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

Sep 11, 2008

The Real Waiting for Godot

Guest writer DENZIL SMITH

What happened to the Bandra tramp? The lovable, popular harmless corner fixture. Whatever happened to Manu, Mario and Vincy? Bandra has never had tramps like them since…those were the days of the glorious tramp, always clothed in shirt, jacket and boots… These 'maladjusted' people as modern politically correct parlance would call them, in good ole seventies and early eighties, ran errands, entertained, dug graves and were generally loveable people who could inevitably be found at key spots in and around Bandra.

Manu always wore a coat and loose trousers. Manus territory was the St Andrews graveyard where he sometimes dug graves for a living. Manu was harmless and never drank alcohol...he was just naturally blown …. Manu was intense and yet happy…all the boys knew him and even if they hassled him,he took it in his stride, which had some sort of chaplinesque resemblances. Manu was a fakir of sorts who seemed to have reached nirvana where nothing really mattered except a good chai or khema pau… his prize for an errand run or for just being there!

When he spotted a familiar face he would rush to ask, "Guive no one ciggie". Taking advantage of this request...one of the boys would say, "Manu, Manu want four annas or what?"...Manu would nod his head vigorously in the affirmative. "Then do jig men"…and Manu would start his routine like a wound up toy let loose….he jumped up and down while he sang in his inimitable falsetto…. "Money is the root of all evil ,money is the root of all evil, take it away take it away take it away… take it away take it away take it away." He went on and on and on. As soon as he was done with he would ask for his four annas and scoot off hurriedly to Yatch.

Then there was Mario whose eyes blinked a million times each second…Mario too wore a jacket which most often than not were two sizes larger than him, with a string holding up his three sizes bigger trousers Mario was our living, walking, talking juke box…."Mario, Mario want four annas or wat" one of the boys would scream on spotting him near the Yatch from Vasants steps on which they were perennially perched discussing the intricacies of Chimbai flavours…at which point Mario would rush up to them beaming and shaking his head from side to side saying, "Yesyesyes yesyes…." till he was out of breath. Depending on the mood for the evening ….the song was decided! (Not that there was a great repertoire to decide from) "Mario sing night fever men"…and Mario would position himself very seriously like a tenor about to set forth on an aria at a concert and yell with his finger pointing in the air Travolta style, "Night fever night feveeeer….Night fever night feveeeeeeer, Night fever night feveeeeeeeeer…" Mario never went beyond that line, it would go on and on, and on like a stuck stuck DVD …After a few protests if it went on too long he was dismissed. Armed with his four annas he would rush to have some tea or just vanish into the serene night air.

When Mario and Manu were together they were our Vladimir and Estragon.

Then there was Vincy...the slickest of them all…his haunting coloured eyes and red hair made him stand out. If ever there was a living Godot, it must have been him, for Vincy never really spoke….he silently wandered about Bandra…from St. Andrews school to Mt Carmels, always with purpose and focus but never really going anywhere. That was Bandra then!

Denzil L. Smith


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Karl said...

Woww when it rains it pours.. … nice to see you back Clement, as usual awesome reading. This one definitely brings back fond memories …. Manu and Mario were entertainers at the best …… put Billy Joel to shame. And for all of us that spent time at Supari Talao there was “Bostau” …… who could forget Bostau….. he was ready to take verbal and physical abuse for his four annas.

Bunt said...


Nice piece !!!
What about the grave digger who used to be sozzled at 8 am and sing "you are my sunshine" to every girl in the 214 St. JB bus stop ?


Floyd said...

Those were the days memories of st andrews and yacht. Nice work.

Floyd said...

Do you remmember Shorty Dorothy? Boy everyone loved her wringlets and "Frocks"

Rhett said...

That was one interesting write! Nostalgic in a smoky way -- if you know what I mean :)


Benson said...

Floyd said...
Do you remmember Shorty Dorothy? Boy everyone loved her wringlets and "Frocks"

Yeah .....I do remember her. Last I heard that some Preist and comunity members from Bandra put Vincy in Hospital to Detox him and set him right.....he died a few weeks later. Sad. I also remember the lady how used to sit opp Holy Family hospital. Her nick name was "Chavi" rumour has it that Elais from Ranwar kept the name cause all you had to say/give "Chavi" and she would belt out a string of abusives and chase you with a stick all over hill Road...... Sigh...... Those were the days.

Ian R said...

Nice Article... Denzil!
It's amazing when you think of how lonely THEY were...
and yet How many people knew and remembered them...

Reena said...

Lovely piece.
I'm currently editing a book about Goans who lived in Bombay between the thirties and seventies. Was wondering if you would be willing to contribute. A piece like this (with some more masala;-)) would be most welcome.
If this interests you, do let me know.