B a n d r a B u g g e r s

If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Dec 25, 2016

God bless the child.

Long line at security. End of the day. End of the year. People rushing to catch a flight to be home Christmas Eve.late and in a hurry. One little girl. A child with special needs. Anyone could see that. The mongloidism . The drool. But lovingly held. Held by a mother . Till they reached security. Where a guard wants to frisk them. Seperately. The wail of a child in the unfamiliar. Being isolated from the only familiar in sight. With an irate next in line telling them to hurry. At that moment euthanasia was a viable option. So that the gaurd and the irate passenger would not have to worry about doing their job or being late again. Ever.

Rich man , poor man, beggar man, thief.

There was a box at the foot of the neighbourhood Crib. For people to put old clothes into. Clothes they didn't fit into anymore. Clothes that were taking up more space in valuable real estate than they were worth. They caught a thief on their way back from midnight mass. Trying to steal stuff from the box. Which was filled to overflowing. The building watchman slapped him around. Then handed him over to the passing police jeep. How dare he steal from things that were meant for distribution to the poor and the underprivileged !

Oh Baby let me be...

One little girl waiting for her daddy to come home. Home for Christmas. After being away for so long. And so far away . On an oil field in the gulf where even the mobile signal didn't reach. He called from the big town when he reached there. The first leg of his journey back . Six thousand kilometres. One helicopter, two planes and one taxi ride. He bought the biggest teddy bear the airport gift shop had. It would be bigger than her. The only place in the cab for the teddy bear was the front seat. The familiar landmarks going past in a blur. The last turn that brought him to the building gate. The cries from the window with the only lights on in the building this late. He got his bags out . She'd reached the gate. Is this the little girl I carried ? An hour later he remembered the teddy bear. Long gone with the cab. "It doesn't matter Daddy I'm to old to play with teddy bears anyway." She was right. He was wrong. The teddy bear wouldn't have been half as big as her.

Dec 19, 2016

A Pink Christmas.

Divali was good for business. Christmas was better. Everyone wanted their house painted. Their furniture polished. He understood surge pricing without knowing he did. But surge pricing didn't apply to old customers. Whose walls he'd painting thru weddings and first communions. Thru first wives and second. Why did the second never like the colours the first had ? Whether the first was departed or just distanced, the second always changed the colours. He knew the colours people would ask for before they did. The office goers wanted white. The shippies blue. The bankers a touch of green, when their wives allowed them. He liked painting the children's rooms the best. When their parents allowed them to choose the colour. Didn't happen often. Most times the kids were shortchanged. Old peoples colours with young persons curtains and cushions. They'd been trying to have a child for so long. So many IUI's and IVFs . Novenas and grapefruit . Both guaranteed to leave you with child. One worked. Neither of them was sure which did. Quiet joy over seeing a squiggle on an X-ray. On hearing a heartbeat within her that wasn't hers. The baby was due December. The 20th. Booties and baby dresses. Nappies and bonnets . Advice from her mother and mother in law. Eat this, don't eat that, sit like this. It's surely a boy I know. Looks at the way she's walking. When you're expecting a girl the walk is different. It's surely going to be a girl. An expectant mother only glows like that when its a girl. No they didn't want to know what it was. And the doctor didn't tell them. She came on Christmas Day. To a room the nurses had decorated. With thermocole angels and cotton snowmen. He called him to tell- him the room had to be painted. And she came home to her room . The room that he had done having worked three days nonstop. He walked home carrying ladder, empty paint tins and washed clean brushes. Smelling of turpentine and polish. Wearing the pink splotch on his shirt like the badge of honour that it was.


Every year the kids would come around . Singing carols with guitars and tambourines. Every year he scowled at them. What was there to be so happy about ? Christmas came . Christmas went. Life went on. He still had to deal with the cold. Which made his aching bones ache even more. He still had to deal with the kachrawalla and the phone walla and the postman. Demands for baksheesh were in triple digit inflation. He still had to spend money for the cousins who thought visiting him was an act of charity. He had to manage without the maid who would want Christmas Day off. The damn carollers were proclaiming peace on earth and goodwill to men. They we're singing Silent night which woke the cranky baby next door. Next year he'd pretend to not be at home. The year went slowly. Not much to do when all you have to worry about is yourself. When your only social outing is to the doctor. When the only visitor you get is the maid. The obituaries were more interesting than Modi's demonetisation. Trump or Clinton it didn't make a damn of a difference to his rapidly increasing incontinence. The month of May was just more noise. More noise of children who played noisily. Just outside his window. Couldn't their parents keep a hold on them. Divali brought even more noise. Soon it was turning cold again. A notice near the stairs told him the carollers would be visiting the road on the 22nd. 8 p.m. He closed the windows at 7.30. Had his soup and chappati and turned the lights out. Sat in his bed. Needed to go to the toilet. Couldn't put the lights on. That would give the game away .Then he'd have to put something into the carollers box. Headed to the toilet in the dark. Tripped over the bathroom mat in the dark. Cracked his head on the edge of the basin. The carollers sang for two masses on the 24th. One at midnight and an earlier one at which they outnumbered the mourners.

Sep 28, 2014

Mary Perpetua Buffet

She worked hard and saved harder. Multiple instruments. As recommended by her LIC officer. Her UTI agent, her bank manager. Her LIC officer didnt tell her about the trip to Bangkok he got if he got his target of insurees. The UTI agaents commision on each penny she invested in was a secret she was not privy too. Her bank managers monthly quota of fixed deposists made her just another dot on his sales graph. A dot that made him look good in the eyes of upper management. The stock market. Nobody even told her about it. Too risky baba. Its just like gambling . Only instead of horses you back companies. No, No . It's not gambling. They are sure to make money. They already are and need more money too expand. But what ddo they do ? They make chappatis. Chappati? Yes. Imagine . Ready made chappatiss. Every house wifes dream. No more kneading flour at home. No more burning your fingers on a hot tava. No more sieving the flour to get the weevils and the stones out. Ready made chappatis. Heat and eat. How can they not do well? We are all going to invest and we'll be millionaires. The more money you invest the more chappatis they sell. The more chappatis they sell the higher your dividend. But suppose they take my money and vanish ? They cant do that they are listyed on the stock exchange. They have an ex army general on their board of directors. They have a factory in Kalyan. They have 300 employees. Ok. How much will a hundred shares cost ? That much. Dividend ? They havent paid a single dividend yet. They're still building the company. Get in early. Next year the share price will double. What Mary no fixed deposit this month. Going for a holiday ? The share price was going up. She encashed her LIC policy to buy more shares. With the announcement of a Dividend at 20 % she liquidated whatever she could of her provident fund. The share price doubled. Then it halved, quartered and vanished. The factory closed down. Chappatis were not a product that travelled well. Not from Kalyan to anywhere. How to hide losses from showing up on a share report. How to put an ex army generals name on your company letterhead when he is in an advanced stage of alzeihmhers. How to manipulate a stock price. the chappati makers could have written the manual for them all. No more first class pass. No more holiday to Goa this year. Definitely no more stock market. It was just a lot of bull. Irrespective of whatever Warren said.

Doctor, Doctor.

You went there when all the home remedies had failed. When the barley water and kanji had been consumed by the gallon, but the fever still remained. He had an impressive reception. Framed certificates . Proclaiming that Dr. O was a panel doctor. For Air India , for the railways, for various banks. In gilt frames were gilt edged certificates. Certificates that had letters after his name with more consonants and more vowels than in "The lazy brown fox jumps over the clever dog." That procalimed him a Fellow of societies and associations. But that's not what made him the family physician. He was the closest. When looking for a bride your search might traverse far corners of the globe. When looking for a violin teacher you look for someone who doesnt mind teaching you even if you are tone deaf. But when looking for a family doctor you look for close. Close enough to make a house call in the middle of his dinner if something has gone wrong with yours, and you need and emergency Hemmlich. Close enough to be there to certify that your non misting over mirror diagonosis of Uncle Aldos heart attack is correct. Before Uncle Aldo starts to stiffen and you cant put his white gloves on. Close enough to accidentally bump into on the way to church. Where that rash on your neck can be cursorily examined. Without having to pay him when he says it's nothing. Wash properly. But when you go to him you try not to touch anything with your bare fingers. People with infectios dseases come to him too. You touch nothing other than the National Geographic. Which show you how a certain tribe in Africa wears nothing but beads. Much more fascinating than the migration pattern of the siberian duck. The only thing a duck is good for is moile. He would examine you with torch and stethoscope. Make you cough and stick your tongue out. While you held your breath and hoped that the cause of the fever was not cancer. He'd scribble his prescription. In a hand that would challenge the reading skills of people who could read mandarin written in the devnagari script. His compounder thru his jailor window would take the note. Out would come a bottle with a paper stuck to the side. Small origami like cut in the paper marking one dose to the next. Powders wrapped in paper sachets. Pills colour coded . All dispensed with strict instructions to drink only boiled water, no oily food and lots of vegetables. Green ones. French fries? They are made from potato vegetable. No they're fried. Three days later your body is as good as new. No spells. The mercury in the thermometer not crossing the red line anymore. What you had and whether it was powder, liquid or pill that cured you remains Dr. O's secret. Thank God it wasn't cancer.

Jul 24, 2014

Father forgive me.

Sunday morning and Im late before its even begun. It has'ntrained yet and the city's water is in short supply. But I have to have a shower . Bucket bath? There isnt even a bucket in the bathroom anymore. Doesnt look good the interior designer said. So if the statistics are right I use 60 litres for my bath instead opf the 20 a bucket would have held. The damn watchman is missing. He has the car keys. And he has'nt even washed the car yet. Whats more important his morning ablutions or me getting to mass on time? He stutters and mutters while I tell him if he ever delays me like this again he's fired. The water goes by 8? Thats his problem not mine. Damn pedestrians crowding the gate. The line of cars waiting to get in gets longer. First all the cars that came in for the earlier mass have to get out. Here comes that damn beggar woman. Tapping on the car window.. Like I cant see her. I can smell her thru the glass. Her snotty kid is drawing circles on the glass. With what you dont want to know. An angrily waved hand doesnt drive her away as quickly as a loud blast of the horn. The only parking slot left half covers the gate. Its opnly half. Everyone will defintely be able to squeeze in sideways. But I'm inside church before the priest walks up to the altar. The four people on the four person pew are shuffling closer together to make room for me. Damn I should have chosen a pew that had no pregnant fat people in it. I move to the middle of the pew. Its directly under the fan. Its Fr. Ubaldo. Sermons going to be long. Sermons going to be boring. why dont they retire him ? Why do I have to suffer him ? Why cant he speak more clearly ? 75 is not that old . Look who's at the lectern. Cant pay her society dues on time and wants to lead the responses. I confess to almighty God........ Thank God I live a good Christian life and have nothing to confess.

Nov 18, 2012

Thank you Bala Saheb !

Thank you for all you did in life and even more in death. Thank you for the loyalty the supporters your showed you. If the shops had been open today I would have had a problem. I would have had to tell my wife I had no money. Because the site I work at gives me work on a daily basis. I work eight hours, they pay me for eight hours. If the shops were open she would have asked me where the food on the floor was today. I didn't have to tell her that I had no money. What kind of a incompetent hunter gatherer would that have made me in her eyes? The shops were closed, the market was closed, even the liquor shop that sometimes extends me credit on a quarter of santra was closed. So with my pride intact my belly empty and my children hungry I say thank you. Jai Maharashtra!

Oct 11, 2012

Jago Mumbai Radio Show. BandraBuggers on the airwaves

Bandra buggers on the airwaves http://soundcloud.com/clement-desylva/link-open-mic-link-1-brin ....copy and paste link to browser window.

Sep 17, 2012

The Widows Might .

Sudden death in real life hit you more than it did in hockey. It had left her with two children to raise and his aged parents to look after. Money there was plenty of. No, not plenty, but enough. If she was careful.  The perfect life they had envisioned growing old together, traveling the world together , visiting grandchildren many years down the line wasn't going to happen. Everyone gave her a long rope. She didn't need it. She asked for no favors and resented the condescension. And it scared her that there might be long strings attached . So she built her walls. Bit by bit. Set up her independent systems. She couldn't have friends over. Because with friends came husbands. Who would drink when they came over. Who might think they had been called over for themselves and not for their wives. Who might.. And what would the neighbors say. The growing up process for the kids didn't stop because their father was dead. Admissions had to be dealt with. Birthdays had to be celebrated. Cantankerous old inlaws had to be taken for early morning blood tests. And she did it all. She missed him every second.Every day. When she made the single cup of tea. When the father in law died and the brother gave the eulogy. When the boy had to be told about the birds and the bees. She was more uncomfortable than he was. She helped with the sodality. She helped with the CHS.she helped with the ALM. It kept her world secure. She chose when to go out and when to come back in. She chose to let nobody in. Nobody into her world . Nobody who might upset the balance of an equation that was never going be real again. While she wore her coat and the coat of the man who had died suddenly.

Sep 1, 2012

The Zonal Filmfare awards

Subash Bhai mopped the sweat beads off his forhead. His banner, ‘Yukta Arts’had not produced a hit film in almost a decade.. “What we need are the fresh ideas”, he told his Assistant Mukri, as he paced up and down his decaying Lokhandwalla office. “What we need are the new stars who are better than the many old ones”, he declared. “People want action, sensation, reality TV put on the screen… “”Sarry Sir” said Mukri, “there have not been too many terrorist acts of late.. “So, go find something exciting!” boomed Subash Bhai. Something with Passion, revaange, laughter, tragedy, badla, something more exciting than even the ‘Saas-Bahu episodes of Ekta Kapoor!” Mukri hung his head in despair. For once he had no inspiration to give his boss. He knew in his heart, that all of Subash Bhai’s hits had been the result of him being his sounding board. He decided to find inspiration in the theatres of Mumbai – Prithvi Theatre was saturated. NCPA was too high brow. He ambled upon St Andrew’s auditorium. Buzzing with activity, Mukri happened to ask what was the action about? “The Zonals” replied one of the organizers, proudly displaying her shiny badge to prove her credentials. “ What means that?” Asked Mukri. “You don’t know what are the zonals?? Replied the busy organizer… “See for yourself”. Mukri excitedly bought two tickets and called his Boss.. “Bass, Come here and see for yourself , they are telling you will find a new heroine, plot line and entire star cast”. Four boring hours later, Subash Bhai is not impressed. Not with British accents the Queen would have been proud of, or the abstract acts that reminded him of the Emperor’s New Clothes. “You call this drama?” He thundered on, red in the face. Pretty girls in fancy dresses acting like monkeys? I am not understanding what you are finding so exciting about this zonals-shonals” With that he stomped out of the power packed auditorium, a sad Mukri trailing behind, his head hung low. For once he had disappointed his boss. Mr Bhai, however was slightly impressed. It was the chikna announcer that caught his fency. “Find out his name”.. ordered the Bhai. Mukhri came back a few minutes later.. Sir, Chicken Masala, sir… “What? Who would name his bachcha after a curry? Growled Mr Bhai. “Exactly right boss.. that was his name.. Curry.. Mr Krish Curry”…” Krish? Who does he think he is? A Superhero?” There had to be something more about Bandra’s most talked about event.. Mukri thought to himself as he ambled alongside his boss. Maybe he should ask someone who calls the shots.. the judges, perhaps? Mukri decides to do some research. He must get to the bottom of this. For his boss’ sake at least . He waits patiently till the results are declared and the show ended. The crowds are milling around him exiting the auditorium. Some are cheering, others jeering. The song of the day seems to be “We are the champions”. Mukri is wondering whether the FIFA world cup is on at the moment. Poor Mukri doesn’t know anyone in this large group comprising of Bandrabuggers, wives, sisters and girlfriends included. There once was a hero in a Bollywood flick named Anthony Gonsalves. “Hey, Anthony”! Shouts Mukri, hoping to get some attention in this melee. Five fellows say “Yes”. One of them takes him aside and wonders what this idli is doing amongst the fugiyas. “I need some help”, says Mukri. “Aks, men”replied Anton. “ I came here to get some ideas for a new film in Bollywood.. in there, all the dialogues went bumper over my head. I am completely lost and confused. Am I stupid or what? Can I meet the judges? “Judges? replied Anton. You’re mad-o-wat? You want to get bashed up and have your teeth broken in height order”? “Sorry” explained Mukri… I just wanted to see Passion, Revenge, Romance, Dishoom-dishoom all in one place. Could not understand anything, in there”. Anthony whispers something in Mukri’s ear. Mukri listens attentively and thinks he has found his answer. CUT TO Scene Three. Act One. Location: Bosco Hall – Late Night. The post mortem meeting after the zonals is on. Mukri silently seats himself in the last row. Right next him is a rather tall actor he had seen on the zonal stage. Tall actor seems to interject the proceedings to make inane points. About a picnic to Uttan. Woman in flower skirt objects to whatever he says. Somebody objects to a performer. Her father was Hindu. But she’s Catholic. Mukhri stops chewing his gutka and quickly swallows. Boundary changes are re-demanded. Are they talking about Kargil or Chimbai ? Real action is taking place before his very eyes. Real Drama - Action. Passion. Revenge. Man with rosary ring wants ticket quota for each zone to be increased. “Over my dead body”, says Mr.Chairman. Duet winner has lodged a complaint. Her winning partner kept the cup in his house for 3 days extra. South West Zone is lodging an objection against themselves that their lead actor was not resident in the zone last year. Disqualification is better than losing by 300 points. Harakiri over dishonor. Mukhri can see it unfolding before his eyes. The Lead actor plunging a ritual Samurai sword into his bosom. While fountains of tomato sauce gush forth. While his lover who played the main lead for another zone cannot rush to his side because of … choir practice. Flower skirt objects to the Dramatics Judge no.2. He’s an old has-been. He held up the judging procedure while he went out for a smoke. His ex-wife was acting in the North West production. Though post separation she lives in North East with her mother. He wished his mother-in- law was more politically inclined and would know that all North Easterners are to be sent back. He wants her back that’s why he gave her Best Actress. Objection over ruled. “Won’t help him” says Flower skirt, “I know she’s seeing a chap from Dadar”. Mr. Chairman in a rare loss of temper tells Flower skirt, “ Next time, you get the judges “ . Tall man objects to the quality of samosas being served at the post mortem. Flower skirt tells him they are much better than his mother’s beef patties. “All patties and no beef”! she proclaims. Tall man asks what can you expect for Rs. 7.65 each. While Mukri misses tall man’s thought blurb which would have let him know that tall man was trying to work out how to put the arsenic into Flower skirt’s Mangola at the next meeting. Mousey gold Bangles is opening her purse. Mukri wonders what her weapon of choice will be. Gun or Knife. It’s full of pieces of paper. Where she has scribbled some code. NW 56.25, SE 63.72. There is a difference of .23 points between hers and the solemn scorekeepers. The North East zone objects to the following. A] The division of zones so that their best tenor was robbed from them. B] The restriction on not using a winning piece. [ After all they all knew that ‘My Prayer’ was the only song that suited Mr. Pimento’s voice and range. ]C] That Roger Drego gave special lights and sound to his zone. Mukri is stunned. Roger Drego ! Are they talking about Roger bhai who gave them fifty foot high speakers for that big song and dance sequence ? The auditorium usher(in his yellow shirt) who attended to lodge his case against the Hershe Bakery’s hot dogs that found their way to row E15 objects to any aspersion cast on his boss. He was also there to return the 153 water bottles left behind by the contestants in the lobby. Flower skirt, Tall man, Mr. Chairman and Yellow shirt usher are all ears for Mousey gold bangles who argues her case against the redrawing of boundaries to facilitate equitable distribution of talent. She asks what they will do if Chelsea gets married and moves to North West. “Remember what happened to East Pakistan” she says ominously. Mukri is wondering what her signing fee will be. Tall man thanks God that the old fool Pimento did not have the range for ‘My Prayer because he had sat up with him at the Bandra Gym the previous night. Suddenly there is Action in the house. Mukri cannot contain himself. The entire South East zone has now landed up in full force. Mukri wonders if he should notify “Aaj Tak”. Would their satellite vans have space to park outside Serpis? Plan abandoned. South East presents their case.. Why have the North Easterners got so much publicity just before the zonals.. that too in the ‘Times of India’? If those North Easteners can call themselves Assam, we are the US of A! Tall man claps his hands violently in full support of their stand while Mukri is rubbing his hands together with glee. Mukri did it again. He had found his plot, storyline, dialogues with all the masala he needed right there that evening. What’s more.. he found his Hero..ironing out the creases, trying to make things better for next year’s zonals at least, and even ending the meeting with a prayer. His new leading man– the chikna Krish Curry! By MS BANDRABUGGER (Aka Annabelle 0

Going , going, gone.

He was a shippie. Six months on two off. A lot better than the days when his father was a shippie. Then it was twelve on two off. And the ship had Internet. And a satellite phone. A big ship whose masters paid him big bucks. Big bucks to take cars from Japan to America. Wheat from America to Africa. Once they even loaded iron ore off Goa. He could speak to her on his cell phone. Every day, for the three days they took to load up. Sometimes thrice a day. The big bucks were useful for buying the flat. The day he put down the down payment, he proposed. Yes yes yes. Three voyages and the money her grandfather had left her paid for the wedding. Honeymoon in Bali. Three days back home and the company wanted him to join a ship in Australia. No honey I can’t take you on ship with me. Only first officers and captains are allowed that. I’ll be first office next year. So he checked his email at the end of each watch and before the beginning of the next. It was raining back home. The BEST had gone on strike for a day. The parish priest was transferred. The new guy was a Keralite. He came home from that voyage and the party lasted sixty days. Back on board the Phillipino cook was trying to learn how to make Biryani. It just wasn't the same. She was sick. Go to your Mums house. You can't be by yourself. Not sick , sick. Morning sick. What? You heard me "Daddy. " He wrote to the co. Immediately so that he,d be there for the delivery. The only thing they stuck to a signoff schedule for, births and deaths. Eight pounds of heartbreaking smallness. As much hair on her head as he had on the back of his hand. Two little eyes that smiled at you, two little ears that .... And one big voice that raised hell if she wasn't fed or changed within three seconds. No honey, children below three aren't allowed on the ship. How can we leave her with Nana. The planning for the first birthday started via email three months before D day. The building had never seen a celebration like this. The whole compound walll was covered with pink balloons. Even the watchman got Biryani for dinner that night . Officially. Unofficially he got some beer. Another voyage, another ship, other ports. It's either her birthday or Christmas. Christmas. We'll celebrate her birthday next year. So Christmas it was with the dance at the gym and the Christmas bazaar where everyone who was linked to Bandra by a thread showed up. Where he stood in line with her on his shoulders to get her gift from Santa. Where he dried her tears when Santas ho ho ho set them off. He wasn't there for her first day of school. But she cried only a little bit she said. Master . That entitled him to family accommodation. The company schedule and the school schedule were at odds. Ok next voyage. Honey I'm sick. Yes yes the good sick. Can't talk now have to take Kim for her dance class. The Doctor says September. Too many large whiskies at the new years dance in Jan and you become a daddy in September. This contract finished in June. Two off meant he'd have to resume inAugust. Don't worry I'll manage. Mummy's here to help me with Kate. A boy. He didn't haul the first officer over the coals for the shoddy docking at Shangai. Damn He should have been there for the delivery. The school wants both parents for the admission interview. It's either that or her first communion. The dentist recommends braces. Forty-five thousand bucks ? Are they made of gold ? Shhh. Don't play the TV so loud . She has school tomorrow. Can you take them out for dinner You,ll laugh so loudly. Even the neighbors would get up. No we can't go to Goa in May. Kim has her piano exam then. Ok you go. Yes I know you work very very hard on the ship. Yes I know you need a holiday. The kids exams are in two months. The teacher says if we don't take it seriously now the kids won't take them seriously later. Ok. I'll be back late. He walked his little girl down the aisle . He knew where the time had flown. And she thought her daddy was crying for her.

Mar 15, 2012

When in Doubt .

St. Thomas was here. I doubt that. St. Thomas amidst neon crosses and plastic flowers ? A group of sari clad women gather around a casio keyboard practicing hymns. While large signs everywhere urge you to watch your belongings .The pile of footwear outside each entrance let's you know that this is Indian Christianity. There's little of interest here if what brings you here is curiosity and not faith. There are lists of parish priests of days gone by. Heavy grilles guard windows and doors. Were they to keep the newly converted in or the heathen out ? A sign tells us that St. Thomas's grave is accessible from the back of the church. A wrong turn somewhere between front and back finds us on Marina beach. More fishing boats in one place than you'll ever see. Nets dot the beach scape. Little shanties where card games fill the time between fishing. We cross the boats to get closer the the water. Only to invade on the privacy of kissing couples and toilet bound fishermen for whom the penumbra of the boat affords the only privacy. The leavings of toilet bound fishermen do not for a pleasant stroll along the beach make. So we move back away from the water. Dodging thru footballs and beach volleyballs. Thru tyres propped up vertically that make do for cricket stumps. Our cheering for a well bowled ball that hits the tyre draws puzzled glares. The batsman is only considered bowled if the ball goes thru the hole in the middle of the tyre were told. Just hitting the tyre isn't good enough. MCC ,Gully or Beach cricket, all with rules almost incomprehensible if you're not on the inside. The boats are starting to thin while the multitudes are starting to abound. Children atop ponies. The pony man running along side. Whipping at the ponies flanks. Trying hard to get the pony to break out of his sedate walk so that the children get a run for their money. A few meters of trotting before both horse and man agree to live and let live. Bedsheets stretched between bamboo poles and smothered with balloons. While from ten feet away airguns on the shoulders of wannabe QuickGun Muruguns and their lady loves in equal measure seek to burst their balloons. Cheers for their nominated shooter with every pop. The missus handles the guns while the mister keeps blowing up balloons to fill the emerging gaps on the sheet. Candy floss men abound . With floating clouds of pink and white in their wake. The couples walk with contrived nonchalance toward the boats. Coffee is pedaled from the backs of cycle and heads. To balance a hot urn of coffee on your head, dispense coffee into a minuscule plastic cup, collect payment and still keep scanning the horizon for new customers calls for a highly developed skill set. Kites abound. Without the violence of Mumbai kite flying. The peace loving Tamilians happy to watch their kite with it's long tail fly sedately in the evening breeze. With no wish to slice their fellow kite flyers kites and vanquish all that shares airspace with them. Families on the sand are huddled together. Odd. With so much space on all sides of them. Up close you see the bed sheet that all of them are trying to squeeze onto. Is it to keep the sand out or just to be near Amma who's doling out wadas and idlis ? The sun goes down to reveal the lights of the port in the distance. With the light house adding it's intermittent spotlight onto an ever-changing kaleidoscope. We don't have an Amma with us so we don't have wadas and idlis.
So we hop into a rickshaw venturing further afield in search of chicken Chettinad and dosas. Just like Amma would have made, had she been a Madarasi.

The road to hell is paved...

You say airport and the cab driver thinks it's his lucky day.
Double charge Saab. Long line at the airport . Extra charge for baggage sir.
What baggage? My daughters school bag is bigger than this.
But Kingfishers cancelled their flight and the website says the counter closes 45 minutes before tAke off. So you say Ok Ok and get in.
The joggers are out already. Dodging Aunty Mazie who wants to be in time for the novena before the mass.
From Monday. You promise yourself. From Monday I'll be up early and jogging. And i'm not going to get sidetracked by the Mumbai mirror and dr.watsa. I,m not going not start checking my email. Maybe not Monday ...tue. Because Monday evening I'll get a new pair of track shoes. the old ones were given away to the watchman because they weren't being used. And no going to A1 for patties on the way home from the jog. Because that's like walking out of an AA meeting into Raja Bar. Maybe a new route altogether so that the aroma of the freshly baked bread doesn't make you stray into that palace of indulgence pretending to be a bakery. No stopping to chat with with fellow joggers about stock market tips, cricket scores or Sunny Leone.
Saab up or down ?
Jet ya Indian airlines.
Down. Jetlite. Budget doesn't run to full service tickets.
Saab two hundred.
Two hundred!
Meter plus airport charge plus baggage charge.
Mr. Sobhraj aap kya samajta hai Mai Poland ka Sardarji ho , mai Moira se aya kya ?

Dec 5, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

Jo-boy has come back from kindergarten to tell mummy that his bench partner is Ravi.
What ! A Hindu?
No mummy he's a D'souza. A sigh of relief. If even your bench partner is non catholic his worshipping of heathen gods will imperil your up coming first communion ?

Standard Three and it's also a Ravi but this time Gaitonde. Not so bad he's a Hindu fellow but a Goan. Thank god for small mercies. Auntie Dolcie has displaced Barrack Obama's election from the family news. She wants to marry. Marry outside the community. Granny is searching her soul. Searching for where she went wrong with Dolcie. Did that fall from the mango tree cause permanent damage when Dolcie was five? Why , then why does she want to marry a Mangalorean? They're are just like Hindus. Their women wear sarees not dresses. Their names are Vivek and Anil. Their food is idlis pretending to be Sannas . Their men are better at business than the Sindhis. That's the silver lining on the cloud. At least Dolcie won't starve.

Dolcie changes into a red saree halfway thru the reception and were told it's tradition. This makes grandpa see red. But they're serving scotch so he's okay.
Dolcie's expecting her first baby when cousin Jerry announces that he's getting married. Yippee do da yeah. Party time here we come. Visions of fugias are dancing in our heads. Only to be told that the bride wants the Arya Samaj rite.
Arya what?
She's Hindi ?
No Mummy Hindi is a language. She's Hindu.
If I die now it will be your fault.
You won't die mummy and she'd like the women to wear sarees for the wedding.
What does she think we are? Mangloreans?

Dolcies son is born.
Chris ?
No mom Kris. It's like Chris with a K.
Don't call me mom you're not an American.
She doesn't know about a certain Hindu Gopi loving butter stealing blue blooded god and is thus spared a cardial infraction.
Kris goes to kindergarten. His bench partner is Pablo, who's French parents are working with an NGO in Khetwadi.
Kris travels the world. Comes back to Bandra. Invites his parents to his wedding where he and Sam will pledge their undying love for each other under the mango tree in the garden.

Thank god your grandmothers not alive to see this, she would have died of a heart attack.

Dec 14, 2010


For the tenth year the best way to bring in Christmas happens on St. Anthony's Road.Suzy Q,Tara,Cyril and Megan,Ramon Ibrahim,Gsus,Clarry Devisser Neale Murray& Megan Brian Tellis Dominique Elvis Sid Meghani Rajiv Raja The Fun Bunch Denzil Smith
Santa The Glee Hive Coco & Hot Chocolate & Minelli and more.
See you on Sat 18th Dec 6.30 p.m. on St. Anthony's Road.

Hold hands and don't let go.

Once a year we were taken for a picnic. The venues varied. All within an hours driving distance. So that you could get there and back in the course of a school day.
We were told to bring our water bottles and sandwiches. A cap to keep away the sun and to visit the toilet before boarding the bus. We were assigned partners and told to hang onto our partners when crossing the road.For starters we were taken to the aeroplane park. A concrete aircraft parked at the end of Linking road. Where we took turns at being pilots and making vrrooom vroom noises during imagined take offs and landings. Until we were rounded up and made to sit in a circle. A community lunch. With foil packets being opened. Sandwiches of egg, ham salami cucumber tomato and meatloaf. You knew who to sit next to because if someones mother gave them a good lunch on a daily basis it was a safe bet that they'd have an even better lunch at the picnic. Hot dogs. The Mumbai kind. Bread rolls with mince. A slice of lettuce adding colour and vitamins. Water bottles that had been badly depleted in squirting unsuspecting pedestrians and each other on the bus ride were squeezed to give up their spirit.
With the passing of years our horizons were broadened. To Vihar lake where we were told to keep away from the crocodiles. To chotta Kashmir in the aarey milk colony. Is there a chota mumbai in Kashmir. A place of noise and crowds in that vale of flowers? A visit to the parle biscuit factory which was heralded with stories of largesse. That you were allowed to eat as many biscuits as you wanted to. For free. And drink as manyThums ups as you wanted to when you visited the thumbs up factory. Neither of which held up even though you'd avoided breakfast so that you could eat more biscuits. Glucose D. Which you now knew to stand for Dreams. As in , in your dreams would there be unlimited biscuits. The Old ladies shoe at the hanging gardens. With it's hedges in the shapes of animals. Green elephants and peacocks. Deer chased by tigers that would never catch them. While in the middle of a game of cricket retrieving the ball would cause kissitus interruptus to bodies huddled behind the bushes.
There was a cloud to this silver lining. Which surfaced the next day when you had to write a one page essay on My Class picnic.

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

There would be try outs. No stop watches or starters pistols. No tapes to mark the finish line. Just mr. pandey at one end and mr. Tamhane on the other. With fifty boys running from one of them to the other. With nobody allowed to start until the go as in get ... Set... Tamhane would then sweep up the first five or six and they'd have qualified for the finals. While the rest of us went back to our disorganised games of football and hockey with the football sometimes coming in the way up a hockey stick or an offending hockey ball being kicked aside by a future Ronaldinho. Trials for the long jump were time bound. Pandey had to chose the best long jumpers from fifty in a thirty minute PT( physical training ) period. This gave rise to the simultaneous long jump. With us lined up four abreast. Taking of together and landing into the sand pit in a tangle that made us Siamese quadruplets. Body parts that were furtherest away were traced back to their point of origin establishing the qualifier. March pasts were the grab bag of participation for anyone whose mind was willing but the flesh too weak to make it to any of the events. And if even in their marching were they challenged then they'd be hidden away in the centre of the marching squad so that their left left left right left which came out tangled was apparent to none of the spectators and definitely not to the chief guest who had the honour of judging the best house . The band visually had drums flute players, trumpets, triangles and bugles. Aurally just drums.
Relays and races were cheered with more gusto than a Rajnikanth appearance in Matunga. The tug of war brought the house down with spectators leaning this way or that in ESP like connections to their teams. There was a race for the teachers, a race for the peons and a race for the ex students. Sporting heroes of years gone by who would have taken the afternoon off from their sports quota jobs.
Golds silvers and bronzes would be tallied for the overall championship. While cups and salvers were lined up in impressive arrays. The chief guest extracted his revenge for an afternoon of watching us by reiterating sportsmanship and winning is nt everything platitudes in ten different ways. His wife who by now could have walked to the winners podium blindfolded looked more shaken than stirred by the heat of the afternoon, the dust of the field and the enthusiasm of fifteen hundred boys struggling for glory. The principal in his speech would declare the next day a holiday so that we could sleep in late. While we dreamt of how we would run the perfect hundred metre Hurdles, without dropping even one. Or not fumble the baton passing or run the hundred metres in 12 seconds flat. And to later have Miss Nigli hang a pretending to be gold medal around our ever willing necks.

Dec 3, 2010

Go here and Enjoy!

Here's a blog I enjoy. http://wagwordsworld.blogspot.com/

Nov 19, 2010

Cold Cold Heart.

There are no cold storages in Ghatkopar. For the same reason that there are no agarbatti sellers at Mount Mary’s. Though Bandra has more than it’s fair share, of cold storages i.e. not agarbatti sellers. Where you can buy everything from East Indian Goa sausages to Goan East Indian Bottle masala. Long rows of freezers with a butchers block at the back. Next to the cash machine is the slicer. Upon which the salami is sliced down to micron measurable thickness. Great risk to limb, the slicers i.e. not the piggy who has already given up his life to be born again [ not in the Emmanuel prayer group ] but as salami and bacon and ham and pork chops and beef . So that both the minority and the majority communities are equally offended and can’t claim discrimination. Beef mince, beef steaks, diced beef. You have to know when the beef comes in. Because then you can get it fresh. With a choice of cut..
‘ Make sure you tell him to give you Under cut. And trim the fat off. ‘
So you carry your instructions faithfully to Marks, or Serpis or Judes or Joesphs. Where the size of the knife and the flair of the apron clad cutter makes you consider butchery as a career option. Its more an axe than a knife. Which can crunch down and cut thru bone . Which after its shift is over is embedded into the block with a thunk and all the satisfaction of a days work well done.
It’s a minefield with the equipment. The slicer. The knives. The mincer. The mincer which has chunks of meat going in at one end and spaghetti like mince spouting out of the other. With buttered efficiency. Which is also available at the Cold storage. Butter and margarine for when the bonus is delayed, Kraft salad dressing when Tiffany , the owners neighbour ,who flies for Air India had just returned from a flight. The supply varies between Toblerones, Kraft and Laughing Cow cheese depending on which part of the world Tiffany’s schedule had taken her. There’s Don’s Dried Bombay Ducks the brackets specify bombils. Is the Don the Don of all bombil suppliers or is it just short for Donny ? And sidings. The left over bits that remain after the fully sliced salami and ham bits are sold. All bundled together and sold for half the cost. Run it in the mixie and throw some butter in and you have a sandwich spread to compete with the best.
Come Christmas and local entrepreneurship surfaces. Marzipan and milkcream makers display their products for off the shelf buyers. New residents, these. Stray posters surface. Adorable pomerainian pups. To be given away free. To a good home. And six months later. Fluffy missing. Adorable white pomerainian. Rs. 5000 reward offered. Contact 2640 XXXX.
While in Edinburgh the distillery that has the best single malt is debated , and at the Grand Prix wheter Ferrari or Mclaren is the better team, the passion of the debate pales before the question of wheter Mark’s broilers are fresher than Judes.

Oct 26, 2010

The neighbourhood watch.

There was a meeting scheduled. To decide about the crib. A crib the community had to put together.They had to come up with a prize winning idea. They'd won the prize three years in a row. The first year the theme was " World peace " . A PLO type Joesph accompanied by a Mary draped in the Israeli flag ( who some illiterates mistook for Mother Teresa) accompanied by three kings who found their roots in China,Africa and Barbie's Ken had swung it for them. The next year's theme was "Love". So with baby Jesus L-ovingly O-ffers V-victory E- very time they'd swept to victory. Last years theme of Family had been easy. They had a live crib when the judges came around. And if the shepherd ( Jo-Boy) had held onto Duke the Labrador pretending to be a sheep's collar tighter then they might even have stood first at the all Bombay level. 
The theme for this year ? "Forgiveness" . Myrtle who had come up with the Love idea wanted F-aith O- overcomes R - ogues, R-obbers R-ussians ? No it wouldn't work. Clara suggested having the crib in a confessional. Jo-boy thought that a cut out of Kasab as one of the angels would make a statement. 
"Myrtle chill .we're only discussing ideas. No it does' nt mean your idea wasn't good enough. Why aren't we using it then ? Aa.. Well..... You see....... Let'stake a cold drink break. "
" Clara I don't think we'll be able to borrow a confessional from the church. Christmas time is when they use them the most. Ok you get the confessional then."
It was the night before Christmas and the crib was ready. Kasab outside the confessional with the baby Jesus and his entourage within. With a banner that went from F to S hung above. But that was a long time ago . R -emember ? One of these days Myrtle Jo-Boy and Clara will be speaking to each other again.     

Oct 25, 2010

Should I ?

He wanted to ask her to the Christmas dance But first he’d have to make sure he got the tickets. If he got the tickets and she said no? Would he use the tickets anyways ? Tickets worth their weight in gold frankincense and myrrh, without her ? Would her father allow her to go ? Would he have enough money for the cab ride from her place to the gym and back ? Money for the favours ? Without which they didn’t allow you onto the dance floor for the special dance.
How much did he have to budget for dinner ? And bar coupons and glass deposits ? Would JoBoy and Cousin Clara be there ? Would they tell his folks if he bought himself a beer ? Pint. Only a pint. Should he go with the rest of the gang or just the two of them ? Would the suit fit or would it be short at the ankles ? Would Bob tailors be able to lengthen the trousers in a matching material if it was short. Was she a member at the Gym or did he have to budget a guest fee in ? He hoped he wouldn’t step on her toes. And that he would’nt cut himself shaving on Christmas day. Would his Dad let him use some of his Old Spice ?
Would she slow dance with him ?
God it’s still only October.

Oct 20, 2010

66-000-666 Home Delivery.

Everything comes to he who waits. Especially in Bandra. Where we have everything delivered home. Groceries and liquor. Fish and newspapers, and thats not counting the newspaper the fish came wrapped in. Thums up Pepsi’s and vegetables. Ok Ok bhaji’s. You call Nandu the vegetable vendor in Pali market to deliver. Or hail the passing bhajiwallas pushcart . Whose owner tries to sell you four different kinds of vegetable when all you wanted was tomatoes. For the lunch salad. Burgers from Andoras, Candies or even McDonalds. Coconuts delivered by a man on a cycle. Whom you can commission to give you a coconut every day, every other day, every Monday, or every other Monday. He’s a Keralite. He remembers.
Bread. Fresh and hot. Straight from the oven. Put into a bag you hang out on the door every night. And the tooth fairy fills it up while you sleep. She must be flying straight in from the oven to your door with the pao because thats the only way it can be delivered at the temperature it is. The paowalla makes an evening round too. He adds to his repertoire for the evening round. Patties or is it pattices, rolls, an assortment of biscuits and eggs.
The jaripuranawala. Who shows up with his weighing scales. Scales that show 1.2 kgs for every 1kg of weight as measured at the International Bureau of weights and measures. So you try and slip some Candies cake boxes [ Empty and unfolded flat ] in between the newspapers to level the playing field. Bottles, books, a toaster that doesn’t toast, a non stick frying pan that sticks . Everything has a price. The jaripuranawala uses a hand cart or a bag. The jaripuranawali uses a basket. A big round cane basket that you have to help her load onto her head after the deal is concluded.
Flowers are delivered home. By a delivery boy who is frsher than the boquet he’s carrying. Clara on the ground floor inspects the card attached. She then discovers that its your birthday / the wifes wedding anniversary . So she ‘s going to drop by around dinner time for sure. And when you say stay for dinner she’ll say “ no, no, I just came to wish you’ll “ But you , she and the Pope all know that shes going to be breaking bread with you’ll.
Dhobiwallas who come on a cycle with a bundle of BandStand dried laundry on the carrier. Who walk into the house and say ‘ Kapda Nikalo ‘. Stop right there. You exhibitionist. You look for the calendar where the tally of shirts shorts pants and nighties always leaves the dhobi making promises to find your favourite pants before his next visit. Which he does , because by then his nephews thread ceremony will be over and he does’nt need your Raymonds double knit pants anymore.
Smartly dressed young men selling mobile phones, internet connections, and Jehovas witnesses. Peddling a version of God that has you trembling at the knees. Who a guy who’s selling a gas alarm assures you you will be meeting very soon if you don’t buy his fail safe device.Something to awaken you from the deepest slumber when your Burshane gas cylinder springs a leak in the middle of the night.
Even communion. But for that you have to be sick or old . And the delivery is outsourced. To euchrastic ministers to whom you confess all of your neighbours sins. Coffins of course have to delivered home so that Uncle Aldo can be removed from the camp cot and the ice be given a fresh coat of salt. Aiz Uncle Aldo Falea Tuka.

Oct 2, 2010

BandraBuggers.........the book

The book is out. A selection from the blog. Available at Happy book Stall on Hill Road, Cafe Goa , Soul Fry . Serpis Cold Storage ( opp. St.Andrew's Church and at the newspaper vendor opposite The Lemon Grass Cafe ( old Pot Pourri ). Rs. 100/-. So don't endanger your laptop when you're on [the] pot and Aunty Mildred is still computer phobic anyways.

Jun 23, 2010


You can climb Mount Everest and achieve immortality. Or be President of the country or discover the cure to cancer. Or run a bhelpuri stall. Just of Hill road on the road leading to the Pork market. The cart is wheeled into place every evening. Blue wheels, stainless steel counters and glass cabinets. In which lie daily replenished mountains of sev and ghatias and puris and kurmuri. The dry ingredients that go into bhel. The handle bar mustachioed owner with his silver ear ring exchanges the days news with the now vacating fruit wallah. The culvert on the side is dusted off . The first in are the school children. With grubby coins and currency notes whose DNA has been joined forever to chewing gum in school uniform pockets. Sukha bhel. With six puris. One for each of the shareholders in the bhel buying enterprise. Which Mummy had expressly forbidden in the monsoon. Unless you want to die of jaundice or cholera or typhoid or luke something .
“ And don’t think I’m going to look after you if you fall sick ! “
The six shareholders have a split vote. Wheter the bhel should be meetha or tikka. With the wisdom of Solomon Mr. Bhelwalla informs them that he can do meeta tikka . And knowing the catholic palate of his target audience the meeta far out weighs the tikka. The puri of share holder No.2 has broken. His own fault. Because when it was his turn for a scoop he tried to push too far down. He knew that you can’t really balance six inches of bhel vertically on a 1.5” diameter puri, but his puri died trying. Mr. Bhelwalla aaka know as Bhaiya or more correctly as Arre Bhaiya out of the largesse of his heart hands him another. Shareholder No.6 wants water. Which comes to him in a rolled up sheet of paper. You have to drink it before the paper gets soggy. The scooping puris remain with the bhel having run out halfway thru the second round.
“ I told you only four people should share”
Promoters quota?
The puris are munched on, on the walk home. Where a planned feigned apettite for bread pudding becomes real.
You have to buy new rain shoes. At Batas.
‘ No football today. Change out of your uniform and be ready at 5.”
“ OK Mummy “
The route goes within hailing distance of the Bhelwalla. Pavlovionally, he salivates.
They get the shoes. Slightly oversized.
“Then they’ll fit you next year also.”
Back the way the came. With old Bata chapplas in a new shoe box and new shoes being put into every puddle to test for sea worthiness. Discreetly.
“ Do you want bhelpuri ?”
“ What? “
Is the Pope a German Catholic ? Is Bal Thackeray Maharahtrian? Is Sonia Gandhi Indian or Italian ? Stop at the first two.
“ Don’t tell your brother and sister that we had bhel, And definitely don’t tell Daddy . He’ll want to know where’s his share and it’s bad for his cholesterol”
Bhelpuri Bahiya and Mummy have a familiarity that makes you think that he too is a member of the Ladies Sodality.
“ Arre Baba vapaas”
Mummy “ Vapaas?”
“ Jo- boy wanted to have bhel so I came with him. But I didn’t have .“
Mummy “ Bhaiya ek meeta bhel aur dho puri. “

Jun 15, 2010

Shades of Grey !

Uncle Aldo died. So every relation from wife to fourth cousin was in black. Or white. The men and the women. Clara wanted to be a big girl. So she wore black too. It was easier. Stains didn’t show up as easily. It made being found out at hide and seek more difficult. The men all had a little black patch on their button. And so it went . After Uncle Aldo it was Phillip his brother. They couldn't use the family grave for him. It took two years to go back to dust. Claras had the red dress. On a hangar.
She’d change at her friends house. On her way to the party. With the black dress laid out and ready for the journey back home. Sometimes the white. Daddy died. Even in his coffin with his best suit on him the black patch peeped thru.
The picture for her passport was rejected. Because they required it to be in colour.
“ But it is. “
“It is ?”
“Yes , it’s just that the dress was grey .”
“Red ? You want a red bouquet ? “
“But lavender or lemon or peach or sky blue . They’ll look prettier. “
“ Red bouquet or the weddings off “
So she walked down the aisle with her white wedding dress and her white wedding shoes and the blood red roses in her hand.

Jun 12, 2010

Inuits have fourteen words for white !

Bathrooms were always white. With white commodes and white basins. Johnson white. Showers could only be had cold. The geyser ? No, it was’nt connected to the shower. So if you wanted a hotwater bath it was with a bucket. Into which you first let the hot water dribble. The slower the dribble the hotter the water. You had to first open the tap. Then switch the geyser on. With dry hands. Other wise you stood a chance of increasing the electricity bill, to say nothing of the funeral expenses. The red bulb that shared the small piece of marble with the switch and the little steel container lit up. You then tried to find the sweet point. That flow of water which gave you a bucket full of water hot enough. But not so hot that you needed to add some cold water to the bucket for your bath. To slow a flow of water and all that came out of the little boiler that could was steam. Which was fun because you could then write on the mirror.
The magic was in getting all the planets to align. The flow of water hot enough, the rate of removal of water from the filling bucket, the soaping and the rinsing, and the final lift of bucket off the floor to pour that last inch of water that the mug could’nt retrieve. Only to find that there was still some soap behind your left ear. Ok cold water from the basin would do for that.
There was soap on a rope. Fishy in shape . Scales and everything that would hand from a rope that would hang from a wall that would be furtherest away from the geyser. The basin had it’s magnetic soap. Which was a bar with a magnet attached to the underside. And when you opened a new bar of soap you were allowed to open a bottle of coco cola for the billa. The billa was the cap which was metal , which you then pressed into the soap which allowed the magnet to hold onto it. You don’t get magnet soap holders anymore because you billas today are aluminum and coke bottles are mostly plastic.
In the middle of the floor was another slab of marble. Spoiling the symmetry of the Johnson tiles and their always requiring cleaning joints. Which was what old toothbrushes were used for. The marble was for the clothes. The clothes the bai washed and then beat the living daylights out of until they gave her all the dirt.
The overused window ledge held everything. From Readers digest’s [ there is no better toilet reading ! ] to tooth brushes, tooth paste, dentures, glasses, wedding rings [ until discovered gratefully in the panic of loss] scapulars, [ until discovered and forced back around our necks ] TP, washing powder, the clothes brush, and Tolstoys War and Peace. Gotcha !
One bathroom and five people meant that the condensed book section at the end of the Readers Digest would have to wait. Which you would remember about late at night. Only to find the last few pages missing. It must have been the butler who did it ?
Which explained itself the next morning when you saw toilet paper on the shopping list.

Apr 15, 2010

Musings of a Bombayite who grew up on Hill Road...

by Floyd Cardoz

Last December I returned to Bombay after a few years. These are musings of a Bombayite who grew up on Hill Road

As arrived at the airport, I wondered what happened to the smell of piss that always hit you when you get off the plane. What happened to the 2 havaldars with the bad attitude that made you wait in the long immigration lines? I remember the old Sahar airport was a dump.
In the day, you got out of the airport and got hit with the heat, got into a cab( either an Ambassador or a Premier Padmini) which did not have AC and you sweated it out, you struggled thru the traffic on the old Western express highway, if you could call it that. You drove by Centaur hotel, you crossed thru Bandra east to Ghodbunder road, to SV Road to the reclamation, which was empty but for a few stray dogs. You passed the old bungalows on John the Baptist Road and went on to a narrow Hill Road. There was room to drive and room to cross and may be even room to play cricket.
In the old days You could walk down to Hill Road safely, pass Virendra, pass the Nigli’s home and the Arsiwalla’s home, pass Bashiruddin tailors (who sold kites) pass Cheap Jacks ( who weren’t so cheap) safely on Hill Road . You passed Elco Arcade and you could still walk on Hill Road. Yes; it was constantly being dug up somewhere but you could walk. When you wanted to cross cars slowed down. Occasionally you would see a taxi or a 221, 215 or 211 bus ( there were few rick shaws). Driving rules were followed. If you needed transportation you went to Mehboob Studio or Yacht restaurant or St Stanislaus for a taxi. You always road your Speedking or Atlas down Hill Road
If you wanted good restaurant you would go to south Bombay. Every one went to South Bombay, and nobody from south Bombay would ever be seen in Bandra. That was for us mac’s.
Bandra was beautiful and quite with a few people and fewer large buildings. A small Bandra Gym.
You went out to the Malad only because you wanted to go to a relatively un-inhabited Madh or Gorai. There were very few people along the way. And you would think why anyone would live in Malad it is so far away.

It is a different Bombay in more ways than I remember.
First they changed the name to Mumbai
They’ve built this modern airport and changed the name to Chatrapati Shivaji International airport. Quite swanky
Now there is fresh air when you get off the plane, a clean immigration hall and more than 10 immigration officers. You pass thru quickly. You come out of the airport and you feel you are at Churchgate at rush hour. Your car is air-conditioned and in good shape and have names like lndica and Indigo. You get on these new fly over’s which whiz you to Bandra over Godbunder road to the Reclamation. Where did all these buildings come from? And the new sea link, how often did we hear the rumors of the highway over the sea that was coming?
And the traffic and you think don’t people ever sleep in Mumbai, its past 12 am?

Then the next day you make the mistake of walking down Hill Road, all wide now and nice and curvy. You think it must be a pleasure. Try being a foreign return and crossing the road. I waited 20 minutes and gave up. Where did all these people come from? Do these cab drivers and rickshaw drivers ever keep to their side of the road? People cross in front of cars, walk on the road without going on the pavements and don’t even bother about the cars. They try to stop busses and cars with their hands like the cops of old. And no one ever hits them! Every body drives inches from each other and you think don’t they ever bang each other? Why aren’t the cars dented?
Down Hill Road nobody rides their cycles anymore, do people still own cycles in Bandra?
And the old homes are gone and new shiny buildings have taken their place.

If you want a cab you call Meru, that is really nice all AC’d and comfy. How easy! No begging to take you to Chembur or Colaba or Mahim!

And there are many nice restaurants in Bandra and people from South Bombay come to eat. And you can pick up the phone and order food from Chatriwallas ,Candies and Andora.

Bandra is still beautiful in some parts. The Bandra Gym is not so small anymore and whatever happened to Demonte Park, it actually looks like a park now. Thank God A1 Bakery is still the same.

And then you have to go to Malad, and you wonder what happened. It has so many buildings and people and traffic, a brand new mall. Malad is not the Boondocks anymore. And you still wonder why anyone would live in Malad; it is still so far away.

But the thing that gets you is the crowds and cars and traffic.

And then you meet your friends from Bandra, and you think that the only thing that has not changed is the lovely people from Bandra. Thank God for that. It makes coming home even more special.

Maybe even Arizona...

On the road again. Three weeks ago . And there was me and Aalia and Aalia's sister, Mahia. Picked up sleeping bags tent stove and bucket. Then headed on to Bijapur via Pune. Big Sunday morning breakfast in Pune at the Coffe house near Dorabjees. Accompanied by every Sunday paper the paperwallah outside was selling. Theres no coffee ,like filter coffee theres no coffee I know. On past the vineyards and sugarcane farms that have come up around Pune. Past garden hotels with their private cabanas. Past tractors with trailors 10 feet wide with the protruding load of sugarcane adding another 10 feet on each side. Overtaking? Only if you want to die drinking ghana juice. A stop for a lunch of Kohlapuri chicken. With extra strong Khajurao beer on the side. It was the only one available. Which even diluted with sprite was formidable for it's alcoholic content. Sitting on khatiyas and munching on masla papads while the chicken was caught, killed, defeathered, cooked served and eaten. On to Sholapur. With a sudden detour thrown in that said " Shortcut to BIjapur." Which meandered us thru Pandharpur. That mythical place that people from all over Maharashtra converge on periodically. We were looking to top up on gas once we hit the main town. Which like early sexual experiences was over as soon as it began. The tractors with their sugarcane kept our speed in the first quarter of the speedometer. Until we passed the sugar crushing plant. After which we had to contend with the tractors and their trailors coming at us head on. Tea stop. With the evening sun on our faces. Nothing between us and the horizon. A stray goat dropping by to see who had come to visit. The tractors getting fewer as the end of the crushing shift came closer. We have four pages of Google maps for the Mumbai to Bijapur route. Now rendered null and void by the "shortcut to Bijapur" sign. The kids are practsing the fine art of negotiation. One song from Camp Rock for them one Gordon Lightfoot for me. One Jonas brothers trades for Elton Johns Yellow brick road.
The sun sets. Leaving us alone in the world. In this little space which could well be a interstellar vehicle on its way to Mars. A code has evolved. TarMac for the good roads, MacTar for those that are not so good and CamRat for those that God and the Highway department has forgotten about. Dinner. Before the kids fall asleep. We have a choice. Panner mutter, Biryani, Paneer Makhanvalla or noodles. It's like magic. All it takes is boiling water. For any of them. And we have our gourmet noodles ready to eat. With their yellow fold open cutlery that comes as part of the package. The villager who has to turn off onto our dirt track to get home, rides his cycle into a ditch. He turned around to see what a stove was doing with camp chairs and a Bisleri bottle where only this morning was dirt track ,dirt track and dirt track. He gets his torch and climbs back onto his cycle leaving us to the stars and the eerie howl of a dog that we imaginatively think might be wolf or jackal .
Coffee from a sachet that comes premixed with sugar and cream. Almost as good as this mornings filter coffee. And we’re on the road again. In our Sorpio pretending to be spaceship headed for Bijapur.. Rot in hell Jonas brothers and Demi Lovato .The music system is mine. The kids are asleep. The road belongs to the truckers though. With their high beam headlights and more coloured lighting than Las Vegas. With glo tape slogans that proclaim “ India is Gret “ or India Is Greta” and even “ India is Greet”. Ma tuhje salaam. All the left over glo tape, the odds bits and corners that remain after HornOKPlease has been cut out is plastered onto the transmission or the axle.
I stop to check where we are. Yes I have GPS on my phone. Do I need to know ? No. Then why.. Because they I can. The milestones tell me I’m on the right road.
It’s 2.00 am in the morning when we drive into Bijapur. It’s a big town. They’ve got a Lions club and a Rotary Club both of whom warmly welcome us. Should I pitch the tent ? Too much effort. I find the one person awake in all of Bijapur. A policeman on his way home. He gives me directions to a Hotel at the foot of the Gol Gumbaz. Ten minutes later we’re checked in and asleep.
Aalia and Mahia are up early. Watching TV. Silent animated characters jumping across a snowy screen. The volume turned down so that I can sleep longer. They respect the additional responsibility I have as driver. We’re a TV’less home in Mumbai so even silent cartoons are better than no cartoons at all.
Dosa’s and upma before we set off to tell the Adil Shahi dynasty that we’re here.

Mar 23, 2010

On the Street where you live.

Wherever you live, you dream. You dream that one day you will live in Goa. Where the skies are bluer and the sand more golden. Where the feni is.. feni. Colin did that. Born in Kalina. Lived in Bombay all his life till four years ago. Made a living doing what he loves. Which is play guitar. Stuck to playing guitar while everyone and their dog told him he should get a regular job. Played with bands, with choirs, in hotels auditoriums and churches. He does the samething now. But in Goa. In his home set in the fields of Sangolda. Right at the Lightning Club if you’re coming from Porvorim, left at the Lighting Club if you come in from Calangute. On any given Monday or Tuesday right thru to Sunday he’s at a gig. Where he does the whole nine yards. From playing wedding songs to which only the eighty pluses in the audience know the words to, to music that rave DJd a nomencalature for. In his home strewn with guitars he makes music. He runs JazzGoa. He records local artists and sends them out into the world thru the internet. He does it for free. He matches up music impresario X with musician Y. Musicians from all over the world come to Goa. He Beatles and Peter Framton and The Who. Who? Go suck on your dudu bottle. Musicians find their way to Colin. Even though he’s hidden behind a guitar almost as big as himself.
He uses a fretless bass guitar. Whats that ? The equivalent of finding needles in a haystack on a superlong fretboard and then arranging them in height order to give you bass lines that stay in your head long after the bands gone home. He’s in august company. Legendary company. Lester Godinho, Yvonne Gonsalves, Darryl and Sharon Rodrigues. Yes Lester who called Leslie Godinho dad. And Yvette who called Chic Chocolate Dad. And Sharon who calls Braz Gonsalves Dad and Yvonne Mom. Genes that made music strumming umbilical cords. And havent stopped since.

Jan 7, 2010

Pretty maids all in a row.

Baba is running out of control once again. She runs behind him . Re setting shop displays that have tumbled in his path. She can't keep up. A second to do what takes a million to redo. She can’t chastise him. The memsaab has said no shouting at him. Definitely no hitting him. He hits her.
“ arre he’s so small how hard can he hit you”. The other customers glare at her. She’s supposed to keep the brat under control. Something his own parents can’t do. Not that they’re trying, with cell phones in hand, beauty parlour appointments to keep, kitty parties to attend.
At the restaurant they order for her. While she sits at a tale with the other maids. And the children. At least here she does’nt have to do the dishes at the end of a long day. Baba is winding down. He wants to be carried. 26 kgs. In the car later she’s asked how she liked it. Very nice, very nice. Very nice that they ordered the cheapest dish on the menu for her. Very nice that she sat at a table where she had to ask three times for a glass of water.
Did she mind sacrificing her Sunday afternoon off. Baba had to be taken for his cousins birthday tea party ?
Did she mind not having her friends visit her in the building?
”But they meet me down stairs Madam.”
“Yes but the committee says they don’t want strangers coming in and out.”
Did she mind staying up late Saab was going to be late today and you know how he likes his parathas hot.
There was a scene at the club because they now charged even domestics the guest fee.
“How can you ? It’s like they’re not even there.”
“Sorry Madam secretary’s orders.”
A thousand square feet of living space. All she gets is space for her trunk. Tin. With a mirror on the inside of the lid. So that the mirrors in the house don’t wear out if she uses them?
“ Madam I’ll be leaving in three days.”
“For how long ?”

“For how long I said.”
“ Madam my father has a cataract and needs me in the village.”
Later the saab comes home.
“ I told you, you were spoiling her. The more you do for them the more they sit on your head. Ungrateful wretches.”

Jan 4, 2010

Dear John,

Many thanks for your Christmas letter. Its great to know that all of you are in good health. Susan doing ballet. Wow. At 7 years she’s already had her first performance. I now feel a bonding with her. Because every morning I’m doing pirouettes in and out of local trains while holding onto the barre. The next time you’ll are here I’m going to take her on a quality time train ride with me. The house is looking great. The oak tree in the foreground just looks more majestic with each years picture. Wish I could say the same about our gulmohur. Yeah the same one we used to climb on for our games of Jack and the monkey. It fell. Adding insult to injury we had to pay the BMC to take it away.
You guys have really been travelling. Machu Pichu. Orlando. We now have a theme park here too. At Gorai. Remember the ferry crossing at Marve? The tonga rides to Manori. Esselworld. People who have seen Disney world and Esselworld have told us it’s almost as good. A bit smaller though.
You going to China on work.Wow ! I was selected to go to Sri Lanka for the company sales rep conference too. But at the last minute it was called off. Cost cutting they said. Hopefully next year my sales will be good too. They’ve promised us a conference in Bangkok.
How do you find the time ? With Sue and Randy and all their homework and classes. It’s great to know that Randy is now playing baseball for a team. I remember his cricket game when he came down last year. And how insulted he was when the kids started calling him No Ball Randy. I hope John has thought him what a no ball is. The time ? Yes the time do have book readings and attend wine tastings. If they had free wine tastings here the crowd would be bigger than St. Michael’s on a Wednesday.And you say hardly anybody comes ?
This years Divali holidays we were in Lonavla. St. Stanislaus villa. Mass every morning. Their sooji and puri bhaji is not as good as it used to be. The cook is now some UP guy. I wish the old cook had shown him how to make a decent cup of coffee before he died. We now have Barista here. Indian Starbucks. Thirty bucks for chai. Yes Thirty bucks. Even the Sea Rock coffee shop never used to charge that much. Someone told me that a cup of coffee at Starbucks costs twelve dollars. 12X 50. Geez. That’s 600 bucks. For coffee. For that kind of money you could get a share in a coffee planation in Mangalore. A small share. Ok .A very small share. If you are paying Rs. 600 for a cup of coffee please don’t tell your Mum. I met her in the bazaar last week and she was complaining how she’d just paid Rs100 for five bangdas. Your coffee price might send her straight to the Holy Family ICCU. Yes ICCU. First they only had an ICU. Now ICCU. So many heart attacks here.
You ended your letter with have a good one. I too started using that in my emails here. But some of these illiterates wrote back asking “have a good what?”. No class. But you Sue Randy and John have a good one. 2010 i.e.

Dec 24, 2009


There was Small Michael. Big Michael. Mike. Cycle Michael and Michael Bandy. The original bad boy. Named Bandy for the bow legs he's been born with. Said epithet used when Michael was beyond earshot. Three times over.Trouble found him even when he was running full tilt away from it. With teachers and peers. With neighbours whose fruit trees he'd raid. With hockey teams who sort to decapitate him before a match. Because with him playing all the eleven players of the opposition may as well have stayed home and done their cross stitch.

They'd gathered up outside the school gate to get him. In revenge for their defeat. With their instruments of revenge aptly their hockey sticks. He came out of the gate with school bag and nothing else. The dust cleared to the attackers on the run with one of their hockey sticks in Michaels hand. Those were odds of four to one that he emerged from. He was a year ahead of us at school. The teachers thought him notorious while to us he was famous. A legend.

At assembly pink slips were given out for major infractions of school rules. Michael was called upon often. Until the applause started. Everytime he was called up the whole assembly would burst out clapping.

Every Christmas we'd go for the Christmas tree to the gymkhana. Where there'd be a huge Christmas tree. With presents under it that Santa would come around and distribute.. Games, that rarely went beyond the lemon and spoon race, or sack race or a three legged race. The lemon and spoon was solo the sack race was solo but for the three legged race you needed a partner. From your age group and sex. Michael and me won it with yards to spare. Inspite of me.

In the corridors of St. Stanislaus my stature was big. Because Michael knew me and would say hi to me by name after I'd shouted out a hi Michael that even the teachers in St. Joseph's could hear. The next year it was the wheel barrow race. Which we won hands down. Michael had his hands down while I held his legs and held on for dear life while he raced us to victory.

The next Christmas he didn't show up for the Christmas tree . I' d still see him in school. He still said Hi. His legend was larger. Out of school he dropped off the radar. The grapevine brought news of him joining the oilfields. Of the fear his fellow riggers held him in. It started to go bad with substance abuse. White powders on bits of foil destroying he whom the god's themselves had lifted up. Till he found religion. Where his Thor like strength and determination was channeled into setting up stages and seating for prayer meetings and fellowships.

Then he was gone. Drowned in a well at Gorai where he'd gone for a picnic. With rumours abounding. How he'd been done in. He was too good a swimmer to drown. How an old enmity had caught up with him. Or that he'd been drunk. Or back to the powders.

Wild, free spirited, rebellious, dangerous, hard, tough you could run out of adjectives with him. But he was the guy who won races with me at the Bandra gym Christmas tree and in my years in primary school made me ten feet tall.


Dec 23, 2009

Carols 2009 Thank you,

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Sandia, Mahia, St. Catherines, Mihika, Suresh, Rachel, Neale , Megan 1, Rupert and Gsus, Merlyn and Rhys, Rajiv, Prabs, Paul and Junkt, Vasundhara, Jean Michael, Gordon, Brian [T], Brad, Spaz, JoAnne, Fiona, Edward, Raynah, Jason, Diele, Marie Paul, Corette, Nadine, Sr. Christabel, Dominique, Clint, The Belles and Beaux, Ian and Debbie, Aalia, Lena, Kishore, Bob, Brian [sound ], Giles, Jenny and Jeff, Megan 2 and the Petit Fours, Darryl and Neil.

Thank you for coming and singing and playing and dancing for us. Thank you for your Christmas presents. For bringing performances to our little road that are worthy of Carnegie Hall. For bringing Christmas home once again.

Thanks !


Dec 19, 2009

Carols 2009

CAROLS 2009 on St. Anthony's Road, 20th Dec Sun. 6.30 p.m.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… ,Vasundhara Das, Marie Paul, Ian and Debbie Concessio, Siddharth ELVIS Meghani,Suzzane D’mello, Merlin & Rhys, , Rajiv Raja, Brian Tellis Neale and Megan Murray, The Jazz Junction from Goa, GSus [ The Christian Rock Band] ,Clarry Devisser, Dominique Cerejo, , Jean Michael Merchant, Dean Gregory, Suresh and Rachel Mendoza, Aalia and Mahia,The Fiona Miranda Quartet, The Jingle Bell Dancers,The Christmas Belles and Beaux, Joshua and Franco Vaz, It's fun and it's free.
St. Anthonys Road. From Pot Pourri towards Hill Road and then the first right turn.
BBQ and Bhelpuri. Santas gonna be there. And you ?
Please forward this to all on your mailing list.
Thx.See you Sunday.

Dec 17, 2009


Jeans were a big deal. So we knew there were Levi's and Wrangler's and Lees. Rich kids had them. The Malboro man had them. We had jeans stitched by Jean Junction in Elco-Arcade. But when you placed the order you were given a choice. Of labels. 501's downwards. Which transformed your Bandra made jeans to Made in USA. Which for us at that time was a big deal.

Made by USA. Which was the Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association. Did it ever really exist. This group of counterfeiters who were bypassing copyrights and forging everything. Music systems that had B &O on the front and Made in USA at the back. Bottles of Johnny Walker that had never heard the bagpipes but knew the sounds of a shennai. Watches that had Rolex spinning in their Swiss graves. With meters on the watch face that were just painted on. Millisecond displays forever frozen in time. Which lasted till it rained. Then the humididty of Bombay would mist over the watch which was tested for 300 mts underwater and the time of the day joined Alfred , Agatha and Gardner's stories. We had Ray Bands and Eau dee Colon. Cigarettes that no self respecting beedi smoker would inhale. But packaged in Ulhasnagar by Rothmans and sons, and the Bombay branch of Phillip Morris and Co. Scents. Yes they were called scents, not perfumes, were similarly elevated. Charlie by Mansukhani and Bros. with essences from Ismail Attarwalla ,Bhendi bazaar. Quality Street chocolates that let you know first hand what the bitter fake tasted like. Cassettes. Those Sony's and TDK's and BASF's and Maxwells. C-7 masquerading as C -45' or C- 90's. [ For all you callow youth who don't know what that is, the C denoted the running time of the cassette. C-90, 90 minutes, etc.there was no such thing as a C-7, officialy. ]

Things really got bad when they started faking the fakes. The fake giant sized Dollar bills with a clock in them. The table top fake Ferrari. The fake replicas of the fake Eiffel Tower and fake Statue of Liberty.

But Manmohanji with his policy of liberalization put paid to this duplicity. So we had Samantha Fox visit Mumbai. Are they real ? Who cares?


Dec 15, 2009

Tea anyone ?

Every day we would rush back from school. With our opening words as we entered the house being
“ What’s for tea?”
Watercress sandwiches and crumpets ? Pate de foie gras or apple strudel ? Ha !
Puri bhaji ! Which went down different ways. You could roll the bhaji in the puri. You could sandwich it between two puris. You could take a bite of puri followed by a spoonful of bhaji. But you ate it fast. Too fast for the mother’s puri frying to keep pace with. But cutting the puris out with an upturned vattee was as much fun as trying to fry the strips of dough left behind . On days when the Mother was stretched it was Marie biscuits for tea. Ten each. Counted out from a big steel box. With a glass of milk. If you haven’t dipped a marie biscuit into a glass of hot milk and then pulled it out soggy, you have’nt lived. It’s an art form. To dip the biscuit. But for how long ? Too short a time and you might as well have not dipped it at all. Too long and the biscuit fell away. Gravity claiming it’s share which you could only recalimingly slurp when the glass was empty. With a lot of practice you could raise the ante. Two biscuits at a time . And if you managed three that qualified for a doctorate.
Sooji. With plums and cashews. Which we would roll into ladoos. And play pool on our plates with. Or dissolve in the glass of milk. Quietly. Because that was disgusting behavior and frowned upon. The crème de la creme was bread pudding. Which was steamed in special containers inside the pressure cooker. Which would be upturned to be drawn and quartered.
“Her piece is bigger than mine”
“They’re both the same and eat it quietly otherwise you wont even get that “ would proclaim King Solomon aka Mummy.
It was always home made. In these pre Candies , pre Andora, pre Frito Lays days. On birthdays it would be cake. On the day after the birthday if you were lucky it was also cake. The only cake you saw on non-birthday days were cake crumbs. That Venus bakery sold by the kilo. Which would be drowned in custard and offered up at the altar of tea. Jelly was another special. With the custard coming into service once more. The Mother preferred soluble, crumbly items. They could’nt be purloined of a distracted siblings plate. Not without leaving a trail to the offenders door. Which made the judgement of King Solomon fast and retribution faster.
Don’t ever look away if someone says “ see crow.”

Dec 14, 2009

The Three kings

She was an old lady. With a large house and alone. It would be nice to have someone around the house. The children were gone. To greener , more foreign, more distant lands. The childrens bedroom had three beds.

So it was advertised. PG accommodation available. Triple sharing basis. Attached bath. Boys only. That's what the neighbours had recoomended. They said girls caused more trouble at home. The boys went out and caused trouble.

From Surat, Sholapur and Vizag. Three men seeking their fortune in the city.

You'll can't use the phone.

No need Aunty we have mobiles.

You'll can't use the geyser for more than 5 minutes everyday.

Sure Aunty three is enough to have a bath.

No cooking in the house.

Of course Aunty we've arranged a dabba.

No ironing.

The dhobi will come every day don't worry.

Still she watched them. To see that none of the no's were infringed.

Soon they were having a cup of tea together every morning. They helped her change the curtains. Took the raddi to the raddiwalla . Got a plumber to fix her leaking kitchen tap. She allowed them to use the living room TV. The children wanted to know if she had references for them. Had their home addresses in case they vanished without paying their rent. Or worse.

"No, No. They won't do anything like that. They're good boys. "

"Just be careful okay."

Soon they were included in her daily prayers. Alongwith the grandchildren far away.

Advent came. With the carol singers and sweets. Her three PG's helped her ready her house. Climbing onto stools to get the cobwebs out of the fans. Changing curtains that had not been changed for so long that the sun had faded them. Putting up the Christmas tree that one of them found on top of a cupboard that needed cleaning. Brassoing the front door till it shone like gold. Washing window panes so that the outside could be seen once more.

Christmas day came and she'd cooked a family lunch. For her PG's from Surat, Sholapur and Vizag who had brought voices into her empty home.  




Dec 13, 2009

Sweet 'n' Low

Every year the sweet making would begin as Christmas came closer. Mother [ Ok Ok Mummy ] had a lieutenant. Pavitra. The Hindi speaking maid. The General and the lieutenant. With three footsoldiers.Us. The General would plan the operation. Strategically. With labour intensive sweets distributed evenly with easier ones. The milkcream spaced away from the marzipan. So that the table space used for banging the forms, so that the milkcream fell like manna didn’t short change the multicoloured apples and oranges marzipan. The favourite of the footsoldiers were the rolypollies. { N: Sing Rolypoly. Plu –ies}. So while the cocnut tartlets were being filled we’d want to know if we could start on the rolypollies. Tommorow. When the date rolls were being rolled. Can we start on the rollypollies? Tommorow. The Lieutenant when similarly questioned would give us the same answer. Days would go by . The neoris would be ready. Cakes and nankaties. The latter would be dressed with bits of fruit preserve. Silver edible balls their crowning glory. Rollypollies? Tommorow. Tommorow. The General would promise. While checking that the Lieutenants command of English was accurate enough to read the numbers on the kitchen scale. And 180 gms of castor sugar was 180 and not 130.
With so much on their minds the rollypollies being the simplest were always left for the last. And so it went. Tommorow tomorrow. Or as the lieutenant would say. Kal. And when really harried repeat herself Kal kal. And that’s how the kul kul’s got their name.

Dec 11, 2009

John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982)

They were both from the same place. Wondering how they hadn't ever met till they did. The stars exploded and the colours around them grew more vibrant. They whispered life changing commitments into each others ears. While everyone around them looked at them and thought " Perfect" .

It was. A perfect life. Where their children grew up. Without teenage angst and rebellion. With togetherness and understanding and PTA meetings that they would both attend. With visits to the country and the once every two years holiday abroad. With albums filled with four smiling faces. Till the advent of digital cameras when the smiling faces, a little older now shifted to screensavers. While the neighbours were battling about the children's custody. They contributed their bit to the church collection. His promotions were on cue. The correct percentages of income saved for pensions, holidays,childrens education, daughters marriage and health insurance. Which hopefully they would never need. They didn't. While around them cancer seemed almost epidemic. While not the first family definitely quite high up.

The grandchildren were read bed time stories. The gold retirement watch told him when it was time for the evening news. The chotta peg before dinner. The Saturday glass of wine for her. While property litigations and inheritance battles raged. They'd both made their wills. Hopefully nothing like this would ever be visited upon their kids. It was'nt . The kids got together every Christmas . Where they were remembered in the grace before meals. It had been a perfect life and the worm in the apple never emerged.

Dec 10, 2009

The Secret Santa

It's an obstacle course. The little stretch from the station building to the bus stop. Just across the road. You first have to negotiate your way out of the station past the TC. It's not that he didn't have a ticket just that showing him his pass and waiting while he checks wheter it's valid would slow him down. So a little detour around the blind lottery ticket seller took care of that. Then past the line of rickshaws. With one person getting out and five struggling to get in. First person in gets the rickshaw. All okay there until someone plays dirty and gets in from the other side. A touchdown at both ends of the field. Together. King Solomon where are you when we need you?

The hijras don't bother him. Because he's alone. It's the couples and women they go after. Or maybe they know his bank balance. Or maybe they know that someone headed for the 221 bus stop is not going to part with too much of his loose change. Into the traffic lane behind the rickshaws. The one the BEST buses heading for the depot mistake for Le Mans. The one which James after dropping his lordship off is going thru to get the memsaab to the parlour in time for her pedicure and James is'nt sparing the horses. On to the divider where before him is a sea of people. Prostrating themselves for their weekly namaaz. Watching out for fingers and toes he makes it thru the first round of auditions for Swan Lake and finds himself at the bus stop. Where a bus draws up and he can actually get in. Not cling to the handle on the doorstep like someone from Gemini Circus. The bus hits Turner road. Which halfway thru becomes Perry road. Why ? And how? How can a road have one name for the first half and another for the second ? His stop is coming up. The loose change gets him the ticket. And the idiot kid in the Maruti crashes into him as he alights.

Flat out. So that's what a car looks like from underneath. The whole world gathers around. The pro active folk pull him out from under the car. The most pro active folk pull the rich brat out of the Maruti. Land him a few slaps.

Can he walk? Seems okay. Shirts torn though. The brat is looking shaken. Sorry. Sorry. He's offering to pay. Are those big red ones he's taking out of his wallet ? He shakes his head at the brat to say no, nothing was required. The kid thinks he's saying no, it's not enough. More big red ones on which the Father of the nation's benign smile is now a full fledged grin.
Ho! Ho! Ho! It's going to be a good Christmas

Dec 9, 2009

B & W

On a Tue evening the time for the family rosary was preponed. From 7.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. That meant a half hour less of play time. But did we mind ? We’d asked for it. Because at 7,00 Sports Round Up was on. The one of two TV programs that we watched. With rabbit ear antennae. Sports round up was one. The other was a moving target. Here’s Lucy. Where the red haired Lucille Ball was red haired only in the magazines because on Doordarshans black and white broadcast her hair was grey. The Count of Monte Cristo. Escaping from his island jail and going forth into the world. The Invisible Man with his bandaged head and RayBans. And fedora. That when it came off the bad guys were in trouble. Guns taken from said Bad guys hands and turned around to thump same bad guy or guys upon head. It’s all done with wires. The local SFX experts proclaimed.
Fireball XL5. I’d love to be spaaaaaceman in fireball xl5. Tell me you don’t remember the tune.
I’d fly across the world with……Zoonie. Oh Zoonie where are you now with your seductive metallic voice and dumb blonde attitude . Charlie Chaplin with his oversize shoes and large bearded Rasputin like adversaries.
Sometimes we’d see german viilagers. Matching each other in inane challenges. Glorified lemon and spoon races. Over under and into water hazards.In TeleMatch. While we cheered from a few thousand miles and a couple of years away. Wondering when they would use their joker. And taking sides against Unterflaggenspiel with Bittersiehamburgestadt. Depending on which tem had the prettier Frauleins.
This was the regular fare. Which would be spiced up with other truly rivettting, heart stopping, edge of the seat, nail biting programming. Like the Republic day Parade. Or science report. After a point in time they were indistinguishable from each other. Competing for honors with the recital of the rosary in putting us to sleep .

Dec 8, 2009

Mumbai's First's

The first anniversary has come and gone. The speeches have stopped and the various ceremonies over. Ceremonies of different religions whereprayers are held to commemorate a life rudely interrupted a year ago. Or the temporary grave marker is replaced with a permanent gravestone. Because the mud in a freshly filled grave takes a year to settle down.
At The Taj and at the Oberoi were our leaders. Our captains of industry. People who regularly decided the fate of all the many minions who worked for them. People who led from the front.
Hadn’t even one of them seen Air Force One? Where Harrison Ford being the President of America takes his plane back from the terrorists. Takes it back himself. Doesn’t send waiters and bell hops to take the flak. Doesn’t cower behind curtains. Doesn’t wait like a lamb to be slaughtered or led to safety by rescuing firefighters or commandos. Tales of bravery there were a plenty after that day last November. But the bravery of simpler people. People who served the guests. Guests who were looked up to as strong and decisive in the course of a normal day. Who were considered smart because of the wealth they’d accrued. Six terrorists against a few hundred. Yeah I know those six had guns. And grenades. And training. While the few hundred didn’t even know what was happening. Sure. Not even after two days. Not even after cell phoe updates and news bulletins that played out on the large flat screen TV’s . So we had heroes who caught a train every day to work from the distant suburbs of Mumbai. Who changed into uniforms when they reached their place of work. Who had ration cards and EMI’s. Who never held sway over anyone else’s paycheck. Who were at the head of lines seeking escape routes.
Of course. If you are the guy who collects the laundry left outside hotel rooms that’s a much higher qualification to be the rescuer than someone who spends 5 hours every week on the golf course and twenty in a board room.
“Cccan you get my file back. It’s important . I think I left it in the coffee shop. “
For the sake of that file a life was lost. While a stupid politico was giving away, where he was hidden away with the sound bites to the TV channel over his cell phone. The list goes on. Of the bravery of the little people. Who died trying to save the ass of someone who did’nt have the balls to do anything other than save his own.
Hemant Karkare
Ashokrao Kamathe
Tukaram Ombale
Vijay Sahdev Salaskar
Arun Chitte
Ms. Mehanabi Salim Hahharwala
Salim Ali Harharwala
Subhash Vanmali Vaghela
Peerpasha Mehboob Alisheikh
Shashank Chandrasen Shinde
Prakash More
Vijay Khandekar
M L Chaudhari
Babban Babu Hugade
Aijazbhai Haji Imansahab Dalal
Jayawant Hanumata Patil
Yogesh Shivaji Patil
Babusaheb Dhurgude
Ambadas Pawar
Babasaheb Chandrakant Bhosale
Sitaram Mahalba Sakhare
Mukesh Bikaji Jadhav
Kamal Nanakram Motwani
Bret Gilbert Taylor (Australia)
Ms Meera M Chaterjee
Michael Stuart Moss (Australia)
Ashfar Ali Shaikh
Sareena Sasuddin Sheikh
Nitesh Vijaykumar Sharma
Gaurav Walchand Jain
Malyesh Manvendra Banerjee
Jugaran Hedriz Rudolph (German)
Thomas Verghese
Sadanand Patil
Steve Darfane (German)
Ms Neeta Prakash Gaikwad
Abbas Razzaq Ansari
Ms Rakhila Abbas Ansari
Sarjerao Sadashiv Bhosale
Wilson Baburao Mandlik
Mohammed Ilyas Ansari
Kainath Nagar Kamruddin
Andes Don Tevera (British)
T Suda D Lashi (Chinese)
Farooq Dinshaw Ehaliya
Maibeb Vimanchandra
Antinio D Lorenza (Italy)
Sandeep Unni krishnan
Ms Ami Vipinchandra Thakar
Jordan Gracy Fernandes
Ms Gehara Kanamani alias Jina (Thailand)
Sunil Shevti Parekh
Ms Reshma Sunil Parekh
Ajit Srichandra Chabaria
Ms Monica Ajit Chabaria
Sanjay Vijay Agarwal
Rita Sanjay Agarwal
Rahul Subhash Shinde
Ms Harsha Mohit Azrani
Mohit Kanahya Hazrani
Allan Michael Share (America)
Ms Helen Konoli (Canada)
Ms Uma Govind Garg
Eklaq Mohammed Mushtaq Ahmed
Pankaj Sompad Shah
Lokayu Michael Pudedan (Singapore)
Gajendra Singh
Ashok Kapur
Anant Suryadutt Bhatt
Rohin Baji
Kannobhai Javeribhai Patel
Maqsood Mubarak Ali Sheikh
Rivika Gabrial Holtsberg (Israel)
Rabbi Gabriel Holtsberg (Israel)
Feriz Gimal Ahmak Khan
Rabbi Ben Zion Chromin (Israel)
Ms Sabina Saikia
Udaysingh Karamveer Singh Kang
Nitishsingh Karamveer Singh Kang
Samveer Singh Karamveer Singh Kang
Ms. Yokovit Mosho Uspaz (Israel)
Hemakshi Pillai
Rabbi Arye Teitelbaum (Israel)
Sushil Kumar Sharma
Arkha Solanki
Sunil Thakre
Kajhi Thakre
Vinod Gupta
Abu Ismail
Mohammed Amanat Ali
Chandulal Tandel
Prakash Sandal
Boris Arban Rego
Gunjan Narang
Vijay Thana
Neelam Narang
Burki Ralph (Germany)
Muti Arjun Ansari
Rupinder Devendra Wadhawa
Ravi Kunvar
Saptakam Rehmatullah Shaukat Ali
Murti Pavastin
Hasibul Rehman Fajuddin Rehman Shaikh
Aditya Ashok Yadav
Deepali Janardhan Chitekar
Raju Janardhan Chitekar
Mohammed Kukhtar Mallik
Noorul Islam Azahar Mulla
Ms Shashabai Baburao Khratmal
Aminabegum Hamid Sheikh
Shirish Savla Chari
Afreen S Qureshi
Sanjay Surve
P K Gopalkrishna
Thakur Budha Vaghela
Ms Jasmine
Vijay Katkar
Bhagan Gangaram Shinde
Aziz Nabullal Rampuri
Shoeb Ahmed Shaikh
Misarilal Morya
Shahabuddin S Khan
Harishbhai D Goyal
Zahir Sayyed Nasir Ali