Hi, I am Anthol Barrow, part of the communication team at Reddot Foundation. I have been fortunate to be born and brought up in one of the most fascinating suburbs of Mumbai, Bandra. I attended a climate culture art walk programme on 26th Feb organized by the No Footprints Team. This was an incredibly unique experience as it focused largely on the historical knowledge of the Bandra community, some of their well-guarded traditions, and ways of doing things that have their pros and cons today on climate and society.
We started the walk from the famous Aguada de Castella Fort [Bandra Fort as we Bandraites fondly call it] with a fresh vibe of energy and a positive kick start. The walk revealed many unknown facts about Bandra which honestly, had no clue about despite having lived here all my life.
A key aspect I learned is the concept of open spaces for people in India. New York gives each of its residents nearly 26 times the open space each Mumbaikar gets. Shockingly open spaces for Mumbai have just 1 is to 1 square meter per person which is alarming and a cause to work upon but seemingly impossible with rampant construction around us. Despite being a Bandraite, for the very first time, I discovered the open space area called St Stephen’s Steps opposite St. Stephen Church, close to Mount Mary Church which is a recent public space project sponsored by Bombay Greenway, open 24 x 7 for public use at their convenient discretion and also hold/host art and cultural shows.
On seeing the Worli sea link at a closer glance, it dawned on me that infra development is critical, but the outcome should be beneficial to the larger community, and with this, I further reflected on the long term repercussions it had on the local fisherfolk whose livelihood depended on fishing. Looking at the actual number of automobiles that use the sea link [or volume of traffic on the sea link] makes me think that development in any area should be for the larger sections of society especially in a country like ours.
What impressed me the most about the culture walk was the focus on the unique East Indian culture which I am proud to be a part of. I was overwhelmed as my age-old traditions and customs were being glorified and spoken about to so many people who were from different parts of India. We visited the predominantly East Indian area at Ranwar, the beautifully maintained cottages, [some of them classified as heritage in the narrow by-lanes, were fascinating to look at and the facts of the famous bottle masala and 7 day long East Indian wedding celebrations brought back nostalgic childhood memories and the whole experience was an unforgettable one.
Visiting the revered Basilica of Mount Mary brings its unique sense of peace and tranquillity and with it that tradition of lighting candles as offerings. Today as we join hands in creating a cleaner and greener world, better options of saving the environment by using beeswax to make candles, etc. should be seriously considered.
The art display at the junction of B J Road has a depiction of the city submerged in water. Being the last stop it was very insightful as it elicited a volley of thoughts and triggered a genuine cause of concern towards the environment.
This climate walk was extremely informative, and I was left with the thought that while change is the only constant, we need to channelize our modern development plans into conserving the flora and fauna of this beautiful suburb called Bandra which I am and will always be super proud of.
Perhaps I could do my bit and work with the local community that works towards this goal.
The views expressed are that of the writer.