Google Maps has changed the way we look at our surroundings. This struck me a few months ago, when I was in Bhubaneshwar. I was tracking the route to the hotel on Maps and happened to mention to my hosts how wide and clean Bidyut Marg was. They looked at me puzzled. I showed them “Bidyut Marg” on Maps, which was the road we were traveling on. They told me that they just knew this as the main road of the new part of the city.
The same thing happens in Matunga. The area behind Aurora for ages has been part of the Sewri-Wadala Scheme with Road Nos 7, 14, etc. For years, my street address was Sewri-Wadala Road, which as you can imagine often led to a lot of trouble with courier boys and private taxis, because we live neither in Sewri, nor in Wadala, but in Matunga/King’s Circle.
Slowly the roads have all been renamed and while many of these do have plaques at one end, commemorating the person concerned, we tend to overlook these while walking or driving and they still don’t tell us anything about the person concerned.
Google Maps forces us to think about them.
The road we live on is called Manikrao Lotlikar Marg. Mr. Lotlikar was a well-regarded educator, who lived down the lane. M L Marg connects to Puranmal Singhani Road. The first three pages of a Google Search draw a blank as to his identity. The road that goes from M L Marg to Marubai Gaondevi Temple, is (no surprises here), now officially called Marubai Gaondevi Road, but the road that goes from Marubai Gaondevi Road towards Sahakari Bhandari remains unnamed as do many other roads in Matunga.
The road on which Don Bosco and Institute of Chemical Technology exist, is called Nathalal Parekh Marg. Mr. Parekh was probably a businessman and philanthropist and even has another road named after him in Colaba and a cancer hospital in Rajkot, but I could find no further information about him.
The continuation of Puranmal Singhani Road across Nathalal Parekh Marg up to H Adenwala Road is still Rd No 32. Mr. Hormusji Cowasji Adenwala was a businessman and philanthropist who expanded his father’s work in building the port of Aden (hence I guess the name Adenwala) and the associated businesses (first page of Google Search). Before that comes R P Masani Road and I could immediately see that he was a prolific writer, having written biographies of Dadabhai Naoroji and Vinoba Bhave and other books on Zorostrianism, many of which are available on Amazon or Google Books. But I can’t find any information about H Mahajani, after whom the College (VJTI) Back Road is now named.
It gets worse with the older roads on the other side of Matunga. Telang, Bhandarkar, Bhaudaji, Chandavarkar, Bhimani, Deodhar, are all identified by their last names but it is impossible for a casual individual to troll the internet and to figure out who they were.
I am sure somewhere in some library or scholarly publication, all of this has been documented. Obviously, the heirs and relatives of the people after whom these roads are named know who they are and what they have done. But unless this information is easily available and accessible in the public domain, these names will eventually get lost in the mist of time and be forgotten by even those who were perhaps once part of their extended family.
Please email me if you have more information about those after whom these Matunga roads are named.