Mumbai: Bandra's, St Sebastian Homes Co-Operative Housing Society, turns 100
As Bandra's colony turns 100, residents hope for a better future even as they reminisce about the years
A housing society in Bandra (W), winding from Rebello Road and through adjacent lanes, called the St Sebastian Homes Co-Operative Housing Society Ltd, is having a major Virat Kohli moment.
This residential enclave, with picturesque lanes and neat, compact bungalows, now jousting with some slightly taller structures, has smashed a century. The celebrations started in January. The Society's Managing Committee chairman Brenden D'Silva said, "We had a band going around the society as we marked the start of our very special year." Secretary Eric Tellis said "We have had various activities like a carnival, some felicitations, plays, a picnic and more events and activities are being planned even as we speak. We want to keep up the tempo for the year."
(From left) Secretary Eric Tellis, chairman Brenden D'Silva and committee members Paul Louzado and Sancia Sequeira. Pics/Suresh KK
The managing committee members sat in the society office chockfull of papers and files (100 years worth of records) as they spoke. A glossy souvenir has also been released on the occasion, outlining the history of the society and its milestones. The souvenir has a paragraph on the birth of the society as: "It was 1918 when World War I ended and that was the birth of peace in the world." Yet, in the sleepy Mumbai suburb of Bandra, "which was very distant at that time, the year 1918 saw another birth. That of St Sebastian Co-operative Housing Society, which at that time was to be earmarked for middle-class, Roman Catholics, who wanted to live amidst the verdant greenery and lush fields as Bandra then was."
A prayer service at a cross inside the society
"Currently, this society has 119 plots and thousands of members, families have grown through the years, so numbers have swelled," said committee member Paul Louzado. Residents said, "We should thank our forefathers for making this enclave. There is a sense of kinship and bonding that has endured." D'Silva and Tellis recalled playing hide 'n' seek in the society as children. Kids from the entire St Sebastian neighbourhood would be running through the lanes occasionally slipping under a bed inside a home, which was not their own, to hide!
"Similarly, we came running home from school and could walk into any house to quench our thirst from the 'matkas' kept there. It was a time of innocence and oneness," D'Silva and Tellis said.
Tellis added, "There were gardens full of fruit trees, mangoes and coconuts mostly, and the landmark Supari Talao here, got its name because it was ringed by supari trees." D'Silva said "Supari talao is now a maidan. It was handed over to the BMC years ago, though much earlier it was under the aegis of the housing society. Our parents used to talk about watching buffaloes going to the talao, an idyllic village scene in the heart of Bandra!"
Committee member Sancia Sequeira recalled how the St Sebastian recreation centre hosted the most coveted Christmas dance in the city. Louzado laughed as he remembered, "I used to live in Byculla then, and the Byculla boys would commute to Bandra for the dance, try to woo the Bandra girls and in the process, often pick fights with the boys of the society."
Today, amidst celebrations, there is some trepidation, too. Sequeira said, "Our narrow lanes are clogged with parked vehicles, bike racing has also become a worrying feature here." We walked through the society as D'Silva pointed at fairly deserted lanes (in the afternoon) which can become a haven for drunks and drug addicts, which is "a current concern". Yet, these problems seem to recede when you see the compact homes proudly displaying banners about being part of the '100' club. "We hope St Sebastian Housing lives for another 100," laugh residents, with joy and pride.
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