THE CITY OF BOMBAY
There are two cities in Bombay, the native city and the foreign city. The foreign city spreads out over a large area, and, although the population is only a small per cent of that of the native city, it occupies a much larger space, which is devoted to groves, gardens, lawns, and other breathing places and pleasure grounds, while, as is the custom in the Orient, the natives are packed away several hundred to the acre in tall houses, which, with over-hanging balconies and tile roofs, line the crooked and narrow streets on both sides. Behind some of these tall and narrow fronts, however, are dwellings that cover a good deal of ground, being much larger than the houses we are accustomed to, because the Hindus have larger families and they all live together. When a young man marries he brings his bride home to his father's house, unless his mother-in-law happens to be a widow, when they often take up their abode with her. But it is not common for young couples to have their own homes; hence the dwellings in the native quarters are packed with several generations of the same family, and that makes the occupants easy prey to plagues, famine and other agents of human destruction.
The Parsees love air and light, and many rich Hindus have followed the foreign colony out into the suburbs, where you find a succession of handsome villas or bungalows, as they are called, half-hidden by high walls that inclose charming gardens. Some of these bungalows are very attractive, some are even sumptuous in their appointments - veritable palaces, filled with costly furniture and ornaments - but the climate forbids the use of many of the creature comforts which American and European taste demands. The floors must be of tiles or cement and the curtains of bamboo, because hangings, carpets, rugs and upholstery furnish shelter for destructive and disagreeable insects, and the aim of everybody is to secure as much air as possible without admitting the heat.
Bombay is justly proud of her public buildings. Few cities have such a splendid array. None that I have ever visited except Vienna can show an assemblage so imposing, with such harmony and artistic uniformity combined with convenience of location, taste of arrangement and general architectural effect. There is nothing, of course, in Bombay that will compare with our Capitol or Library at Washington, and its state and municipal buildings cannot compete individually with the Parliament House in London, the Hotel de Ville de Paris or the Palace of Justice in Brussels, or many others I might name. But neither Washington nor London nor Paris nor any other European or American city possesses such a broad, shaded boulevard as Bombay, with the Indian Ocean upon one side and on the other, stretching for a mile or more, a succession of stately edifices. Vienna has the boulevard and the buildings, but lacks the water effect. It is as if all the buildings of the University of Chicago were scattered along the lake front in Chicago from the river to Twelfth street.
The Bombay buildings are a mixture of Hindu, Gothic and Saracenic architecture, blended with taste and success, and in the center, to crown the group, rises a stately clock tower of beautiful proportions. All of these buildings have been erected during the last thirty years, the most of them with public money, many by private munificence. The material is chiefly green and gray stone. Each has ample approaches from all directions, which contribute to the general effect, and is surrounded by large grounds, so that it can be seen to advantage from any point of view. Groves of full-grown trees furnish a noble background, and wide lawns stretch before and between. There is parking along the shore of the bay, then a broad drive, with two sidewalks, a track for bicycles and a soft path for equestrians, all overhung with far-stretching boughs of immense and ancient trees, which furnish a grateful shade against the sun and add to the beauty of the landscape. I do not know of any such driveway elsewhere, and it extends for several miles, starting from an extensive common or parade ground, which is given up to games and sports. Poor people are allowed to camp there in tents in hot weather, for there, if anywhere, they can keep cool, because the peninsula upon which Bombay stands is narrow at that point, and if a breeze is blowing from any direction they get it. At intervals the boulevard is intersected by small, well-kept parks with band stands, and is broken by walks, drives, beds of flowers, foliage, plants and other landscape decorations; and this in the midst of a great city.