Tag Archives: Bandra

Bring yourself and all your stories!

The Institute of Storytelling For Hope, Endurance and Growth will host a Storytelling Circle & Writing Workshop led by Marlon de Souza at Yogacara Healing Arts, Bandra West, Mumbai.

Building community, one gathering, one story at a time.

Ages 10 and up.

Sunday, July 28. 11 am – 1 pm

Tickets: INR 750.

Get your tickets here: https://insider.in/a-storytelling-circle-and-writing-workshop-jul28-2019/event


At the heart of all our stories is where we are in this moment, this very moment, right now.

When we write our stories, we get in touch with what is sacred, tender and joyful in us.

When we hear each other’s stories, we connect with what is sacred, tender and joyful in others.


Q: What can I expect to learn from this workshop?
A: Exercises and activities in the workshop are focused on helping participants gain awareness of the truth of their own writing and storytelling experience. This workshop is intended to assist participants in beginning to build comfort and confidence in their own writing and storytelling ability.

Q: What is the age limit for the workshops?
A: Today’s workshop is for participants ages 10 and up.

Q: What writing material do I need to bring?
A: A notebook and pen will be provided. You may also write on your mobile device.

…and all she puts her attention to

She sits there in the middle of street, apparently oblivious of who’s ahead of her, who’s behind, and who’s waiting to pass. Tiny in size, enormous in pluck, the kitten sits there, waiting, watching. Watching something on the far left side of the street. So completely focused on the object of her attention, ignoring the traffic around her that you think she’s going to run out of luck on this busy Bazaar Road in Bandra’s main market. A rickshaw attempts to maneuver around her, but there’s no way to do it without driving into her – she’s sitting right in the middle of the narrow street. The rickshaw stops, waiting a few seconds for her to get with it.

A cyclist from the other side, a delivery man whose bike is overloaded with grocery supplies, barrels through, seeing the kitten almost too late. She does not move, does not flinch, she does not even turn her head. Her attention is elsewhere. The cyclist swerves to his left to avoid her and crashes into a bhajiwala (vegetable vendor) and his baskets of produce outside D’Costa Bakery.

Abhey, laudu, tujhe cycle chalaane aate hai kya?! – Eh, dickhead, can you even ride a bicycle?” shouts a pedestrian who’s jumped out the way just in time. 

The delivery man’s bicycle is now entangled between baskets of beets, cucumbers, eggplants and other vegetables. The groceries from his cycle are now littered on the dirty, mucky road, bags of dates, dried apricots, figs, cashews and almonds distributed among the fallen veggies.

Yeh kya kiya tune?! What have you done?!” the incredulous bhajiwala asks the delivery man. “Tune mere poore din ke dhande ki maa-behen ek kar di. Kaun lega abhi yeh kharaab bhaji?! – You’ve screwed my entire day’s business. Now who the fuck is going to buy these dirty vegetables?!”

Baba, sorry, yaar, woh billi thi udhar aur main baas…brother, I’m so sorry, that kitten was there and I just …” the cyclist’s voice trails off as he gathers himself and points to the kitten sitting in the middle of the street.

Arre, billi, filli! Yeh billi toh yahaan ki hai. Tu kahan ka hai!? Aankhen hain ya button?! – Kitten, fitten! This kitten is from here, where the fuck did you come from?!” the bhajiwala shouts, eyes popping out of their sockets, his voice strained. “You have eyes or buttons?!”

Saala, bina dekhke, cycle chalata hai – idiot, without looking, he’s riding a bicycle,” the bhajiwala continues with disgust, as he returns his damaged produce to the now rearranged baskets on upturned milk cartons. People gather around the bhajiwala, some others help the cyclist with the fallen groceries, among them a helpful passerby who samples the figs, asking disingenuously of the delivery man, “Wow, are these figs? Delicious. How much are they?” The hapless delivery man shakes his head and indicates to the passerby to leave it alone, he’ll take care of it.

Through all the commotion, the kitten is unmoved, its gaze locked onto something on the left side of the road. Finally, the rickshaw honks, tentatively at first, then a little more assertively. The kitten ignores the first horn, then gets up and without looking at the rickshaw, calmly walks to the side of the road in its own time.

The Queen of her life...

The Queen of her life…

At the side of the road is a scooter, and a footrest onto which the kitten lifts itself. It’s going somewhere with a purpose, its body crouching forward in hunting mode, still focused on the far side of the road, away from the fabric stands.

...and all she surveys

…and all she puts her attention to

There are no chicken shops here and the fish market is quite a distance away. But something on the left side of the road is of utmost importance to the kitten, enough for all of its energy to become one with it. It doesn’t matter in the least that neither you nor I know what that something is. It is enough right now that the kitten knows exactly what it wants. And, as it is wont to do whenever you call its name, the universe has rearranged everything else in response.

© 2019 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.


It’s 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) on a sweltering Friday afternoon. Mumbai in May is more intense and humid than any other time of year. The monsoon next month will bring much needed relief. Even the birds in the trees seem to be saying so.

I’m early for my physiotherapy appointment – after years of sitting behind a desk for a living, I’ve recently exuberantly embraced a rather intense level of physical activity. My body is not fond of the enthusiastic embrace. “No thanks, buddy. What’s the hurry?” my body’s been telling me. “After being sedentary for so long, how about we ramp things up a little bit slowly, yes? Then we can get intense, okay?” But I didn’t pay much attention.

After a couple of months of sending fairly clear and polite signals, my body says, “That’s it! Enough.” And with all the clarity in the world, it pulls the slow the f*** down lever. It usually wins this exchange. I’d like to continue to be in a healthy relationship with my body for a long, long time. Rest of my life is what I’m thinking. So, here I am at the front door of the physiotherapy department at Holy Family Hospital in Bandra, Mumbai.

Just outside the front door, a dog is taking shelter in the shade provided by an overhanging construction canopy. I’ve seen this dog before on the hospital grounds – in the evenings, I’ve seen it hanging out in the parking lot. During the day, it takes refuge from the heat under a canopy like this, or below the trees near the main gate. It’s calmly asleep amidst the noise and bustle from the hospital grounds. Feet kicking slowly in a dream, peacefully asleep.

Unlike me, this dog will not be going through those doors for a physiotherapy session – it has already learned to listen to its body when it speaks. But I don’t feel hopeless. I’m actually feeling quite fortunate – here’s this dog showing me how to be long after I’ll be done with physiotherapy. It’s a very good day.

© 2019 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.

No red carpets here

A brown carpet made of jute fabric sort of says Welcome to My World on a road being dug up in Sherly Rajan, Bandra. Mumbai. Maybe all the digging is for a telephone or television cable, maybe it’s for a water main, maybe it’s for construction.

Or maybe it’s just because in Mumbai, utility companies and their contractors love to dig up roads perennially to keep themselves in business.

IMG_8983A steamroller is parked not far from the action, its driver engaged on his mobile phone. Maybe he’s chatting with his family, maybe he’s watching a movie, maybe he’s gossiping with other steamroller drivers.

Further down the street, a bunch of managerial level utility company employees debate the pros and cons of the ditches they’ve dug, after they’ve dug it. First dig, then discover. Life, unfiltered, in Mumbai.


© 2019 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.

Life lessons from street children in Mumbai


© 2019 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.

Old places, new memories

img_7650-e1554568974654.jpgI’m done with the yoga class in Bandra, Mumbai. I’m hungry now, even though I ate breakfast not two hours ago. I walk a few minutes down Perry Cross Road, in the direction of a bakery, past St. Paul’s Road where my long dead grandfather used to live in his big bungalow. In front of a low-rise building is a man in a security guard’s uniform, with a big red tikka on his forehead, the marking Hindu men wear after a puja. In his right hand is a bright red handkerchief. He’s mumbling something, it seems, until I realize he’s chanting prayers as he stands outside the gate of the building where he’s employed. I smile at him, he smiles back, eyes twinkling, hands folded in a namaste. I keep smiling and I keep walking. India is a land of colorful people with fascinating sights everywhere. I keep walking but I’m riveted by this man, his colors, his smile, his kind eyes. I’m compelled to turn back.

I walk back to where the man is standing. We begin talking and I extend my hand in a handshake. He shakes my hand, then takes it in both his hands and bows down slightly, touching his forehead to the back of my hand. I, in turn, take his hand in mine, bow down slightly and touch my forehead to the back of his hand. Then he folds his hands in a second namaste, which I return, while he’s looking kindly at me all this time. Harihar Prasad Borthiya. From Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, a northern Indian state, the most populous, a state from where millions of villagers arrive in Mumbai every year in search of work. Most of them find work as laborers, rickshaw drivers, watchmen – security guards, and often, as jacks of all trades.

Harihar Prasad Borthiya has been coming to Mumbai for almost thirty years now, since 1990, a few months, a few years at a time.

“I come, I go, I come for a few months, then I go for a month to the Ganga river. Now, in this building now, I am working for three years,” he says. “I just came back again two months ago. Then I’ll leave next January to go to the Ganga river.”

He’s seventy-two years, he tells me in Hindi. Seven two, he repeats in English to make sure I got it right.

He has two sons in Mumbai, both drive cars, chauffeurs for well-to-do people. One lives and works on Mount Mary Road, near Bandra Bandstand, the other works near Bandra talab, the big pond near Bandra train station.

He has a small room at Bazaar Road, the road that goes through Bandra’s main food market, winding its way through the fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry and fish markets. The room at Bazaar Road has a small stove to cook food. So you live on Bazaar Road, I ask, to confirm.

“Yes, that’s where I do my night duty.”

Aren’t you working here during the day, sir? Day shift here and night shift there?

Yes, I go there in the evenings, do night duty there. There’s a young man who brings food there. 8 am to 8 pm here, 8 pm to 8 am at Bazaar Road.”

I enjoy my sleep and don’t function well without a good night’s rest. I wonder aloud how and when he manages to sleep.

“Well, the night duty is not so stressful, I can take it a little easy, everyone’s asleep, not many visitors to that building, so I get some rest.”

No home in Mumbai, then?

Home? No home in Mumbai. Day shift here, night shift at Bazaar Road. A working man works all the time. The small room I have there is enough.”

Shower? Toilets?

Oh, there’s one there, there’s one here. I can go anywhere. I spend the night there, I take a shower at 5 in the morning, I give thanks to God, do my morning puja and I leave there around 7:30 am. That way, I’m here for my day duty by 8 am. I eat lunch here, dinner there. Lunch is daal chawal (rice and lentils), night is rotis (whole wheat flat bread) and vegetables.”

“But I have a home in Lucknow,” he adds, coming back to my earlier query. “I go to the Ganga river every few months. My wife is there, I have three daughters-in-law there. Two sons are here, one son is in the village. One daughter-in-law came here to take care of her husband, my son. But she left after three months,” he says with a laugh.

“It wasn’t working out for her. Dehaat ke rehne waale log shahar ko kam pasand karte hai – country people don’t care for city living that much. That’s why even my own wife came here and after two, three months, she said, chalo, main ghar ja raha hoon – okay then, I’m going home to the village.”

He tells me that when he goes to the village, he stays there for at least a month, sometimes two. Job security is not an issue, he’s been coming to Mumbai for thirty years, and even in this place, when he comes back after two months, they remove the temporary watchman and he’s back at his job.

I ask him if I can click his photo.

“My photo? Saab, I’m not a movie star, sir. I’m just a working man. Who will want to see my photo?” he says with a laugh.

Photos clicked, selfies done, we part ways with another namaste, another taking each other’s hand to our foreheads with regard.

Further down, on the road to the bakery, I pass Theresa, the Catholic woman from my erstwhile parish who used to talk to herself on the street, back when I was a little boy. I remember the words of my aunt back then, stay away from the mad people, who knows what trouble they’ll bring. Theresa is older now, gray-haired and several wrinkles, still talking to herself and cursing out anyone who dares to make eye contact. I look at Theresa and I don’t see anyone bad, just a person muttering to herself out loud, while many of us mutter to ourselves in the apparent privacy of our minds.

© 2019 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.