I love the Bazaar Road market lane, and have walked the lane a thousand times, on this path you can’t help but notice a beautiful 148-year-old house marked “Bandra Times”. What really can put a smile on your face is the Bandra times message blackboard, where they have a satire message written by hand. Its is the social media of the street. The new messages every day are like status updates commenting on the current affairs in a fun way but has a learning embedded into it.
Mr. Clarence Gomes retired as a Director of National Association of Blind and had an intense urge to stay connected with the people of his locality and wanted to do something constructive for his ward. He has always been trying to improve the condition of his ward and has stood two times for election, once in 1997 against the formidable Baba Siddique and 2nd time in 2002 again. He says, standing for election got him in direct touch with the needs of the people and what people want and that helps him keep doing community work as part of ALM and also run Bandra Times so successfully.
Mr Gomes, reminisces, how Bazaar road, had a bad reputation because of the numerous fights and bars here and most of the ALM’s were focussed on the development of Pail Hill, Carter Road and Bandstand area, so he decided that he had to do something for his locality. Mr. Gomes comes from a family of East Indian Agriculturist, and his family owned farms at what is now the water-field road, they had bail ghadi’s (bullock carts and tonga’s (horse carts). He is the 3rd generation living in Bazaar Road.
The genesis of Bandra Times lies in a group called BRAG (Bandra Residents Action Group); BRAG was a group of like-minded individuals who would work for the community but since the group became inactive, Bandra Times carries on the noble crusade of community building. In its hey days, BRAG used to give away “BRAG” awards, to the most outstanding members of its community.
He and his wife handle the day to day operations of Bandra Times while the citizens contribute most of the articles. Whenever someone tells him, that BT has “good reading matter”, his day is made. Bandra Times is a registered newspaper with GOI and with the information of broadcasting ministry. They distribute about 5000 copies mainly via snail mail, courier and hand deliveries, the total readership base is about 25000. The newspapers are free and is supported mostly via donations through generous patrons and anytime he needs to raise funds there are enough patrons to help BT out. Every edition of BT is themed, and the last edition had a sports theme. He says Bandraites abroad pick up all his editions before flying off so they can be in touch with their roots.
Dear Readers, Next time you pass Bazaar Road, don’t forget to pick up your copy of Bandra Times, it has got good reading matter.