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Founding Families of BIS

Anaaya Shah

On the first Sunday of August, every month, a group of harmonica players gather to play for everybody in the Hanging Gardens. My family and I went to the park and chanced upon Mr. Dilip and a few of the harmonica players.

Upon further inquiry, it turned out that Mr. Dilip D'Souza’s parents were part of the founding members of BIS. Today, he has joined a music group called Mumbai Harmonics which consists of nearly 35 members. He has also authored a book titled “The Deoli Wallah.”

Mumbai Harmonics started with only 6 or 7 members in 2014, but they have grown greatly, and people from Kandivali and Navi Mumbai have joined as well. Once, Atul Mishra, a passionate music enthusiast, called a few harmonica players to his home near Hanging Gardens simply to jam. It was so much fun that they decided to meet up more regularly and play together. Over time, they decided to meet up on the first Sunday of every month in Hanging Gardens. Some of the members, who lived in Bandra, decided to meet up and do the same in Patwardhan Park on another Sunday of the month. This practice continued uninterrupted for 5 years till the pandemic brought it to a standstill. Of the 35 members, 33 play only different brands, sizes and keys of the harmonica. Occasionally, someone brings a mandolin or bongo. They play for everybody from a wide range of songs. You can always join in by playing or singing with them. And the best part is, everybody joins in! Children, adults and even senior citizens!

Zai Whitaker, owner of the Madras Crocodile Bank and author of a lot of books, is also a former BIS student and daughter of one of the founding members of BIS.

In the start of the academic year 2020-2021, Ms Whitaker had conducted an author talk for the then fifth graders on her newest book. In the middle of October, my family and I went on a trip to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu. While planning the trip, my mother figured out that the Madras Crocodile Bank was on the way to our destination. And so, a few months back, we visited the Crocodile Bank.

The number of crocodiles in a single enclosure were incredible. In some enclosures there were 200-300 crocodiles . In all, they have over 2,000 crocodiles! The Madras Crocodile Bank also has some other animals like alligators, Green Iguanas, snakes, tortoises and Komodo Dragons! A few of the enclosures contain species that have only 1-2 living crocodiles left alive. A lot of endangered and almost extinct species of crocodiles reside in the Crocodile Bank. Some extremely cool sights to see there are the snake venom extractions, baby crocodiles and injured crocodiles. Most tortoises that live there are older than 100 years old. The oldest tortoise is 200 years young. The Madras Crocodile bank is home to a lot of animals and endangered species.

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