At the start of the year, I lived as Paying Guest near Hill Road, famed for its cheap shopping, something that I never had a chance to sample. I did, however, watch other people, hoards of them, enjoy themselves as they shopped for brightly coloured tank tops, outrageously kitschy flip-flops and the infamous ‘Being Human’ tee-shirts, on my way home from work. This was my life in Bandra, enjoying the sights of what other people experienced, and I’m not complaining, it was invigorating in its own way. I’d head out every morning to take in a heady floral fragrance emanating from the pretty little bungalows all around only to be slapped in the face by the fumes of an auto rickshaw zooming past. “No problem, enjoy the moment” I’d say, and smile and walk on.
On the short walk to the main road, I’d encounter charming dogs being taken around usually, not by their ‘master’ but by their dog-walker. Being a dog-fan, these little guys (or girls, it was difficult to tell without proper inspection) would make my day as they passed me by with a goofy grin on their face, tails wagging happily in the air while sniffing every inch of the sidewalk in a crazed fervour. That was of course until I’d inevitably step into some dog poo and have to go back to change my footwear, resulting in me being late for work. “All worth it”, I’d tell myself.
On my way back from office, if I wasn’t watching the frenzy of Hill Road from the backseat of the cab, I’d watch the well-groomed little old ladies and the chivalrous looking old men as they leaned on each other and made their way to church with a quiet dignity. There was always an intrigue about the looming edifices of churches, these sacred houses of God that gave off an air of old-world beauty. More than just places of worship, churches in Bandra seemed to be communal hubs, thriving with the spirited activity of their inhabitants.
Other communal hubs that I missed out on were the ubiquitous cafes and restaurants that plague Bandra like a friendly virus. I did make it to a few of them over weekends but there were too many to take in all together during my short stay. I did notice that though numerous, each cafe usually managed to maintain a different vibe, whether it was the clientele, the food, the service or the decor, they all seem slightly differently, yet gave off this ‘Bandraness’ about them that was hard to define and noticed mostly only by ‘non-Bandraites’.
When not at a cafe, my weekends would be spent either at Pune, or hidden away in my room at my ‘PG accommodation’, another Bandra institution. Many friends had advised me against staying in a PG place owing to the “overly-strict landladies”. “They’ll keep a curfew, they’ll pry into your private life and most importantly, no boys will be allowed to visit you!”. My parents, on the other hand, thought these to be the best reasons to have me stay as a PG. Not really bothered about either side of the argument, I took up a place that suited me best because of its location, the facility of an all-day maid and gave me two of the cutest dogs in the world as roommates. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to stick to a curfew, my landlady did however, go into my room whenever she felt like ‘tidying up’ and there were strict rules for using the kitchen. Even though I had my own room, it didn’t feel like I had much privacy, yet I stuck to my place. At the end of a long, tiring day, it was nice to have a ‘home’ to come back to and fellow PG girls will understand the importance and bliss of such a feeling.
Looking back on my stay in Bandra, it feels like it might’ve been slightly uneventful and I might’ve not experienced all that there was to experience there. However, I did see a lot of interesting sights that will always make me want to go back, and in that way, I’m glad to have experienced a different yet intriguing working girl’s Bandra.
Also posted on: A Girl in Mumbai