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Once upon a time in Mumbai: East Indian family curates mini-museum of community artefacts

FJM bricks were donated to the St Francis Xavier’s Church of Vile Parle, St Teresa’s Convent High School of Santa Cruz, St Stanislaus High School of Bandra and many such structures.

Written by Geetanjali Gurlhosur | Mumbai | Published: June 19, 2016 4:06:46 am
Misquitta family, mumbai brick manufacture family, Misquitta family museum, Francis Juran Misquitta, mumbai news, india news, latest news Corina, a lecturer of book-keeping and accountancy at BSGD’s Junior College, maintains a mini-museum – as she calls it – of various East Indian items used by her family in the early days.

LIVING IN an 80-year-old house in the Mobai gaothan of Vile Parle, the Misquitta family, proud descendants of Francis Juran Misquitta, a brick manufacturer in the 1800s who was known for his durable bricks stamped with his initials ‘FJM’, are doing something unique to to hold on to their East Indian traditions.

FJM’s great-granddaughter, Corina Misquitta Kudalkar (44), and her husband Chandrashekhar Kudalkar, parents of two teenagers, have long been preserving possessions of their great-grandparents and grandparents that they stumbled upon in their house since their marriage.

Corina, a lecturer of book-keeping and accountancy at BSGD’s Junior College, maintains a mini-museum – as she calls it – of various East Indian items used by her family in the early days.

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“All this seems like rubbish but I do not mind keeping it. I carefully checked every paper I came across in this house,” said Corina. The most precious things in the collection are a couple ledgers of the FJM company and a mould of the bricks.

Among other things in the mini-museum are differently-shaped storing and cooking vessels, a compact mirror, black veils worn to church, a potato masher, bullets of an old air gun, ladles , flasks, a potato mincer, a ghumat (musical instrument made from clay and lizard skin used in weddings) and a phorma (a big vessel used to bake cakes and cook piglet delicacies).

The Misquittas have also preserved a wooden bed, cabinet and a collection of their grandmother’s crockery in their Burma teak house which roofed four generations of the family.

Corina is grateful to her husband who convinced her to store the items instead of scrapping them.

“I was shocked to see such fascinating things in the house, so I wanted to keep things in remembrance of my wife’s ancestors,” said Chandrashekhar, a manufacturer and supplier of firefighting and safety equipment. He added, “What you see is only 25 per cent of what we found. We threw away a lot of stuff too,” she said.

She reminisced, “My grandparents used to own 38,000 square feet of plot. Eventually, they lost parts of their land to tenants and government.”

FJM bricks were donated to the St Francis Xavier’s Church of Vile Parle, St Teresa’s Convent High School of Santa Cruz, St Stanislaus High School of Bandra and many such structures.

Having contributed in the East Indian exhibitions organised by Mobai Gaothan Panchayat, Corina has also donated a few things to the Mobai Bhavan Museum at Manori.

“But, I believe these things can be safe only in my house. I want my children to preserve this house and its artifacts and cherish them as I have,” said Corina.

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