I would like to preface this post by stating most empatically that I did NOT write the article that follows. I wish I could lay claim to its authorship as it is by far one of the most accurate descriptions of being a Bandra-ite that I have ever found! I hope one day to find out the identity of the author and thank him for a belly full of laughter every time I read this!
For folks who live.. Or have ever lived in that delightful "Queen" of the surburbs, this will bring back fond memories. For those who are clueless (ie most readers) - Bandra is the surburb in Mumbai that I grew up in.
I'm just a regular 'Bandra Boy' from dere only wanting to give back a little something to my favourite suburb. Someone (may have been me) once said 'You can take a person out of Bandra, but you can never take Bandra out of him'. And surprisingly, knowing how no one falls for 'profound' lines like that anymore (my favourite one being - I would if I could, but I can't so I won't), its quite true, because no matter where you are in the world, maybe even in a mall in Frankfurt and you suddenly happen to overhear 'Aaayee Gracie ...See this dress men....' Get the picture!!
Which brings me to the sweet, melodic and ungrammatical feature of Bandra and my ultimate favourite spice of Bandra - The Bandra Mac Accent (with no reference to a certain fast food chain organisation). No matter how much RJ's, VJ's, TV presenters or stand up comedians try to impersonate it, they can never get exactly right because you have got to live in it to, to get it totally accurate, it has to come from the (h)eart ... (Bit like the Scottish accent).
So let me give you a few basic ground rules so that the next time you are shopping in Bandra you can blend in perfectly.
* Always use 'D' for Th.
* Never use 'H' anywhere, they are always silent
* Using 'What' even if there's no question asked.
* Using a Hindi Verb with an English ending
* Using words twice to emphasise your point.
* Just like the Americans use 'man' in their slang, only we use 'men'.
* Just like the Americans use 'like' in their slang, we use 'no'
Correct use of the above grammatical rules will result in masterpieces like:
* 'Ow you men Larry? (Situation: Meeting Larry on Saturday morning in the bazaar)
* 'She was giving me dis dis small pomflits (while showing the size of her palm) for bledy 50 rupees men' (Situation: Larry's wife explaining her adventures in the bazaar, later that day)
* "Aarre, Dat bledy Sandy no, yesterday he lagao-ed solid whisky for the communion party" (Situation: The retired men from the village talking at the local Irani joint during the Sunday morning mass sermon)
* 'You don't have any sense what riding the cycal so fast' (Situation: Spinster aunty yelling to a schoolboy on Chapel Road)
* Cun, Men Savio, Put tru men, put tru (Situation: Classic line heard at Supari talao during a football match, asking Savio to bend the ball like Beckham)
* "Aarre see dere men, dere, arre left men, see dere men, arre big bugger men dere' (Situation: Boys stealing mangoes in the afternoon in May)
* Aaaye, what men basket, why you are saying anyting aboud my mudder and fadder, I call boys now...' (Situation: Often heard after a Saturday nite binge)
* (H)ail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou ... ..Norma, just see whether the back door is latched ...... amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus .......it's closed ?.... ok .....Holy Mary...... (Situation: Family rosary at the Pereiras)
* You know, Theresa, dat day I took little ginger garlic, little onion, so much so much masala dat I ground, put chicken and the curry came good men...' (Situation: Swapping recipes while standing and gossiping at the junction with the black bag of groceries at their feet)
* Dat day no, solid rain came no so I made nice hot hot soup and we had with the khadk gutli which Peter brought... (Situation: Housewives talking at the Cross Feast party)
One of the most common ways of gossiping among the older generation is done in a very six degrees of separation - ish kind of way, in which a person maybe linked up with anyone from the owner of Johnny's Cold Storage at Pork Market Junction to the Cardinal. Ok here goes... another example of conversation.
"Do you know Joe's son Eric is getting married to Diana? - Who, Die-na, men? - Aaree, Diana men, Alfie's and Maggie's daughter... - Who, Alfie men? - Alfie men from dere, Remember, when they were small they used to stay near Brian's house on Chapel road, near the bakery men...He married that girl Maggie from Shirley village. - Who Maggie, Mary's daughter? - No. Annie's sister, Joannie's daughter. You know Annie no, her son Clyde was married to Hazel and they were living for donkeys years in the Gulf, then after Clyde had his stroke, he retired and they settled down here. Their son is dat Leslie he was an engineer very very smart boy now all dat drinking has ruined him. - Yes, yes I know he was married to that nice girl Corina from Chimbai, but then after she had her miscarriage, all his drinking and all started ... and they got divorced... ...and in this way it keeps on going on and on , talking about everyone they know and not going back to poor ol' Joe.
(This account has been purely fictional, any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental)
Walking through any village in Bandra on a Sunday afternoon and seeing the men sitting out in their balconies with their whisky or gin, country music playing from his music system which he brought down from the Gulf enjoying a quiet weekend before the hectic Monday and after a hectic party on Saturday night. You can hear the pressure cookers steaming with their pea pulao and smell the tinge of Lonvas curry floating though the air while the mixture of coconut milk and bottle masala bubbles violently under the aluminium lids of the vessels. The watery orange concentrate drinks in a plastic cup and the hot steaming boiled chick peas given to you after the rosary at the local village cross while the aunties ask mothers what their son is doing in life and discuss their children's lives. The rush of crowd at the cold storage and the bakery closest to the church after Sunday morning mass. The rush of men to the Irani restaurant closest to the church as soon the Sunday mass sermon begins for a chai and a smoke. The husbands in short pants, a striped T-shirt, cap and sunglasses on their scooters with their wives on the backseat also in short pants and a old blouse going to do their weekly shopping in the bazaar on a Saturday morning often stopping in the middle of the lane to have a quick chat with other couples on their scooter going the other way.
Sometimes when you are asleep in the wee hours of the morning just after a late night binge with the boys, the phone starts to ring at 6:30 in the morning, you pick it up and there is an old lady on the other side of the line telling you "Son, just tell your Grandma, that Aunty Mathilda passed away", so in your best hangover voice you sweetly say goodbye and go on the pass on the message to your grandmother who is already up and saying the rosary for world peace and then you realise, that your grandmother doesn't even know who Bloody Aunty Mathilda (may her soul rest in peace) is.... so you made that brutal effort to get out off bed for nothing, then your mother comes in and your grandmother asks her , "Who is Mathilda" .... and she says... "Aarree you don't know Mathilda .....Anthony's sister in law..?"..... Oh Jeez .... here we go again.