Flaunting the Assets

If you have lived in Mumbai for a long time and then come to visit Chandigarh and adjoining Panchkula, you would be shocked to see how people in the Northern cities flaunt their wealth. When they drive they think that they are the only ones who are on the road.

They talk on their cellphones, honk incessantly without any patient even if they can see clearly why the traffic ahead is halted. It seems that they have utmost urgent jobs to attend to.

At night, many drive with the high beam lights on making the vehicle drivers coming from opposite side almost blind.

I don’t mean that the people in Mumbai don’t have big cars and other assets. I have seen high end cars lying along the roads in the most neglected style. Mumbai being the economic capital of India, many residents in Mumbai may be having more resources and wealth.

But they don’t display it like they do it in the North. It may be that metropolis is used to heavy traffic since so many years and thus people have become quite disciplined barring some aberrations. In the North, the number of vehicles have exploded exponentially while the distances to be covered are shorter. For example, when we were studying in Chandigarh in during early seventies, there were only few cars to be seen. People used mostly bicycles and at the most well off ones had scooters.

Nowadays there are traffic snarls to be seen at many places. One cannot plan for the future changes many many years early when the city was planned. It should have been a continual change which requires future vision. The problems are increasing by every passing day.

Mallet Ferry Wharf

Mallet Ferry Wharf! I visited the place. It is a ferry terminus and fish trawlers unloading port in Bombay. Whole area smells of fish even from a distance. Hundreds of fish traders stand on the platform and fish baskets are conveyed to top from boats by ropes and mesh nets.

There are mounds of fish of every kind. Every single inch is covered with sea  fish. There are porters towing it away on the carts. Water drips from the  baskets made of the bamboo carrying the fish. Trucks and tempos  are loaded with the fish for taking it to the different parts of the city. Every boat has a flag and while standing in the parking area these boats  bob up and down in the waters.

Bhaucha Dhakka

A very popular variety of fish called “Bombay Duck” also dries on the ropes in the boats. This fish is cooked both as  fresh or dried and does not have bones. The rows of hanging fish on the ropes look like buntings.

There were fisher women, very fat and strong. The boats which have emptied their catch were parked to one side. The fishermen on them were preparing the food: lentils, rice and of course fresh fish.

Crows pecked at the fish filled in the baskets waiting to be put into the trucks. These seemed to have become bored by eating and eating in plenty. Seagulls caught the floating dead fish thrown out of the boats.

On the right side is the ferry wharf station from where ferries ply to Mora Bunder in Uran and Alibaug, and to Elephanta caves. People wait there on the benches.

Most of them are inhabitants of fishing villages. There are shops selling refreshments in the waiting area. They come here on buses from Mumbai and take ferry for crossing the sea and to avoid the torturous road journey.

The journey is thus reduced from many hours by the land route to an hour or so. In the earlier times, when British were here most of the work force belonged to people from Konkan Ghats and used the sea route for coming to Bombay. Still many people working at the docks belong to this area.

Versoli Beach

The coastline of India on the West side seems like the pages of book which have been chewed randomly by the termite. The water wedges deep inside the land in the form of creeks at so many places across the coast. Alongside the road to Alibaug from Panvel, one treads parallel to seacoast. There are small hillocks and the vista is full of features. The road is simply zigzag at many place. There are dense patches of vegetation on both sides of the road. Many small rivers which drain into the sea come across and there are bridges to cross them.

Monkeys can be seen right on the roadside near Karnala where a bird sanctuary exists. It is almost in the neglected state of maintenance. Only the woods are beautiful and have survived the human encroachment. Versoli beach is two three kilometers before reaching the Ali Baug town. You have to take a detour towards right hand to reach the village jutting the beach. There is a person standing at a crossing of the village charging money for entry into the town. On reaching the beach, another party of money collectors is standing. They explained that this money goes into the upkeep of the beach.

All the beaches seem alike to me except the difference in the cleanliness. People in India has typical attitude towards the enjoyment. It can be stated as “enjoy today and enjoy for yourself only”. Whosoever goes there thinks it as their right to litter the beach with polythene bags and water bottles. The aborigines are better than most city dwellers because they are not curious about the nature and think it as a part of their lives. They are not excited like the city people who start jumping and kicking and littering the place thinking that it is the authorities or other people whose duty it is to clean the house.

Anyway, we reached the beach. We took our lunch which we had packed from our home with us. We were particular about collecting the refuse into a bag and bring it back to properly dispose it. There are trees with coniferous leaves on the shore. These also are found on every beach near Mumbai. There was almost no clean place to sit. There are no benches erected on the shores to sit on and enjoy the spectacle of the sea.

It was a low tide and water has receded deep into the sea. The area exposed was almost blackish sand with clay. It is a beach formed by low energy tides. So you will see less sand more clay. The waves which were breaking at that time we went inside the sea were of very low height. They broke without causing any hissing sound. There were clumps of stones and pebbles hidden underneath the water. They are so sharp that they will cut your feet like knives. There are no warning signs. In fact, no attempts have been made to make the visit of tourist a pleasant experience.

Within half an hour, you will feel like going back. Many people because of lack any novelties resort to playing the cricket on the beach to while away the time. In my opinion, if you have visited one beach you need not to visit another one. All are same. Yes there are some interesting places like a Fort on the island near Murud Janjira beach. You have to take a boat to reach it.

It was a Sunny Morning in Dehradun

I am a regular morning walker and usually out at around 15 minutes to Six in the morning. Usually I am alone for most of the time when out but sometimes some of my colleagues come across and we talk about the olden times.

It is the early September. The monsoon rains which usually abate in this month have not receded. The monsoon has played truant in its regular months of July and August but has picked up now in September when it was time to go away. The children shall sing now “rain rain go away”.

Usually after mid September there are scattered showers and season begins to cool here in contrast to Mumbai where rains extend till the end of September followed by the torrid months of heat, called second summer, till December.

Generally, the sky is overcast here these days. Although clouds are not threatening of black sort. So the mornings are generally cloudy. But today, it was all clear and blue skies began showing up in the West.

In the East, when I was just out, Sun was not up yet but had begun knocking at the door of night. In the dawn, the things have begun to take shape as if precipitating from the pitch black solution of the night which erases all the distinctions between things. While the day separates the entities into different individuals, night merges them all into one black thick solution.

Silhouettes looked beautiful like the drawings of a painter. And why not, the greatest of all painters is at work. But with a difference albeit. He never cares for praise or criticism. He does not stand any scrutiny.

The contours of the things have begun to take shape. There is a tinge of crimson in the East. Then the sun has risen. After many days, it is the bright morning resplendent in the glory of sun. The sun light has first dawned on the pinnacle branches of mighty trees and darkness which was spread over there has jumped down to make way and welcomed the Sun. The scene was stunning. I can say that still this place is very beautiful.

Evening Walk

It was Friday and holiday due to the birthday of some leader. I could not get up early in the morning and therefore missed my morning walk. I decided to make up by going out in the evening.

The day before there was big wind with heavy showers. It seemed as if there will be much needed respite from sweltering heat. Whenever one goes out for a walk, the oppressive heat engulfs him. It weaves a cocoon around us and tries to suffocate us by imprisoning us in its cocoon. I thought that climate will cool down but it turned out to be empty rhetoric. It was all thunder storm and wind which albeit broke many weak twigs from the trees and some fronds from the palms lining the avenues. There was huge banging of windows and doors. The rain caught many unawares. There was a puppy which was wailing due to rain and though its mother had brought it into the entrance of our block, it was feeling very fidgety and tinkered with cycles parked near the staircase.

It became quite pleasant after the rain and thunder has gone. Also it became evening. The clouds were thin white transparent and scanty. There was the moon in the sky. It peeked through the veil of the clouds and looked dull and sick. Here and there, occasional stars also penetrated through the veil.

What was more?

It was completely peaceful. There was no movement in the nature. Not a leaf was rustling. It was in complete contrast to the afternoon’s weather. Nature seemed to have gone to still mode from the animated mode. All seemed like a picture. Had it not been for the wet roads, dripping trees, nature had tried its best not to leave a trace of its exploits. But the water on roads, poodles in the nearby ground betrayed it. Otherwise nature had become so still like a naughty boy who after spoiling many things in the house plays a very timid and obedient boy. Only sounds that of cicadas which were piercing the otherwise rare tranquility. There cacophony was as if hundreds of tailors are snipping the cloth pieces with the scissors. Bats were flying from one tree to another and foraging for fruits hanging on the branches. Partially eaten fruits, the rinds lay scattered beneath the trees. It was not the handiwork of bats alone because in the day time, parrots gorge on these trees.

And lo, suddenly without any rhyme or reason, breeze has broken and started shaking the leaves of the branches. The still picture has dissolved and animation mode again has become active. In fact, the the weather here is still very hot and humid. Even during the night, many times the body perspire effusively. There has been no torrential rains which every year threaten the city. In fact the city has become captive to such abnormal phenomena. Though the rain is necessary for agriculture, for filling up the lakes around Mumbai with such exotic names like Tansa, Vihar, Tulsi, Vaitarna and Bhatsa because the water for city supply comes from these lakes, yet BMC must be feeling happy that this year nature has not put it into embarrassing position and exposed the inadequate arrangements made to deal with the flood situation.

Panvel Railway Station

Panvel has a very important strategic location. It is a crucial link between Mumbai and South India. All the trains running on Konkan railways between Kerala and Mumbai and North India pass through Panvel railway station. Trains as important as Rajdhani and Shatabdi are passing through Panvel. It is also the last station of Harbor Railways link between Mumbai and Panvel catering to thousands of travelers everyday.

There was a time few years back when only a few services operated on the local line. The train was almost empty till it entered the main Mumbai. Many passengers came sleeping on the seats. The situation was such that security  guards were posted on the ladies compartments.

The situation is now completely opposite. Both Mumbai bound and Panvel bound local trains are full to brim. If you don’t board them at the starting station, chances are that you will have to keep standing during entire journey.

This reason this has happened is the migration of thousands of families of working class living in the crammed shanties in Mumbai to New Mumbai.  Mumbai city is ever hungry for land. It gobbles whatever land comes its way. Skyscrapers are sprouting from the bosom of earth like the vegetation in the rainy season.  The rates in Mumbai are sky high and after selling even a small house one has enough money to purchase a reasonably good house in New Mumbai and purchase cars to ply as taxis or open some mart. But the biggest factor is some good space to breath after getting suffocated in Mumbai for years.   People are ready to undergo suffering due to traveling to far off Mumbai in return for the good living space for their families. So the introduction of  trains is the prime mover of all this change. The rates of property have begun rising in New Mumbai and Mumbai is extending its tentacles like an octopus.

But, the amenities at the railway platforms are pathetic. Take for example Panvel station. There are lots of passengers coming and going to the station. There is no temporary parking for the people waiting with their vehicles to fetch their relatives which get down at the station. There is a long line of auto rickshaws occupying the one side of narrow approach road to the station. On the other side, local buses come and go and stand there waiting for passengers creating a total mess. The scene in the night is even more strange. In the pucca place between the road and station, so many people sleep in the open. There are dogs foraging inside the dustbins. They shit everywhere. Donkeys squat amongst the sleeping people. In short, the station is bursting at the seams.

Talking about the approach roads to the station from local bus stand, from Hanuman temple near the city rest house, the road passing in front of Sai Baba temple, the less said the better. Take for example the road passing through Sai Baba temple, from main road to just short of the temple, the path looks like a hell. It is not a road at all. It is full of potholes. The inhabitants living on both sides in the shanties live almost on the path. They wash outside. They are almost sitting on the path. Children run here and there and before any warning dart in front of vehicles. It is irony that such conditions prevail near the Baba’s temple. So many affluent people visit this temple everyday but nobody seems to care because they come in the air conditioned cars with the windows rolled up. Baba who was the emancipator of the poorest of the poor seems helpless in this matter. Since he used to stay among the poor and downtrodden people, it may that the same ambiance has been created by not doing anything to alleviate the lot of these poor people.

Similarly the road coming from the highway near Hanuman temple cannot even pass for a road. It is in very bad condition. There are big sections which are totally the potholes. Businessmen are using the  roadside for parking the loaded trucks. These vehicles are battering the already threadbare road. Builders who are building the houses on the sides use the road to stock the building materials. After the job is over, nobody bothers to clear the mess they created. Big mounds of sand and pulverized stones lie on the road. These mercilessly damage the tyres of the vehicles. There are so many bumps and potholes that the vehicles as well as the owners groan with pain.

This is not the end of the story. Just at the confluence of all the roads leading to the station, there is big circular place between them. It has been totally occupied by the caravan people. They have pitched their tents there. Around the area emanates the smell of shit as these people have turned the whole area around into a big open lavatory. Administration seems to has turned a blind eye towards all this. Nobody seems to inspect the roads. The users of the road are paying taxes in turn of such badly conditioned roads. There is no sanitation around the station. It is all running by itself on a fluke or on a chance.

Sitting Forlorn

It was yesterday evening past nine o’clock. I was sitting on a bench which stood near the bus stop opposite the shopping arcade. As it was the time when most of the people reach after a long journey to Mumbai.

So at this point of time time, very few people were roaming out. There was no movement in the air. The leaves were not stirring at all. The background looked like a still photo, static not dynamic with only some activity at the bottom of the picture.

One fellow was trundling home with a small bag of some eatables, he had preferably had few drinks outside because people at home must be putting resistance to it.

Four to five boys were sitting in the park and subject of their gossip was the mobile services and cards and refills.

Some people were waiting for the shift bus which arrived timely and took them away leaving the place again bereft of people.  Their were some mutts moving aimlessly here and there and following every persons who happen to pass by.

Khada Parsi Statue

Original Khada Parsi Statue post was written on May 21, 2011. Then there were plans to restore the one of Mumbai’s heritage. The monument has now been restored to original glory.

The monument is 150 years old. It belongs to Cursetjee Manockjee, a businessman and educationist of Mumbai. The statue is made from cast iron. There are four mermaids at the base of statue which double as fountains also.

These have been barricaded to prevent the theft as the pieces of original were taken away. The Times of India published the following picture of restored monument.

Restored Monument

Some places renamed in India during last 6 year

India has been on the name changing spree. During last 5 years names of many places, roads and monuments have been changed on the basis of the present names being reminder of colonial era or names being derogatory and names of some places being after some Moghul king who was not positively inclined towards the original inhabitants. Another argument for changing names was to replace those alien names with our own local heroes. Here is a list of some changed names during last 5 years in chronological order.

November 2014

Bangalore became Bangaluru. In all, the names of 12 places in Karnataka changed to reflect original Kannada pronunciation. Mysore became Mysuru and Mangalore became Mangaluru.

August 2015

Aurangzeb road in Delhi became APJ Abdul Kalam road.

October 2015

Rajahmundry was renamed Rajamahendravaram in the honour of 11th century king

April 2016

Gurgaon became Gurugram after Guru Dronacharya of Kauravas of Mahabharata fame. Mewat renamed to Nuh.

May 2016

Bangalore city railway station renamed Krantivira Sangli Rayanna, 19th century freedom fighter.

September 2016

Race Course road in Delhi renamed Lok Kalyan Marg, giving 7 RCR a new address.

January 2017

Ganda village in Fatehabad district of Haryana renamed AjitNagar after a petition to PM by teenager Harpreet Kaur Malkat. Kinnar village changed to Gaibi Nagar. Both previous names had derogatory shades.

July 2017

Odisha’s Wheeler island, home to a missile testing range was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Island.

September 2017

Kandla port in Gujarat was renamed Deendayal Port to mark the centenary year of JanaSangha co-founder.

February 2018

Chor Basai in Rajasthan lost Chor. Nachania in Bihar became Kashipur.

July 2018

Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station named after British governor was renamed Prabhadevi.

August 2018

Miyon Ka Bara” village in Barmer Rajasthan got new name Mahesh Nagar as residents alleged that due to Muslim sounding name it was hard to get marriage proposals.

August 2018

Mughalsarai junction founded in 1860 and one of the busiest junctions in country renamed as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction.

July 2018

West Bengal assembly passed a resolution to change the state’s name to Bangla. Mamata Banerjee didi found that due to alphabetical pecking order, her bureaucrats were called last at central meetings. With changed name “Bangla” pecking order will be on top almost.

October 2018

Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh has been renamed as Atal Nagar after the popular prime minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee.

October 2018

Allahabad City which got this name from Akbar and is the holy place where Kumbh Mela is held.

The process continues unabated. Next on the anvil are the names of trains based on the great personalities which belonged to the originating stations.