hen I lived in Bombay in the late ’60s, I was friendly with a family in Juhu. The parents and four children lived in a cottage in the middle of a coconut grove. I spent many enchanted evenings in that cottage at a time when I did not have much money, and money did not matter much. To save 10 rupees or so in taxi fare, I’d hop on a train at Churchgate, get off at Vile Parle station and take the bus rest of the way. That station might have been Andheri, perhaps Santa Cruz. Who knows? Who cares? My train riding days are long over.
The youngest member of that family, Kirin Narayan, is now a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin. In this memoir, she recreates a bicultural and turbulent adolescence in that quirky household. The book is also an acutely observed portrait of a very cosmopolitan Bombay, before it became Mumbai and the thugs took over the city.
The cottage and the coconut grove are no longer there. We now have ugly highrises. The only thing that reminds you today of the Juhu of that time is Prithvi Theatre...