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?

Thank You Phyan

Yesterday the whole of Mumbai was under the terror of Phyan, the dreaded cyclone. It was believed that the Phyan cyclone will hit the costs and create havoc. However nothing of that ever happened. In fact I have a strong belief that whatever the Met department says, it never happens. Anyway.

I’m indeed thankful to Phyan for the beautiful weather. It drizzled whole day yesterday. It meant that October heat has now dissipated and the greens are back again. A warm sunlight has been gracing the city since morning. The temperature is around 25 degrees. A steady breeze is blowing. All in all, it is a fantastic weather today.

Thank you Phyan! Thanks to You…

What Does a Marathi Manoos Want?

… a question that goes unanswered in all the elections. From wherever and whenever the Thackerays started wooing the Marathi junta, I dont really remember one good initiative taken by any one to ask the real ‘Common Marathi Manoos’ as to what his real demands are.

In fact, in between the digging of the cricket pitches, the riotings and the banishing of the so called ‘Bhaiyyas’, the real cause of concern has been getting lost time and again. The situation is that now the real common ‘Marathi Manoos’ doesn’t know where to start and what does he really need from the innumerable political agendas being manifested and bulldozed on his own name. May be he has accepted the silent corrupt (read Congress) over the shouting bigots as his and Maharashtra’s saviour for a better future. Yes, Raj Thackeray has won 13 seats in Maharashtra. We have seen all the talking he did. May be we can see things improving on the ground level too. May be…

Anyway, I’m not spending too much time on who has done what and who wants to do more. I’m just addressing the plain question asked by a ‘common marathi manoos’ and I want you (YOU the reader) to answer it for me.

PS: In my opinion, all a Marathi Manoos wants is better opportunities for him, better living conditions in his own motherland, greater financial stability and peaceful dwelling. And of course he doesn’t like some one else dominating his life. But I’m sure he doesn’t care who sits next to him in his office, whether a Gujarathi or a Bihari.

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.

Golden Oldies

The readership on my blog has recently increased. By that I mean in last 7-8 months, I have had many repeat visitors and the number goes every day. Selfishly assuming that I have been writing good articles from the day 1   🙂   I’m adding few of the old entries that the recent readers might have missed. Enjoy them and sorry for the selfish marketing  🙂

29 1:40 2.2

Weird title?

  • 29- The distance in kilometers I travel to office one way every morning (after dropping Rats to Vikhroli. Return journey is 24.5)
  • 1:40- Time taken on an average to bad day.
  • 2.2- Liters of fuel consumed in a one way journey

Infinite is the level of frustration tackling the traffic.

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.

Mumbai and the MET Department

Mumbai-rainsThey have absolutely no connection with each other. Yesterday morning, Mumbai was lashed with heavy downfall. Lot of people (including yours truly) reached their offices late. Trains were delayed, traffic crawled at snails pace. But I had a good time listening to my car radio for all the 2 hrs I spent in the traffic. One of the radio channel briefly interviewed some Mr. R. G. Sharma from the MET department. While he had no explanation for why the water problem in the city is still on going despite the heavy rains, he did make a point that there was a strong possibility of heavy rains in next 24 to 48 hours. This was at about 10:30 in the morning yesterday. The rains in the city stopped at around noon and there has been a dry period since then. In fact it looks like we might even see a sunshine by afternoon.

Thank you MET department. You guys rock!

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!

The Regionalism

I remember a small but unimportant incident that happened few weeks back. I have recently bought a flat. So while finalizing the deal, we happened to get into a friendly chat with this guy from the builder’s office. In the process we inquired about each other’s home towns. He quickly retorted by saying he is actually from no where. I was surprised, but the reason he gave was right. If you are from Mumbai, you must have read or at least observed a supplement that accompanied today’s TOI. It is about the people and the unique ways of the descendants of the Sindhu Valley, the Sindhi community. Some one probably came up with this ‘novel’ idea of promoting and making every one aware of a community by publishing widely about them. Nothing wrong in it though, I just dont get the big need behind doing so. May be because, like the guy I mentioned above, all of them think they are actually from nowhere? (Since the state of Sindh is now in Pakistan).

Anyway, this post is not about Sindhis. Its about the fact that regional and religious boundaries still divide the minds of people in India. Look at the way the ‘Marathi Manoos’ agenda is driven by the two ‘Senas’ in Maharashtra or the way Mayawati runs the party solely for the backward classes. This is an aboriginal hypothesis. The difference actually egresses from our own mind.Ask a person who he is and he will say he is a Punjabi or a Marathi or a Gujrathi. Thankfully at least the ‘South India’ is united in the eyes of all others above Maharashtra.

I have been talking about it very openly and I keep saying it that division on the basis of religion is an abhorrent deed. We can not grow as a nation till we grow out of our regional bounds. Often as a Maharashtrian I have heard this that since all Patels help a fellow Patel, all Joshis and Kulkarnis should all but support another Joshi or a Kulkarni or a Deshpande. Believe me, this way neither the Joshi will grow nor the Patel… let alone the country.

People, please! Grow out of your regional boundries. The country needs you.