Bandra, often called the queen of Mumbai’s suburbs, has evoked intrigue with its juxtaposition of the current and the old. On one side it is the go to destination of the urbane young for its eateries and pubs and on the other its houses and communities are a throwback to centuries of history of this once fishing village.
Illustration: Prashant Miranda
These quirks and hints of the curious in the sudden abandoned house in bustling spaces or snaky lanes of this suburb led Motherland, the independent quarterly culture magazine, which publishes its editions as collectibles, feature Bandra for an entire issue in its previous edition. The magazine focuses on a theme in each issue and explores that issue through various modes of storytelling like essays, art, photography and reportage.
Joe Vessaokar, a band master in Bandra. Photo credit: Karen Dias
Vandana Verma, the editor of the issue, explains the thought behind the choice, “Bandra is special to so many, and not just those who actually live there. I think what was exciting for us was the sheer wealth of stories that emerged, that had more to do with the community and the people that live there than of the place itself. Bandra has a character and texture that is all its own, and we started to feel it when putting the book together, because it sort of took shape all on its own,” she shares Life, death, and transformation ran through this issue, according to Verma. From Catholicism and crosses, to dwindling community spirit and the plague.
Anthony Rodrigues, a funeral home owner in Bandra. Photo credit: Karen Dias
Writer and journalist Naresh Fernandes, who has lived in Bandra, explored the death of community in his area through the story of a death man that went unnoticed for months. Writer Bikki Gill looked at the business surrounding bereavement, and met and profiled the people who power Bandra’s funeral industry. Max Bearak visited Yacht, a neighbourhood dive that’s decades old, while Juhi Pande wrote about Zenzi, a club that is now not there but still inspires a sort of devotion which others which endured don’t.
“Others looked at Bandra’s constant, dynamic change; gentrification might be an ugly word, but there is the rampant invasion that triggers escalating prices per square foot, and there is the civilised sort that unfolds over decades, and Michel Snyder, in a piece that Mumbai Boss were kind enough to allow us to run, considered whether the old guard and the new arrivals have always coexisted in this particular place,” Verma informs.
The edition also includes a piece on Bandra’s neglected east side and a series of images of some of Bandra’s wildest residents. “And they’re not the ones you're thinking of,” Verma warns.
At: Kulture Shop, Play Clan, Loose Ends, and The Bagel Shop (All Bandra)
Log on to: thetadpolestore and Flipkart and www.motherlandmagazine.com.