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Interview with a Bandra Resident – Shradha Agarwalla.

One of the earliest people to follow me on Twitter was Shraddha, She has been kind on giving information for a newbie like me to Bandra via her reply to tweets and is an active community person. Recently she sent me delicious goodies cakes in jar and huge chocolate caramel cake. It was quite heavenly. I also asked her to pen down her thoughts about Bandra and her expereince here and what she does with her dessert business aptly name The Dessert Cart. Read her thoughts on the queen of suburb below.

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How long have you been living in Bandra/ Khar? And why did you decide to make Bandra as your home?

Since the time I moved into Mumbai, from Kolkata in July 1997 (that is some 18 years ago!!), I have been living in Bandra / Khar.

For me, since my growing days, Mumbai has existed to the south of the airport. I mean, I’ve seen airports coming up on the outskirts of any city and so was the case with Mumbai; so when we were looking to buy an apartment some 10 years ago, Bandra / Khar were the only options, as one doesn’t want to live beyond city limits, right? The mandate to my husband was very clear, “I want to live on either side of Linking Road and I don’t want to go across SV Road extent which runs parallel to it”. So, that helped us to define our search boundaries.

When I shifted from Kolkata to Mumbai, I used to live in Juhu. Subsequently, I moved few houses in Bandra / Khar and finally made Bandra my home. The cosmopolitan ambience, the lively atmosphere, the eateries, good schools, entertainment and of course the centrally located suburb, all helped us to decide that Bandra it is going to be. I remember, there never was any discussion about any other suburb, we never discussed any other option really.

Can you share some of your experiences of living in Bandra/ Khar right from the day you selected the property, till today? How has Bandra/ Khar changed in your opinion?

Just to give you a perspective, for few months, we’d shifted to Prabhadevi as my Bandra flat was undergoing repairs & renovations. On a weekend evening, while driving around Bandra I realized that I feel younger & more vibrant while in Bandra / Khar; in Prabhadevi, I feel like a ‘bhabhi ji’, ‘mummy ji’, ‘aunty ji’ but in Bandra / Khar it always ‘bhabhi’, ‘madam’ or simply ‘Shradha’.

It is also a well-established fact that the support services people of Bandra / Khar (doodh wala, newspaper vendor, maids, drivers, local baniya shops, home delivery boys etc.) are much more efficient, smarter, professional and dedicated than their lot elsewhere in Mumbai. They maintain their time, are more committed, more educated & aware of current affairs etc. You call for food / provision store delivery and the delivery boy has already anticipated the currency denomination that you’ll pay and is always ready with the change he needs to give. Never ever is there any struggle with this.

I’m sure you will agree that in the recent years, the crowd in Bandra / Khar has really swelled. There has been a huge influx of people and the weekends are worse, what with the number of restaurants, shopping and other key attractions like Carter’s Road, Band Stand and the high street of Linking Road (supposed to be one of the most expensive high streets in Asia) etc.

What I love about Bandra / Khar are the quaint small heritage bunglows, the lush green rich & old trees, the small stores and restaurants which offer so many surprises and happiness. They are so different from the cold retail chains and malls.

I also love to walk a lot in Bandra and I may be wrong, but this is again a uniqueness of this suburb. Most of the other parts of the city, one cannot walk around much due to the population on its roads, the traffic or simply because, it’s not the done thing to walk (South Mumbai?….winks)

What kind of extra amenities would you like, which are at present lacking in Bandra/khar?

I wish there were at least a few good cinemas apart from Globus and Suburbia; and a Prithvi Theatre toh hona hi chahiye. Bandra also lacks good quality housing. As real estate is so expensive and no large parcels of land are available, most real estate is being developed by local builders, so quality is a serious question and there is hardly any scope to make beautiful landmarks. Almost all upcoming buildings that you see, are very cold; straight line construction, no open spaces within the compound, small rooms, smaller toilets, glass façade elevation etc. Let me hasten to add / clarify, that what I mean is we don’t get to see artistically, elegantly buildings, the kind you see in Powai or off late in Lower Parel.

What do you think is the biggest advantage of living in Bandra? And what to do you think is the single most disadvantage of living here in Bandra / Khar?

The biggest advantage of living in Bandra is that it is very very centrally located. Airport, long distance railway stations and any part of Mumbai, all are quite easily accessible and now with BKC emerging as the new business district of the city, the advantage of Bandra / Khar has increased further.

Within a radius of 2 KM of my house, there must be at least 200 places to eat and this to me is the biggest challenge (I won’t call it disadvantageJ) and new ones keep coming up so frequently. For a foodie like me, to keep visiting / exploring / discovering these new places and continue to be physically fit, is a big big challenge.

Can you tell us something about professional life?

I am a passionate self-taught home baker, a big time foodie and an avid reader; a couple of years ago I founded The Dessert Cart (www.facebook.com/thedessertcart1); a Facebook page, which now has ~15,000 Likes from different parts of the world. To promote home cooking and to spread the joy of baking, I conduct baking workshops from home. I also accept party orders for bespoke cakes & desserts. Slowly, my passion to bake has evolved into a full time profession for me. I love experimenting and creating new recipes and innovative cakes for my clients and fan following. My themed based cakes for Diwali, Raksha Bandhan and Halloween have been quite trend setters and have been featured in the leading newspapers, every year, since I began The Dessert Cart. During the workshops, what I look forward to and I love is, meeting and getting to know new people of different age profiles.

What kind of hobbies do you have? What are your passions in life?

Since I embarked on my journey with The Dessert Cart, my hobbies and passion have all converged into baking. I now appreciate the conventional saying that ‘if you make your hobby your job’ life becomes a holiday. I love researching on desserts, follow international trends, experiment & develop new recipes and share with friends.

Apart, I love to read. I am a vociferous reader. I have to read for some time, every night, before I go off to sleep. I also love watching movies and listen to old hindi songs. Shopping does not excite me. Travel yes, that’s another thing that I look forward to.

 

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