This impressive building of the Mumbai General Post Office is just a few steps away from the grand CST Station. It’s difficult to get a decent shot since the trees are blocking the front view of the building. Speaking of trees, one of the several things that truly impressed me about Mumbai is its greenery. There are LOTS of trees everywhere. Old trees.
Anyway, so we went on a Monday. Though it was a holiday, since the Hindus were celebrating the festival of lights, the post office was open, most probably for last minute mailing of greeting cards.
It was designed by British architect John Begg in 1902. Construction began on September 1, 1904. It was completed on March 13, 1913 at a cost of Rs. 1,809,000.
This building is an example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, representing a synthesis of Muslim designs and Indian materials. Black basalt, with a dressing of yellow Kurla stone and white stones from Dhrangdra are the predominant materials used.
The interiors are equally impressive, but both Masood and I hesitated to take photographs. There is a massive dome at the center, and I noticed several paintings of rulers hanging on the walls. There is also a small exhibit of old stamps and letters.
While we were busy taking photographs just outside the post office, I young boy – around 5 years old – approached us. He had unkempt hair and wore old clothes. He looked at us with his huge, innocently pleading eyes, and said, ‘Photo.’ We just smiled and started walking away, when I told Masood that we should probably take his picture; it’ll make the child happy. I was sure he was fascinated by the camera we were holding. Either that, or he loved having his picture taken.
So we turned and walked towards the boy. The moment he saw us, he came running, with this broad smile on his face. And I was like, ‘Awww!’ But the moment Masood pointed the camera at him and started to focus, we heard a woman’s voice (who had been sitting nearby but we barely noticed a while ago) say something like, ‘Paisey do.’ Give money.
I grabbed Masood’s arm, and we left. Why should we pay her for taking the picture of her son that we didn’t need or want? All we had intended to do was make a child happy, yet this had all been a way of getting money from tourists.
But the GPO building is truly impressive.