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Musings from Mumbai
|by Subra Narayan|
During a recent sojourn in Aamchi Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised to read in the Times of India that a writ petition filed by concerned citizens opposing a bandh last year was upheld by the High Court. This was further followed by the imposition of a steep fine against the errant political parties to recoup the financial losses faced by the city due to the bandh. The petitioners included four prominent citizens and four daily wage earners. This brings to mind 'The Elephant paradigm, India wrestles with change', written by Gurcharan Das, in which he says that India will advance like a wise elephant, moving steadily and surely to bring about change. I hope the verdict is upheld by the Supreme court and that this will set a precedent and forever change the very notion of the 'bandh' concept.
The bandh apparently has historic roots in the Swadeshi movement during the British Raj, when it might have made a lot of sense, but in the 21st century, where we live in a globalized society, any concerned citizen will wince at the thought of a bandh and what it does to paralyze a city. I am sure there are umpteen ways to voice your protest in a collective manner and certainly other democratic nations resort to more effective methods. As a city doctor lamented in the TOI article that during the day of the bandh, he was driving with the Red Cross signs prominently displayed on his vehicle, when a stone pelted and injured his driver seriously. If the political machinations try to flex their muscles by holding a city to ransom and bring it to a grinding halt, then it is high time that the Judiciary was pressed into action to make bandhs illegal.
In spite of the monsoon rains and the entropy of the commuters, the Mumbai trains continue to run on time, an incredible feat considering the fact that Desis the world over are infamous for diligently following IST. It is still the best means of commuting in Mumbai, at least to most places. The next time you are in Mumbai, take a trip to Crossword at Kemp's Corner, a 2 level bookstore that includes a coffee shop. This is truly comparable to some of the best Barnes & Nobles/Borders bookstores and offers a huge selection of works by Indian authors.
It is hard to comprehend the SMS craze and the abuse of cell phones or rather mobiles. Upon boarding a train in Churchgate, within seconds this gentleman whips out his mobile and says, 'Hello I just got into the train...hmm it is raining heavily... will call you as soon as I reach Bombay Central.'! The bhajiwalla, the maid servant and the doodhwalla have all gone mobile. What did Mumbaikars do a few years ago without the mobile, SMS and the internet? M bole to Mumbai Mobile.
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