Bombay Balchao – Jane Borges


‘It brought alive the city I know and call home—landlord-tenant fracases, collapsing buildings, chaotic markets with loud bargaining, evenings marked by the cycle bell of paowallahs with “an assortment of breads, khaaris and nankhatais in tarpaulin bags” and the never-ending water problems.’ Huffington Post

‘Jane Borges, in her debut novel Bombay Balchao, examines an interesting, often-stereotyped community: the Catholics (and, even more specifically, Goan Catholics) of Bombay.’ – The New Indian Express

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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.



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