Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sandy Sandy!!

Hii folks,
Last weekend we (me with my roomies) went to visit one of the cleanest beaches seen ever in a long time. Don't be surprised because even this wasn't clean in the true sense, but certainly clean when you compare it with most of the beaches on the eastern coastline of India. I was in a trance when I felt the sand slipping beneath my foot. But the journey from Mumbai to the Island beach of Gorai, brought some stark and bitter truths out. Gorai is a fairly big island to the west of Borivali, where the Essel Group has already set up Asia's biggest water theme park.

A small channel of sea separates Gorai from the mainland. The tide plays havoc with the sea and its surroundings out there especially, when the visiting tourists throw out the litter in the sea. The mangroves are submerged under water during the day and once the Sun begins to set, the water level begins to recede fast, thus uncovering a huge muddy stinking dumpyard. No wonder for a nature lover like me, I couldn't spot a single sea bird except for Crows. By the way, when you find an unusually high number of Crows congregating at a single place, you can be assured that the soil and the surroundings there is either not fit for wildlife habitation or is littered with all kinds of Garbage possible.

And then there's an unfinished overbridge there, supposedly meant for the tourists to cross over the channel. You have wooden mechanised boats always overloaded with passengers and a disaster waiting to happen. Once you cross the channel, you are welcomed by the stink of Horse dung littered all over the road. Courtesy, the Tangas there. From there, its a 10 minute ride in an autorickshaw to the Gorai Beach. The coast is lined with Coconut trees that make the beach that much more scenic. But then again, you can't help but notice that the Hawkers and Vendors there who don't hesitate to dump the waste in the open.

But the beach soil is awesome and hard enough to act as a cricket pitch and a racing track. I took hardly 5 minutes to change into the swimming costume and threw myself in the sea. Swimming here is that much more easy than in a swimming pool, because of the sea water's high density. And for the next one hour, we spent clicking photographs and in the process tasting what real salt is!!

A beach is a place where you forget all the things in your life, and surrender yourself to the calm and serene yet the mighty and powerful sea. And suddenly when I was back to my usual self I realised, Was it me who swam and swam his heart out and enjoyed jumping in the sea?No, it wasn't ME. He was someone else. He was a part of ME. He, who had no worries in life and only knew how to swim and swim all the way to a place, elusive to many of the people in the world called HAPPINESS!!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't dare say "Bombay"

hii folks,
The summer this year has brought me to the financial capital of India. And here I am developing a marketing strategy for a well known private life insurer. Never known how it feels when you don't know what to do or when you don't have much work to do, but now I have been having more than my share of such experiences which I don't deserve. Nevertheless, on a brighter note I have traveled quite a bit here and explored new places, beaches and interacted with many people. Meeting people can be quite a nice experience, but also in some rare cases be horrible!! But you do learn how to face different personalities which is what I am up to these days.

Coming to Mumbai, it is a city of contrasts. It is very rare that you find a slum besides a skyscraper. People are either very nice or very rude. My first solo experience was one amongst my worst ever experiences with a taxi driver taking me for a ride. That is when you realise the importance of knowing a city well before you come and settle down. People here are fast paced and the slower ones are brushed aside. Buses are jam packed at peak hours, so much that you have to stand on one foot in the bus. Hire a taxi, only when you know where you want to go, because there are inevitably many routes to a given place. Don't dare say "Bombay" when you are in a crowd, because there is every possibility that the crowd will stare and castigate you the very next moment!!

The problem with Mumbai is it is surrounded by sea. And with the population rapidly growing more because of migration of labourers than natural reasons, the tree cover is coming down. On my way to Gorai Beach, which is an island beach, I witnessed how mangroves are being cut down to make space for realty. Though south Mumbai is awesome (British Legacy), the central region and the suburbs are pathetically planned. Mumbai for sure, will be one of the first cities to be submerged under the sea. I might sound utterly pessimistic and even I hope that doesn't happen, but people rarely acknowledge the bitter truth.

I was walking down the Marine Drive with my friends, when one of my friends commented on how the sea behaves violently here, come Monsoon. During Monsoon, you will find the entire Marine Drive wet. Nothing new in that. But, what's interesting to observe is the increase in the height of the sea levels over the years and Mumbaikars will vouch for that. People will never forget the Mumbai floods in 2005. I have heard some gory stories of people missing from that day onwards.

Mumbai might be a city full of resilience. It has faced all calamities and terror acts and yet shown an amazing restraint, rarely found anywhere. After the 26/11 attacks, contrary to what I thought there were no riots. Mumbai has the capacity to accommodate anybody from the world. But there's always an end to anything and everything.

I was shopping near Dadar railway station and bought a track suit for myself at a roadside stall. Polythene carry bags are banned in Mumbai and one isn't supposed to use them. But what the stall owner did was quite shocking. He uncovered a small jute bag and from it unleashed the CHOKER, read the polythene bags that do nothing but choke the earth's soil. Of course thankfully, I had brought my own bag so I refused to take that carry bag. He stared at me as if I have refused to take GOLD from him!!.

Now unless people stop doing such things, Mumbai's future looks bleak. Mumbai is a city I admire and I am pretty sure a lot of you also do, but then what future does Mumbai hold for itself when roads are dug incessantly to make way for MonoRail and then not covered off immediately, when manholes are opened at night and when you fail to find a single Trash at some of the Local stations here!! Point to ponder I guess.