Posts Tagged ‘Mumbai’

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. However, any similarity to persons living or dead is purely intentional :)

—-

A busy and crowded evening outside Chembur station. So what’s new, right?

The Vashi fast had just reached Chembur and scores of passengers coming back after a hard day’s work, rushed out of the train, and towards the gate. Few alone, few in pairs, few others in smaller groups. The regulars, you know.

And as Ramdeo and Prakash came out on the street, amongst the first of the passengers, they saw this group of 5 young people – 3 boys and 2 girls – bent down, with scores of candles out there, and a whole host of rolled poster papers with them.

Hurrying home as they were, they still stopped in their tracks. The cause was important, and they needed to show their solidarity. They picked up a candle each from the road, and using the matchbox that Ramdeo was carrying, they lit the candles and stood there.

Even as many others floated out of the railway station, and seeing these 5 young people bent down with the candles and the posters and seeing the first couple of people with lit candles, most felt it to be their duty to support the cause. After all, there was strength in numbers, and it was time that the citizens united and did their bit.

“Are ye na, thodya vel thambu na ikde? Aplya fariz aahe ki nahi?”

“Aree, ushir hote ki? Accha chal, pan fakhat paanch minta ki, ho? Ghari jaoon swayapak pan karaycha aahe, ajun…”

“Hey dude, wassthis man? Cool candle light vigil..”

“Come, lets hang in for a bit.. should be fun…”

‘Nayi, nayi… main nayi rukta.. meyre ko laite ho raha hai.. khana khatam ho jayega.. phir mere ko hoteel me khane ko jaana padega.. mayy jaata hoon..”

“Tch.. saala khane ke vaste chala gaya.. aakhir desh ke liye apna koi farz bhi hai, na? Samajhta hi nahi, saal.. chal aapun khade rehte he thodi der…”

And before you know, 50 odd people were there with candles lit and waiting out there.

Ahh.. the salt of the earth, as represented by Mumbaikars. Always willing to pitch in for a cause.

Made for a nice scene just as light was fading at dusk, and the 50-people with the candles out there.

Waiting for the group of young people to get up and roll out the posters in their hands.

Oh yes, those 5 young people…

3 boys – Aakash, Dhruv and Melvin, and the 2 girls – Sonali and Ruchika.

On that crowded footpath outside the station, with their eyes on the ground, focusing on the candles on the ground, clutching at the roll of posters in their arms, and having large number of feet passing by them, as the passengers exited out of the station, in a mad rush.

And as Aakash took a breath and looked up, he sees these people standing all around, with the lit candles in their hands.

And he nudges the others to see the scene, open mouthed and unbelievable!

And as some of those people now see the young boys and girls looking up at them, they give smiles.

Smiles of encouragement.

Smiles that say, “Yes, we are with you.” or “We appreciate your initiative. This is the young India we are proud of.”

And then they point to the posters, and point with their hands (only because in all the noise, words may or may not reach), “Hey, open those up now..”

And just about then, the open mouthed 5-some finally regain their voice.

It is Ruchika in fact, who shouts, “hey, what are you guys doing.. ?”

——————

CUT:

Let’s go back 30 mins in time.. to Dhruv’s house on 11th road, Chembur..

Music playing the background, “And tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.. and tonight’s gonna be a good night..”

And the gang mumbling things to each other, shaking their heads to the song, and once in a while, with big smiles on their faces, pointing to each other, and singing along with the song, “YES, TONIGH’S GONNA BE A GOOD, GOOD NIGHT..”

The mumbling…

“So, what’s the total number of candle packets we have?”

“50 packets of 20 candles each.. that’s 1000 candles in total.. ”

“Yeah, that should be more than enough.. ”

“And posters.. how many are there?”

“Oh.. I think, we got to 20 in total.. ”

“Cool.. ”

And they started packing the stuff.

“Must you use these paper bags? Candles are heavy, you know.. ”

“No man, nothing’ll happen. Also my mom doesn’t allow us to have any plastic bags at home..”

“God, this is heavy, yaar.. and plus these posters.. shit, too much.. ”

“Those two.. Stanley and Kuljeet – saale they went off early, with no weight. They should have been here to help, no?”

“Yeah man.. especially, with the rush at the station, at this time..”

“I am just praying this paper bag holds the weight. Else we’ll have a problem on the streets..”

“Arre kuch nahi yaar, chal let’s nikal.. its going to be late.. ”

They walk up to the station, lugging the rolls of posters in the hand, and the paper bag with the heavy weight of the candles.

And as they near the station, Sonali is just not able to handle her large purse and the posters. She looks at Melvin carrying the large paper bag, with volume to spare.

Just outside the station, she stops him and says, “Open the bag..”

Melvin: “What? Why..?”

But he open it all the same..

Sonali starts putting her purse into the bag (“what WAS she thinking..?”) while speaking, “Can’t see how I’ll manage these posters and this purse while getting into the train.. so put the purse inside the bag..”

AND… SPLASH..

The weight, the volume, the sharp edges of the buckle of the purse.. don’t know which of these was the final straw on the camel’s back..

The bag split, and….

There were candles all over.. the weight had managed to break the thin paper covers of the candle packets as well.
Some of these rolled out to a distance on the slope there.

Screaming and shouting, the 5 of them bent down to gather all of these (still not clear, where they will park them next..).

And as they were all knelt down, and bent down, the Vashi local reached the Chembur station, and  Ramdeo and Prakash, and then the rest of them came out and took some of the candles..

—————-

CUT:
Back to the present..

Ruchika shouted, “hey, what are you guys doing.. ?”

The dudes who had taken the candles and were standing out there, replied, “Chill girl.. only trying to help. Showing solidarity to the cause, man.. ”

Ruchika, screaming now, “What cause? What are you talking about..?”

Dude guy: “The one you are protesting again. The one for which this candle light vigil is being done. Oh, the one you have made these posters for..”

Ruchika, now uncontrollable, because they have lost so much time, there is chaos, and this dude is talking of a candle light vigil.. she screams, and runs around to the other 4..

“Okay, you want to know what these posters are about.. ok, here, here and here.. let’s open all of these and show these guys what this is about.. ”

And one after the other poster opens up..

‘THANK YOU, PROFESSORS.. FOR THE AWESOMEST 4-YEARS OF OUR LIVES..”

“ST. XAVIER’S CLASS OF 2011 – FAREWELL NIGHT.”

“TONIGHT’S GONNA BE A GOOD, GOOD NIGHT.. FAREWELL PARTY IN THE COMMON HALL”

“1000 CANDLES FOR OUR 1000 THANK YOUs”

etc. etc. etc.

With a brilliant coastline that Mumbai has, unfortunately, we still do not have a serious culture of water sports. So even though I have been born and brought up here, I have not had much of a “sea life”. The best was to go to Shivaji Park or Juhu beaches, as a kid, and build sand castles!

Off late, perhaps with recent upsurge in standard of living and wealth that has been created, we do see the emergence of a certain sea-sports and boating culture. In fact, there is a sudden jump in private boats, and we have the annual boat show as well, in Mumbai.

Two of my cousin sisters have enjoyed sailing and used to do it regularly in Mumbai, and that had created a sort of inspiration for a while. But still being far away in Chembur (from South Mumbai, I mean), and the opportunity, if at all, only being on Sundays, the inspiration had not converted to an actual experience so far.

So when a dear friend proposed the idea of trying out sailing, and said that he could set it up for us, I did not think much before doing my proverbial “chance pe dance”. For those who don’t get the phrase, it means that one grabs the opportunity to do something new and fun, when the said opportunity comes up. Without thinking too much!

And which is exactly what I did. And so the Sunday was decided. The wife and the elder daughter also agreed to come (I am sure, inspired by my two cousin sisters’ experiences, that we had heard much about in the past). The younger daughter unfortunately, was bang in the middle of her final exams, and could not join. So the three of us, and my friend, and few other friends, made our way to the Gateway of India, from where we were to do our sailing trip.

There were a set of instructions that our friend had given, for this outing. Wear comfortable, waterproof footwear. If you wear a cap, make sure there is a string that can fasten the cap (as otherwise, it could fly off). Get a plastic bag to hold the valuables. Get sun lotion..

We had done all of that. Part of my preparation was to use a pair of old rubber sandals that I had not worn in ages, but which fitted the requirement. Except what I did not know about these sandals was that the old rubber straps were so worn out that as soon as we reached Gateway of India, and started walking out of the car, when one sandal, and then the next one, broke off! And I was without footwear. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, with the hot tar roads below. We needed to rush to find a Colaba footwear store and buy new footwear for me!

After all that, we reached the boarding point, which was right across of the Taj Mahal Hotel. In a few minutes, the actual host and hostess (a Doctor couple, who were members of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club) came by and got things moving, for us. We were a party of 8, and we needed to split into two groups of 4, to take the row boats first. The row boats came all the way in, and we’d take these a bit into the water, and then in the middle of the waters, move over to the actual sailing boats.

There was a careful switch in the middle of quite deep waters, from row boat to sail boat. The only challenge was to ensure that we do not imbalance either of the boats, while we shifted.

Once into the sail boat, the Tindel (the helper who accompanies and actually maneuvers the sail boat – they are called Tindels; the name of our Tindel was Krishna) went about opening the two sails, as we watched in fascination.

And in a matter of minutes, we saw this boat with few bamboos jutting up convert itself, into something that will sail on its own, with the wind supporting the motion.

The Tindel was pulling a few of the strings that held the sails, so the sails would change directions and the boat would change directions. It was deft handling by someone who does this all the time, and it was extremely impressive. The boat made its way gradually, farther from the shores, and into the deeper seas.

The wind was decent and it took the boat ahead. The Tindel informed us that in case the winds came down, then we’d not move! And we would have to cast anchor and wait for the wind to pick up again! Thankfully the wind stayed with us all day, and we did not need to drop anchor and wait in the middle of the sea!

There were two of our groups, so we had two sailing boats to us, and we did not really move together. The second one moved ahead and went faster!

A little deeper into the sea, and we were able to see some really fancy boats out there. The Tindel was happy to introduce those boats to us, as these were owned by celebrity owners! The next best thing to celebrity-spotting is celebrity-boat-spotting!

We spotted several, including the 400 cr boat gifted to TIna Ambani, but Anil Ambani. That one was at a distance though. We reached pretty close to two other monsters. The one seen below, is the boat owned by Gautam Singhania:

And then we saw the boat of the other big boat man. Yes, the king of good times, Vijay Mallya. This is his boat, herebelow:

It was a relatively leisurely motion of the boat, even as we were watching all these scenes, and on our first such sailing trip, we were just getting a feeling that this was so easy and so much fun.

Just around this time though, the wind became a lot stronger. And the boat kind of flew a lot faster.

Obviously it was not even close to alarming, but for us first timers, it suddenly got very exciting. The Tindel got a lot more busy, as he worked on keeping the boat under control and steering it well.

But meanwhile, the boat bent across to one side, a lot. I was sitting on the side which was bending down and got very close to the water. Thinking I could make my humble contribution to the stability, considering my weight could make a difference (lol), I inched up a little on my side, so as to bring the weight inside, and not towards the side where the boat was leaning!

So that was the 10-15 min of excitement on our trip, after which time, the wind force came down, and the boat was stead and properly vertical once again.

And then we made our way back towards the shore. The timing was perfect. The sun was going down, and it made for some wonderful scenes.

Most of the pictures in this blog post, have been taken by my wife. And as we headed closer to the shore, she could not help taking some shots of Mumbai’s iconic structures, the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Gateway of India.

The return trip was the reverse of the going out one.

As we reached close to our row boat, Tindel Krishna first wound up the sails. We made small (actually, tiny) contributions to the wind up process. Once that was done, we carefully and gingerly stepped out of the sail boat, and into the row boat. One person at a time.

And then took the row boat back to shore.

For the end of a wonderful Sunday afternoon out.

A trip that we jumped on, in true ‘chance pe dance’ fashion. A trip of the kind I would highly recommend you to take, if you get a chance. Go for it! It’s a great experience..

What the crap?!

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Dear Pet Owner in the City of Mumbai,

When I feel like a desperate pee, can I come and relieve myself, in the corner of your bedroom??

When the neighbour’s baby has had her feed, and is ready to burp, can the mother get her to your living room, and have her burp on to your sofa??

Can the child on the 6th floor, when he just HAS to crap, come to your kitchen and crap on the floor there??

NO??! You don’t think so??

WHY?

But you never found it odd to litter the compound, the streets of our road and our gardens, with the poop of your pet? Why then, do you feel so shocked at some of the above suggestions?!

Listen, dear pet owner, walking in this city, whether in our own compound, or on the pavements, or in the ground with the walking strip duly marked out, is becoming an obstacle race of sorts! One needs to tippety toe and do the hop-skip-jump routine, to avoid stepping on to dog’s poops.

Some days more than others. Perhaps the day following the dog parties, or perhaps when YOU had a party, and fed the leftovers of your mutton or rajmah or whatever, to your pets!

PLEASE spare the streets. If you must take the dog out, please carry a poop collector with you, to clean up the space, after your pet’s “done it”.

We have enough dust and grime and pollution to reckon with, not to speak of the city cattle owners who let their cows and bulls to fend for themselves in the streets (and leave their dung behind).

You are educated, you probably walk the street yourself and might face similar jumpy routines. You’d understand.

Please change your habits, for your pets. Save our city. Keep it a little cleaner.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

– A harrowed, city walker

Listening.. is becoming an interesting and significant word and act, in my life.

In my professional life as a Social Media entrepreneur, I advocate listening (to the social media conversations about your brand) to brands and businesses.

But here I talk of a different kind of listening. Listening to the sounds in our life. In our background.

I remember a brief interaction with the famous film personality, Gulzar. I was at a 5-day feature film script writing workshop in Noida, and Gulzar had come in as a guest faculty. He was talking about a writer describing the rising sun, in great detail. In response, I asked him a kind of stupid question. About how in our busy world, we barely get time to look up into the sky, or even notice that the sun is out. In that case, how can we write in this kind of detail, that he was talking about.

And he gave me a blunt, yet straightforward answer. That in that case, why am I even thinking of writing!!

That’s stayed with me. Do I have the time or the luxury to watch life around me? Do I “listen” to things nearby?

If I think about it, all the listening that happens in a typical day – and which I assure you, is nearly NOT noticed, in spite of it being loud and around – is the clicking away of the keyboard, the screeching of tyres on the road, honking of horns, shouting expletives on cell phones, and the like.

Are there more sounds about us? Have we tried to listen?

With my new found regime of sleeping earlier, getting up earlier, going out for morning walks, and the like, I also don’t want to crowd my mind, at least that early in the morning, with more music or more podcasts. But rather, try and experience life and nature around me.

Today was a particularly early start as I went out to walk at around 6-15 am. It was still quite dark. Left with not much to see and not much to do, except walk, my other sensory organ picked up. The ear. And the mind chose to focus on the sounds.

And ended up discovering very interesting ones.

– the bhajans at a nearby temple. Loud enough to be heard, but not really decipherable. First the lead person, and later the chorus.

– the crows. Making different sounds. Perhaps like humans, there were few who made a point and shut up. And others who kept going caw, caw, caw.. wonder if the word cacophony came from them..

– the other birds. With better sound. But barely audible, amidst the cacophony of the crows.

– the sudden interruption to the natural sounds coming from a noisy autorickshaw. Oh, believe me, Mumbai is up far earlier than the 6-15 am that I was out for a walk, so rickshaws would be plying a plenty, at that time.

– a loud grunt from one of the senior players who missed a shot, at the adjoining flood lit tennis court.

– and again, nature’s sounds disturbed by the aeroplane taking off – one of the many early morning flights leaving from Mumbai airport, at that time.

No, there was no emptiness. All of the above sounds are present right through the day, but we do not hear them, due to the many other noises in our noise polluted world. at 6-15 am, I was at least able to experience some other natural sounds. Perhaps in the middle of the night, say around 2 am or so, there may be yet some other sounds to experience. Or not. Maybe there IS a emptiness. Maybe there is quiet.. ?!

What do you think?

I had ranted about the hard time that I had with Lenovo, when my Netbook had some problems, and it was impossible to get service from Lenovo.

I was extremely upset and I had gone and shared these emotions across multiple social media platforms. Besides this blog post, I had posted on my Facebook page, tweeted extensively about it, and also tweeted to many specific Lenovo accounts, both from India as well as outside India. And what happened after that?

I had a whole host of responses to the Facebook update and my tweets. From friends and others who saw the tweets. And ALL of them, bar none, either sympathized and encouraged me to go to consumer court or thereabouts, or added their own sorry tales, working with Lenovo.

I figured that the brand selection had been wrong!!

There were other responses to the Facebook update. Two of my Facebook friends had good connections inside Lenovo, and offered to put up my case to the higher levels at Lenovo. And which they did.

Soon enough, on the one side, I got an email that my case was being attended to, on priority, and I also got a phone call from Bangalore. A person calling from the company asked me to give them one more chance to repair the machine.

I had been quite clear that I did not want more experimentation on my netbook, and I had demanded that the machine be replaced or I be given a full refund.

This person from Bangalore said that he had understood the details of the matter, and he needed someone to get only about 15 minutes with the machine, and it will be fixed. I agreed to give them one last chance to work on the PC, under the condition that should it now not be settled, than I only want a replacement or refund. He stuck his neck out and agreed to my condition.

Sure enough, the person came by next day, and sure enough, he fixed the Netbook, in a matter of a few minutes too!! And he needed no CD or DVD that the other person was frantically looking for and failing to get!

So the Lenovo Netbook is back in working condition. On email, the company asked me to now write a good feedback!! That was of course, high expectations! I was on the verge of going to consumer redressal forums, and if they saved me a trip there, it certainly did not merit a ‘good feedback’ now! And I told her in so many words!

Having said that, although my machine is back in working condition, lot of questions remain unanswered:

1. If not for the intervention of my friends, would I have got the service that I ultimately got?

2. Are customers of Lenovo products expected to have such connections? And if they don’t, they can kiss good service goodbye??

3. Does Lenovo have pathetic service representatives or what? What were they struggling for so long, for a CD, which ultimately was not required at all?

4. Is restarting a simple netbook PC, where I was okay to let the disk be formatted again if required, such a big deal??

5. What they finally understood, from a remote location of Bangalore, that the machine could be fixed in a matter of 15 minutes, why could someone NOT understand this, even with a PC in their hands here in Mumbai??

6. Does Lenovo service believe only in kicking the customer around, giving excuses, losing time, no matter if the customer does not get the use of his PC in the meantime?!

Overall, I was certainly NOT satisfied with the level of service that I got from Lenovo. I have a working machine now, but just that. I am going to pray that it does not give my any more trouble as this kind of run around is not my idea of fun at all!

And at the end, I would NOT recommend anyone to purchase a Lenovo product. Period!

Living in the heart of the city, we may wonder about green spaces left in Mumbai. We’d believe that everything has been converted to concrete jungles. Well, not so.

Seeing a pic on my Facebook page earlier today, posted by Dr. Bhavin Jankharia, talking about this place that was beautifully green, and just 35 min from Matunga (as he put it). I put that in my to-do list, but post lunch today, in an impulsive mood, we decided to drive down to this place. Yeah, today itself!

Driving via Powai / Jogeshwari Link Road / Western Express Highway, finally via Film City road, we entered the area of Film City.

Going past several sets of what looked like sets of TV shows, we kept going deeper into the place. Till we reached the BNHS area and got out of the car, and walked around.

And experienced natural surroundings of the kind that you’d find at hill stations. It was absolutely superb.

City of Gold is a soul stirring film. If you are a Mumbaiite, and if you have seen the days of glory of Mumbai’s textile films, then this will shake you up even more. I recommend this movie as a “Must-See”.