Thursday, December 11, 2008

Had enough?

I am rapidly tiring of this city! Oh wait, I said that already!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's the humanity?

How do you feel about living in a city where traffic doesn't make way for an ambulance? I think I am beginning to tire of this city!

Monday, June 09, 2008


The monsoon has started with a bang this time, flooding the entire city on the first day itself. Obligatory noises about the ineffectiveness of the government, who will get away with doing nothing and eating away tax payer money as usual. Still, its better than the sweltering heat of the summer. Envy the kids who play with abandon in the rain.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mumbai taxi driver==Unscrupulous?

While auto rickshaw fares are simple enough to calculate, I have never been able to decipher the meter reading in Mumbai taxis. To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to the math. Till recently, when I learnt that the fare card for taxis was revised in 2007 with lower rates. However, most taxi drivers still have the old cards, which are about 10% more expensive on an average. Most taxi drivers keep a copy of both the old and new rate cards. New - for when a cop catches them and old - for conning unaware passengers! If you insist on the new card, they will grudgingly pull it out, wave it quickly in front of your eyes and declare it is only 2-3 rupees lower. 2-3 rupees my foot, I don't hear that when they are at the receiving end! And act as if you are this rich miser who would grudge a poor man a few pennies!

Its not just about the money. I have a problem with paying people who trying to con me so blatantly. And it isn't just the "bhaiyyas" who do it. Everybody does, including Maharashtrian drivers and the odd sardars. Maybe Raj and his cronies would do well to focus their energies on correcting such wrongs, which would actually help the citizens of Bombay, oops, Mumbai.

Friday, February 29, 2008

What inspires the violence?

I first became aware of the contempt with which UP/Bihar is treated when I thought my Bengali friend back to college was Bihari. He practically recoiled at the implied insult (unintentional) in the question. The first time I heard the word "bhaiyyas" used in a derogatory sense was when the watchman in the building killed a big fat lizard we wanted to chase out (not kill) and demanded a 100 rupee payment. The reason - he was a Brahman and had sinned by killing a living creature. I was like 'wtf'. My roommate (who was from UP herself) told him to take a hike. We then found our laundry guy who did it for less than half the price and muttered, "these bhaiyyas" before he left.

Over the last four years, I have sat in many taxis and rickshaws driven by members of the said states. For the most part, I've had no trouble. But whenever I was overcharged (a rare occurrence in Mumbai by itself), its inevitably been by a member of the same group. A classic case of a few rotten apples spoiling the lot? I guess so. But that doesn't give anyone the right to resort to violence. Rhetoric apart, its a fact that Mumbai wouldn't run for a single day if the UP and Bihar folks weren't in the city. People who are hasty with the brick bats, kindly stop and think about it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Much ado about Ganpati

I remember shopping for Ganesha idols with my father when I was a kid. We used to buy a freshly made idol and carry it home carefully so that the wet clay didn't break off. For me, the primary thrill was weaseling a lump of clay from the idol maker's pile and making weird shapes. Dropping the figurine into the well at the back of house on the third day used to be exciting as well- we used to count the number of seconds it fell before we heard the big splash.

Over the years, the clay idols vanished to make way for paper mache and plaster of Paris, I moved out for college and have never been home for the festival since. And all the din in Mumbai for what used to be a fun-yet-peaceful day makes me wish that the government would just ban all the noise being made and make it obligatory for people to stay quiet about their religiousness. And the processions haven't even started. Sigh.

Monday, September 10, 2007


A woman in her mid-30s was found naked and unconscious on a CST-Titwala train's first class ladies compartment on Saturday night.The unidentified woman travelled the entire 65-km distance between the two stations in that condition with no help forthcoming from a single commuter. - TOI

What can I say - I am appalled, outraged and frightened by the worsening security conditions for women in the city. And this happened on the 9:27pm local, not even late into the night. What's even more appalling is that nobody did anything to help the poor woman even after she was found. At least earlier, there were cops on ladies compartments (doesn't really help if you're the only woman and there is this male cop with a heavy old gun though). Now there's absolutely nothing. Women commandos? They only seem to be interested in harassing and shoving around hawkers on platforms. I've never seen one on a local train.

I don't know the reasons why dance bars were closed in the city, but I do know that crimes against women have risen sharply post the same. Whatever the moral police have to say about dance bars, it kept sexual predators off the streets and the streets were safer for women. How long before Mumbai gets to be as bad as Delhi?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


With only 24 hours in a day, its easy to melt into the crowds in Mumbai. And very difficult to make time for a post. Thankfully, its raining again and we have some respite from the utterly irritating humidity. I am now waiting for December and the party season.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Its raining - no, its pouring these days. After a rather dry July, the monsoon has come back to Bombay with a vengeance. This time around, it seems to be raining harder in town than in the suburbs. No complaints from me yet, except that the air conditioner in the office needs to be turned off. Enjoy the rain, folks!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One year..

... since the blasts on the trains. And no criminal brought to justice. Mumbai, please don't forget!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

We need a better weather forecasting system

I am not complaining because my plans have been upset for the second consecutive weekend. But why does the met forecast always have to come a few hours too late? A significant portion of the population spent Saturday hoping that things wouldn't worsen to 26/7 levels. And when did the met forecast heavy rainfall? - after hours of torrential downpour plunged a lot of traffic channels under water. As usual, the met advised caution the next day - which turned out to be almost dry! We Mumbaikars have long stopped expecting that BMC will do anything but make things worse. But it would really help if we at least had a better forecasting system. Shame.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The rains have started - and how! Stayed indoors over the weekend and watched the skies pour down. Sipped a warm cuppa, curled up under the sheets with a book and some nice thoughts. News reports of falling buildings, water in people's homes and stranded passengers flitted by, only to be filed away with the usual Mumbaikar stoicism.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mumbai demystified

Found a nice set of videos about Mumbai hot spots. Never mind the host though. Sample:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Its about to begin

The rain clouds are gathering, it wont be long now.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Making out is in the air... literally!

Woke up this morning to a persistent, rustling noise. Upon investigation, it turned out to be two amorous pigeons doing the nasty outside my kitchen window. Coming upstairs from the cafeteria after lunch, I spotted multiple couples (pigeons, of course) dancing their almost human courtship rituals. Which makes me wonder, how come I've never seen a baby pigeon in my 3 years in Mumbai?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A bitter sweet story

A piece of chocolate so sweetly given. Little kids on the street pulled at my arm till there was no way I could've eaten it without feeling like scum-of-the-earth. I hope I get another.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Waiting for the rains

A few more days of this heat and I'll be just a puddle on the floor. When will the skies get gray and shower us with some love?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Vada Pav Mornings

I keep forgetting that the ubiquitous vada pav is the staple food of a rather large segment of the population in Maharashtra. And I keep getting reminded of that fact by the old couple sitting at the Churchgate station every morning, eating their meager breakfast from an old newspaper parcel. The old woman can't see, so its usually the old man who looks at me as if I am an intruder into their peaceful, if humble breakfast. I remember thinking once that if I were poor, I'd at least hold on to my dignity. I usually turn away from his eyes, embarrassed and ashamed as if I am trying to bruise his dignity.

Everybody starts out young, with a rather socialistic approach to life. And then we grow up into hardened capitalists out to get the bigger, better deal. I am no different. I am the typical hypocrite who thinks I've absolved myself with annual donations to CRY and that's that. I console myself with pseudo intellectual thoughts such as the fact that perhaps all forms of life are inherently capitalistic (seriously!). I'm usually pretty effective at turning a blind eye, but at times I am unable to escape that feeling of shame. And the old man with his vada pav reminds me of just that.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Isnt this true?

Another forward, the ones in italics are the ones I specifically find true :)

Things that prove you're a Bombayite

1. You say "town " and expect everyone to know that this means south of Churchgate.

2 You speak in a dialect of Hindi called 'Bambaiya Hindi', which only Bombayites can understand.

3. Your door has more than three locks.

4. Rs 500 worth of groceries fit in one paper bag.

5. Train timings (9.27, 10.49 etc) are really important events of life.

6. You spend more time each month traveling than you spend at home.

7. You call an 8' x 10' clustered room a Hall.

8. You're paying Rs 10,000 for a 1 room flat, the size of walk-in closet and you think it's a "steal."

9. You have the following sets of friend: school friends, college friends, neighborhood friends, office friends and yes, train friends, a species unique only in Bombay.

10. Cabbies and bus conductors think you are from Mars if you call the roads by their Indian name,
they are more familiar with Warden Road, Peddar  Road, Altamount Road .

11. Stock market quotes are the only other thing* besides cricket which you follow passionately.

12. The first thing that you read in the Times of India is the " Bombay Times" supplement.

13. You take fashion seriously.

14. You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.

15. Hookers, beggars and the homeless are invisible.

16. You compare Bombay to New York 's Manhattan instead of any other cities of India.

17. The most frequently used part of your car is the horn.

18. You insist on calling CST as VT, and Sahar and Santacruz airports instead of Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

19. You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.

20. Your idea of personal space is no one actually standing on your toes.

21. Being truly alone makes you nervous.

22. You love wading through knee deep mucky water in the monsoons, and actually call it ''romantic'.

23. Only in Bombay , you would get Chinese Dosa and Jain Chicken.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

It only gets worse

Yet another religious procession yesterday. Only this also included buckets of pungent pink powder being sprayed all over the place. Even non participants went home with a thin layer of pink dust on their vehicles and selves. Spent the time stuck in traffic wishing I had a Kill- O- Zap!! Jeez, someone please ban public processions! The nightmare of buses, cars and all other kinds of vehicles jostling for space in one half of an already narrow road is just too much to bear!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh. My. God!

From a forwarded mail in the morning:
A man slipped and fell in the gap between the train and the platform at Kandivli station. Supportive bystanders told him exactly what he shouldn't do — move. The man lay absolutely still as eight bogies of the train passed over him — centimeters from his body. Within seconds the 12-coach train passed and the man clambered out, unaided, unhurt, but too shocked to speak after his near-death experience!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The French Connection

Picture courtesy of Jinesh Gandhi.

The office was in an uproar yesterday evening when Abhi-Ash (that's Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, for the uninitiated) walked into the building. The reason - the French consulate demands that visas be applied for in person. It was amusing to watch otherwise prim and proper people rushing downstairs to catch a glimpse of the celebrity couple. Hrithik Roshan was there the day before, but he failed to enthuse the crowd as much! What's with Bollywood and France anyway?

Monday, April 02, 2007


Was on my post lunch stroll when I found this little ball of fur curled up in the shade of the Arey booth near my office. What luxury!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stop spitting, you people!

When I first moved to Hyderabad, I was appalled by the red spit stains - all along the sides of roads, along staircases, any corner you can think of. When I look back and compare it with our very own Mumbai, I feel that Hyderabad is such a clean place! Here, people don't just spit on corners and roadsides, they spit everywhere!! Take last night for instance, this elderly gentleman spat noisily and gloriously on to the railway platform and happily stepped on it just a moment later. Talk about civic sense.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ban religious ceremonies in public

Caution: Rather extreme views ahead. Those with delicate sensibilities kindly refrain from reading!

Started for work at 7:30 am and found myself caught in unnatural traffic. The reason - some religious procession. There should be a ban on all religious processions at decent hours. And that includes the much celebrated Ganesh Puja, which is just a nightmare for people trying to get home after a hard day's work. I really don't understand why people have to publicly display their religious affectations. And its even worse when some god-man comes into town and thousands of people throng to meet him. Do people have such low self confidence that they need reassurance from some guy who has turned God and religion into a money spinning racket? Having lost the emotional crutch that's faith, I really envy those who do. But please, faith is an internal expression, something so private that public display only demeans and cheapens it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cats & Dogs

The first thing that I noticed when I moved into my place almost 2 years ago was the abundance of cats. Browns, greys, stripes, blacks and patchy whites all crowded around the garbage collector as she went about her daily work. A shaggy, scarred tom would go about disciplining the females and the kittens, fending off younger toms who tried to encroach into his territory. Once I even caught him engaged in frenetic copulation with one of the females (a fascinating sight - like miniature lions). Those among you who have seen cats doing it in broad daylight, please raise your hands! The dogs were conspicuous by their absence.

For the past few months, a pack of stray dogs have taken over the street. The cats have dispersed, the big tom is the only one who dares to strut before the canine conquerors. Given a choice, I'd choose a dog over a cat for a pet any day, but its far less of an annoyance to have stray cats patrolling your streets than dogs. I miss the cats!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Starting over

Recently, someone told me that he was surprised that I wasn't writing about Mumbai. Well, I started this for that purpose, but couldn't find the time to blog regularly. Another attempt.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Somebody save me

The trains are getting more and more crowded everyday. Second day in a row that I had to miss a train because I couldn't get on. And this was before 8 a.m. God help us!

Friday, August 18, 2006

I belong

Its been over two years since I moved to Mumbai. An eventful time - jobs, friends, illness & therapy, floods, blasts, more floods, trains, crowds - but life goes on in Mumbai. I am no longer an outsider. I am a Mumbaikar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Many wonders

Walking to the Dadar station yesterday, I was shocked to see people worshipping a giant 1 Rupee coin. I mean, I've heard of people worshipping money, but to see it happen so blatantly is something else. Guess it would happen only in amchi Mumbai.

Speaking of Dadar, the place is... well, words cannot describe it. The sheer profusion of colour, sound, and bodies are enough to confound the senses and put you in a daze. Gave myself a pat on the back for coming out unscathed.