Winter Chills Mumbai!

Mumbai in Winter 2010

I took the picture above today morning from my apartment’s balcony… and the time was 8:30am!!! I haven’t seen such fogs in Mumbai. Is it global warming or global chilling?

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A Mistake is Making me Sad!

I was travelling on a public transport bus to the office today. The bus was already crowded and many commuters were standing. Two seats ahead of where I was standing, I saw a short lady struggling to keep her feet on the ground. She was obviously in lot of discomfort. I felt bad that other people seating were not willing to help her. Then I saw a young man seating on a seat reserved for ladies. That sight irked me. I could not see the woman struggle more and I shouted at the man occupying the seat meant for her.

“Bhaiyya… zara ladies ko baithne do.”

The man twitched a bit, tried to turn around. But then decided against it and sat where he was. The lady waved her hand towards me as if she was suggesting me to let it go. But I was not prepared. There was a lady standing in discomfort and there was a man conveniently occupying her place. I had to confront him. I stepped up and patted on his shoulder while the lady curiously looked at me, as if she feared a quarrel was about to break. I moved up a step further and started speaking as the man started to turn towards

“Bhaisahab aap ladies… oh… I aa… I’m sorry!”

Little did I realise that the man was blind. The lady had voluntarily offered him the seat while many healthy men sat and slept else where. I felt very sad. Very very sad! I should not have confronted him.

Back to Public Transport

Yay! …and I’m happy about it.

Picture Courtesy: Flickr

The post I wrote about the car pooling received good response and reviews. People commented and also spoke to me about it. But despite that, I didn’t receive a single request or offer for Car pooling. So with all the tyrannical thoughts about obtrusive foot stepping fellow commuters and after vehemently denying my own call for going the ‘public’ way, I finally stepped on the road instead of driving on it.

I had a trial run two days back and it turned out to be great. It was a combination of MSRTC and BEST. Without denying the fact that MSRCT bus quality is still painstakingly pathetic, BEST has upgraded its fleet like any thing. MSRTC buses are like those old wary horse riding warriors. They are effective, they are fast, but they never give you the comfort feeling that you are safe in their arms. Anyway…

So coming back to Public transport, especially buses, I think every one of us should think about it. And for all you people living in Thane, especially on GB road and travelling to Andheri daily, BEST has launched a new bus from Bramhand Estate to SEEPZ via GB road, Dahisar Check Naka and WE highway. I know for sure there are many more desirable routes BEST has launched.

BOSS! You gotta give a chance to Public Transport. East or west BEST is best! Truly!

One Year After Attacks, Have We Moved On?

In another 4 days, the dreaded terror attack on Mumbai will complete one year. A night when a handful of gunmen from across the border held the city at gunpoint will be remembered again. It was an incident, which changed the life of many people. But has any thing really changed otherwise?

As an after effect we saw both CM Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy CM & Home Minister R R Patil being removed from their posts. The ruling Congress party was flayed, the intelligence agencies were questioned, other political parties were criticized, Raj Thackeray was ridiculed. The people of Mumbai gathered together for a solidarity march at the gateway of India. The protests arose, the cause was raised and gradually every thing died a slow painful death. Is it an irony? I don’t think so…

The only terrorist captured alive is still living in the Arthur road jail without much discomfort. The perpetrators and conspirators are freely roaming around in Pakistan. We are (still) waiting for US to help us.  Congress came back to power both at the centre and state assembly. Vilasrao is enjoying his stint as the union minister for heavy industries, R R Patil is back at the helm of home ministry, Raj is back and busy fighting for the Marathi ‘language’ rather than the people, conducting gheraon and angry protests on issues as trivial as debating on ‘Why Hindi is not a national language’. Shiv Sena, now led by a much mellowed Uddhav Thackeray is criticizing the legendary Sachin Tendulkar because he put India ahead of any one else. It looks like they are coming back to the vandalizing best. The men who could have, should have and must be protecting us from the possible attacks, the Police are busy pointing fingers at each other, one year after we were attacked.

Nothing has changed for a normal Mumbaikar like me… and nothing ever will. Terrorism, in my opinion, is a secondary problem for us. We are battling more than that every day, every month… the ever increasing population on roads, trains and buses, the sky rocketing property prices, the water and power crisis, substandard infrastructure and a slowly retreating ghost named recession. Every day journey to the office seems like a solidarity drive.

I think Mumbai is ready for another attack. Any takers?

R A N D O M: Part III

I was just wondering in the morning today. The genie in the bottle must be really cramped for space. Is it not? The way we are cramped for space here in Mumbai? But they (The genies) are shown to have enjoyed a really good living in there. They seem to have a lavish living room and such good homes. Alright wait! I guess I know the secret. If you reduce yourself to a miniature size, you might do wonders with the available space you got. So why not I reduce myself to one fourth the size of what I am. Then I can transform my apartment into a duplex, or even better- a palatial bungalow!

Oh well! I think its either the Liril 2000 or the shower cabinet in my bathroom. Either of them is having a damaging effect on my brain. After all reducing myself will not reduce the size of the world. Is it? Ha ha, this looks like a joke straight from the ‘Khichadi’ or ‘Sarabhai’ serials. 😛

Coming back to the space problem in Mumbai. There is a home available for every one here. Yet every one feels cramped. Although every one wants to stay as close to the root hub, not all can afford it. So why not actually have a rule to construct affordable housing in almost every area? For every 10 premium buildings, we should have one low cost housing colony. It should constitute high rise towers and be designed in such a way that maximum space is utilised for living.

I guess some thing is wrong with the Garnier shampoo as well. What the hell am I talking? Do we really have so much space in Mumbai left to be constructed? And what about the traffic problem? Okay let me suggest. I say levy an additional tax for driving cars during peak hours on busy roads. At the same time, fine people who do not use car pool despite being possible. Encourage use of buses and trains.

Gosh! Even the Gillette shave gel is troublesome.

26th July 2005

Mumbai was submerged under water four years ago on the very day. It was raining on the this day this year as well. But not as much as it rained that day. I was sitting in my balcony with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, around 4pm, and I remembered what I was doing at the same time 4 years back. Even the memory thrilled me. 🙂

mumbai_26th_julyIt was about a little more than 3pm. I was working on some order forms in my office in BKC when we saw the sky tearing apart. Ours was a complete glass covered building. So we could see that lot of people were on the streets and trying to catch whichever mode of transport they could to rush back home. My company’s boss suddenly realised that it was a panic situation. So we all were advised to go home. But them I was a newly joined employee. So I stayed back with some other dare devils. 🙂  I stayed in Vile Parle then, not too far by Mumbai standards. But I was getting worried, looking at the water logging below. Finally at 4, a colleague offered me to drop till Kala Nagar on his bike. The BKC area was fine, but when we reached Kala Nagar, the junction was already under knee deep water. Lot of people were wading through that mini pond and I joined them as well. By then we all knew we have to walk to our houses, wherever we stayed. Some people stayed as far as Virar. And we didn’t know how long it will rain and what lay ahead of us. It was terrifying!

The mob decided to walk on the middle of the road, each one elevating him/herself as high as possible. The slope of the roads took the water away from the center towards the footpaths, sweeping beneath our legs. We all were trying to be careful not to bump into a pothole or worst, an open manhole. As we crossed the Kherwadi junction, the water level started to rise little above our knees. I could see people trying to ply their cars through the water, and struggling. We all decided to take the Vakola flyover. We could all see the cars, buses and all types of vehicles stranded on the approach. Obviously there was no scope to move ahead. Atop the bridge I saw my boss’s boss with a couple of more colleagues in his car. They asked me to join them. But I knew, stopping was no option. I tried calling few people from my mobile. But to no avail. The mobile too was all wet. So I switched it off and bid it good bye, thinking it was now gone. (But later it rose to the challenge).  The scene below the flyover bridge was absolutely terrifying. I could only see buses parked, flooded till just a little part of the windows and their roof tops visible. That meant the water level was way above my height. Slowly we came to Agripada where the flyover starts descending. We could see the water below, but couldn’t make out the depth. All we needed to do was take a wise decision.

26 JulyWe knew that the area just before and near the domestic airport was on elevated ground. So the water logging could only be for a part, may be a kilometer or two. Some people suggested that we hold hands, make a chain and then move ahead. So this way we can stay together and also pull a person out if the water is too deep. So we started. I had a middle aged short woman behind me and a teenage boy in front me. Slowly we got inside the water. The water level started rising from ankle deep to knee deep to thighs till the time our waists were also submerged. But we all were courageous. I could hear some people shouting religious chants such as ‘Har Har Mahadev’ or ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’. I joined the chore too. Then a point came when water rose to my chest level. I froze in the middle of the journey. It was getting dark. I could make out that the clock must be past 6. The rain hadn’t stopped and the wind was making it even worse. For the first time in my life I was not sure if I could survive the ordeal. A push broke the stream of my thoughts. The woman behind me shouted, ‘Pray your god and keep walking!’. I turned back to see that she was almost neck deep inside the water. But she was exceptionally brave.

We kept walking very slowly for another hour before we could make out that the water level was going down. We could see the airport now. ‘Yay!’, I thought. My house was now near. I turned back to talk to the woman behind me.  She told me that she stayed in Goregaon. She was tired, but she was determined to make it to her house. There are so many brave people around us, I thought. And we dont know them, unless some thing like this happens. 😐

My maternal aunt stays bang opposite to the domestic airport. So I decided to check in there, to make sure every one was safe. To my surprise, I was the first person to reach home. I checked the clock, it was almost 8 and now dark outside. But thank fully every one was safe and eventually all family members made their way back home. Late in the night we  went out on the streets with packets of biscuit, water and home cooked poha to feed all those who were stranded on the roads.

Sigh! Crores of property was damaged, scores of people died. But Mumbai rose to its feet within days. Between such mayhem, there was not a single case of robbery reported or heard of molestation and theft. The good spirit endured and the   memories are now permanently etched.

Please use Footpath

Mumbai_footpathGuys… if you are the guys and girls and ladies & gentlemen who do not use the  footpath, please start doing so for the traffic’s sake.

I stay on the central line of Mumbai, meaning I use the LBS Marg daily to commute home. I find it absolutely irritating most of the times to drive my vehicle using only half of the possible width of the road suitable for driving.
You know why? because the pedestrians choose to walk on the road instead of the footpaths.

I know its not your fault after all. The footpaths are already occupied by the street shops, beggars, the site offices of the construction workers, road side tea stalls and some times full fledged restaurants. Then where will you guys walk on? Middle of the road of course. And then where will we guys drive? in the air?

Is the Municipal corporations of India listening? please for god’s sake, do some thing about the footpaths!