By Marcellus Baptista | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 08, 2018
On International Women’s Day, Opening Doorz celebrates Purerose Baptista. And we get her son Marcellus to write about his mother, who never sees him at night (as he is out partying), nor does she get to chat with him in the morning (as he is catching up on his sleep, or if awake, sending out copies of his parties of the previous night). Purerose has seen the time when Rs. 2 was sufficient to buy your bazaar for the day, Rs. 15 was enough for a pair of shoes, a dress material and a hat. Yes, in those days, people wore hats and not baseball caps with logos… In his inimitable style, Marcellus stitches words that make for an enjoyable copy.
She is 101, going on 102! Yes, that’s right, my mother, Bandra girl Purerose Baptista, is looking forward to turning 102 years old on April 29, 2018.
Two years ago, she was looking forward to living it up in the company of her family and friends at her very old house on Veronica Road in Bandra, as she celebrated her 100th birthday.
It started with a solemn Mass celebrated by her old student, Fr. Joe Abreu who recalled the good old days. Naturally, there was cake, there was a toast, there was a multitude of mirth and merriment, drinks and dinner with near and dear ones. And for those who knew her well it was no secret that she enjoyed her whisky-soda (of course, now a small peg) as she has been doing so for so many years. Last year, as she turned 101, it was the same old story with Fr. Joe Abreu in attendance once again, like a dutiful student who got full marks in class.
It has been a long journey and today in this fast-paced social media world with a bombardment of instant images and messages, it seems just right to reminisce of the good old days.
Naturally, with her age, she is slow in her movements and has to take the aid of a walking stick. Her eyesight is failing and she no longer flips through the morning newspaper to read the headlines and the obituary like she did so daily, without fail, in the past. But one thing is remarkable, her mind is razor-sharp and her memory is unbelievable, making people who are half her age wonder how she could recall incidents so long ago.
She has gone through a lot and seen the changing face of Bandra and beyond. She lived on Chapel Road at a time when just one side of the road had electric supply. Unfortunately, it was not her side that was illuminated, but she smilingly got by with the help of hurricane lamps and reading under the streetlamp. In these days of air-conditioners she recalls that she had a good night’s sleep minus a fan overhead. A plus point in those days was that there were few houses and no high-rise buildings, and no Bandra Reclamation, so you could enjoy the gentle breeze into the night.
Of course, later in life she welcomed electricity at home and listened to the radio much before the advent of television. First, it was black-and-white TV, later colour TV and still later a proliferation of channels with noisy news hours and crazy comedy shows. One show that she really likes was The Bold and The Beautiful and she was upset when they changed the timing and more so when they discontinued its telecast.
In her time, even with buses and taxis around, there were horse carriages. Yes, there were dogs and cats as pets but the sight of pigs and chickens running around in the compound and people waiting at cattle-crossings come to her mind now. She also recalls the time when one would cycle on the roads and on Supari Talao, one would have to share space with buffaloes whilst taking a bath in the water of the talao!
Tweet has taken a different tune now; then it was the sweet sound of a sparrow in the tamarind, love-apple and chickoo trees. Amazingly, Rs. 2 was sufficient to buy your bazaar for the day, Rs. 15 was enough for a pair of shoes, a dress material and a hat. It was a time when people wore hats and not baseball caps with logos. At weddings, the ladies wore hats and mostly the weddings were in the morning with a reception at noon.
She was a teacher, taught at St. Aloysius School and St. Andrew’s School before marriage, took a 25-year break and then went back to teaching, this time at Apostolic Carmel Convent. She first lived on Chapel Road and post-marriage moved to Veronica Road. She has outlived her husband, Faustin Baptista, by 32 years. They were married on November 16, 1941 and he passed away on September 1, 1986.
Well, family and friends of Purerose Baptista are excited as they plan a party for April 29, 2018 on Veronica Road in Bandra. Luckily, it happens to be a Sunday, so perhaps instead of celebrating after eight at night, the party would begin at noon, a sort of brunch affair with guests, old and young, those who have been through the changing times and others who belong to the tweet, instagram and selfie generation. One thing is sure, it does not look that there would be a generation gap as they celebrate the birthday of a Bandra girl turning 102!
(Marcellus Baptista, freelance lifestyle writer, writes on the good things in life, covers the party circuit … it’s a tough life but somebody’s got to do it!)