For those of us who live outside our homes in a different city. Somehow there is always a disconnect with the community no matter how welcoming they are. The suburbs you live in or travel to frequently have a history to them that you are completely unaware of. And that always sets the two of you apart. We strolled and took a rather interesting Walk in Bandra to unveil its dynamic suburban history.
But what if you get the chance to walk by those lanes with those who live and breathe that community! What if you get the chance to meet those faces, that make the community what it is, interesting isn't it?
BandraBuggers, Bombaywalla and I recently had the privilege of experiencing Bandra through a walk in Bandra. It was an immersive activity and full of delight. Ever since (almost 5 years now) I moved to Mumbai for work, Bandra has always been a place often visited. Be it for those umpteen visits to Bandstand or to several quaint cafes and joints. Bandra always leaves you wanting for more, I have visited Bandra on multiple occasions. But this walk made me privy to the heroes that make Bandra what it is even today.
We started the walk at the Mount Mary Church. We got the opportunity to learn the history of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount. The innumerable candle offerings have now evolved over time. Any wish you want to fulfill, a holiday, children, job, success or happiness. You can now get an exact offering (candle shaped to your wish) to offer it to this lady. Talk about changing with the times.
We met four super-women who shared their stories of Bandra as we initiated the Walk in Bandra
Walk in Bandra to meet Anita the Super-Cop
Do not go by her height, she holds no bars if you mess around with the traffic rules in Bandra. A simple person who manages the traffic menace in Bandra just because she wants her area to be more civil and manageable.
Simply Walk in Bandra to witness the bumper to bumper traffic menace. I am sure the continuous honking of irate passengers does not make it any pleasant for the residents of Bandra either. Instead of sitting around and waiting for the authorities to take action, Anita takes it upon herself to manage the traffic in her area.
Unassuming and fearless, she stops anyone who breaks the rules of traffic be it civilians or state ministers. She simply states “Rules are rules and they have to be followed no matter who you are”. What a nice world we would live in if only, everyone followed that simple statement.
Alas, there was no time for wishful thinking, we hit the roads again but this time through the narrow lanes of the Ranwar Village.
Meet Alice Flanagan
How many of us have invited strangers into our home just because they were passing by? I know my answer.
Living with doors rarely ever open, we live in spaces constricted by our own fears and inhibitions. But that is not Alice Flanagan. A popular school teacher, she opened up her doors to us and shared her stories with such enthusiasm that you would think she’s a child who has just discovered the world.
They celebrate every occasion together with the community from Women’s Day to Christmases with cake and wine. A Ranwar Catholic by blood, when asked where she would stay if not in Bandra, she profusely refuses with an ardent “No”. She goes on to add that you can never take the Ranwar out of her.
She says, “We don’t come from rich families. But we are happy and rich from the heart” pretty much all one can hope for from one’s lives.
Meet Patricia Nath
A soft-spoken woman passion-driven to keep the spirit of Bandra alive. A consultant by profession, Patricia is one of the founding members of Celebrate Bandra, a festival to rekindle the Bandra spirit.
Started in 2005 as a 15-day festival once in two years, the event has evolved with the changing times. With earlier participants being from within the community it is now a platform for talent across India to showcase their uniqueness that is screened by a panel and chosen by the public.
All the committee members including Patricia work pro-bono (Yes, you read that right – Pro-Bono) for this festival alongside their respective personal lives and professional careers.
The festival that is now a 9-day annual fest is usually hosted just before Diwali in October – November has these members putting in hours right from April to ensure everything goes right. I am definitely coming back to experience Celebrate Bandra fest this year.
Meet Annabelle Ferro DeSylva
Anabelle, one of the key persons behind bringing alive BandraBuggers, she is one of those exuberant personalities that immediately liven up any room they walk in with just their presence. She brought to life a story from the book also titled BandraBuggers just by reading 4 lines from one of the many stories of Bandra. The reading lasted less than 3 minutes but had everyone in the room opening up their wallets to buy their own copy of that enchanting book. I was one of them for we were all curious to know more.
As I walked back along those familiar bylanes in Bandra that I have walked by several times before, every footstep echoed with a new sense of meaning after meeting these wonderful women. Such enchanting and welcoming women of Bandra, in such a brief period of time, somehow just made me feel one with that community and for that I shall always be grateful.