One of the best written articles i have read, talking about old bandra, and talking about chuim village of yesteryears in minute details. Here is reproducing the article with all due credits to the author of this website https://www.chuim.com/Welcome.html
CHUIM was really a small village in the 1940’s. Perhaps 70 houses in all. I remember some addresses. Number 1 Chuim was the house where Edwin, Patrick and Daniel lived. Edwin has got a mention in sports personalities in “History of Chuim”. No. 1A or 2 was the ancestral home of the Alves family, including Johnnie Alves. No. 11 was the home of Patrick D’Souza who gets a mention in “Founders of Chuim”. The westernmost house was 51 A the “Nest”, home built by Arthur Fernandes. My family lived in 51. No. 52 was the home of the D’Penhas, including good badminton player Joseph D’Penha.
The numbers then went to the other side of the road. No. 53 was the home of Gabriel Fernandes, who got a mention as a cricketer in the history of Chuim. The numbers then followed back to the start of the system, and No.63 was the home of Peter Gregory, who got a mention in “Founders of Chuim”. The last compound, was the property of Mr. Fonseca, on which was the Chuim badminton court. Later, Mr. Fonseca built a new home on this site. That’s about it. At that time, that was Chuim.
Some more parishioners lived further along Ambedkar Road, the Miranda’s, Louis and Ottie Dias and their son Ashley further on, and lastly the sisters Gertrude, Myrtle and Alice in the place known as Motorwalli’s compound. Another house, on the fringe, was “Sunshine Villa”, the home of Anthony D’Souza; it actually fronted on the Khar-Danda Road. The largest house in Chuim at that time was “Ferns Ville” the home of Albert Fernandes and family. In those years, he was the only one who owned a car.
Going down the slope from 51A, “The Nest”, one came across a cross, St. Elias School, which was later converted to a church. West of this school was a grotto with the statue of Mother Mary, and adjacent to that, the tennis court.
West of the tennis court were huts where the workers who worked on the hill, breaking up stones, lived. The workers were the employees of a big Pathan bloke who had his “office” among the huts, from where he operated the lorries that transported the stones to various building sites in the suburbs. There were no hutments between St. Elias School and Danda. You could see clear, from the school, to the Dr. D’Monte’s dispensary in Danda. There was a flower and vegetable field between Chuim village road and Khar-Danda road opposite St. Elias School and house no.52.
Later a woman called Pyari, requested shelter in the alcove under the steps of St. Elias School; she then moved with some buffaloes she owned to the side of the temple (the temple that one passed on the right walking from the school to the Danda bus stop). And that was the start of Pyarinagar. There was a smaller temple on the top of the rock at the end of the hill, which I believe is still there.
On the other side of Chuim, you could see clear from house no. 63 “Louise Villa” to the fields where the present church stands. There were no houses from Ambedkar Road nearly to 17th Road Khar. Next to 63 Chuim, there was a vacant space called “The OART” where the lads played cricket and volley ball. The Oart was the meeting place for festive sports, including Village sports on Christmas Day. Much later the volley ball posts and nets were shifted to where the Post Office is now, opposite the Irani restaurant.
Before masses were conducted at the ground floor of St. Elias School, people went to mass at the chapel on Calvary Hill. And when mass was not available there, then to St. Anne’s church in Shirley/Rajan. One of the elders, Alex Fernandes and his wife Laetitia (Aunty Letty), went to mass each Sunday to bandra, by horse and buggy. They lived on the middle floor of Ferns Ville, 49 Chuim. And their gharry and horses were in stables between the well behind 53 Chuim and Sunshine Villa. Alex Fernandes donated money to the formation of Alexander’s Ragtime band, which, even with new instruments and free lessons, never really got off the ground.
Talking of wells, there were two wells in the vegetable and flower field; one well as mentioned earlier, behind 53 Chuim; one well in t he coconut grove behind Brighton Villa, in the compound now housing Dr. Azad’s hospital, one well in front of the Irani, that is between the Bank of India and the Post office. And a well in the compound of the house directly opposite present St. Vincent de Paul. Not all houses had water connection. So the less fortunate got their water from these wells. Unfortunately, each of these wells was also associated with drowning._
The road from Pali to Chuim, bifurcated at the foot of the Calvary hill, and one branch went up to the Parsee Petit School. It did not extend to what is now Union Park. But en route, it had a sharp bend, still there, that, went up to the fine homes on Pali hill, and then at the other end there was and is a T-junction, one road going to the Pali market and the other to Cantwady. There was an unpaved road from the orphanage to the golf clubhouse; another unpaved lane through the “Bagh” from the orphanage to “Alves” corner.
The Union Park was previously a large mango tree grove. Between the hill and the sea was the vast expanse of Danda Green, which once had a golf course, and included the grounds where Chuim boys played hockey every evening. It was a wondrous sight: the vast greenery of the maidan and the blue sea beyond. Once the golf stopped, the green was used by Danda fishermen to repair their nets. The nets were ranged out and some were quite long. After repairing, they were rolled into neat bundles, on which people who went for a walk would sit and chat. The area between the Parsee Petit School and St. Anne’s church, was almost like a jungle. No houses there, but a walk through that area you would see the most exotic birds.
Between what is now Garden Homes and the present church, there was a large tank, which had water throughout the year, but after the monsoon it was really full. Once a year, there was Fishing Day, when fishermen from Chuim and Danda cast their nets in this tank. The fish that was caught was sold on the spot. There were always spectators on this day because the previous night, the “town crier” would walk the streets of Chuim, announcing, in Marathi, that the next day Sunday, was fishing Day. One of the elders of Chuim, blew a whistle, and away they would go, wading in.
Another annual event was the cricket match “Fernandes” vs. “The Rest”. There were so many Fernandes’s in Chuim, that they could muster their own team. These cricket matches went on till at least 1960, but the venues changed according to what was available.
There were also running races around Chuim, kind of a marathon. I can remember the year when the race was won by Denzil Pereira. Both he, and his brother Austin were good runners.
One could see good badminton at the Badminton Club in Chuim. World class player Henry Ferreira played there often and on the tennis courts also, at the other end, you could watch good tennis.
Because of the low density housing, in the early morning, one could hear, from Chuim, the engines shunting the rail wagons near Khar railway station.( A lot of the area east of Khar station was used to position rail wagons.) Also, on early Sunday mornings, one could hear, from Chuim, the bells of St. Anne’s Church.
Talking of bells, in my school years, I was an altar boy. And with the parish priest residing on the ground floor of “Ferns Ville”, right next door, I was roped into ringing the Angelus bell at St. Elias at 7 each evening. Sometimes I was late returning from hockey, so the bells were not rung in time. But who cared ? Time was of no consequence in ‘Sleepy hollow Chuim’. I used to also get called out to ring the bells when someone in Chuim died. Soon after the ringing, people would materialize to ask “Who died, man” ?. Years later I came across the saying “Ask not for whom the bells toll , they toll for thee”. I never really understood what was meant by that.
The massive hill extending from behind 49 Chuim (“Ferns Ville” ), to the present Union Park, and curving to the present temple on the rock, provided tones of material for buildings. At about noon, the workers used to put explosives into the rocks, and blast away at the hill to make it easier to break up the rock into workable sizes. There were several occasions when the flying debris would reach St. Elias School , and the authorities worried about students being hurt. As the hill got carved out, a long valley formed between the two flanks of the hill. The hutment worker’s families used the valley early morning to relieve themselves. When one Canadian woman, married to a Chuim guy saw these happenings, she nicknamed the area Bum Valley. The men from these hutments went to the rocks on the seashore. Hopefully, now with more facilities available, these practices are a thing of the past.
Certainly, until 1943, one could only study at St. Elias School till the First Standard. Then one had to go on to St. Andrew’s or St. Stanislaus. Initially some of us took the school buses to bandra. But later we walked along Ambedkar Road to school. I used to do the walk with Austin Pereira. And on the way, we were overtaken by two school masters on their bicycles: Johnnie Alves who taught at St. Stanislaus, and Peter Murzello who taught at St. Andrew’s school. They both lived in Chuim at the time. Girls went to St. Theresa’s in Santa Cruz and St. Andrew’s Girl school on Hill Road Bandra.
Yes, it was a charmed life in the Chuim of yesteryear. Gradually, more people moved to Chuim, more houses were built. Some were r e-built on the same site. High rise buildings sprouted; and now, there are very tall apartment blocks. When there were only 70 addresses , most people knew who lived where, and certainly, their surnames. With prosperity, came anonymity. Perhaps, I might not recognize all I will see on my next visit to “Sleepy Hollow”.
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