One of the most striking annual features of those fifteen years of monsoon was a newspaper front-page headline which said, “City limps back to normalcy”. Usually on another day there would be a three-column photograph, an overhead street shot which showed nothing but large black Bombay umbrellas. Though the photograph was doubtless shot fresh every year, it looked like the same photograph. Surely they were the same umbrellas.
What ever happened to those umbrella photographs? I went looking for one a few years ago to illustrate something I wrote about in my book on stories from Sindh but could not find one and felt sorry that I had to send the book off to print without it. Eventually, I came across this on pinterest.
The reason I wanted it for the book was because something my mother told me made me realise that in Sindh in the 1940s, an umbrella was less a household item and more something you saw only in movies and magazines. What could the displaced people of Sindh, who had lost everything they had and arrived with nothing in Bombay, thought and felt when they encountered the relentless torrents of rain and the acres of jostling umbrellas of their new home?