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

Oct 30, 2007

The Great White Hunters !

Thurday was our weekly holiday in school. Thursday was a day that was ours. No Sunday mass to go to. No family visits that you had to be well turned out for.
Thursday was our day for Shikar. Post lunch our air gun would we taken down from the top of the Godrej cupboard. Mom's 3 in 1 Singer machine oil was swiped while we told her " See crow !!! " The gun was oiled and cleaned .The pellets were counted out. Whistles called out to the rest of the hunters and the expedition was ready to go.
Bison ? Deer? Black Buck ? Pheasant ? We knew as much of them as Einstein knew of Diwali. What Bandra had to offer us was Pigeons.
We had a fixed beat that took us first to the grounds of St. Theresa's Church. The jalis that had been designed for elevational relief in exposed brick were perfect. For the Pigeons to roost on i.e.. So we'd crouch along the side of the building to get as close as possible before we lined up our weaponary to fire together. The first shot and all the pigeons would take off. If a bird had been winged it would tumble off the bricks and flutter down to the ground where it was quickly dispatched and put into a bag made out of the cut off legs of an old pair of jeans. Oh that plastic bags were so plentiful then as they are now. By some fluke if we got the bird between the eyes, we were in trouble. Because then instead of tumbling out and flapping to the ground he would have dropped right onto the building parapet. The only way up was right past the Parish priests quarters. Stealth was the order of the day. And those overworked priests needed their siesta between morning mass and evening confessions. So it was'nt difficult to retrieve the kill and vend our way forwards. To Manish Mahal. Little Ahmedabad in Bombay. All the Anil's and Sneha's and Bhavik's and Amish and every Patel and Shah in between lived there. They fed their pigeons twice a day. Most of the Bandra pigeons knew when they were onto a good thing and hung around Manish Mahal where all they had to worry about was making little pigeons. In the middle of Manish Mahal was a courtyard which served as a make do garbage chute. Yep, pretty dirty. Only the toilet windows opened onto this. Perfect for the pigeons who valued the wheat thrown to them everyday, but also valued their privacy while they went about the task at hand.
Sitting ducks. Sitting pigeons. The sound of the airgun started a little flutter among the nesting birds but stirred a hornets nest with Mr. Patel and Mrs. Shah and every Anil Sneha Bhavik and Amish in between. If you missed your shot you just headed off as quickly as you could. But if you had shot a bird, you had to retrieve it and head for the hills before Mr. Patel was into his shirt, out of his house, down his flight of stairs and navigated the courtyard. So timing was everything. And sometimes an injured bird would be abandoned in our cowardice in the face of Mr. Patel's wrath.
Back to St. Theresa's where our little featered friends would have settled down to life once more after having had a small prayer service for the recently departed. When the rifles fired again.. .[ Thank you Willie Nelson . from Seven Spanish Angels] And our bag would be full and our cup runneth over with joy.
Then it would be home where a purloined frying pan and some bottle masala would be rustled into service to make chicken curry a la pigeon. And at 4 o'clock on a Thursday evening the young men of The Little Flower Co-op Housing Society would be the kings of all they surveyed.

Oct 26, 2007

Die Another Day !

We're born. We live. We die.
Thats when we finally realise our dream of a plot by the sea.
Because three of Bandra's cemetries are right by the sea. [ OK , post reclaimation One] But earlier the waves would lap against the wall of the Seaside Cemetry and Mt. Carmels Cemetry. Then the BMC waved their hand and the waters retreated. And where there was sea there's Aishwarya Rai and Sachin Tendulkar.[Yes they live on the Bandra recalaimation] . The sea side cemetry was set up at the end of whats known as Cemetry road [ Officially Khandeshwar Marg ] .And right across the road from the Catholic cemetry, are the Jews. The dead ones i.e. Carved basalt headstones with The Star of David shining forth. Forgotten generations of Ezzekiels and Abrahams . A lonely caretaker who moonlights as a caretaker. So the weeds between the graves are forgivable. And the residents are not complaining anyways.
Mt. Carmels has had it's cemetry before Lilavati Hospital was a gleam in KiritLal Mehta's eye.
Though now from hospital to cemtetry is a mere body's throw away.
And two decades ago when all the graves were full and parishoners were still being born and subsequently dying, niche marketing was born. So as soon as you returned to dust you came from, except your femurs and cranium etc. etc. you were hauled out of valuble real estate and piled up into a niche that doubled up as the compund wall. And your heirs looked for a picture of you that did'nt show you frowning as you always did post 75 yrs. And did'nt show your bald spots and had you dressed in something other than a ganjee [ vest]. And Tony Baptista slapped this photo on to your niche and by some magic made it weather proof. And two hooks on either side held the garland that was put up every year until Jo Boy and Maria both moved to Auckland. Just like your compound when the neighbours on either side built walls you got your boundary wall for free , if the hooks were already in place on either side of you then ....
And St. Andrew's and St. Peters have their niches too. But the grave stones that move you back in time are still there.
Here lies,
Jerome D'souza
1925- 1973
beloved husband of
who joined him here on 5th Oct 1974
father of Joesph and Maria
Gone but never forgotten !
They're never funny.Like Spike Milligan who's gravestone read's "I told you I was sick "
Come the 2nd of Nov. The graveyards are all lit up with a million candles to celebrate All Souls day. With flowers done into increasingly creative displays. And grandchildren playing hide and seek between the gravestones of ancestors they've never known. While Nana and Mummy and Daddy think back to a time that's never ever going to come again. And even Jo boy has Western Unioned dollars to Cousin Clara to get a wreath and light one dozen candles. Amen

Oct 25, 2007

Russian Roulette !

One stop after Dadar on the fast, and third stop after Dadar on the slow.[ Train i.e.]. [ Bandra i.e.]
The other way around is tricky. You jump off the 211 or 212 or 214 or 221 and head onto platform 1. Obviuosly you have pass being a Bandra Bugger and dont have to stand in queue for a ticket. Then you get onto the overhead bridge and position yourself between the stairs to platforms 2 and 4. There is a slight bend in the tracks as you look northwards towards Khar. The lit up boards indictate that there's a 8.30 slow to Churchgate and an 8.31 fast . Platform 2 for the slow and platform 4 for the fast.
But do the trains know their order of appearance at the platforms ? No.
The next question is ,where's the train coming from ?
Borivli . Not too bad. Andheri . Even better. Virar . very bad. it's going to be packed before it even reaches Malad.
Then you scan your immediate horizon and figure out how many from this bunch of platform runners are going to go for the fast and how many for the slow ? So what affect does that have on your odds of getting down the stairs and into the train before its three millisecond stop at Bandra is over and it starts vanishing towards Mahim.
So there's the whistle and there's the train.
Hell. They're both coming in together.
So pull the mainframe out of your pocket once more and start computing which one is going to leave first. Will 8.30 leave at 8.33 and will 8.31 leave on time ? Big Blue wouldnt be able to answer this one.
Now the crowd thins down as choices are made and unmade. Someone's halfway down the stairs to platform 2 when he changes his mind and backs up to retreat down to platform 4.
And we being really fit and fast of course will wait till the trains starts to move and then try and dash down the stairs of the chosen one . Only to find our way blocked by all the folks who have gotten off and are on their way into Bandra .We finally reach platform 4 which is now trainless and yes thats Platform 2 tooting that they're off too.
Moral of the story?

Oct 23, 2007


My friend Uday is in marketing. He handles MNC's and strategic marketing plans and POP [ Point of purchase ] displays etc. etc.
Aunty Mazie is also into marketing. Every other day she gets her Goa bag out and heads of to the bazaar. And you ask her where she's going and she says ' Marketing".
For her everyday needs its Pali Market that she heads to. Where you can get your sweet potatoes and cauliflower on the road without even getting into the market. She just has to dodge past the cars that roll down Pali Hill whose Memsahibs think Pali Market is a Drive -In. And Nandu [ who has cherry tomatoes, baby corn and other exotic vegetables that she as a child had in wax replicas in her showcase ] who is old enough to be her Uncle calls her 'Mummy".
And then there's the BIG market. Come Saturday, she heads for the big market. The market which gives raison d'etre to Bazaar Road. You wind thru Chinchpokli Road, or dodge between the multiple garages behind the Bata shop on Hill Rd., or head past Hindu Hotel [ OK Balajis for all you kids ] past the Bandra Pork Market to Jeffs and then hang left.
The market starts right there. Shops selling copper chatties, [ yes chatties not hundies ], and baskets of fruit on the nonexistent pavement, with the odd handcart pushing its way through, giving a new meaning to the word mobile sales. And the cart owner will stop for whoever is interested in pushing his sales figures up while traffic waits patiently for the transaction to be concluded. And finally you reach that holiest of holies, the Mecca that all good Aunties visit at least once a week other wise they are only Mazie not AUNTY Maizie, The Fish Market. Where the Kohli fisherwomen all have their favourite Aunties or is it the Aunties who have their favourite fisherwoman ? So they'll prod at the bhangra [ mac kerel ] for freshness. Pompfrets will be prised open at the gills to check fo redness which of course you know tells you the exact time of death. Crabs will be bought on new moon days , [ nights ?]because thats when they're full of meat. And Shravan is bonus time because all the Non Katlicks dont eat fish then, so prices are better. So one more week is taken care of with Bomlos [Bombils ] parcelled of into the deep freeze and bhangras sliced and packed away. The mandlis don't keep well so this eveing they'll be chatna. And Chotu is given two rupees to carry the bag to a rickshaw for the ten rupee ride home.
And then once a year there's the BIGGEST market. Come December, Aunty Mazie, Auntie Marie and Auntie Juliana get together to plan this expedition, to Crawford !
Where they get into a rickshaw to Bandra station, where they catch a train to Marine Lines, [ debating every year on the way wheter it' s better to get onto the harbour line and go to VT ]
and share-a-cab to Crawford. Royal Dryfruits for all the cahsews and almonds and dates that give up their ghosts to be born again as marzipan and milk creams date rolls . And tissues and Christmas lights [ because these Chinese ones are so cheap ] and fish molds for the mousse and new clothes hangers because the hooks of the old ones are all rusty and plastic flowers that look reall'er than the real thing. Look they've even got fake water on the petals. Lovely.
And when the whole of Crawford has been crammed into multiple Goa bags and a coolie with a basket [ that the apostles used at the Sermon on the mount ] has been summoned and commisioned, Badshah's beckons. Where a rose ice cream falooda is the order of the day. While Mr. Coolie waits patiently squatted on the pavement for the Memshab's to finish. And then its share a cab time again but this time all the way to Bandra.
Uday ! This is marketing !!!

Oct 20, 2007

Digging for Oil on Hill Road

Yes the latest sattelite pics for the ONGC geological surveys show the presence of oil on Hill Road. So they've sent in the advanced team and the initial exploration work has begun. They are sinking the test pits right in front of Holy Family hospital.
The earlier pics showed large oilfields further down Hill RD. Near the Police station, but the test wells were dry. So they were abandoned and everyone's keeping their fingers crossed [ Oil field hands find that a little difficult because most of them have a few fingers missing but they're trying ] that the new explorations will be more fruitful.
The good news is that if they don't strike oil , they close the road up and instead of re-tarring it they give you a concrete road.

Oct 18, 2007

BEST Bakery

Yes our bakeries in Bandra sizzle.
There used to be one called Mc Ronells. The fore runner to McCraig and Candies. Same family, different generation . And when you finished your exams you were taken there for a special treat. Rumballs, patties, chicken rolls. And when the results came out and if you'd done as well as you had earlier claimed you did, you were taken to the Chinese restaraunt under the same roof. In 1979 an American ChopSuey in this palace of food nirvana was Rs.11.00. And that came with silverware and white linen .
And then there's Hearsch. Which a generation ago sold bread, bread and bread. And Gutlies. And they didnt have a wall with a gate so you could drive right upto the counter [almost] And pick your bread right out of the oven.
We had an Amex in Bandra before creditcards were even dreamt of. American Express right across the road from Hearsch. With their beautiful wood and glass display cases. With oatmeal cookies and brown bread.
Cake crumbs from Venus. The scrapings from the baking trays after the cakes were removed were put together and sold for a rupee per packet. And my Mom being the good old East Indian Aunty that she is [ Frugal to the point of stinginess i.e.] had actually got us trained so that these crumbs with some custard poured over it was considered a special treat.
St. Judes on Bazaar road, Judes Bakery at Pali . And A1 where the name says it all. They're still there. The range has grown to include garlic bread, whole wheat bread, cheese twists, khari's , butter biscuits but the staples remain pao's and gutlies.
And now Hearsch has a coke fountain and Andora's serves you 3 different kinds of coffees and Croissant's and Birdy's and PotPourri and the Bread Boutique [ yes the Bread Boutique ], and French Bread and Open Bake give you French bread and blueberry muffins.
So we're spoilt for choice because our bakeries in Bandra are the BEST.

Putru men bugger !

Ok so the game of football [ yes football not soccer ] is in full swing. Team colors ? Of course. One team has their shirts on and the other doesnt. And Savio playing centre forward has only the goalie between him and the goal. [ No offside when there are less than 7 players per side [ Supari Talao Rules ] So he's shouting out " Now pass the ball thru the defenders between their legs over their heads anywhere, just get it to me where no body is covering me and I can score a goal." Sorry ! Thats what Savio wants to say. What he actually says is " Putru men bugger " And when his team mate "Puts thru" he scores the goal and all is right in the world.
So now the snooty chicks at St. Andrews [ Yes the rule is one looks down on any one Northwards. i.e. Andherites who looks down on Borivilians who looks down on Utanites.] use Putru as a defining adjective. The exception to the above mentioned rule is Bandra We look down on both North and South Bombay. After all Bandra really is the best place to be.

Shiv Sena Architecture

The guys at Frazer and Haws [ Silversmiths on Manuel Gonsalves Road ] put up a glass boundary. Now thats not theoretical [ like the corporate glass ceiling] . They put a sheet of glass right on their compound wall with their name beautifully etched into it. This would have been lunacy a few years ago. Come the riots. Of which there were many back then. The boys from the local Shaka would have been falling over themselves to get to Frazer and Haws first. So why are glass facade buildings are all over the place now. Moti Mahal, Popley , and all the other new jewellers. Structural glazing [ glass facades for the architecturally challenged ] has been around in this world for a while. But who could risk it. Carte blanche to a rioteer to whom a BEST windscreen is a red flag to a bull.
Or have we become more exhibitionistic ? Where earlier we would hide behind brick walls we now have open kitchens. Where jewellry was earlier bought behind closed doors and special customers were led to inner sanctums [ I only saw other people being led , I was never led myself ] , we now have the panwalla on the corner privy to who's buying what .
Or is it just money ? Bricks were cheaper than glass.
Or did we look on structural glazing as a downtown American architectural idiom ?
But more power to Frazer and Haws. Glass doesnt need painting. Glass gives you the illusion of space.Glass looks contemporary [still ].
But if you want the glass to be up and running and not a kaleidoscope on our newly paving blocked roads keep voting Congress.

Oct 17, 2007

Hi Men !!!

Yes Bandra is the best place in the world. Inspite of TDR and all the new malls. And the beach at Carter road is now just rocks, but it rocks.And when our local heroes drive past we get the local version of try and die ..