On my last day in Bombay, I visited Khotachiwadi, an old neighborhood with Portuguese-style houses in a labyrinth of little lanes. When you are inside this little neighborhood, all the chaos and commotion of Bombay falls away. The lanes are so narrow no car can enter, which keeps it wonderfully quiet here.
This garland maker sat right outside Khotachiwadi on a bustling road. He strung together yellow and orange marigold, blood red chrysanthemum, fragrant jasmine and rose petals to create his garlands.
I was at Khotachiwadi on a very special day: The very last day of the festival of Sankranti, when kites are flown. Kiteflying in India isn’t just about getting a kite high up in the sky. The manja or thread that the kite flies up on is coated with a mixture of rice glue and very finely powdered glass. and adults gather on rooftops, fly kites and cut fight kites in the sky and cut each others kites down. This guy on the balcony didn’t have much luck. He got 2 kites up in succession. Both got cut down, which made him curse out loud.
This sketch has a little boy at the end of the alleyway. There were so many gangs of little boys running around the lanes of Khotachiwadi while I sketched. They watched the sky very carefully and as kites got cut down and tumbled down into alleyways, they ran to rescue them and add them to their collections. I’ve been told my dad was an expert at flying and cutting down kites as a kid. He lived in a wadi right by Khotachiwadi. Maybe he was just like these kids, tearing through alleyways, fighting other ids over the brightest colored kites and amassing huge collections of them as they got cut down by other kites.
Time to say goodbye to Bombay and go to Goa. I love Bombay. I lived here when I was in school, and I miss this city that most reminds me of my other favorite city, New York.