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

Nov 30, 2007

Bai Bai Love !

You leave the dirty dishes in the sink . Your left shoe in the living room and the right in the loo. The path to the loo is marked with yesterdays shirt, vest , tie and jocks and socks. The newspaper is strewn around the house, comic section in the kids room, page 3 on the dining table , classifieds near the parrot cage [ for tommorows new lining] . The economic section unopened as it always is. In short chaos. At 3.00 o'clock when the kids are still at school and everyone is out of the house, our fairy Godmother arrives. Leela Bai. She waves her magic wand and the dishes clean themselves and sparkle and jump into the cupboard. The newspaper finds it way to the raddi drawer all neatly folded. The clothes find their way into the washing machine and an hour later hang out on the drying line. [ or the backs of the dining charis in the monsoon ]. The broom though old sweeps clean , even behind the fridge and the Godrej cupboard. The layer of dust from the fans are banished. The tiles give up their grime with resignation faced with an adversary they can never hope to conquer. Those the Gods and Fairy godmothers seek to destroy they first lift up to heaven.
Even the gods and fairy godmothers are human. They fall ill, their husbands sometimes show them they care for them with a black eye. Their children get married. The BMC demolishes their houses. Three days of Leelabai being a no show ,we understand Paradise Lost. The sink soon runs out of space and we run out of clean plates. A fresh shirt for office and pre matched socks , is a treasure hunt. Dust in Hoffman and everywhere else. [ I told you cheap puns are a bloggers first resort]. The parrot is complaining about the unsanitary conditions in his cage. The kids cant find their water bottles for school in this now hell hole then palace .
When we call Jaihind and Candies and Jimmies kitchen they now recognise our voice. Home made chapattis float in our dreams with clean sheets and a bed that has been dusted out not just hidden under the bedspread. The funny smell is from the garbage. Three days of accumulation.
Why is the parrot still sleeping ?
You were supposed to feed him.
Me ?
I thought you were feeding him, he's your pet.
My pet? I told you we should have bought goldfish.
Lets get rid of the corspe before the kids get back.
The neighbour is glaring at us for not cleaning our part of the staircase lannding. The plants have long gone the way of the parrot. Thank God for autodefrost fridges. If only we had self filling ice trays. The fan blades are bending over with the weight of the dust.
And suddenly with as little warning with which she vanished, Leelabai is back.
We don't know where she lives. We dont even know her surname. We dont know when her birthday is . But we do know this.We can't live without Leelabai.

[p.s. The parrots passing opened the floodgates for puppy requests once again.]

Nov 29, 2007

Swing Low Sweet Sweet

Every year on the 1st of Dec our Christmas novena would begin. An appendage after the daily rosary invoking God's blessings on us thru the soon to be born Christ child. We were'nt happy about the extra prayers time but it let us know that Christmas time was 'a coming.
The marzipan and milkcream forms, the kul kul rollers, the cookie cutters, the tartlet cases, the baby Belling oven, the rolling pins and boards, the kitchen weighing scales, would all be taken down from the topmost cupboard shelves where they rested for most of the year. Mummy's hand written recipe book which held the only perfect recipe for gram sweet in the world would be dusted out. Once again we'd be told about how in the days before kul kul rollers combs would be used to roll the kul kul's out on. New ones we hoped. The purchase department [ Mum ] would have done the necessary invoicing with the treasury [ Dad] and the stores would have enough cashews, almonds, dates, food colors, flours [ yes all kinds gram flour, maida etc. etc. etc. ] Baking trays and butter paper , tissues with Santa or Christmas tree images , paper plates and paper boxes in green and red would be piled high onto the top of Godrej so that nobody sat on them by mistake.
Production would begin. Marzipan had to be stirred clock wise only. From the inside out, like a Well of Death rider . When it did'nt stick to the spoon it was ready. So we frequently checked for readiness holding the spoon just outside the hundi. When it dripped onto the side of the stove our fingers would transport it into our mouths and us to Christmas sweet heaven. There was a special spoon and a special hundi for the marzipan. How else could you keep it whiter than white? In fact there were special hundis for almost every sweet. Lumps of kul kul dough were allocated for rolling. Dates and plums for deseeding. There was the MIA factor . Kul kul dough in the process of being transformed from dough to tightly rolled kulkuls would decrease in mass. Out of 100 dates to be deseeded 20 would be missing in action. If you were caught with the date in your pretending to be empty mouth you got a whack with the belan . Ok rolling pin. When the cake batter had to be transfered from mixing bowl to baking tray it was amazing how much would stick to the sides of the bowl . You have no idea about how tasty raw cake dough is. All of these raw materials would soon make their magical transformation from dried fruits and raw mixes to date rolls, marzipans, coconut tartlets, neoris, milk cream , gram sweet , jujubes, marshmellows, and cakes both fruity and nutty.
They'd go straight to the top of the Godrej ' which was getting crowded. But you needed a chair to reach it and dragging a chair out even if you and brother and sister carried it as delicately as Our Lady of Fatima's statue your Mother heard the air around the Godrej move. So you were doomed to wait until Christmas day before marzipan became sucrose for your growing body.

Nov 28, 2007

Evel Johnny Mario Knievel

You'd outgrown sitting in the drivers seat and making vroom vroom noises when the car was parked. At this ripe old age of twelve what you wanted was your own motorcycle. But you had to settle for a cycle. So you take an empty cigarette pack folded it over and lodged it halfway into the spokes of your bike. It still looked like a cycle but when you started off it sounded like a Triumph, ok a Java at least. The years fly by and you've begged and borrowed and now own a fifth hand Java. You lavish more love and care on it than you do on your Grandmother whom you thought you loved dearly until you got the Java. You clean her, you polish her, you oil her, the Java i.e. not Nana. She's covered up with an old bedsheet every night. The dogs who might want to mark out their territory using her wheel are chased away. You look around for a mechanic with more due diligence than a first time mother looking for a paediatrician. Everywhere you ask you're told " Johnny Mario " .
Mr. Mario's reputation seems to be larger than the crowd at Bandra station at rush hour. You hear the legends of how he can tell what's wrong with a bike just by looking at it. How he has to just lay his hand on the bike like a faith healer all the bikes ill's dissolve and she starts to purr . How he tunes a bike with his eyes closed and heart open. So there you are taking your Java for her first servicing. You ask for Johnny Mario and the grease monkey says who ? Johnny kya Mario ? They're separate ? Yes he says pointing out to a looming giant in cowboy boots and oilfield overalls. Johnny . And then pointing out to a looming giant in cowboy boots and oilfield overalls. Mario. You go up to Johnny ,and before you can say anything he says
"Service ?"
Yes .
Come back tommorow, today is full.
So come tommorow there you are back at the confessional where these high priests of carburretors and gear boxes instruct their acolytes to empty the oil, grease the cables, clean the carb, oil the chain, check the electricals, fill up new oil. While you wait you hear snatches of conversation of which bike Mario is going to ride in th Moto cross in Poona that weekend. And how Johnny is planning on reboring an old Yezdi to make it a racing bike. And you ask someone whats a Mikuni. They condescendingly tell you it's the latest Japanese carburettor.Then Johnny or is it Mario starts your baby up. He leans over the tank and starts making his minute adjustments . To the tension on the clutch cable. The play on the acclerator. The brake set for a quick stop just the right side of a skid. He heads of for a test ride. A tweak here ,a twist there and your baby is handed back to you.
She's purring. She started on the first kick start itslef. The clutch seems to have been dipped into all the butter Modern Stores ever sold. Johnny Mario are on to the next bike having waved their magic wand and reinvented your fifteen year old Java into the lean mean killer machine that she was meant to be.

Nov 20, 2007

My Big Fat Bandra Wedding !

Ok !
So you've held her hand [ amongst other things] and the watchman has made a duplicate set of the terrace keys for you and you've gone down on both knees and she's said yes. Her father has warned you against marrying her [ for your own good ] But rather than listen to the voice of reason you listen to your hormones. And you think it's true love . It is.
Everybody gets married between the 15th Of Nov and the 10th Of Dec. Thats when Jo Boy is down and Winston will be down from the ship for Christmas and all the migrants who lust for sorpotel and vindaloo while eating turkey in Missisagua will be home. So you head on down to the Gym office to find out which day is free. Hindu's get married on days the planets align . Muslims on the days their mullas tell them too. Catholics on the day the Bandra Gym is available. And you put down your deposit for the big day and they give you a list of approved decorators. Fernandes & Co. and Fernandes & Co. and Fernandes & Co. And a list of approved caterers. Every few years sees the ascendance of a new catering star and a wane of an old. Majoras, Candies, Alron, Twins, Mcraigs,they come and they go. And the bands. Crimson Rage, Fame, Len and his Rebels, Leon and his Chartbusters, Seventh Galaxy,Bonaventures and , Aqua Flow . And you find out if all the planets of the bands and the caterer and your mother-in-law's to be align. And if they do you're as good as married. So you can then go for the Engaged encounter and they tell you how to spend your money ten years down the line without getting your now fiancee and then wife, mad at you for blowing a months pay cheque on Bose speakers or a Bullet. { if you believe that's possible you'll believe anything } . And the notice is sent to the Parish Priest who mutters something about consanguinity and natural family planning. { how can anyone think of those two acts together ? } And Troy, Wendell, or Lydia or Dan's has been commisioned for the bridal dress. And you now know why the jewellery shops on Hill Road can afford to renovate their interiors every year. And you've spoken to Charlie from The Crimson rage to tell him that you want "Nothing's gonna change my love for You" for your first dance song. And you've been measured out for your suit. And Uncle Lancy from the army has been ordered to start stockpiling RC and Old Monk from the services canteen. His official quota is two bottles of each per month. Feb to Dec. eleven months to go. 22 bottles of whisky twenty two of rum. Jeez we'll have to get some from Pinky Wines. And Haley for the 3 tier cake with frosty delicate lace icing.

And you've commissioned the centre piece from Jason.
Two doves ? Intertwined rings,?
The heart can be hired for 1/5th the cost?
The heart it is.
Ok sweetheart whatever you want.
Doves holding rings in their beaks.
But it's just for one evening.
Ok Ok dont cry.
[ This is when you should be a man and run away ! ]
But you did'nt, run and you're still going to live to marry another day.

And meetings happen with the choir. Where you chose hymn's for the mass that you think have been written just for you'll until you come across a wedding mass booklet for a wedding that happened in 1974. And you chose your mass readings about leaving your mother and your father and grandmother and dog and cleaving to your wife. David and Co. actually have an off the shelf card with doves carrying rings. Wow. The car is inspected to see whether your fat sister-in-law to be is going to crush the sartorial masterpiece from Troy [ yes, the wedding dress order went to Troy] And whether the doves and rings on the car should be on the top of the car or on the bonnet. And Jason's order has been magnified to include the pew decorations because Cousin Hyacinth who'd promised to do it is now pregnant and will be for another six months at least. Oliviera, the photographer has given you a deal for photographs and video. Ho ho ! Wait till you see his special effects after the wedding. George Lucas watch out. Your brother has been informed that he's going to have to change his 4 on 4 off schedule that takes him to Bombay High every 4 weeks so that he's in town for most important event of the year . He'd better be there. He’s the best man. Yes you've got to pay for his suit too. [ Maybe you'll get one Bose speaker.] He's put in charge of the Pani. Pani ? When you all get falling down drunk and sing out louder than Aloo Sound and make Elvis's Wooden heart sound like lezim. And make Hi Poori Kaun Achi sound like Mozart's Requiem. And you don't care. That's planned for three days before the wedding so that your hangover can abate and you don't need Agnelo's darkest glares to hide your redder than a Bishop's Hat eye's. Mummy's new sari, Daddy's new suit, new shoes. And the bookings for Paris remain in Mukesh and Nita's name while you make bookings at Baga for a honeymoon. David and company have printed the mass time as 9.30 instead of 6.30p.m. Ok there's nothing a litre of whiteout can't hide and Gail has good handwriting. The MC is cousin Eustace. He can make the phonebook sound funny. The toast master is her godfather. He asked . How could we say no without hurting his feelings ? And suddenly you’re in the last ...ember month of the year. Uncle Lancy has announced a 20% shortfall in the bar order. Pinky wines here we come.[ It's going to have to be Arphi speakers, goodbye Bose.] The Chevy is in the garage for repairs but the Mercedes is available for only a little more. Yes the catering order went to Candie's who is going to throw in petit fours after dinner for only a little more. Goodbye Arphi. The Sony two in one will last for another year at least.
The suit fits though its a little loose. Bob the tailor says it will be good for a few years after the wedding because everyone puts on weight , post . Those damn Australians have sold their house and now they want us to put them up when they come for the wedding. "Baba they'll help you if you ever want to migrate." Ha.
No time to go to the terrace. Is this a sign of things to come ?
Hitlers battle plans for WW 2 were hopscotch compared to this. But D-Day has dawned . The car has shown up. It's been decorated with tape that won't mar it's paint job and jeopardize the deposit. The church team has been dispatched to clear the beachhead. The transport for the liquor to the gym has been handed over the one male teetotaler above the age of 18 this side of the Suez.
Sleep before going for the mass ? You got to be kidding. The traffic in and out of the house makes Churchgate look like a Jain slaughterhouse. The centerpiece is filled with confetti. It's tested and it works. So it has to be filled up once more.
Now you're on your way to church. Where you stand solitarily at the velvet lined pew just two steps removed from God. And you hope that your soon to be wife is going to be on time.
From then on it's a blur. The mass, the walk out, the photographs on the steps of the church, the drive in the Mercedes.
So there you wait. For all your guests to troop onto the Gym tennis courts. Which looks like Desi Disneyland [ Ok Goregoan Fantasyland ] with lights and muslin and silk tablecloths and a red stage on which you will be king for the day. And you wait for your father-in-law [who's gone off for a quick smoke ]. Yes, you have to call him Daddy from now on. And Mother -in- law is Mummy. What's Nandu the vegetable vendor going to have to say about this ?
The pageboy and flower girl and bridesmaid and best man and the newly weds [ that’s you ] and their parents are all lined up .And the Crimson Rage fanfares your entrance onto the grounds. The march around the tarpaulin all stretched and powdered ends in front of the cake.
Ok. The moment of truth. The little tag fixed to the underbelly of the dove is yanked out. Does the confetti topple out like it's supposed to ? No. So a chair is hauled up front and the best man climbs up and tips over doves and rings till the confetti cascades down . And the photographer has got the moment . The chair with best man looming large is going to mar this Kodak moment for ever.

Charlie and the Crimson Rage start off on ' Nothing's Gonna Change my love for you " . Fox trotting your way gingerly thru Troy's best you wave frantically to best man and bridesmaid to get onto the floor. And open the floodgates for the rest. So that no one will know that the mysteries of the foxtrot will remain mysteries to you.
Then Godpa , the toast master comes along and traces your ancestry all the way back to the apes. You then thank everyone who had anything to do with your dissipated childhood from Nana to the milkman. Referring to your notes to make sure you don't leave her favourite aunt out of the opening credits. The bar has long been open though the MC only now announces that the Doctor's dispensary is now open [ wink wink] . You make the rounds of the guests and thank them for coming. Including all the fifty first cousins you really did'nt want to call but had to because they'd called Mum and Dad for all their family weddings. Cousin Elwin is missing from the gift table. Where he was supposed to be on guard duty. He's been found. Where ? At the bar.
You make the rounds accepting congratulations and envelopes. Bose ? Maybe.
The Gym has warned the band that if the music is not off by 10.00 p.m they'll be black listed. The band has warned the MC that if he doesn’t have the grace before meals going soon there'll be no time for the Masala. Masala ? Yes the all encompassing spectrum with The Birdie Song at one end and Galyan Sankli at the other. The Uncles already have their dancing handkerchiefs ready. Not the one they were blowing their nose into in this cold December air. But the dress one in their coat pocket. Your bride is kidnapped and put onto a chair and taken around on a palanquin of drunken shoulders. While the women struggle to lift you up in your chair. Precariously they wobble you'll together under a now confetieless pair of doves and hope that you'll will get a kiss in soon so that they can put you'll down before they dislocate their backs.
Your friend and compere Eustace has said goodnight and God bless. The lights have given their first warning blink at the hands of the Bandra Gym Marshall. The photographer has given up trying to get the whole family together and is just shooting whoever happens to be wishing you at the moment.
Then it's over and your on your way to Bandra International Hotel which has probably been booby trapped by your cousins on both sides with alarm clocks and toilet paper. And wake up calls they've asked for at 3 in the morning. When you hope you will be able to get up at noon so that you can be on the one o'clock bus to Goa . Where you will ceremoniously throw the keys to the terrace into the sea because you are now Mr. & Mrs. and the world is your terrace.

Nov 19, 2007

Greta Garbo !

Head down St. Andrew's road and turn left at Hill Road. On the pavement on your left is a table with three hotcases and a bottle of ketchup. You look at the person manning the table and you know why it's repetitive to say Beautiful girls and Bandra girls. That's Greta ! She emerges at dusk. From a home where she cooks up potato chops, mince cutlets and prawn cutlets. And for a few rupees you get your ticket to Bandra Fast food heaven.
The first stop is A 1 bakery. Where you buy your gutli [ if you still have all your teeth ] and your bread if you dont. You then go to Greta and find out whats left. So you take your prawn cutlet and rip your loaf of bread in half , place the cutlet into it, smother it with sauce and bite into ambrosia. And then you know why it's repetitive to say Ambrosia and Greta's cutlets. And when you go there look out for Commander.Yes, that's Gretas husband. And if he live's up to his name and commands you to "get lost",you'll go happily having been the better man for having partaken of Greta's cutlets.

Nov 17, 2007

For a few channa's more !

Come the merrie month of May tributes to our Lady kick in. And every housing colony and parish worth it's grotto has a rosary. The big players have it everyday for the full month. So the statue of Mother Mary is pulled out of the loft. And the broken finger which blesses the world is skillfully recreated in plaster of paris and fevicoled onto her hand with more skill than the plastic surgeons at Holy Family Hospital. And the candle stands that were last used for Uncle Tommy's funeral eight months ago are brassoed. And the sheet of plywood that serves for the altar table top is retrieved from behind the Godrej. And the bell that you ring at 6.45 pm and then again at 7.00 is checked to see that the ringer still works and the baterries haven't gone down. [ Just kidding, it's always a brass bell, and the ringer will be ringing till Judgement day. ]
And the flower vase is washed by Lily for the odd lily. [ Yeah cheap puns are a bloggers first resort. ]
Now a chickpea by any other name will still be channa and channa by any other name will still be gram.And onto the schedule. Whose making gram when ? Aunty Maisie Aunty Terry, Aunty Jane, Aunty Bina, Aunty Eliza, Aunty Antoinette, Aunty Virgie [Virginia], Aunty Juanita, Aunty Lucy, Aunty Romy[ Romana], Aunty Zita, Aunty Myra, Aunty Philoo, Aunty Betty, Aunty Linda, Aunty Juliana, Aunty Marie, Aunty Wendy, Aunty Sybil, Aunty Biddy [ Bridget ], Aunty Rosie, Auntie Sheila, Aunty Esme, Aunty Elaine, Aunty Eddie [ Edith ], Aunty Ella, Aunty Elsie, Aunty Viola, Aunty Irene & Aunty Angela. Thirty days. Thirty providers.
So at the end of the rosary, which still has me wondering how Uncle Hector would remember the whole litany[ Star of David…. Etc.etc. etc. ] and everyone had kissed the statue and the littlest kids would have fought over who gets to blow the candles out the channa would appear. [ Aunty Maisie would have left after the fourth decade to get it ]. And she would dole it out with a big spoon. And we’d all line up and try and make as big a receptacle as you could with two palms. And we’d lap the gram out of our hands like horses, from the trough of our hands. And when everyone had got their firsts the greediest of us would be given seconds . [ No Aunty’s generosity ever ran to thirds.] And pate de foie gras could not have tasted better.
Yes I know May has thirty one days.That’s when the feast was celebrated and all the Aunties came together with a spirit of co-operation that would put Sahakari Bunder ro shame. And sorpotel, vindaloo, wedding rice, sannas ,patties and thali sweet was the order of the day.

Bandra Fair !

Coming soon to New Talkies
A walk back the the days when New Talkies was new, before Globus consigned it to the wrecking ball.
Bandra Fair
A feature film in English that pays tribute to Bandra and its residents, wherever in Toronto they may be.
Written by Judith M Varma (also born and bread in Bandra) and to be directed by her as well.
The project has already got a few stalwarts interested in it – Faroukh Shaikh, ace cinematographer AK Bir, Surekha Sikri and Naseeruddin Shah.
Now all that's needed is a producer.
Know anyone who may be interested? Get in touch.
Or we'll all have to up to the Mount and offer wax producer to Mother Mary.

Nov 14, 2007

Up with the lark !

Lark ? Sparrows we know. Crows we're on first name terms with. Larks ? We know more about the dietary habits of the Outer Patagonians than we do about larks. And yet we'd sing out loud and clear. Sunday morning, up with the lark. I think I'll take a walk in the park. Forget it. You first have to go to church. Sunday morning Mass. The Pope still had'nt decided that Saturday evening worked as well as Sunday morning. So you scrubbed and combed and ironed wrinkles out of your Sunday best. And vaselined your hair and polished your shoes and then marched off to church. As a family . [ because" The family that prayed together stayed together", much to the regret of everyones siblings between 6 and 16 ]. And there was a favourite pew, three rows down from St. Anthony's statue.
The young parents would hang out near the doors. So that if Baba started crying during the sermon they could make a quick exit for the garden. Or if Dad felt like a smoke he could get Baba a little agitated so that he could then legitamately exit. Or if the sermon did'nt grab Mommmy she grabbed the baby for the legitimate exit.
Come summer, a spot under the fan commanded a premium. And once the benches were full you would have to make do with the side benches lining the aisles. And if you were young and foolish, you sat in the confessional. And when even that was occupied you had no choice but to stand outside the church and rely on audio inputs only. Earning yourself Fr. Jerry's label of being an outstanding Catholic.
And then came communion when the lines were long and slow. Euchrastic ministers were just a gleam in the Bishops eye back then. So the whole congregation patiently filed up one by one. It gave us time for prayer and meditation. Meditation about how cute Sandra [ yes from Bandra] looked. And how you would have to time your exit after mass so that your path crossed hers. And it gave Mom time to pray,. Pray that she would remember Mrs. D'costa's dress pattern [ just ahead of her in the communion line] well enough to explain to Bob Tailors.
And then mass was over, and you'd mis-timed the exit and Sandra was walking off with Joe Boy instead of you. And you'd collected your copy of the Examiner from the counter, then and only then were you free to go for a walk in the park. But that would have been at the expense of Sunday breakfast . So the walk in the park lost and the bacon and eggs won .
Pass the marmalade !

Nov 13, 2007

Let there be light...

Prince Charles is never going to experience what every Catholic family in Bandra has. Enthronement day. The day the picture of the sacred heart of Jesus is enshrined in your house and forever more. So there you have this long haired blond Jesus ,dressed in his blue and red robes following your every move.
And right below him is the altar shelf . On which a candle was lit on every important occasion. When school examinations were on. When those labour pains began. Then came a job with the Bombay Presidency. And the light could be kept burning continuously. A light that burnt in a glass oil lamp. With a ruby red glow to it. Glass that was imported all the way from Belgium to give you that perfectly clear light. In a ruby red glow.And the oil would be topped up every morning and the wick trimmed. And once a week the soot that had Jesus drifting from Italy towards Africa would be wiped off the glass that imprisoned him.Then came electricity. With a small red bulb replacing the oil lamp. No more cleaning, filling, trimming, wiping. A flick of a switch and homage was paid. The Japanese of course having lost the war, were now turning their hand to everything. Including altar lights. And for their invention of the flickering light they deserve the Nobel. [ All of us in Bandra think so anyways ] . We soon had tubelight starters connected to a bulb to give us the same flicker. From just a flickering light that could be used for the altar and also for the star in the Christmas crib it was a short jump to a light in the shape of a cross that flickered. And when you came home late and darkness was all around, there fickered the little red light. And when exams come around the light stays on, but the candles come out once more. Otherwise how’s Jesus going to know that this is one of those times that need his personal attention ?

Nov 1, 2007

The Big Chill !

Head down Hill Road and take a right turn at Bata's. It takes you into a little road that dead ends. And there on your left is the only structure in all of Bandra without a single window.
The Ice Factory. Whats the name of the road ? Ice factory lane.
And thats where you got perfect ice before there was Perfect Ice or Icelings. Now your Godrej was good enough for the odd ice cube for your evening chota peg or to chill the odd bottle of beer. But when you were having a party Kitty who had access to his fathers motorbike with a side car was deputed to pick up the ice at 7 oclock. Earlier and it wouldnt last the night. Later and the Kohli's would have taken the ice to freeze their unsold fish. So you drive up to the Ice factory and the platform is at the height of a tempo's tailgate. And the Bhaiyaa squatting there would take your order [ by weight ]. He'd then disappear into the building thru a door only a dog could possibly get thru,but not before a cold blast hit you even though you were 6ft away. He'd emerge with a giant pincer dragging a block of ice. Onto the weighing scale, and somehow it was always right. The weight you ordered and the weight he brought out. And when the ice reached home it was split into two lots. One for consumption, and one for chilling the various bottles in the basins and buckets. So the first lot was crushed into pieces that would fit into a glass and stocked in the deep freeze to await the opening bell. And the second lot would have sawdust thrown onto it to make it last as long as possible. And thru that short night the beer was chilled and the rum'n' cokes were cold and whisky on the rocks was a option.
And the only other time you visited the Ice factory was when someone died. Before there were morgues. And the notice in the Times of Indias obituaries would let everyone know that the funeral was at ten o'clock. So when getting the extra chairs from Jimmy Decorators ,a large tub would be ordered for the ice. Which went under the camp cot and froze the dearly departed' so that he'd never even dream of the fires of hell. And kept him from going bad in those hazy crazy days of summer, like he did when he was alive. And salt would be thrown onto the ice to keep the temperature really low. [ Ok Freezing mixtures to all you chemists ].
And the Bhaiyya at the Ice factory was 24 x7 . He still is. Though now he has ice cubes stacked in 5 kg. bags. And Jude's at Pali is competing with him for the party section of his buisness. And the morgue at Bhaba hospital works on electricity, not salt.

The Louvre

In every Bandra house there was a main or front door and a back door . In most buildings they'd be side by side. But Kachra [ ok trash ] came out of the back door. Interaction with the neighbours servant [ ok maid] back door. Interaction with the neighbour form SVP [ ok Society of Vincent De Paul ] front door. And if you walked thru the front door and found yourself in one of the easy chairs or sofa cum bed you were confronted by the showcase.
Glass fronted and wooden framed. With milestones of lives on display. Right on the top shelf is Joe Boys first communion studio portrait shot at Hill Studio immediately after his first communion mass. Mounted on cardboard with a frame drawn around it. And he's looking up at Jesus. Now Photoshop was Hill Studio not Adobe. So the only way Jesus was brought into the picture was magic. And Jesus looked down slightly to the left of Joe and Joe boy looked up slightly to the right of Jesus. And right in front of Joe Boy were lined up little miniature bottles. Of Johhnie Walker [ red and black ], Chivas, Remy Martin, White horse, etc. etc. Whenever somebody came in from abroad., they'd bring one of these for Pops. Who would empty the contents soon enough, [ because it goes bad if you keep it too long ] , then refill it with black tea
and pop it into the show case. And then there was the musical grotto. If you donated money to the Salesians at Don Bosco's matunga they'd give you a calendar with every Saints day marked on it. For a little more money you got a calendar and holy medals. And for a lot more you got calendar medals and the musical grotto. A replica of Lourdes with a wind up key at the bottom that tinkled out a Marian hymn. Joe boy could only look at it because he'd surely overwind it and break the spring if they'd allowed him to. And right with Mother Mary in Lourdes was a papal blessing in colourful calligraphy, for Mom and Pop that stated that Pope John XXIII was personaly going to pray for them and he'd even put his papal seal on the document so that everyone would know that this marraige was infallible. Safe bet, in those days all marriages were. And in the empty spaces between grotto miniatures were wedding mementoes. From every wedding the family had ever attended. Doves holding rings and wishing wells and anchors [ That Clara married a shippie] , All well detailed in miniature with a note tied onto it with now faded ribbon saying Thank You , from Clara and Winston , with a date sometime between 15 Dec and 10th Jan [ yes we all get married around then ] . And lying between the doves and anchors were mortuary cards. That extolled virtues of those who had left this earth to take their rightful place in heaven. And if everything else on the card was true you wondered how come they hadnt been canonized yet. Black bordered and printed at St. Pauls printing press. And on the bottom shelf was the best crockery. The china that had designs worked on it in real gold. The set of cups and saucers with the one broken cup that had been araldited together put right at the back and turned away so that no one could see the cracks. And the actual wine glasses that Mummy and daddy had used when the toast was being raised at their wedding. And as the toast master said " May all your problems be little ones" May they always be little enough to put away into the Louvre and lock away forever.