Monday, May 19, 2014

Mumbai as I see it: 01

Coming to Mumbai was a dramatic story in itself, but pointless to mention for the very obvious reasons. After a journey of around 30 hours (OK, I wasn’t nominated for some award for that), I ended up at a Railway Station called VIRAR at 3:00 AM in the morning. Being a Delhiete, I have more than enough reason to worry for it was a small station where construction was on. Going out of a railway station, in a relatively remote area is the last option you’d consider in Delhi. But I was told that it’s not insane to go out at 3 AM in Mumbai, except if you are extremely unlucky. I have got the address where I had to go so the next thing in my mind was to find an Auto-Rickshaw and haggle with them over the price before getting into the auto. Nevertheless, I got an auto rickshaw in a matter of second and I was dumbstruck when he said he will charge the fare according to meter readings.

What! You have a working meter installed in this vehicle? And more importantly, you are going the make this thing decide how much I have to pay? Who on earth possibly does that? You guys need to be trained by our Delhi Autowallahs. How else you going to learn that engineers haven’t invented this thing to give reading. They should be rather used for flaunting, or just as a symbolic representation- similar to the coin-operated pay-phones in public hospitals. Making these innocent meters is a serious crime, something like child-labor.

Nonetheless, I reached the place and slept like a log. Next morning, I was all set for the usual schedule - quest for breakfast. Oh dear lord! This country needs to set up a constitutional right for opening mandatory Parantha-corner in every street of the nation that would sell Aaloo Parantha in breakfast. We can ensure Right-to-Education and Right-to-Equality thing later. Vada-Paav was the only option that I found which sounds familiar and within the budget for I cannot afford restaurants. Dealing with Marathi-speaking people was another stupid experience. Stupid, because most of them know Hindi -or English for that matter- but still expects you to talk in Marathi. It’s fine that you care so much about your mother-tongue and there is nothing wrong about it, even constitutionally. But if you are expecting me to speak the language I don’t understand, I have only two words for you – Fuck-off. No offence, but I mean it.

Bus-stands have a common sight of people queuing up to board the bus. In Delhi, we rather use Rush-and-crush-to-make-your-way to get into buses. Chaos is the simple solution we offer to all such things. People in Mumbai are always in hurry, even though when they don’t have to go anywhere, perhaps because old habits are highly unavoidable. Talking of habits, the people of Mumbai, like any other cities in Indian subcontinents are bound to wave their hands at buses approaching the bus-stands. They sincerely believe that the bus might skip halting at that particular bus stop and they may end-up getting late for their offices where their respective bosses will relive all his/her anger that they must have accumulated during family fights. So in a way, waving at buses is their defense mechanism against potential victimization of their existence.

Roads in Mumbai are not a thing to be proud of when it is compared with their counterparts across the nation. Or maybe it is. See, if you visit the moon and take a quick look of earth from there, there will be only two things visible: The Great Wall of China and the potholes of Mumbai. Some of them are big enough to be used as a water reservoir to ensure water supply for 1/5th of the city. Mathematically speaking, if you calculate the effective surface of the plain road and that of the potholes, you would realize that on a relative scale, the area of plain road can be ignored for its infinitesimally negligible value. However, people still believe in halting at traffic signals (as far as I could observe till now). Had it been in Delhi, the increase in acceleration is inversely proportional to the time left before change in signal turning green to yellow to red. You see, halting at red light is totally pointless, and dangerous for that matter. In Delhi, you simply can’t afford to halt your vehicle at red light not manned by any traffic policeman. If you do so, you might end up being ran over by the vehicle behind you because not everyone is as stupid to care for traffic rules as you are.

People in Mumbai are the real gem, indeed. Hailed from different part of the country and braced it like their own city is what I liked about the place. A city should be treated like one’s mother and she will repay with equal generosity. However, littering is still a great concern and people are still following the Indian rule of cleaning: your house is not clean until you pass the garbage in your neighbors’ compound. A running life with stagnant lifestyle is the identity of the average Mumbaikars. Change is the only constant and things are actually change at a considerable pace, if you consider the recent history. Mumbai has too much to offer, too many stories to tell, too many things to care about. This is indeed a city of dreams.

PS: Mumbai Local, the lifeline of the city has been deliberately omitted because it is not justified to shorten the legacy due to word limits to keep the post shorter. Next post will be dedicated to the Mumbai local, for sure.

PS2: This post is just an observation and not based on any kind of opinion. Every observation are subjected to reconsideration if needed.

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Bhopal. Delhi. Mumbai. Thrissur, India
A grammatically challenged blogger. Typos are integral part of blogging