A Little Walk, A Secret Garden

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It’s what they’d call a “gully”. It doesn’t really have a name. “Off Pali Mala Road,” the residents will mumble, grudging your curious nudging. Barely a few feet wide, a tributary that seems to absent-mindedly wander off Pali Mala, it winds into the old village behind The Bagel Shop. Some of the village has unfolded into tall buildings. SUVs have to suck their bellies in as they squeeze through. It was never meant to be a road.

Walk through. The lane curves a little, this way and that. Straight roads are for modern times. This lane still remembers Old Bandra.

There is no security guard to tell you you can’t drink out of your coffee flask here.

Before the cul-de-sac ends in a high gate is another gate on your right. You tentatively walk in. It looks deserted. You’ve heard the sounds of children whooping. You’ve heard a ball being kicked and young men good naturedly cussing at each other. You thought the wind was playing ventriloquist.

Up the stairs, cut out of the original red mud of Pali Hill, is a little clearing for games. And seating! In the shade of old trees. Bring some mosquito repellent and a book. There is no security guard to tell you you can’t drink out of your coffee flask here.

Later, if they are open, you may want to wander into the gates that lead to the church and school of St Anne’s. The statue of our Lady of Sorrows (or, as I used to call her, Moby’s Natural Blues Lady) was taken from the Calvary chapel on the other side of the hill. That chapel is probably now rubble under a high-rise. Opposite this you’ll see a sprawling one-storey villa with latticed balcony rails and the sort of rambling, au naturel garden that is too big to manicure. It belongs to an old illustrious family of Bandra. The huge ornate villa is called “Bubble”.

The park is usually empty except for a few children kicking a ball around. This evening, my coffee is hot. I finish my book and walk down quietly. Back to a road with a name.

Off Pali Mala Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050