Growing Up In Bandra

All of us, I believe, have a mixed bag of memories; some good ones and others that make you cringe many years later. To say that one has only good memories, whilst suppressing the not so good ones is quite dangerous, to say the least. On the other hand, focusing only on unpleasant events that have occurred is a recipe for cynicism.

Like everyone else, I too have my share of good and bad memories. But in this post and the others in this seven day Write Tribe Festival of Words, I am planning to take a trip down memory lane and write about my growing up in Bandra in the sixties and seventies, when it was still a suburb on the outskirts of Bombay, as Mumbai was then know.

I am aware that writing about the ‘good old days’ may irritate some readers, who believe that there was never anything good about the old days; rather the best days are ahead of us and we must make the best of them. But I maintain that what happened during those days shaped me and a whole generation, enabling us to cope with a rapidly changing world.



Honestly, growing up in the sixties and seventies wasn’t always a bed of roses. I remember that when we first moved to Bandra, the road outside our apartment block was not tarred or paved. And during the monsoons it was a nightmare to walk on these roads, which were slippery as hell.

And walk you did, because owning a car was a luxury. Either you were very rich or you had a very ‘good’ job and the company gave you a car. Today the same road so full of cars, many of which are double parked, that it is still a nightmare walking on that same road.

There were other ‘discomforts’ like rationing of food grains and sugar. More often than not, when you went to the ration shop, you were told that there were not stocks available. And when stocks arrived, neighbors informed you and you left whatever you were doing to go and stand in a long serpentine line outside the ‘ration’ shop awaiting your turn. And quite often, when you ran out of rice or wheat or sugar you went to the ration shop around the closing time, when your entitlement of the ration was sold to you at a premium by an unscrupulous shop owner.

But these discomforts taught one lessons in frugality and prioritizing choices, depending on your hierarchy of needs. If you went to buy a pair of shoes, you bought one pair and returned home, even if you liked two pairs. Why? Because the second pair was not budgeted for by your dad and also because you had to pay for the shoes in cash and your dad may not have carried with him.

Today, with the advent of credit cards, one can buy all the pairs one likes. And if you cannot settle the credit card bill next month, so what? The bank is only happy to rollover the payments. Of course, at an interest rate of three percent a month.

In the next six posts that form part of the Write Tribe Festival of Words, I intend to recollect not only pleasant memories of my growing up days; rather what I also gained from some of the not so pleasant occurrences.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013.


Pic credit: Wikimedia

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64 Replies to “Growing Up In Bandra”

  1. I remember those good old days – the ration shop queues and the paying with cash. True we learned to buy what we need and not what we want. I still ask the same question now when I go shopping – do I really need this? Nice one.

  2. That is indeed a true image of life in the “good old days”. I remember feeling bad that we didn’t have enough cash to purchase the item we liked, we had to settle for the item that fit the cash in hand and of course the budget. This is the first time I am reading you Jose. You are one highly talented couple I must say. 🙂

    1. Jyothi, thanks for the compliments, but I am only the junior partner, when it comes to blogging and writing. Yes, life in the ‘good old days’ was mostly about budgets. And whilst at that time we felt bad, there were lessons which help in today’s context.

  3. This post pushed my heart into a time travel! I remember Dad making lists of things to be bought for the next month and the budget was checked for the same. If it fitted, well, it was great, if not, the item moved to next month. 2 shoes? I guess, we never even thought of buying 2 at a given time! And yes, it was cash always!

  4. These days we go to a shop to collect things we don’t actually need than the ones we need. And those things will remain as junk for a long time till we trash them!

    Looking forward to reading your following posts.

  5. This post took me down the memory lane. The ration shop episode is something we have experienced here in Delhi too. And yes the credit cards have made it possible to get non budgeted things too. But what I feel is because of this kids these days do not value things as much as we did. 🙂

  6. Hi Jose,

    I agree with you that life in sixties and seventies was totally different from what it is today. The case was not only in Bandra but throughout India. We learnt lessons in thrift, frugality and prioritizing through experience and maybe that is the reason we find it easy to adjust to all kinds of situations. Nice write up.

  7. Hi Jose, it’s a beautiful post on the gud ole days and I absolutely love this superb take on the prompt. I love Bandra for its genuine feel and in love with the Christian part of the city which makes the beauty of the place. Love the words of wisdom on rationing and buy one stuff only-I feel that was the best times. Though not born in Mumbai, I love every bit of the city and have amazing memories of Mumbai and Bandra-one of ma fav spot:)

  8. Even if the future is going to be better or best , I feel the bygone days were always Good ol’days and we can never set the clock back. Loved the quaint old cottages of Bandra. I remember when I was in school I used to shop for clothes in Elco market and Linking road with my mom. It was real fun then.

  9. I am trying really hard to resist grabbing those pamplets and calling them to get a credit card. It always helps to remember how i was glad my parents did not allow me to buy impulsively. So you made the first theme as the head theme for the rest of themes? Interesting…Looking forward to them

  10. If I were to take the liberty and describe you in one word, I would say ‘balanced’. The post confirms my belief in this. Your juxtaposition of good and bad memories, weighing them both together, and drawing “sustenance” from the pleasant as well as the not-so-pleasant in equal measure shows to me how you walk the tight rope between yesterday and today, and today and tomorrow. A rope walk that many would sweat about, or crib. Whereas you would make a life’s lesson out of it. I love this post, the photograph and the thoughts it brings to my mind. It also brings another word – Content. Perhaps, I can safely use that word for you too. 🙂

      1. Sir, I did mistake you for your wife. But then, great minds think alike, and write alike too as I see. 🙂 While my ‘description in one word’ was for your wonderful wife, the rest of it is a compliment to the wonderful post above. 🙂

  11. Hi Jose, I think this is the first time I’m reading your work! You definitely should write more. The way you’ve related the past memories to the present issues had me nodding in agreement! I too believe that who we are today is what we’ve taken from the past both good and bad of it!

  12. Your post took me down memory lane Jose.Those days of pecuniary woes couldn’t surpass our fire to prove ourselves. Waiting eagerly to go through all you forthcoming posts 🙂

  13. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your memories of past times and look forward to your future posts. You painted a vivid, interesting picture. Brilliant writing. ♥

  14. Memories, that too of ‘good old days’ are never boring to read 🙂 You took me back to my growing up years in the 80s and I was comparing how things were. We had one pair of shoe for five days of the week and a white shoe for saturdays. And these lasted for years..Now, I have shoe that matches each color of my dress. 🙁 🙂 Waiting to read your upcoming posts too..

    1. Yes, when we go shopping we no longer go to buy a pair of shoes or a shirt. We go shopping, period. For whatever catches our fancy. And if we are not careful, get conned into buying more than you need. And the malls thrive.

  15. Its my first time reading your words too Jose and I’m glad I did!
    I remember standing in the ration line with either my mom or dad to buy wheat for atta and rice!
    And yes, shoes!! we had 2 pairs for school and one good pair for other outings. If the strap got cut, we used to stick it together with a safety pin or glue until we got it fixed by the roadside shoe-cobbler!!
    Thank you for bringing back lovely memories of a precious childhood!! 🙂

    1. Mochis had a thriving business repairing shoes. In fact, a big chunk of their business came from resoling shoes. Of course, the shoe got tighter just when your foot got a little bigger.

      Can’t believe how much things have changed. Today we pick up the phone and call the kirana shop and the wheat or rice or any other provision is delivered with fifteen or twenty minutes.

  16. oh I remember those ration shops from our Chandigarh days too and we used to get basmati rice in ration shops 🙂 I am reminded of the ques for LPG connections as well.
    Yes, 2 shoes at a time was never a possibility or even a thought, now the shoes are not valued even if we buy 4 at a time 🙂
    Such a lovely post.

    1. You people in Chandigarh seem to have been privileged, whilst we in Mumbai received step motherly treatment.

      Don’t recollect ever getting basmati in the ration shop. Actually, the rice on offer as part of the rations was so bad that invariably you paid a premium to the same shopkeeper for something better.

      Yes, now we go shopping for shoes, not a pair of shoes.

  17. I am a 80s kid myself and so probably haven’t seen as much of the ration shop queues as you have, but I do remember where it used to be in my locality and I do remember queueing up for sugar and kerosene. This was such a lovely post which very easily made me talk a walk down memory lane and get all nostalgic. Loved the part where you say that almost everything was rationed back in those days as money was limited, and we all learnt to restrict ourselves within limited means, so unlike today.

    Absolutely loved the fact that you have decided to use ‘memories’ as the main theme and will be treating the rest of the prompts as sub themes, am so sure that I will absolutely love the rest of the series as well, knowing that I am a complete sucker for ‘old memories’ related posts 😀

    It is such a pleasure reading your writing Jose, and this was such a beautiful first post to begin it with.

    1. Actually, this is not the first post. I did write a few post as a part of the AtoZ Challenge in April of this year. But then I went into deep hibernation.

      Maybe, now that I have found a ‘sucker’ who loves reading nostalgic posts, I will write more often.

  18. Wise lessons indeed. Only you know if they served you well. And I think you’re right, some might not see some memories as worth holding onto… but some memories are pearls that help us on our journey ahead.

  19. I agree that we are all a product of our past, our upbringing. It is sometimes scary to see the consumerist attitude in today’s children. 5 year olds can spot the difference between a fake & original Barbie at 15 paces (never mind both are made in the same factory in China!)

    1. Yes, it is scary. When we were growing up, we bought canvas shoes for sports. Either white or brown. A friend was telling me that his son knows which brand and the pattern of the shoes he wants.

  20. Glad your lovely wife made you write. I haven’t met you or Corinne, but your writing style and thought processes are so similar – simple, easy, beautiful and yet so powerful. Look forward to your nostalgic posts.

  21. How nice it is to re-collect sweet/sour memories of our past. Of course I haven’t seen Bandra like that ever in my lifetime, but when am there, I can still see some old buildings and apartments in middle of the modern buildings and glass facades. Truly an interesting post. Loved it.

  22. For me, good ol days was still the 90s… when we used to write to pen pals with actual pen and paper, listen to audio cassettes, clean video heads with sprays… the luxury car was Ambassador 🙂

    1. Writing to pen pals was quite a part of growing up even in the sixties and seventies. I didn’t realise that it continued into the nineties. But getting someone to be your pen pal was like applying for a job; apply, apply, no reply.

  23. I saw the photograph and my heart was already there with you inside that house. It looked so warm even despite me only experiencing the photograph. Despite me growing up pretty much in the nineties I can still relate to a lot of stuff. It is only the last bit of decade that changed it all.

    Will look forward to more of it this week 🙂

    1. Some of those houses still exist, even today. The next time you come to Mumbai, maybe you can ask Corinne to show you these houses.

      Actually, the changes started in the late nineties and have accelerated in the last decade.

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