13

Of Mumbai rains, rails and ruination.

For the uninitiated(you shouldn’t be, and should read ALL my posts), I am from Pune, Maharashtra, India. Mumbai is 3 hours away and is quite easy to get to by trains, buses, shared cabs, and even flights. Yet, I avoid going there if it’s in my hands, which usually is not. I have to take a lot of my flights to and from Mumbai, and a lot of my visa work happens there. I just got back and had crazy Mumbai experiences in just one day. Everything was annoying and irritating, except the people. The people of Mumbai save the city, while the people from Pune(including, yours truly) are what takes the city down. All because of the torrential downpour and all that goes wrong with the city right away.

The rains! Holy moly! Now, I have mentioned earlier about how my feelings have turned around about rains, ever since I left Lonavala. I miss them, and when it rains the little bit in SD, I enjoy them. But Mumbai rains, are not rains. They feel like a punishment. I am not talking about the Sealink, Worli seaface, South Bombay kind of rains where people instagram rainy pictures with #mumbairains #rainandchai and all that fancy stuff that goes with it. I am talking about the ‘plastic bags floating in murky brown water and the constant feeling of something brushing against your leg’ kind of rain.

We had to go to Mumbai and reach somewhere right by 10 am, and so we left Pune well in time by 6 am. We were on the expressway and it was gorgeous everywhere! Lush green mountains, foggy valleys, milky waterfalls cutting the landscape in stripes, painted a beautiful scene and made for a wonderful drive. I was quite excited about the drive with that kind of a scene. That was, until we got to Mumbai. Our cab slowed down to a snail’s pace, and the rain that was rain earlier, turned into splashes of buckets. Within a couple of kilometers, we got stuck in knee-deep water. It was 9 by this time, and tempers were flying high, all mine. I was starting to panic and I was folding up my pants to get ready to walk the last couple miles if I absolutely had to! We could see some cars, bikes and a bus dying in the water and starting a terrible traffic jam. Somehow, we got through that terrible stretch and managed to reach our location in time. After a while, my mom called and told us about a bridge collapse in Andheri. And this driver forgot that he was driving a double decker bus and rammed it into an overhead horizontal barricade, thankfully without injuries to anyone.

My question is, HOW? How does this happen to Mumbai year after year? Every year the corporation claims that they have worked on the drains, the potholes, and consulted the meteorological department to plan well in advance for the monsoons so that they don’t wreak havoc on the city. Yet, that is all that happens. The authorities have an equal hand with the crazy monsoons to ensure that public life is disrupted. Specially after the deluges every year that claim lives, and the horrible footbridge collapse incident from last year, the blame game that goes on between state government, railway department and Mumbai corporation, is pathetic. Until tonight, rail officials and municipal corporations have been busy passing the responsibility to each other. While all this goes on, the common man suffers. Due to the closure of a lot of train tracks due to the bridge collapse, millions of people haven’t reached home yet.

This is a sorry state of affairs, and nobody knows how to solve it because the people responsible for solving it, don’t give a damn. Until they do, Mumbai people will deal with the rains in their amazing creative ways and their extremely helpful natures. I have heard powerful stories of human chains, and strangers coming together to help people through the floods. While the authorities slumber, the common man sweats.

Until then, good luck to me fishing for my floating flipflops, each time I go to Mumbai during monsoon. Well, atleast my feet did not get dirty in Mumbai. There was constant flowing water to wash them clean. 😉

18

Sketching characters

I was talking to Moo the other day about Mumbai and I told her how I feel some cities have such a character built into them and it is very easy to think of it in a particular way. Both of us have lived or are living in a place which is like a mixed pot and doesn’t have that ‘backstory’. The very next day, my conversation with Tatsat lead us to the same route. He said that even if places are different, people are the same. Well, I am still drawing up my conclusions about that. I have had very bitter experiences with people from a certain region at different points in my life. I cant help but judge, but still I would rather not. I am still learning. I have had sets of similar experiences from people where they belong to a particular city/state. But I am not sure if i want to generalize. Just for the heck of it, I thought if my favorite cities were people of my age-group, how would they be….

Pune : Full of youth and gossip, who dresses up in jeans/shorts and a cute top daily, club wear on weekends, and in beautiful suits and sarees complete with bangles and bindi on every festival. Knows how to balance late night movies with classes early morning. Goes with parents for Ganpati darshan and enjoys walking on the streets of Camp with a litchi juice from Marzorin. Is a pro at balancing the old with the new.

New Delhi : Walks around in an artfully ripped jeans and kurta and goes for cold beer-clubbing and lassi-tikka nights with equal gusto. Enjoys jogs early in the morning at India Gate and goes shopping at the high-end retail store as well as cheaps out for the trendiest stuff at Sarojini nagar. Can quote Marx and Premchand at the drop of a hat. CP and Def Col have a special place in their hearts. Goes to weddings in bling that can put Jay-Z to shame.

Mumbai : Has learnt to jump from the running local train in high heels, laughing along with the gajra clad bank-aunty who gets in daily at the borivali station. Loves having corn at Marine Drive and enjoys wine tasting festivals. Plans for Goa/Lonavala/Matheran trips every month with friends. Binge-watches Game of Thrones and has mastered the art of ignoring daddy when he goes ‘aa su che/ he kay aata naveen/ kya hai yeh/ what is that!’

San Diego : Switches up between dreadlocks and free flowing curls every now and then, irrespective of gender. Shorts with flip flops is a staple costume, be it at school or working at Qualcomm. An 18 deg C temperature needs a hoodie and a 21 deg C temperature require shedding of clothes. Usually has a wide selection of barbecue material and sunscreens. Home will usually have a bong, surfboard, classical rock record collection. Avocados are treated as lovers.

New York City : Has mastered the art of calling a taxi, while balancing an ipad, a newspaper, a bagel and a Dunkin’ Donut/Starbucks coffee cup. Teeters around in sharp suits and Jimmy Choos on weekdays and takes lunch breaks in the Central Park. Enjoys mimosas and brunches on weekends. Knows subway routes like the back of their hand, just like the distant cousin Mumbai. Enjoys art and movies and some old school hip hop dancing.

London : Can sport a blue punk rock bob and ironed straight hair with equal ease. May be seen in a leather jacket or a very classy trench coat. Enjoys reading during the tube rides and likes her tea with a hint of lemon and a dash of sugar. Has her fix of Kababs and Saag-Paneer once a week courtesy her South – Asian friends. Scoffs at ‘American slang’ on the other side of the pond. Was glued to the tv when the royal wedding was on live.