Thursday, 14 February 2013

Wassiamal Building, Grant Road, Mumbai

In January 1955 Shri Nathji made a road trip from Mussoorie to Mumbai and stayed over in Mumbai at a flat in Grant Road. This flat was arranged by Shri Wassiamal.

Shri Nathji went to an address at Malabar Hill where the owner’s relatives lived. They told Shri Nathji that the flat Shri Wassiamal had arranged would be available from the next day and that Shri Nathji was welcome to stay the night with them.

The next day they went to the flat that was to be their residence in Bombay for the next three months. The address of the place was:
Wassiamal Building
4th Floor, D Block
Grant Road, Bombay - 7

 The building was located in a crowded area of Bombay, unlike Mayfair Building at Churchgate, where Shri Nathji had stayed in 1951. It was an old building and the lift in it was not working. Shri Nathji, Mateshwari and the boys had to climb up to the fourth floor. Although Shri Nathji and the boys managed the stairs fairly well, it was a very difficult task for Mateshwari who was in weak health.
Once in the flat, it was discovered that there was no kitchen there! Mateshwari was at a loss as to how to feed Shri Nathji. However, a manager of Wassiamal’s office lived on the same floor, adjacent to Shri Nathji's flat, and he immediately invited Shri Nathji to have lunch with him. The sheer impact of Shri Nathji's personality was so great that the man became a devotee at first sight. It was as if he had found real peace for the first time in his life.

The man had recognized God in Shri Nathji and knew this opportunity would never come again He knew of the predicament in Shri Nathji’s flat and prayed to Shri Nathji to eat with him every day or else accept the food he wished to send to Shri Nathji's flat. And it was thus that Shri Nathji ate the food of this man for two weeks till an improvised kitchen could be made inside Shri Nathji's flat.

Shri Nathji's flat consisted of three rooms and an attached bathroom. The main sitting room had a large replica of a Japanese shrine, apparently brought by Wassiamal during his visits abroad. It was apparent the flat had been used for merely entertaining guests and not a place where a family could reside and cook their food. Though Mateshwari tried to make-do with a stove in one of the rooms, it was difficult cooking without any water tap or sink, which were essential for a kitchen.
Shri Nathji and Mateshwari remained mostly in their flat, rarely going out because of the difficult climb on the stairs. However, the children insisted that they go out, and that led Shri Nathji and Mateshwari to make several trips outside the house.
The windows on one side of the flat opened towards a courtyard, on all sides of which there were more flats. Shri Nathji was thus able to see the crowded conditions in which the people of Bombay lived. He blessed them silently from his window, and continued doing so till the end of his stay there.
Grant Road in a popular shopping area and the Wassiamal Building still stands just in the same condition as it was when Shri Nathji stayed here in 1951. To reach this place, one has to first get down at Grant Road Station, which is on the western line of the Mumbai Suburban rail network. Then go to the East side. 
The Wassiamal Buildings are about 300 meters from the station on the right hand side of the road. It has different blocks. All the buildings have shops on the ground floor as it is a popular shopping area. Also there are small shops lining the pavement. A good landmark of the D block of Wassiamal Building, is the sweet shop of the famous Chandu Halvai.  This popular shop in the same block in which Shri Nathji stayed. So one can easily reach this place from the Grant Road Station by inquiring about Chandu Halvai. The photos of the D block of the building and the shop of Chandu Halvai are given. Another landmark in that the third floor of this building now has a hotel named Sangam. This building is still exactly the same. The same old wooden staircase is there, whose photo is given. Also that lift still exists pity much in the same condition. Now two doctors have clinics in this building on the first and second floor. There are also very few private residential flats. The third floor has the Sangan Hotel, whose photo is given. The fourth floor which we can see in the picture above has some private residence and an office. The lift area can be visible in this photo. This was the floor were Shri Nathji resided for three months. 

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