December 24, 2007

Aamchi Mumbai

Of Gods – The visits to Hazi Ali and Siddhi Vinayak were interesting. On the way I picked up some fascinating pieces of information. It seems the road leading to Hazi Ali is under water for a span of time and the visits are obviously barred during those hours of the day. When we went to Hazi Ali, it was at a rush hour and one of us could not take the jostling in the crowd. We returned back half way over the sea and realized that the ‘call’ was yet to come. In Siddhi Vinayak I found a separate enclosure for breast feeding your kids. I think whoever thought of it was amazing. It shows that in India where ‘Godmen’ often rule our minds, the lesser Gods do sometimes care. Siddhi Vinayak actually reminded me of the Saraswati Temple at BITS. Teeming with people, yet quite, tranquil and majestic, it stood with open arms for one and all. The Churches are aplenty in Mumbai and even the smallest of them look beautiful. There is a Japanese Pagoda I saw on the way to Dadar and I think that’s somewhere I have to visit in the months to come.

And of Men – My works takes me to various parts of the town and meet different people. I think that is one thing that keeps me going and ensures that I do not actually dislike the Monday mornings as much as I claim to do. Anyway, ever since coming to Mumbai I have been hearing how Mumbai is a city for the rich but in my day to day work I keep finding examples that clearly says that to live happily ‘All you need is love’. (It is by the way one of my favourite movie taglines). A friend of mine coming into Mumbai called me up to ask if a certain amount of stipend was enough for survival in Mumbai. I agree I was stunned for a moment. Maybe life has been good for me until now and I have not had to worry about where my next meal was coming from, but when people ask if a ‘substantial’ amount of money is enough for survival, I do have my worries. Substantial anyway is a relative term. I was searching for my answer and this answer came to me from a housewife in sub-urban Mumbai who told me how happy her family was with the money her husband made. It was heartening to see how beautiful she had made her small 1 BHK apartment. ‘Mast rehneka, mast jeeneka.’ If only we could learn something from her.

Mumbai’s shame – I think if Mumbai loses its shine in any aspect, it is in its rude and insolent autorickshaws. In a city where the taxis set an example of hospitality, the autos remind you of your nightmare in Delhi and Chennai. In fact, I think the only place where the autos can’t do whatever they want is in Calcutta. But anyway, there they would do whatever the union wants them to do. The sad part is that the taxis are these days slowly but surely moving in the way of the autos. Refusals which were unheard of are now a reality.

Thank You Calcutta – I always knew that my upbringing in Calcutta will do me some good in ways I would never think of. It suddenly struck me while crossing the road outside Andheri Station. Anyone who has grown up in Calcutta knows that the sidewalks are for the hawkers, the roads are for the pedestrians and the automobiles must find their way between the two. So it gives us an uncanny sense of understanding the drivers’ mindsets while crossing road. In Cal, the speed of the traffic is so slow at times that you can cross the road twice before the car reaches anywhere near you. Mumbai is a little better but even then they can’t stop a Calcuttan from becoming a King of the roads. During the first two days, I waited and waited and waited and then the Calcuttan in me realized that he could teach a thing or two to the Mumbaikar. I fail to understand how a city which waits patiently in a line to get up on a bus do not know how to safely cross the roads.

I am my Own Fantasy - The shopper is the deity that I worship day in and day out and the stores are my places of pilgrimage. My shopping expeditions have been mostly with Amit who introduced me to the food loving bachelor’s saving grace; Muesli and (given the proliferation of corny people around me) to packed corn and baked beans. Anyway the other day I ditched Amit and went with Vishy to Hypercity and there to quote him “I went crazy”. Exotic salads, freshly prepared bread, fresh fruits, not so fresh packaged foods and around 20 kgs of milk and juice of every imaginable flavour filled up the trolley. By the time I left Hypercity, the food bill had almost touched the Rs. 2700 mark and I hoped if only all my shoppers were like me, life would have been so less complicated.


sap said...

i understand! [:)]

Anonymous said...

from wat i hav seen of calcutta,echo ur statement about the road being for the pedestrians ;)....muesli i can understand....20kgs of milk n juices :O ....the name of the plae is hypercity...does it make u go hyper in shopping too?

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@Sap - :)

@Pooja - Let's not discuss about things people think I should be ashamed of while I feel I should be proud of :)

Anonymous said...

oh dint mean u shud be ashamed of it....was just wonderin if those things wud still b edible..wudnt they expire? pls feel proud offence intended ok?