Bandra citizens, on living in the queen of suburbs

The Queen of the Suburbs may have lost some of its sheen thanks to over-crowding, but it wears a hip ‘n’ happening label with pride

Living in the most happening places in the suburbs is both a blessing as well as a curse according to resident Anandini Thakoor. She says, “Bandra has had haphazard development and as a result residential spaces, bars and pubs are all in the same space. The hawkers on the roads add to the chaos, making Bandra one big mess.”

Bandra’s iconic Mount Mary’s Church. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Bandra’s iconic Mount Mary’s Church. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Queen of the suburbs
Thakoor adds, “The way Bandra has developed in the last 15-20 years has seen the bungalows and open spaces shrink as an urban jungle has emerged. Bandra is no longer that Queen of the suburbs that she once was. The pedestrians today have no space to walk as hawkers and vehicles on the road compound problems.”

Shopping at Hill Road is a must for many. Pic/Suresh KK
Shopping at Hill Road is a must for many. Pic/Suresh KK

Agreeing with her, Shyama Kulkarni, activist and Bandra resident, says, “As a child I remember skating, cycling on the streets of Bandra. My children also had the same opportunity to play in the streets, but sadly today children have no place to play. Though Bandra has become an up-market suburb, people are unable to enjoy the joys of life.”

Anandini Thakoor Danica Lobo
Anandini Thakoor and Danica Lobo

The noise in the once sleepy suburb has also increased, according to Kulkarni as she says, “The cars are forever honking and the hawkers screaming on the streets have made the noise pollution levels soar.

Shyama Kulkarni Nimesh Cardoz
Shyama Kulkarni and Nimesh Cardoz

The culture of noisy pubs and discos in Bandra has made the place hip and happening, but the locals are facing a number of problems due to unruly behaviour of young people who frequent these places.”

Missing the bungalows
Danica Lobo, a student who lives near Mehboob studio, says, “As a child I remember seeing the sea from my house as the skyscrapers that block my view currently were not there. The Bandra, I live in today has increasingly become concretised. I miss the place I grew up in which was quiet and had more open spaces.”

For Nimesh Cardoz, the one thing he misses in Bandra now, is the peace that the walks along Bandstand brought. “Bandra today may have better roads than there were 10-15 years ago, but the traffic and crowd makes walking very difficult. There are too many outsiders and the friendly, homely feel of Bandra has been lost.”

He adds, “Now owning a house in Bandra for the locals has become unaffordable. The connection that we had earlier is lost. Rich people have huge houses here, but the feeling of oneness and community is missing.”

Cosmopolitan centre
“Over the ages, Bandra has been home to many cultures and emerged as a truly cosmopolitan place. The East Indians and Marathis were the original inhabitants of Bandra, but the place is now home to Muslims, Parsis, Hindus, Catholics and even celebrities,” says Kulkarni.

The slums near Reclamation and Bandra Bandstand make Cardoz sad. He says, “The residents of Bandra are working to make the place more ecologically balanced, but the illegal housing all over are woes that stand in the way. If this continues, Bandra will have development on one had and underdevelopment on the other which will in a way show the stark contrasts.”

Lobo says she misses the many gardens that Bandra boasted of some years ago. “Near Pali Mala, there was this garden where my sisters and I went to play as children. Today, that garden has been closed and a residential society has come up there. The places to shop are many, but the gardens as compared to the numbers earlier have drastically reduced.”

Anandini Thakoor sees a light at the end of the tunnel and hopes that Bandra will become a better place to live in. She says, “The Bandra of old is something every person here longs for. With the resident’s movements in the city working hard for an improvement in the current condition of Bandra, I am confident that in the next 10 years, Bandra will be a lot more like what it was a clean and green place.”

This is the second part of our weekly series on different areas in Mumbai, through the lens of the locals

Interesting places
>> Jogger’s Park
>> Bandra Reclamation
>> Mount Mary’s Basilica
>> Castella de Aguada or

Bandra Fort
>> Bandra Bandstand Promenade
>> Bandra-Kurla Complex
>> Carter Road Promenade

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