Category: Mumbai


I miss the “Bombay” of my childhood and so does mom miss the “Bombay” of her childhood.

But she has a song that describes her Bombay to perfection and I’m still searching for one that describes mine; and I know that even if I find my song of my Bombay, hers will still rule the roost.



To the greenery sight below my airplane leaving the sands behind

To the lush green plants, to the mountain ranges, to the lakes, to the rain – the terrain seen from the flight resembled the 3-D geography models we built in school

To the huts and slums surrounding the airport, the cluster of concrete in pockets and some lush green land around

To the revamped new airport which brought a smile to my face

To the rude officers at the airport who refuse to greet anyone with a smile

To the surprise that the immigration officer picked up a polite conversation with me and smiled widely wishing me a safe and lovely visit, he made me feel at home:-)

To the warm people this city has (I dropped my customs chit – the small piece they tear from the immigration form and to be submitted before exiting the airport. It was picked up by an aunty who shouted my name aloud and came running to me to return it; worried that I would have been in trouble if I had lost it)

To the constant pestering of baggage helpers who think that a lady traveling alone cannot manage to offload & reload the luggage on her own

To the cheating and poor service this place offers – Made me pay Rs350 for a cool cab – the Fiat taxi fitted with AC!!! I travel in a Toyota Camry Taxi here in Dubai for the same distance and same money

To the filth, dirt, messes that I always see as I move out of the airport

To the honking, lane indiscipline, wrong overtaking, screeching, braking, signal disobedience, mouthing foul words as I travel down town from the airport

To the complete change in environment once the cab hits the town side of the city

To one of my favorite spots in the city, the lush green park, the multiple budding cricketers practicing in the nets, the 2-storeyed old buildings – flats with common verandahs, the smell of TIBBS Frankie and Vada Paav,

To the place which is the couple’s hot-spot, the sea-face, the posh buildings, followed by the messy dairy quarters, and my favorite colony

To the noise and blare that precedes the favourite festival in this place

To the scare that bus drivers love giving the smaller vehicles by the side

To the traffic hawaldars busy chatting and collecting Rs50 bribes

To my favorite person in this world, I saw her waiting at the colony gate anxiously scanning all cabs to look for her grown-up child

To the people who’ve loved me like no one else can, whose faces lit up just at the mere sight of me

To the person I’ve loved troubling all my life, and whom I’ve admired as well

To the sweet little home that has not changed since I left it last

To my secret den my room which has been missing me for long
Yes, I’m back to Maddening Mayhem that this Messy Mumbai offers!
From CST International airport along the western express highway passing my favorite Cadel Road & Shivaji Park, listening to the sounds that will bring this city alive for the next ten days of the Ganapati Festival!

Reaching my Worli Colony where Mumma and Mami were waiting impatiently. Mama-Aaji standing in the balcony above waiting to catch a glimpse of me & Didu who postponed her trip to meet me after 2 years!

To my sweet little home in Worli, to the place my parents built with their love and care
Yeah, Mumbai is not the best in the world but it is the place which gives me warmth, makes me feel welcome, which is responsible for all the love in my life, which is and always will be MY HOME!

I’ll always be back and one-day hopefully for GOOD!

The B.E.S.T. of Mumbai…

It is one of the lifelines of Mumbai. The B.E.S.T. network is highly efficient and connects almost all the remote places in Mumbai. If you have lived in Worli or any South Mumbai places that are disconnected from the local train network, all 25 years of your life, only then can you fight for the case of B.E.S.T. buses vis-à-vis Mumbai’s other lifeline: the Local Trains.

Apart from the highly positive aspects, there are a few things that still irk me when I’m traveling on the road. So I thought I’d list a few of the inherent birth rights our dear BEST Conductors and Drivers tend to exercise:

  • The Right to own the road
  • The Right to cut the lanes as per their whims and fancies
  • The Right to drive in the middle of a narrow road with 2 lanes so that the vehicles behind can never overtake them and clog up traffic behind
  • The Right to give the auto-rickshaw guys a fright every time they come near the bus
  • The Right to necessarily overtake you from the right side
  • The Right to tell you that if you have a crash with them it is but obviously your fault
  • The Right to bully smaller vehicle owners
  • The Right to drive fast and screech during the night time
  • The Right to get the bus started before the last person has alighted from the bus
  • The Right to have no change whenever the passenger asks for one
  • The Right to curse the passengers for keeping no change with them
  • The Right to ignore passengers who do not render exact change
  • The Right to halt the bus either before or ahead of the bus-stop
  • The Right to decide not to halt the bus at a bus–stop whether the bus is crowded or not
  • The Right to dissuade the passengers from getting into the bus by telling them that another bus is coming from behind (90% of the times that bus is also equally crowded)
  • The Right to strike the bell just in time so that a passenger who has been running like mad to catch the bus, misses it; knowing well that there won’t be the same number bus coming for another half hour
  • The Right to fling away the ticket holding metal box such that it hits the passenger on the seat to which the conductor is leaning onto
  • The Right to drive as slow as possible during peak hours
  • The Right to pay no heed to passenger complaints

Got any more?

P.S: Most of the times my experience has been good, but these are a few things you tend to come across once in a day 🙂

Isn’t It Ironic?


Kasto Maza from Parineeta; when traveling in the crowded Mumbai Trains and taking a peek at the surroundings (They comprise of garbage, filth and slums, no scenery there)

The Heat is On; when traveling in the B.E.S.T. Bus along the western express highway and it is pouring cats and dogs!

Mind if I ASK?

Small incidents in life teach you lessons, and remind you of some that were constantly drilled onto you as a kid.

Remember how teachers always opened their study lessons with ‘Students do not hesitate to ask’. However silly, however stupid the question. Ask! You will come to know a lot of things you did not. And they went on, that one should ask whenever in doubt. This was not restricted to studies but applied to every aspect in life.

All those lessons came bombarding into my head after the little experience I had yesterday. I live at Borivali and always take my railway pass from the station. I’ve taken it early in the morning on way to office or on my way back and never encountered the long queues. At Andheri station yesterday I went to issue my train pass. I then managed to locate the ‘Season Ticket Window’, which was in a secluded place away from the rest of the station, how convenient a location!

I saw three windows for season ticket issue and all had long queues. The window carried an instruction ‘Queue for Ist Class and IInd Class’. As a sincere citizen I stood in the line. I ASSUMED that the queue was combined. I did not bother to ASK even though the doubt did creep into my mind. I waited for 20 odd minutes. Patiently without any complaints, wondering why can’t they have separate queues or separate windows for the same, it would save everyone a lot of time.

As my turn came I asked her for my monthly pass and said Ist class please. The issuer gave me a grin while the polite lady behind me says, ‘Dear if you needed a first class you don’t need to wait in this long queue. There are separate queues she said pointing towards the very same instruction I had read. There is no one for the first class queue, you could’ve just come in, this one is only for the second class pass.’ ( I thank her for the precious advice, I’ll never forget it.)

I looked at her in surprise, and saw an amused look on the other passengers in the queue, all the eyes saying all you needed to do was ASK!

I hope I learn my lesson now! ASK and never ASSUME. It just helps you in little ways in life!

The Graveyard Shift…

Ideally I would’ve liked to have this post up as early as possible but due to connectivity problems and electricity fluctuations it comes a few days late. The whole experience has been tiring, mentally and physically exhausting. Mumbai they say is not a planned city and the way it is expanding with no disaster management in place, it looks like a ticking time-bomb. Mumbai faced its first of a kind, natural calamity on 26th July, 2005

I’m proud the way the common man handled it and faced every hurdle and most appalled by our authorities. The Government, The BMC, the MMRDA, The Police, The Firemen, The Special Squad, the Great Mobile Networks. Anytime Anywhere is what all of them preach, Nonsense (and trust me that is a mild word I use for all of them) Not one connection was working when people needed to get in touch badly and none worked till afternoon on 27th July! What great technology, 24 hours on, are we talking about? If you cannot work at times like this, we really could without any of them!

After hearing the experiences people went through including my dear sister-in-law I felt really lucky! I was stranded in office along with 300 odd colleagues and we spent the night at our office. First the AC and lifts were off, then systems were shut down (My only connectivity to the outside world, and that was also taken away) and then lights went off on all floors except the ground and 1st floor to conserve energy. Our canteen guys handled the situation well and kept serving us hot upma and later dinner. Not that we ate much due to being tense but their effort was appreciated. The Security guys were up all night guarding the office and taking care of our needs. Not one slept a wink the whole night.

People kept the spirits up by playing Antakshari, Dumb Charades, and talking into the night. None gave up any hope and everyone was sure Mumbai would be fine by next morning, only if the rain stopped. The rain had come crashing down since 2.00 in the afternoon and continued non-stop till 2.00 in the night. It was devilish, it was pouring, and it was destructive!!! In my 25 years in Mumbai I have never seen rains like this and the old generation, the likes of my granny said they had seen nothing like this in their entire life spent in this city!!

At our office the Admin people were hurrying around frantically, assessing the situation every hour, to decide what time would be suitable to send people off in the buses. They finally got us out at 5.00 a.m. on 27th July and I reached home at 7.00 a.m. safe and sound! Much lucky compared to those who struggled their way home.

Water flooded at most places and people waded through neck-deep water. Highways were jammed, trees broke down, walls came crashing, trucks toppled, cars floated and there were scenes of destruction everywhere! It was scary, it was frightening and seemed like it would not stop. Public services came to a standstill and traffic refused to budge. People left their vehicles and started their walk home, along the roads, along the railway tracks. People walked all the way from V.T. to Thane and Churchgate to Dahisar, i.e. almost 50 Kms. They started their journey back home at 3.00 in the afternoon on 26th July and reached home on 27th July at 3.00 in the afternoon!!!

No person gave up, they fought, they fought hard, and they were not fighting the rain god. They fought our stupid authorities who as always failed to be ready for the rains. These authorities relax and have their way and only the common man suffers. People will be agitated for few days, authorities will inspect few troubled areas and life will be same again. Nothing will be done to preempt disasters like this. The common man will continue to suffer! It’s really appalling that the authorities did not realize the enormity of things that were taking shape and no relief operations were started! People sought their own!!!

My dear sis-in-law walked bare feet form Andheri to Borivali. She lost her chappals in the water at Andheri owing to the strong force, she was caught between the devil and deep blue sea when she realized she could not return back to office nor come near mine. She walked the whole night taking some stops in between and finally reached home at 8.00 in the morning. She was so shocked from her ordeal that it took her sometime to tell us about her journey home. She was fine after that, she was just happy to be home!

People helped each other in this tragedy and that was the most heartening aspect. Mumbai is one big pool of water right now. I don’t know how soon we will recover from this. But the common man has learnt to fight and he will survive.

26th July was one of the days which tested the survival of the fittest and most passed the test!! There is something about this city and its spirit that is united, endearing, warm, compassionate and really special. It is our good old Mumbai.

However that does not mean our authorities slack and relax. This just a warning of bigger things that could happen. If we do not learn lessons from this downpour which was the highest ever recorded in the country, higher than Cherrapunji at 94 cm I doubt how long Mumbaites will sustain these disasters!!!

Is anyone listening there????

P.S: In a discussion in office a friend pointed out Minal what’s with 26 and India? I don’t believe in these things but seriously what is the link?

26th Dec 2004: Tsunami,
26th Jan 2001: Gujarat Earthquake,
26th August: Latur Earthquake
26th July, 2005: Mumbai Faces its worst rainfall ever!

Trapped in Torrential Rains

Mumbai is experiencing the worst rains since afternoon today.
Roads are blocked and communication is at a standstill. No phone lines are working.

I’m still safe in office and wondering how to get home. Will stick to my office transport, safer and more company. Won’t venture alone!

Will manage somehow!
It’s pretty worrying the whole situation.

The Wait is Over…

I’m not talking about the much awaited split of the Reliance Empire, or the Aussie defeat at the hands of England.

It’s the much awaited rains. They were late by 10 odd days than the usual and how they have tasted the patience of the Mumbaikar. The heat, the sweat, the sultry atmosphere was getting unbearable!

It poured yesterday and quite a bit today morning. On my way to office, I saw the muck around, the train-timetable all set to go haywire in few days, traffic on roads, people making their way through with umbrellas and windcheaters, pot-holes on roads, certain roads all set to get flooded…

Aha, the monsoon has arrived and Mumbai’s normalcy is on its way to get restored;-)

Enjoy these 4 months…

40 or 14?

Those figures are the distance in kilometers from my place to my previous office in Cuffe Parade and current one in Andheri. Which distance would you prefer to travel daily? Obviously 14, What a stupid question to ask?

Stupid question!!! Not after encountering the Mumbai traffic woes on the Western Express Highway! On my way to office today by the company bus, I got stuck in bad traffic jam,at Kandivali East, near the Mahindra Office. In the morning, it usually does not take more than 45 minutes from Borivali to Andheri via the Western Express Highway and the new Jogeshwari- Vikhroli Link road. I do not know why the clog happened, but as and when after a wait of 40 minutes on the stretch we got near the junction right in front of the Mahindra office, I was stunned.

There was no signal at the junction which allows a free right turn from the other side of the highway. There is no traffic policeman stationed there to regulate the flow of traffic, knowing it is a heavy traffic road. Today there was one, who I presume must’ve come only after hearing about the jam.

Surprisingly instead of allowing traffic to flow on either side at regular intervals he simply held up the traffic on the main highway flowing towards Andheri and allowed the vehicles to take the right turn towards the Mahindra office. The drivers refused to stop later and kept flowing in and as a result we were held up even longer and that caused the clog to aggravate further.

Later, it was appalling but also heartening was to see a few people get down from the buses ( a majority of them traveling to the various offices located in Andheri) and regulate the traffic flow, eventually leading us to get out of the jam in few minutes.

The site was appalling cause in a city like Mumbai which is so heavily congested, the traffic controllers apparently haven’t done their homework on congestion points and appoint more than one traffic policeman to control and regulate the flow there. This junction has been existing without a signal for long now and somehow no one has bothered to install the much needed signal there.

What’s more, the people who tried to regulate the flow, received a hell lot of abuses from the auto-drivers and other car owners trying to get to the Mahindra office way. A person even drove his car on the wrong side. This on a highway, when a policeman is around! Not one person bothered to stop and let the other vehicles pass towards Andheri, showing a complete disregard for other’s time. Each just wanted to get out of the way, come what may, without bothering how much of a discomfort it will cause to the already distressed travelers. How self-involved are we getting?

A little bit of understanding and co-operation shown and the traffic could’ve got sorted out in few minutes. The ‘I wanna be the first one to get out of here’ attitude added to the congestion getting worsened.

The site was heartening cause a few sane people took it up as their responsibility to come ahead and sort the traffic problem. They either wanted to help the sole policeman there or realised that he is doing a shoddy job so might as well teach him a few lessons. Maybe he learnt a few things from them. Or maybe, they wanted to be the ones to get out of there asap. Whatever the reason, their timely intrusion did save everyone a great deal of time and torture of being in the same place for 1 hour.

The western express highway that stretches from Bandra to Borivali is a highly populated one and the traffic jams are unbearable. I once tried to take my company bus in the evening, thinking it’s highly comfortable and it took me two hours to get home!! I would get home faster form Cuffe Parade to Borivali! I’d prefer the travel to Churchgate any day to the traffic horrors that one faces while traveling to Andheri!

The roads are being expanded, places all over have been dug up, there are slums all along the highway, and the dirt is unimaginable. It is indeed a pitiable state. What rehabilitation and construction is the BMC/Maharashtra govt. talking about? I’m dreading the travel in the monsoon to work. There are lots of places where water is gonna get clogged, making life impossible. How are we gonna rectify this? No one has the answers, but everyone to blame! God save the Mumbaikar!

More on the cleanliness/hygiene/civic sense later. That will make up for another blog chapter. I also happened to travel by the new boogie in the local train. Definitely thumbs up, it’s stylish, the stainless steel look is great, it’s spacious , more airy, seats are better and the handles comfortable! Problem is, the railway authorities are trying level best to lift the standard of daily travel in Mumbai, how responsible will we Mumbaikars be in maintaining it? Think about it…..

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