“Back then, the fair had another charm,” reminisces Mahim resident Yvonne Alphonso (54), staring at a three-decade-old photograph of herself and her husband, Francis (59) taken at the Bandra fair.
Shot at a photo studio, a unique feature at the fair those days. “Today, what you get at the fair is what you get at any other shop,” said Alphonso, a sales officer with a pharmaceutical firm.
For a few years now, Alphonso has only gone to Mount Mary’s Church and given the fair a miss.
“The stalls are crammed with Chinese products,” said Sahar resident Salvador Monteiro (47) who took his two children to the fair last Sunday.
“Makeshift tents displayed mirrors which made you look long-faced, stubby-faced, slim…” he recalled. “The ‘well of death’, a wooden pit where a motorcyclist rode, risking life and limb was a major crowd-puller.”
“I liked only the video games,” said Monteiro’s son Abner, a Class 8 student of Holy Family School, Chakala. Abdulbhai, who has been setting up his cane and jute products stall for the last 40 years, reiterated the view. “The canes were a specialty, especially for mothers to intimidate children... Today, they hardly sell,” said the 70-something trader.
A few things are still unchanged. Soap bubbles still float around and Goan sweets like kadio bodio are still popular.
“The photo studios, funny mirror stalls and the well of death are passé. I have worked at some of them,” said a 60-something stall attendant. Told to regale us with details of stalls that were a thing of the past, he declined. “Abhi bijji hoon (I’m busy now),” he said, showing mechanised toys and an assortment of foreign chocolates to a customer. “But, this is not what my Bandra fair was like,” said Alphonso. “The old charm is missing.”