Friday, 23 June 2017

Bandra fare


-Brian Mendonça

I have decided, that when Queenie goes shopping at Sagar on her next visit to Mumbai, I am going to head to Crossword. The first is on Hill Road, Bandra, opposite Elco Arcade, while the second is on Turner road, Bandra. 

Though the distance between them is around 2 kms, they are worlds apart. Sagar is a garment store stocking apparel for ladies, gents and children of all ages. It is on the swank street which is  a virtual fashion parade with all the young crowd strutting their stuff as they descend on the established shops and the hawkers to select their ware.

Crossword, is a book store tucked away in a quiet lane. The atmosphere is rarefied here, with intellectual types draped over the shelves immersed in a book of their choice. At a corner of a nether end in this vast phantasmagoria are a young couple who have found the perfect place to smooch. There are books for all ages here, with the children’s section on the first floor further divided into, ‘Pre-school,’ ‘Girls 6 to 10,’ ‘Boys 6-8,’  teens, and YA (Young adult). At several places Kindle was being advertised as though the writing was already on the wall for the brick and mortar book stores. With Strand bookstore closing down in town, the death knell has already been sounded.

While I am in Bandra next I should like to go to 5Spice, at Pali Hill, which serves delectable Chinese cuisine. As I munched into our chicken pot rice with aromatic herbs and vegetables (prefaced by the Peking soup), I marvelled at the philosophy of 5Spice. The five spices which combine to make the unique taste are those which make up the following flavours, viz. sweet, spicy, sour, salty and bitter. When I was about to draw the attention of the server that the crispy chicken tasted a tad bitter, I held my peace smugly surmising that it was probably intentional.

No trip to Bandra is complete for us without the customary mutton biryani at Lucky’s. The iconic Iranian restaurant at the junction of Swami Vivekananda road and Hill road, a little away from the lip of Bandra station has had its regulars since 1938. They have expanded in a big way with several AC and non –AC spaces for its fervent clientele.

Not far down the road from Sagar is the imposing St. Stanislaus high school founded in 1863 where dad passed his metric in 1943.  The majestic old colonial buildings seem offset by the squat tiled one-storey structures with a common verandah for around fifteen living spaces. (see pix.)

I was transfixed by the Victorian architecture of Bandra railway  station built in 1867.  It surveys the chaos in front of it with impassive mien.  

The feast of the Basilica of Mount Mary, Bandra is on 8 September – the birthday of Mother Mary. The following Sunday marks the beginning of the week-long Bandra fair, to which multitudes throng from various faiths.   
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Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 4 June 2017. Pix of old house on Hill road, Bandra and us before Bandra railway station taken by the author.

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