one of the documentaries shown at the exhibition, a man says he belongs 50 percent to his village and the rest to his city home. The belongingness, he adds, is complete.

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The exhibition closes on August 13, 2017.