A suburb on the western coast of Mumbai notoriously famous for all things you would never dream of in Mumbai.I moved to Bandra in the year 2001. It was November and the winter was just setting in. A new home at the turn of the new century! It is 2016, but still I have not stopped being in awe of Bandra.
It was decided to be a cycling day one fine early morning, the rendezvous which was till now hampered by oversleeping friends, non working alarms or flattened tyres. But that morning we left at 6.30 in the morning, I along with 2 more to explore an Early Bandra!
The skies had just opened up, as the rays pierced through it painting the whole picture,tangerine. We swept past the closed gates of Cinemax, a ready option for any new movie in the town for us. The pavered road brought us now to an apartment where we heard was parked in the basement, A yellow Gallardo! That was what awaken one of the car aficionado amongst us in the first place and after we had a good look at it, we continued further on our ride.
Lanes in Bandra will remind you of the ones told about in the stories. The canopies of flowering trees which are home to hanging bats in the evening bending over small lanes marked by lampposts on either sides. The asphalt road was washed with red Poincianas scattered over it. The cool morning breeze blew now and then mixed with the chirps of birds, freshening up our faces. We now came across the gates painted in camouflage pattern, guarded with AK-47s held by narrow eyed, but alert guards from the bunkers on either side of the gate. This was the very gate from which the motorcade of Michael Jackson passed through when he paid visit to the ShivSena Supremo back in ’96 before his concert in the city!
Our motorcade now turned at the skywalk and entered the much feted Bandra Kurla Complex. We rode down the avenue, dotted with palms and gulmohur trees. The swanky SUVs and sedans were passing us at a blistering pace. On the curb across ran some fitness enthusiasts with their dogs and Mp3 players. On the other side was the childhood home of Sachin Tendulkar, Sahitya Sahawas where the little master once played much to the annoyance of the fellow residents and where now his mother resides.
On the other end of the downtown BKC, we took the Cycling Route, the first in the city and the first in the world, where cars were parked right into it.
Sweeping past glittering edifices, such as that of The Capital, which houses the world’s largest automated car parking, the MCA and the US Consulate, we made our way to the Western Expressway. The legs were cramped but we still had time on our hands. We took the flyover and rode to the Western part of the suburb. The mighty Bandra Worli sealink stood before us, its metal cables shining in the bright sun and waves crashing onto its viaduct, as we climbed the Bandra Fort, parking our bicycles at its foot, after passing the St Stanislaus Church on our way. I took the last of sips from my bottle while replaying the journey so far in my head.
Western Bandra played a big brother with all its pomp and show, thanks to the promenade and being home to many prominent celebrities. And that brought calm and simplicity to East Bandra, which is a rarity in a metropolitan like Mumbai
It’s been 15 years and counting, 15 years of ups and downs, my school, college life all bundled up in those years! Moments to cherish and worth remembering!
It isn’t a place, it’s an experience, many would vie for, and I’m fortunate to live it!