Monday, February 9, 2009

Bandra flyover: dangerous spot

(Middle of the Bandra flyover, where vehicles are flying about happily. At the `entrance' or the spot where the flyover begins, is where there is a messy patchwork that can be life-threatening, extremely dangerous, with tremendous scope for collision, particularly between small and big vehicles, as the former slowdown and the latter speed up)

As you sweep over and into the Bandra flyover, in an auto, you shudder suddenly as the tiny vehicle u are travelling in coughs and sputters. This has happened everytime I have swept over the flyover. The auto rickshah wallah, a hardened bunch usually, shiver when their vehicle wobbles, almost halting: this is a dangerous patchwork of concretisation which creates this reaction. An even patch there means the autos have to slowdown, at the precise spot where they hope to propel upwards with greater power. Also, as they slow down they sense that the vehicles behind them, some of them large, are accelarating for the sweep upwards. This means, there could be a dangerous collision. Every rickshahwallah I have travelled with cribs about this and just how dangerous it is. Who cares??

It pisses me off so much that there is so much shoddy roadwork in this `international city'. And if this is the state of an important flyover, in the heart of the city, then imagine the plight elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Security or threat?

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Yesterday I got a mail, possibly by mistake, floating between my society's committee members. It seems one of the security guard chiefs (of Maratha Guards) threatened one of my committee member, threatening to `chop him into pieces.' The reason for his grouse seems to have been resistance from this member for a pay hike for his guards!! Now of course, the chief is denying it. But as the mails flying between committee members (coming to me, for some reason:) suggests that there is quite a bit of panic all around at such an atrocious, open attack. If these fellows can talk like that to society members (de facto divinity in any complex in Mumbai) then what of us simpler, humbler mortals??

This security guard business is getting rather tangled, as the above incident shows. One time, after my room burnt down and we were repairing it, we had to ferry cement sacks up...30 or so in all. While the property manager's office had no objection, one lone warrior security guard, Mondal, I recall, refused to let that poor teen carry the sack in the lift. When I returned home from my classes I saw this kid walking the eight-flight staircase with this huge load on his back.. I felt absolute pain. I went down to argue and then tried to reason with that old idiot, but he stuck to his ground -- My house, fellow is guarding!! Getting his salary from my maintenance fee and he refused something I needed to have done!! Can u imagine that cheek!! And even if it was just his ego(that affects his relationship with flat-owner), what of compassion in him (for somebody from his own home state, possibly, and his own economic background)? To make a young boy lug up those huge, heavy sacks of cements!! This is the state of security guards in this stupid, confused city... Then, though I felt rather sick, later, when there was festival, I tipped that silly old misguided old man because I felt that if continued to fume everytime I saw him, I am destined to have a future life with him in some corner of it! And ever after that tip he salaamed me. And that too bothered me a lot... That is all it takes for a guard to switch from a state of misguided, stiff-necked duty to misguided obsequiousness...

At Khar the other day, at my private class, again I witnessed a tussle between a flat-owner and a guard: the former must be a crorepati, but if anything the guard is very happy to be grappling with a rich man... The owner was saying that it was the guard's duty and that fellow was, shoulder held high, answering him right back... It bothered me, just because obviously most security guards hired here have a major chip on their shoulders about something. And can, if not handled properly, actually be security threats themselves... Remember the shoot-out in SRK's house?? Don't forget the recent incident at Nadiadwala's house, where he got neatly burgled by his security guard...

I recall, when we had the Knight Frank security earlier, one of those fellows assigned to our building used to scratch is crotch rather suggestively when women passed him by. Anybody bothers in this chalta hai city, except this silly me who wishes to change the world? Another fellow used to ogle at my little girl. I used to be so terrified that I will be pacing up and down half-an-hour before her school return timing, worried sick at the thought that she must pass him before entering the house. I confined my work so that whatever happened I was home for her since I felt threatened for her, by this man.

There are too many incidents like this. In the beginning of this year, while doing a private-general combo session in another Evershine complex closeby, I was entering the gate while the guard supervisor asked me to jot down my name. I am ok with that. But he indicated I must enter the tiny enclosure where he was seated. The other fellow, his junior, also nodded eagerly. The idea was that I get sandwiched between these two in a narrow space... As far as I recall, that is not the requirement, since the enclosure has a window through which we can reach our hands in, to write!! I told him to pass that notebook to me, so I can jot my name down. I thought if they tried that stunt with a young child or teen (when you are the mother of a young girl, you are either like me, paranoid. Or like most others, indifferent: - since the latter would be the only way to be sane under such circumstances) she may not have the presence of mind or confidence to say what I did to them... Sick fellows.... Later, at the class, I asked one of my students, a male, if he was asked to write his name at the entrance. He said, no!! Clearly, only us women are security threats to these guards..

Bored men can be dangerous...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mumbai magical in the morning

(Sun peaking out of a foggy Mumbai sky)
I go to the Bandra yoga classes in the mornings, shivering fitfully in the auto. When I wake up for the class, I do get the occasional twinge at how I am slaving like a dog (I must be up by 4.30 am just to get things organised around the house since I am gone before/almost when the rest of the family is waking up) and if I should take on such far-off assignments. But when I am inside the auto (bliss, to find one and even greater one, to have a regular autowallah ferry you to your destination, as is happening with me) and look at little children walking long stretches in small groups I feel sheepish at my own laziness. The kids are out in the road, with the occasional stray dog barking at them. Some working women are also out, standing all alone in lonely stretches along the highway, waiting possibly for a co-worker to pick them up. The Pune commuters are also out -- u can make that out by the bags. And you feel that the whole world is about and busy and wonder why you felt lethargic when u were preparing to step out. Hey, some hardcore walkers and joggers are either out enthusiastically gossiping, or listening to ipods/mobile music or just slogging alone. That looks so cool. The best face of Mumbai is in this period, pre-dawn, dark, busy and empty.
I am a bad photographer even when things are steady. Catching pictures on moving auto is higher challenge:) But it is my Nokia Xpressmusic that has managed to give some form to these shaky images below...
This is the stretch along the Goregaon's Aaarey Colony -- the greenery is unbelievable. The sun is peaking out, golden, still untainted by Mumbai's pollution. Some poor people are using the bushes for the morning ablutions. Today I saw an interesting (!) sight -- a man had crapped, and was throwing water to clean up the mess, over a pavement. You know, if I was a rich builder -- instead of depositing money at temples to wipe away my sins, I would build public toilets -- there is more punya (grace) there...
This stretch is off Santa Cruz, before the flyover, where the airport stretches. It seems to be beloved of early morning walkers. You can see housewives in groups, in their nighties, walking and gosspiping. Old men, young men, girls -- some even walking alone:) I love that. Today, opposite the huge gate, I saw a group of young kids, with their instructor, training for some sport. Oh, the other night, I even saw (when the flyover construction work was happening), a small group of young kids learning martial arts on the flyover. Btw. If I was a rich builder, that is another thing I will do for some solid punya -- build or create beautiful spaces for some real sports training.

Monday, February 2, 2009

PVR mall at Goregaon

I prefer InOrbit Mall to PVR. But since the latter is close by and since my daughter is becoming a mall rat, we often end up at PVR to catch a film and gorge at its food court. So this is I, at the PVR cinema, looking up at the six-pack of Aamir in Ghajini, a film which I chose not to see btw since it is so violent and I find such films overwhelming ... and traumatising (having seen the Tamil version with Surya in the lead). Apparently the Hindi film is not so violent, whatever that may mean in terms of degree..

Any case to return to PVR mall review. I find though at this mall though there are tonnes of brands, most products are high end. Even Reebok, I found that my modest Kandivli had some nice, inexpensive gym wear at affordable rates (there is a 40 per cent flat discount on Reebok products and I found the yoga mat I like very much has actually become costlier over the last few months -- from 700 rs -- post discount -- that I spent on it, to now rs 900 -- so I am rather wary about this discount business). The PVR Reebok had high-end stuff which I, despite my bad wastrel spending habits, could not think of buying. The may be the only reason I like to visit PVR because I do not spend so much plastic money there. But Peter England had such a fabulous sale that I bought a pile of very sexy clothes and bags and accessories and spend only Rs 2000. My idea of a good buy:)

Any case, the PVR mall is over-crowded. Mostly visited by mall rats who do not want to spend or buy anything but come just to soak into that Mumbai-crowd-energy that draws people like magnets (even on flyovers). Also, you are constantly walking over elevators and staircases, going round and round, in a leg-crunching fashion that makes me very irritable, especially when u want to duck wannabe city-slickers and Mumbai casanovas who want to hit on women and little girls who insist on wearing shorts to such places .. The toilets are also rather crowded (on the food court floor) and imagine waiting inside such a stuffy place...

And the worst, for which I really hate Mumbaikars, happens here: q jumping. At the food court that is very common. All queues encourage this. I had a sort of showdown with the Falafel counter staff for allowing men to edge me out.. I have to duck the elbows of some loutish men (usually pointed at the soft spots in a woman's anatomy). So while u duck them, the q-jumpers jump the queue. Since you cannot teach such boors any manners I ticked off the Falafel staff. Who, whether deliberately or not, after that kept me waiting for even longer and then again, forgot to give me the dessert, so that I was fuming and my dessert felt sour in my mouth.. Really. I am determined not to eat anything further at that counter till my anger chills off...

And then, at the Peter England counter, where there was a ridiculous double Q which kept merging and dispersing and where, whenever I asked someone if there was one Q or two, they looked through me or over my head as if I was an alien who they were pretending was not there: what is wrong with these people, are they so shy? Or ill-mannered? Or illiterate? Then, one short fellow skims past me, and past another genteel gentleman importantly, jumps the Q right there and then, in front of me and into my double-trouble q!! Oh, I could not bother. I had a feeling that that Fellow Up There (God, no less) who likes to laugh at me, was chuckling and I was not going to add to his laughter can by starting to fume. So I ignored the q-jump and joked about it to my genteel neighbour. We laughed again, when that short lout in front threw the one pant he was buying into my neighbour's spectacles, almost blinding him. I felt better laughing than fuming. That is the only way to survive in this city.. whose microcosm that PVR mall is... which u must avoid if you want to avoid those flashy, wannabe crowds (I am part of that too, visiting it, no doubt:)...
Phew, I feel tired just thinking of them...and seeing myself of part of that breed...