Magical monsoon tour

Magical monsoon tour

What’s good about being caught in the rain without an umbrella? It frees captive eyes to observe things mindfully, minutely. You could be pounding the same streets daily without really noticing the most delicious details. But, forced to slip below creaky shop awnings for shelter from a shower, is to wake to whole hidden universes… from architectural gems in the urban chaos of grotty building facades scrubbed clean by the downpour or seemingly dead earth underfoot come alive with wild flora if you’re luckily stopped nearer green patches. Turmeric flower. Cup and saucer.…Read more
Who were les Filles de la Croix?

Who were les Filles de la Croix?

This is back-to-school month for most kids. Time to tell the story of the origins of my alma mater in Bandra. The beautiful, red brick St Joseph’s Convent hails the order of the Daughters of the Cross (Filles de la Croix), whose nuns were sent to serve across the globe by Mother Marie Therese. St Joseph's Convent chapel “In this Sign, thou shalt conquer… to consider others as your brothers and sisters” was their guiding principle. The sign is said to have suddenly appeared in 1833, to Jeanne Haze and Virginie Sorage, as…Read more
It takes a village to bless a city

It takes a village to bless a city

The 1st of May marks the Feast of the Holy Cross, celebrated throughout the maze of little paths making up Matharpacady. Estimated to be 300 years old, though left with a handful of lovely split-level cottages, the East Indian hamlet nestled in midtown Mazagaon brims with heart and hope.   This is the 148th year since the inception of this cross in 1875. Dedicated to St Roque, patron protector from infectious disease and epidemic, the Holy Cross Oratory was added when the 1896 plague miraculously claimed not a single life in this gaothan. In a throwback…Read more
Persia under the pines

Persia under the pines

I’m in Tel Aviv this week. Mind and mood throwback to a lakeside retreat in Maine twelve years ago. At that unforgettable fortnight-long meet for writers and teachers, convened by the international pacifist organisation, Seeds of Peace, I found myself part of a privileged Indian trio (with Nandini Purandare and Anil Sethi), living and learning with delegates from eight South Asian and Middle Eastern countries. It was the month of Ramadan then. It is now too. Called “Narratives, Moral Imagination, Educational Action”, the conference saw speakers address issues of empathy, leadership, negotiation, non-violent communication,…Read more
Think pink

Think pink

It’s the time of year when Bombay bursts with beautiful summer blooms. With vermilion gulmohar and burnished laburnum, pastel-perfect bougainvillea and dreamy clouds of mussaenda bushes. Lanes crowned by leafy canopies seem to roll out golden yellow carpets underfoot. Tabebuia rosea trees delight morning walkers in Vikhroli. Photo: CHIRODEEP CHAUDHURI Wowing us right now is our very own “cherry blossom” (as the Rosy Trumpet Tree is known in common parlance), soon to shed its gorgeous spring blossoms. The emotions evoked by Tabebuia rosea– one among 109 species of the genus, liningthe Vikhroli belt of the Eastern…Read more
Speak softly love

Speak softly love

Valentine’s is the right day to recap how romantic Bombay once played and pined, danced and dined. To start with my own folks in the late 1950s… The moment my father popped the question and mother murmured Yes, they headed for Bombelli’s at Breach Candy. To seal the deal with happy helpings of some “mooh meetha” of their choice – vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. They weren’t alone. The soaring passion and proposals that Freddy and Betty Bombelli indulgently witnessed, at their Breach Candy and Chuchgate branches, delighted the Swiss restaurateurs year-round.…Read more
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The Dickensian alleys of Sonapur village in Dhobi Talao come alive most interestingly around Christmas. In Wellington Terrace, on the street saluting physician-mayor Simon Fernandes, residents miss their neighbours who moved north to Orlem and Borivli. Such Catholic colonies were once populated enough to have people sleep on corridor landings. Till the 1970s the wadi hosted festive dances on a wooden floor. Our Lady of Dolours Church here was a cemetery, then a chapel before attaining church status. At Kaizer Building facing it, parishioners C D’Souza’s confectionery introduced sweets like bibinca, bolinhas, dodol,…Read more
The Yogi and the Musician

The Yogi and the Musician

We all live surrounded by history. The street I am on, once housed the Bhulabhai Desai Memorial Institute, honouring the jurist-philanthropist who has the road named after him too. Nestled in the Art Deco-designed Desai family bungalow called Hasman, at 89 Warden Road, in the 1950s the institute brilliantly represented classicism and modernism of the Indian arts in the widest sense. On featuring it as the city’s mid-20th century crucible of culture and forerunner to the NCPA, I received this interesting photograph from my friend Soonoo Taraporewala. It shows the violinist Yehudi Menuhin…Read more
Indian women on Venus

Indian women on Venus

Do you know, three Indian women are on Venus? Well, their names grace a trio of craters on the solar system’s hottest planet. All identified craters here bear names of women who have made outstanding contributions to their respective fields. From Left to Right - Anandibai Joshi, Pandita Ramabai Medhavi and Dr Jerusha Jhirad Listed among nomenclature approved only by the International Astronomical Union are our country’s three remarkable achievers. The Joshee, Medhavi and Jhirad craters honour Anandibai Joshi (this official nomenclature spells her last name with a double “ee”), Pandita Ramabai Medhavi and Jerusha Jhirad. Anandibai…Read more