Friday, 24 February 2012

The Ride Continues....

With the spark she always had, she stood there. She stood there alone looking at the mess all around. All of her friends were burning. She was spared probably because she wasn’t as good looking as them.

Elections were just over. The ruling party lost. Hours after the results were announced the goons from the ruling party ran riot. They spread across in groups and started burning vehicles. The goons had got information that the entire residents from one particular building had voted against them. They entered the building and set afire all the vehicles. They spared Cassiopeia’s cycle. She stood there alone witnessing her friends being burnt. Roy’s bike, Tantra’s scooterette, Tuffy’s bullet were all burnt. She lost all her friends. She realized the fact that the goons found no value in her. She just felt her limbs were cut off and the goons had rendered her handicapped.

If she could move, she would have jumped into the flames and gone forever with her friends but she didn’t want to leave Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia never treated her like a cycle but looked upon her as a friend. She used to ride her in this age of bikes, cars, etc. even when curious onlookers gave a meaningless glance. That encouraged Cassiopeia ride, with her head held high. Cassiopeia was an active member of Greenheart. She was concerned about the environment. She used to motivate her friends to ride cycles and fight against global warming. All of her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Cassiopeia looked outside the balcony to find her cycle stand there all alone with her friends gone. Gone forever.

She was looking at Roy’s bike burn. In the rains, the sun, day or night, both of them stood together. She lost the perfect friend. Perhaps he didn’t want to leave her without a final goodbye. Whilst burning, a metal rod flew apart and hit her, she fell down. The final goodbye was worth the fall.

This story ends without an ending perhaps because Cassiopeia still rides the cycle to fight global warming or because the goons from any losing party always run riot….

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Bombay Diaries 2

The Central

After a rather peaceful parade of the marine drive, Tantra was all set to visit Bombay Central (name of a town and not that of a mall) the next day. She had to board the local from the Malad station. Mukfiya, her friend, was waiting for her at the Bombay Central station. Tantra jumped into the ladies compartment of the local. The ladies compartment was much cleaner. The digital display of the upcoming station was more than enough for her to judge her destination. On Mukfiya’s request, Tantra got down at the next station after Bombay Central, Grant Road.

An entirely different Bombay was waiting for Tantra. She caught hold of Mukfiya amidst the

crowd. Mukfiya took her to Biryani Darbar, a place which boasted of a Times Food Award for the Best Biryani. Bang opposite the hotel was a C-Grade theatre. The poster had morphed images of Shah Rukh Khan, Dharmendra and scantily clad women. After lunch Tantra took a left turn and in a miniscule of a second, Mukfiya pulled her back.

“That’s a red light area,” informed Mukfiya. On Tantra’s insistence, both walked down the red light area, holding each other’s hands. Tantra thought as it was just 1400 hours, it would be rather safe to explore this place. Safe it was. The area had buildings which looked atleast 50-70 years old with metal benches on the footpath. She noticed women combing hair, drying clothes, standing and talking in their respective balconies. She was no one to judge if those women were commercial sex workers or not?

In a flash they were surrounded by 6 eunuchs, clapping hands in their traditional style. They

didn’t have an option but had to part away with a 50 rupee note. Mukfiya grabbed Tantra’s hand and threw her into a rickshaw.

Their next stop was the very famous Chor Bazaar. Their main business is from 4 am to 7 am and mainly deal in clothes, mobile phones and other electronic items. Tantra could now see automobile spare part dealers, handicraft and antique dealers. Thanks to her roots from Kerala she saw a huge elephant, made out of teak, enquired about the price. 10.5 lakhs. She was taken aback by the response. All stolen. That’s what Tantra thought but no one knows the origin of all these goods.

All these places were Muslim dominated which was pretty evident from the name of all these shops. Kabeer’s Handicraft Emporium, Sattar Bhai’s Automobile Spare parts. So on and so forth. Almost all the residential buildings here were more than half a century old. Dingy gallis, ghostly passages towards buildings, old printing presses, etc. People here live on the edge because o

f their mediocre jobs. All of them still had a smile with a never say die attitude.

Their next stop was Jhaveri Bazaar. All her questions in regards with the bombing of this place were answered as soon as she got down from the rickshaw. A huge road, with half of the road reserved for parking of four wheelers. The footpath is used to park two wheelers. The remaining part is used by pedestrians, vehicles going either side. It was a task for both Tantra and Mukfiya to reach the other side of the road.

“Why won’t this place be bombed, look at the mess,” Tantra questioned Mukfiya. There

was absolutely no security and here she saw a dominance of the Gujarati community. Security was a joke here. She was concerned. She found the presence of Audi’s, BMW’s and other luxurious cars. The people still remain the same.

She left Mumbai Central with mixed emotions. Joy and Fear being the frontrunners. Bombay still managed to surprise her. The Mumbaikars, the dilapidated buildings, the biryani, the morphed images, the eunuch attack and the security fears at Jhaveri Bazaar.

A city with so much to offer can actually be blown up in smokes if there’s a minute lapse in security. Tantra didn’t want the journalists to say ‘Mumbaikars smile even after being bombed’ instead she wants them to say ‘Mumbaikars smile because they are never bombed.’

Bombay. The City of Dreams. The City which lives. Let her live. Let Bombay live.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Bombay Diaries

The Drive

For a more clearer view, she went ahead and stared. She stared. She looked deep into the blue sea. She stood on the cemented railing constructed around Marine Drive. Tantra had just heard about this place. She had been to the Kochi Marine Drive, which was obviously much more cleaner. But she was more attracted to this place.

She took a cab from CST. Her head was outside the window as soon as she came in contact with the sea. Foreigners sticking up every shot of the Drive up their SLR, couples locking lips in full public view, beggars, peanut vendors and the Mumbaikars for whom this place is just any other road. That’s what Tantra thought. The Mumbaikar too, looked towards the sea and then, walked with a smile.

Tantra was totally amazed by the sight. She got off the taxi, crossed the road and stood on the railing. She looked downwards. The human-made rocks. Specially made to cease the tides from coming onto the road. Tantra was shocked to see the paan stains, the gutkha packets scattered all over the rocks.

What a shame!

She thought. How could people make a garbage bin of such a wonderful place? Well she had seen dirtier places but the sheer fact that such a posh and awe-striking place had the same vintage filth.

It was 1900 hours. She thought of taking a walk down the Drive. Public display of affection was something she hated. Bang opposite the sea were residential apartments which cost upto 10-15 crores. People who have bought the house just to have the awesome view of the sea. Well, that view gets hindered by the utter sleaze fest done by the youngsters. ‘Get a room, people,’ Tantra sighed. She couldn’t walk past these people just because such couples were present every 100 metres. She looked past them.

She didn’t want any of this to spoil her day. She had been to the Kochi and the Vizag Marine Drive but this one gave her a royal feel. Probably because it belonged to India’s richest city. No wonder this city is bombed. She kept looking at the high rises and now she had to leave. She turned behind to have a final glimpse of the sea. She saw the Queen’s Necklace. The answer to her thoughts. The answer to the royal feel. Imagine the Queen has left her necklace in Bombay to make the city feel richer. Not to make it richer, just to make it ‘feel’ richer. Bombay is already rich. Her mother has pampered and help her grow.

After all its Mother India.