I moved to India after spending 13 years of my childhood abroad and I had a very different feel for India back then. While I loved my country from heart, the move was not very easy for me. The small streets, the beggars, the train, the crowd and what not, everything made me feel uncomfortable.
But as the years passed and I started accepting the reality of living here, I started seeing these as a part which signifies what Mumbai (Bombay as it was called then) really is. And there is much more to Mumbai than this. The tallest and the most expensive private residential building in the world to the Queens Necklace, the Marine Drive and other beautiful beaches we get as a perk of staying by the bay, the night hustle and bustle from the city that never sleeps, Mumbai has won me.
“Bombay Balchao” by Jane Borges is one such book which will make you miss the old Bombay as it takes you back in time with the stories of Cavel, a Goan Catholic colony in South Mumbai. The chapters are Non-liner and congested with characters, who are from the same building and neighbourhood and the story progresses in time as Bombay turns to Mumbai. Its like some one is reciting their own life story and jumping from one time of their life chapter to another and then going back in time again. The Coutinho family is the centre of the story with every other character sharing some life experience with them.
All the characters have been beautifully created and each one has their own uniqueness which will leave you in awe of some, empathy for the other, some will make you laugh till you can laugh no more while some have their own sad story to share.
Between its pages, the book will make you experience the taste of lip-smacking Goan delicacies. You can actually feel the aroma of the food as you read about it and the yummiest Balchao recipe that has been shared in the end. You will get the feel of Goan lifestyle, festivals, celebrations and food with every turn of the page.
In the end I would say, Jane Borges’ has plated this book with a pinch of humour, a dash of nostalgia and lots of love for the city of Mumbai. With this book you will travel in time from when Bombay turned to Mumbai and the stories in-between of the Cavelites, their memories, their laughter, their unrequited love and loss which will make it difficult for you to put this book down till the last page and then crave for more.
I give it fabulous 5 stars.