In Dishoom King’s Cross, we pay homage to a particularly special, pioneering woman whose aim was to capture the world through her camera so that important moments in history might always be remembered and preserved.
Homai Vyarawalla was born into a humble Parsi family in 1913 and began working as a photojournalist in 1938. Despite whispers of disapproval and the forces of an orthodox society working against her, she went on to become India’s first female photojournalist and a champion chronicler of history.
Her extraordinary lifework spans three decades from the late 1930s to 1970, during which time she captured iconic moments from India’s history, such as the meeting of Gandhi and the Congress Committee to determine the vote for partition in 1947; the first Independence Day celebration; and the funerals of political leaders, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
We love her images. They are poignant and captivating and allow us a glimpse of the most historic moments in India’s history. She captured both the euphoria and the disappointment that defined the independence and post-independence eras, with pictures that convey palpable human emotion.
Homai is without doubt, one of the most significant chroniclers Indian Independence and her pictures are indelible treasures that both current and future generations will be able to keep forever.
In our own small act of remembrance, we admire the images taken by this talented lady, who touched the lives of millions with her photos.
Gandhi addressing the All India Congress Committee delegates, 14th June 1947
A show of hands: voting for Partition, 14th June 1947
First Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru Swearing-In ceremony, 15th August, 1947
Lord Mountbatten among the jubilant crowds outside the Parliament House on 15th August, 1947.
Crowds congregating at the Red Fort, 16th August 1947, with the Jama Masjid in the background
Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the day before he left for Pakistan, 1947
Gandhiji’s body at Birla House, 31st January 1948
The Mountbatten family at Gandhi’s cremation at Rajghat, 31st January 1948
Nehru’s Cabinet, 1948
Homai Vyarawalla – India’s first woman photojournalist
Photos and captions courtesy of “India in Focus. Camera Chronicles of Homai Vyarawalla,” by Sabeena Gadihoke.
IT HAS BEEN an annual December habit of mine, these past ten years since we embarked upon this restaurant business, to sit alone, with myself, and reflect on the year gone by. I am grateful to be here in the Permit Room in our restaurant in Shoreditch scribbling and writing, the oddly enjoyable taste of splintering wood from my chewed up pencil smoothed by my decently strong drink.
These are the last few days, the dregs of 2019. It’s my habit to sit here in the Permit Room at this time. I am the be-stubbled and dishevelled regular, cherishing his precious drink at the end of the bar. Weary, I sit here pondering the year, attempting to figure out what it was trying to teach me. What wisdom can I glean from it?
I love to truly understand and appreciate the origins of a dish, and learn how communities have adapted a recipe over time to make that dish unique to them.
We have arrived at a very sad, but inevitable and clear choice. As of now, all Dishooms are now closed to diners.