I saw the scaffolding come up for Ganpati Puja and I shuddered.
I work a stone's throw away from Mumbai's biggest Ganpati Puja at Lalbagh. Seeing the workmen awakened horrific memories of insane traffic and fighting for every inch on the way to work.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Ganpati Utsav. I love festivals and I think that they are a wonderful outlet for pent up energy. I used to live in Kolkata which used to come to a standstill thanks to do a Goddess. And I am not talking of Mamata Banerjee.
The thing about Durga Puja in Kolkata is that it is a holiday for everyone. Pretty much like Chinese New Year in the Orient and Christmas in the West. So those who want to celebrate it do so with unbridled passion. The rest stay home and chill without worrying about work.
No such luck with the Ganpati Puja here. Offices are open so you have to navigate through some pretty insane traffic situations to get to work. Those who celebrate it have to balance work and festivity. And that's no fun. Or they have to take an off day for a festival celebrated ironically by the largest community of the city. And those who don't celebrate it are pressed through the oil mills of tortuous traffic for no fault of theirs.
Add to this the Wednesday jams because of the Mahim Church, the Dargah jam for a week in December, the Mount Mary Fair blockades in Bandra and you will soon pray for freedom from religion.
It's sad that in India religious festivity is coupled with civic frustration.
A really sorry state of affairs. And I hope that it's not coming soon to a street near you.