01 March 2015

Bandra: Queen of Suburbs

A street in Bandra West

A rooster

Flowers on the side walk

A building overlooking a street through foliage

Bandra like any Mumbai suburb is many avatars rolled into one. A fisherman's village, an ancient portuguese fort,  a hanging out place for city's glitterati, an active arts and theatre scene, a bustling suburb challenging SoBo in real estate prices and so many more. It is a place trying very hard to be a quaint little town with leafy sidewalks and old big bungalows reminiscent of Trivandrum; Allahabad; Panjim or Bhubaneswar rather than a Mumbai suburb. In a recent visit to Bandra; just off the chaotic Linking Road in the peak hour are quiet neighbourhoods sporting neat signs asking dog owners to clean their poop from the side walks. The footpaths are yet to be encroached and are walkable; mostly. The big shops masquerade as friendly neighbourhood stores. No big malls here. Tiny streets meant to handle only light traffic now have huge cars parked on both the sides. The apartment blocks desperately try to hide behind some tree covers and once in a while you do stumble across a not so dilapidated but definitely decaying old bungalow waiting to be usurped by a big builder. While most Mumbai suburb try to be like "Town" and fail miserably; Bandra is trying very hard to be itself. Small elegant coffee shops and and cafes on Waterfield Road. Brightly painted churches and streets still wearing their British era names and not yet renamed. With a camera in tow I was looking for some interesting street scenes but I was disappointed. I went to a couple of parks that were remarkably well maintained but crowded with evening joggers. No hope of photography there - it looked too intrusive. The streets and side walks were mostly bereft of the usual obstructions one faces in Mumbai but no great chance of photography. I trundled back to Linking road and the flea market there was just revving with activity. Shoes, purses, ear rings, shawls, eyeliners, sunglasses, mascaras, nick knacks and all the stuff that girls usually go crazy after were being peddled. I noticed that nearly half of the wide Linking Road had been usurped by the peddlers. The BMC anti encroachment van guys were just looking the other way. I walked to the other side trying to get to the SV Road. The quaint neighbourhoods continue uninterrupted by the hullaballoo of Linking Road. One thought strikes you - The cars have outgrown the roads! But there is still some walking space on the footpath. An interesting sign on the Vada Pav vendor near National College meets my eye: Please do not order if you do not have time! A few hundred metres ahead and on SV Road the evening traffic is maddening and people dont seem to have any time here.
Bandra Rocks? ... not really but tries very hard ... 
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