Skip to main content

Mumbai Road Rage

It took me close to two hours to drive the twelve odd kilometres from Chinchpokli to Bandra after work at Mumbai this evening. I took to the wheels of my new car for the first time after I returned from a weekend in KL and its regulated traffic and empty roads. I am without a driver again.

My spanking new expensive car with ergonomic seats and super suspension couldn't prevent my back from giving in today after the drive. I was so disoriented when I returned from my drive from hell that I almost put my socks in the garbage bin instead of in the laundry basket. So why am I writing instead of resting my back? I am writing because I am angry. Very angry. And the pain doesn't let me forget my anger.

Angry at the fact that I live in a city where I have to pay the highest road taxes, the highest for fuel, highest for rent and then have to go through this. Roads broken everywhere. Multiple constructions going on in every road of this cursed city. Metro, Monorail, flyovers, concreting, sky walks ... more projects at the same time than the number of women Tiger Woods had at one go. Some of them such as the walkways are a joke meant for construction guys and netas to beat the recession.

And then there are jaywalkers. That's the first thing which struck me after my weekend in KL. How pedestrians just take over the road and jauntily wave a finger at you asking you to stop. You spend huge sums of money to buy more bhp, cubic centimetres, more power, space and then move at the speed which would make a bullock cart driver seem like a F1 racer. And before you get all socialistic on me...there is enough space on our pavements. And traffic lights are there for a reason.

Then I came back, switched on the telly and what do I see? The principle opposition party taking on a film star who wants to hire Pakistanis for his cricket team. And the crown prince of the ruling party reminding all that commandos in 2611 had come from North India. I don't know what Major Unnikrishan's father would say about it. But the crown prince seemed to have forgotten that the commandos could have come earlier if his then Home Minister didn't want to hitch a ride on the flight for a photo op. And the 'Cousin'? I have it on good authority that there were both people who speak the local language and those who don't who were stuck in this evening's traffic. And then there was the gem that the police at Pune are going to come down on PDA during V Day. Splendid. Now all we need to hope is that Kasab's classmates come in holding hands. We will be safe then.

And don't give me the argument that the middle class doesn't vote and don't deserve to complain. I voted for the last two elections once I got my name on the lists here.

Don't give the argument, "shut up or ship out you outsider". I have lived in this city for ten years. Folks need to understand that every global city grows because of their mix of native talent AND immigrant talent. Often from across borders. Would Mumbai be as big in the corporate world, films, advertising, fashion, electronic media, if it wasn't for people who had come from outside and made it its home? Neither is exclusive. The locals build the base. And fresh blood helps the city grow. We can accept this fact of life. Or we can be like the cities across India which everyone pooh poohs.

From traffic to the outsider issue.... I know that it's a hyper leap but the point I am trying to make is that there are enough real issues here - traffic, water, pollution, housing, drunken driving, rats, terrorism. It's surprising that our polity have the time to dream up the sort of ridiculous issues which they live by. But I guess that is our lot. They will fiddle. And we will burn..

Drunken driving? It's driving here which will lead you to drink

Popular posts from this blog

Where will you be twenty years from now?

A taste of Mumbai
It struck me the other day that it has been about twenty years since the time I took my first steps, albeit unwittingly, towards moving into Mumbai.
I had been recruited by a market research agency in Kolkata from campus back then. I joined my new office once the MBA course was over. We were then sent to Mumbai for a training programme in August 1997. Once the course was over, my colleagues from Kolkata returned home. I was slated to stay back for a 2 month training programme in Mumbai which then stretched on for close to 6 months. I was put up at a PG in Bandra by my office then.
Such  a long journey
This was the first time that I was living away from home. All I wanted to do then was to get back to Kolkata as soon as I could. Go back and build a successful career in market research hopefully. Move to an apartment in a posher part of Kolkata than where we lived. At Ballygunge for example. 
I thought it would be cool one day have a club membership given to me by offic…

The importance of being 'Nyaka'

'Nyaka' is a Bengali term which beats translation. It could mean coy, coquettish, scheming, la di da. There is no one word which captures it. The term is used in a pejorative context and has a sarcastic tone to it. Used a bit more for women than for men. Has a feminine context when used for men.I posed the challenge of translating 'nyaka' into English to fellow Bengalis in Facebook. Here's a sample of the answers that I got.I have removed the names and kept the statuese as is, hope it's not too difficult to read

Bong man 1Coy.....but that does capture the essence
14 December at 14:37 ·

No ...not entirely. A colleague just suggested precocious. Maybe its too intrinsic a Bong trait to be translated :)
14 December at 14:50 ·

Bong woman 1kol-lan, difficult to get a english / hindi word for nyaka.
14 December at 15:11 ·

that's the point
14 December at 15:15 ·

Bong woman 2
oh, i think the essence of the word 'nyaka' will be lost in translation. just like gettin…

Queue-spreading because its spelling is the least of our problem with queues

Scene 1:

I had gone to pay local taxes at a government office in Bandra a few days back.

I was directed to a table where there was no-one else waiting. I went up to the officer at the desk and submitted our papers. He keyed in the details in to his computer. The results flashed immediately. I gave our cheque, so far so good.

Then the officer pointed out that the cheque was Rs 12 (twelve) more than what was due. We looked at each other and tried to figure out what has to be done. Suddenly an elderly corpulent gentleman came and sidled up and stood beside me. I waited a for a couple of seconds. I thought he might have a question for the officer. I looked at the encroacher. He smiled at me. There was no-one behind me and yet he stood beside me.

I looked at him and said, 'do you mind standing behind me? We are discussing something here.' He smiled at me and said, 'no problem, I will wait.'

I drew my breath and said, 'can you please stand in the queue while we finish.&…