The book is a tribute to the author’s birthplace Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. Its title is Bandra Boy, and it’s a historical novel — or better, four short stories about Bandra’s past, starting in the 16th c. and ending in the 1960s.
Bandra has always been a very Catholic place, but not many are aware that it was the Portuguese Jesuits who put Bandora on the map — altering its indigenous name ‘Vandre’. The chief person responsible for this change was the Jesuit Brother Manuel Gomes. He features in the first part of Bandra Boy, together with the more famous Jesuit student and missioner to Japan, Gonsalo Garcia.
When Bandora came under British rule in the 1800s, many things changed. The island city of Bombay was expanding rapidly into a metropolis, with a port and railway terminus, a growing influx of migrants and an educational presence under Jesuit bishops Steins and Meurin. Our township also acquired a new name — Bandra. While most of the Catholic population welcomed British rule and prospered under it, dissenting voices also questioned British hegemony — Joseph “Kaka” Baptista was one. He plays a significant role in the third story.
So Bandra Boy is really not about plot or character, but about setting, the story of a township — how it acquired its distinctive stamp, how it retained its status over the centuries, why it is still the most “happening suburb” of Mumbai. All this is seen and absorbed through the eyes of an ancillary character, Nicholas or “Nikut”, the ‘Bandra Boy’ of the title.
Title: Bandra Boy: Four Stories from Bandra’s Rich History
Author: Myron Pereira, SJ
Publisher: Notion Press, Chennai
Price: Rs. 500