Bombay was the city everyone came to in the early decades of the nineteenth century: among them, the Goans and the Mangaloreans. Looking for safe harbour, livelihood, and a new place to call home. Communities congregated around churches and markets, sharing lord and land with the native East Indians. The young among them were nudged on to the path of marriage, procreation and godliness, though noble intentions were often ambushed by errant love and plain and simple lust. As in the story of Annette and Benji (and Joe) or Michael and Merlyn (and Ellena).
Lovers and haters, friends and family, married men and determined singles, churchgoers and abstainers, Bombay Balchão is a tangled tale of ordinary lives – of a woman who loses her husband to a dockyard explosion and turns to bootlegging, a teen romance that drowns like a paper boat, a social misfit rescued by his addiction to crosswords, a wife who tries to exorcise the spirit of her dead mother-in-law from her husband, a rebellious young woman who spurns true love for the abandonment of dance. Ordinary, except when seen through their own eyes. Then, it’s legend.
Set in Cavel, a tiny Catholic neighbourhood on Bombay’s D’Lima Street, this delightful debut novel is painted with many shades of history and memory, laughter and melancholy, sunshine and silver rain.
Jane Borges is a Mumbai-based journalist. She currently writes on books, heritage and urban planning for Sunday mid-day, the weekend edition of mid-day newspaper. Her debut novel, Bombay Balchão, was published in November 2018 by Westland Books.
In 2011, she co-authored Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands with S. Hussain Zaidi, which was shortlisted for The Economist Crossword Book award. Her fiction has been featured in the 2013 New Asian Writing Short Story Anthology and The Hindu BusinessLine’s BL Ink magazine.