Si t’as pas encore compris, je vis à Bandra.
Bandra est un quartier de Bombay, d’aucun dirait la banlieue, mais d’aucun est jaloux.
Bandra, c’est la nonchalance brésilienne au milieu de la mégalopole indienne. Bandra a ses magazines, des magasins, et son festival. Tous les deux ans les organisateurs de ‘celebrate bandra’ mettent en place des concerts, des évènements dans les boutiques et une parade.
Comme on ne recule jamais devant rien, on (ce coup ci, je me suis entourée de ma famille aimante et enthousiaste) a défilé pour sauver la planète, c’était le thème de la parade, et déguisé les chiots en zèbre et lapin.
On m’a même demandé de pondre quelques lignes pour l’évènement.
Like every newbie in town, when I landed I had a thousand questions: where can I find this, that? Where can I buy this or that? The answer was always ‘Bandra only’.
As the days were passing, my questions were sophisticating: where can I find a nice day-care centre for my two kids? Bandra only. Where can I eat the coolest bagel? Bandra only. Where can I walk by the sea, savouring a delicious ice cream? Bandra only. Where can I learn capoeira? Where can I eat the best New York cheese cake outside of New york? Where can I bump into a bollywood star in the restaurant round the corner? Bandra only, bandra only, bandra only.
My poor understanding of the subtleties of some indo-English expressions, led me to believe that ‘bandra only’ meant ‘Only in Bandra’ and not ‘just there’. And frankly I was sometimes a little annoyed by the exclusivity of bandra, as if there was nowhere else worth living in.
But then again, where, in this city of 20 million souls, and of 22.5 laks cars and no sidewalks, can you walk your kids to school? Where can you discover the nicest short cut, zigzagging between the banyan trees and the bungalows sprung up from another time? Where can you see zebras running along the walls of the bazar? Where can you know your neighbours and even be really good friends with them? Where can you clear your mind of the traffic, the noise, the digging? Where can you feel at home in the maximum city?
Where can you, one early morning, when the sun is shyly shining, wander freely in a quiet street; no cars, no honk, a few dogs, 2 or 3 chickens. In the far you can hear a church bell ring and somewhere near, Eddie Vedder’s sensual voice (in that particular case the ‘into the wild’ sound track) flying out of a window?
Only in Bandra.
After a few months, years, when instead of waiting for ever to get the attention of a rickshaw wallah, you shout with out complex ‘AUTO’. When the baji wallah knows exactly what you’re gone buy that day and when your kids call a certain shop keeper Aunti and kiss her goodbye you begin to understand what makes Bandra so special, One and Only: Its spirit, its people who fight for a no honking city, for a better side walk, who stand for a cause like Pereira wadi last year and you feel proud to be one of them.