Vivian & Myra
Our first stop was Victoria Cottage, the home of Vivian and Myra Pereira, a Catholic couple who have been living in Bandra for about 50 years. We were passing by Veronica Road (not to be confused with Veronica St.) on a lazy Sunday afternoon and stopped to look at the vibrantly graffitied wall next to their gate. Soon, an adorable black lab lumbered out into the yard to sniff out the new visitors. As we tried to get her attention, Vivian came out to see what the fuss was about.
When he saw us, we were greeted with a characteristic Bandra welcome, and he invited us into his quaint living room that was scattered with images of Mother Mary and family vacations. Over Myra’s delicious meatloaf sandwiches and Maybe lolling at our feet, we spent the day chatting about the Bandra that Vivian remembers and the one that his 3 sons have come to know. Despite the changes from a relatively more peaceful and green suburb to a now heavily trafficked and bustling creative centre, Vivian and Myra are still extremely active in the community through things like his ex-student’s association or her catering service. The couple represents the old guard of Bandra; the East Indian Catholic families who have been settled here for centuries, and still bear traces of the Portuguese influence especially in their style of homes and food. Vivian told us Myra’s special recipe for sorpotel, a dish that was originally Portuguese, but now is a Goan specialty made from pork along with the liver, heart and kidney of the pig. It’s a delicacy that they serve at large family get togethers like Christmas. Ranwar, one of Bandra’s nearby “villages” is particularly full of cottages that are reminiscent of the old Portuguese architecture with their tiled roofs and trellised balconies, and a walk around the area is like a trip back in time.
One of the sad changes taking place in Bandra is the selling of these beautiful old cottages to builders for redevelopment. These cottages are a part of Bandra’s charm, so it was great to hear Vivian and Myra proudly tell us how they have refused to sell. They staunchly hold on to this family home and preserve their bit of nostalgia.
During our visit we experienced a typical Sunday in Bandra where neighbours and even strangers stop by to say hello, and time seems to slow down to the pace of an afternoon stroll in Jogger’s Park. 4 hours later one of their sons (dare I say a typical Bandra boy), rode home on his motorbike and walked in giving us bewildered looks, wondering why these two women with the big camera were still in his house…