Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A day to remember

- by Deepa Krishnan

It's not often that you get to spend the day with the governor of the Reserve Bank! So here's a quick look at my day, with Radhika Puri and Raghuram Rajan. What a totally fabulous couple. And such lovely, old-fashioned good manners. I really should learn from them. I met them at 8:45 am, and we talked non-stop until 2:00 p.m. Quite a feat, even for a super-talkative person like me! 
We started with a visit to Castella de Aguada, the old Portuguese fort, where I explained about all the kingdoms who fought for control of trade on the western coast. There are multiple forts around the bay (Mahim Fort, Bandra Fort, Worli Fort). Clear evidence of the strategic importance of this area.
We saw lovely views of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
Driving past Mount Mary, we stopped to see the prayer candles. They are so uniquely Bandra! If you want to have your wishes fulfilled, all you need to do is pray to the Mother of the mount and light a candle. There are wax figurines which you can offer to become a television star, or a movie star, and there was even one for becoming a Hollywood star :) The homes of some big Bollywood badshahs and ranis are nearby, and we saw them as we drove past Bandstand.
At St Andrews Church, we were joined by Father Caesar D'Mello, who showed us around and told us some interesting stories. The church is celebrating its 400th year. "When the Taj Mahal was built, we were already 50 years old", they say proudly.
After the church visit, we started our village walk. We went to Chimbai Village, Ranwar Village and Chapel Road; where we enjoyed the old wooden architecture, the numerous small crosses and the quirky wall art. We went to a designer studio, to see how a old heritage house can be repurposed.
We ended the Bandra tour with chaat at Elco Arcade, where we ordered their seasonal strawberry kulfi, as well as some old favourites of mine (I like the pani puri and the gulab jamun!). 

And then because we wanted to get more out of the day, we went to Dharavi, to see what makes the slum economy tick. What a great visit, even though it was completely unplanned. We went to Dharavi Art Room, to meet Himanushu and see the great work he is doing with children and women. We saw the papad-making (cooperative model) and how that worked. We walked into a "multiplex" to watch the migrant population enjoying a Nagarjuna movie. We saw the recylcing industry, garments industry, and all the units busily at work. We met Fahim, who I have been mentoring now for several years. Fahim told the story of how he set up and grew his slum tour company 'Be the Local'.  We walked through narrow alleyways, seeing how people lived. All in all, it was quite a day!