8.5.15

1934 : a "Peculiar Gift". .

It’s been a few years since we first came across this gem; please forgive our tardiness in sharing it with you :-)
The writer of the Indian National Congress Guide for delegates in 1934 to its significant meeting in Bombay that year let it be known – without reservation – that the city’s Irani restaurants were a peculiar gift of Bombay to civilisation…more than a restaurant. What strikes the visitor is not the service the place gives, but the wonderful cosmopolitanism of it. 
The guide’s beaming evaluation of the corner Iranis of the city continued the Irani…has done more to break down orthodoxy, tradition and racial and religious aloofness than any social institution.

Wow, we thought to ourselves when first reading this amid musty dusty library shelves. For the author of the 1934 guide appears to be consciously constructing an image of the Irani café as an open, tolerant space – where one could avail oneself of tea and snacks {and other assorted products} no matter who you were or what your religious or ethnic background. 

One of the earliest references we have located that positions the Irani café as a space of tolerance and multi-ethnic cosmopolitanism. 


Image : 
Indian National Congress Committee. 1934. Congress Guide. Bombay.