Monday, September 24, 2007


Lines.
At six thirty in the morning, as the first birds begin to chirp and the rustic milkman makes his round with rattling cans.
Long winding lines, making their way past three suburbs. So if the line began in Lalbaug, it ended in Ferbunder, past Byculla and Chinchpokhli, and whoever knew where these places were till now?
Lines of the devout, waiting for a glimpse of the King of Lalbaug, a statue of Lord Ganpati, the one who grants boons. Looked like all the roads led to the suburb of Lower Parel yesterday pre-dawn.
I left for this distant suburb at 5.30 am, taking the 5. 42 slow (commuter) train, but not early enough, it looked like.
Winding lines, two and three strong in places, ran past old mills, now long shut. With names like “New Bombay cotton mills” and “ United India Mills”. Closed down, gray weathered concrete. Lush green where the natural vegetation has returned with a vengeance, taking back the land, lush overgrown and rich, half-close your eyes and you’d think you were in a forest. Some mills already reclaimed, tall towers with glass fronted penthouses and a clubhouse, gated security. Some in process, the land leveled, awaiting contruction, but the old walls still stand with padlocked steel doors to the ration shop. One mill valiantly struggling under govt management, a list of demands of the union on the wall outside. Whoever knew all this was here.Typical squat and slanting-tiled roof apartments of the mill workers, holding on to scare real estate, next door neighbors to luxury towers.
So you wait, making small talk with the strangers in the queue. It rains, and umbrellas spring open. Hordes walk past looking for the end of the queue. Did you look so surprised shocked when you walked past, on and on, you wonder.
After two and half hours, you’ve crossed one lane, step by step by step. Only to realize that the line has suddenly become longer from the middle. That it has become much longer than it logically should have, and changed directions so it winds twice over.
Sorry, Mr God.
I have an hour-long ride home.
I’d like to go and cook rotlis for lunch, if you’d excuse me.
Next year perhaps.

5 comments:

CRUSTYBEEF said...

I'd love to be on that train and experience the views..
old history new money, right? New properties with $$$$ pricing from old pasts. Bittersweet.
Here's to a good monday!!
Always,
Crusty~

austere said...

Hmm maybe use "queue" for lines? We tend to use "lines" when we're talking.
I was tired, just a few hours of being on my feet...
Right on about the property prices.A lot of that redevelopment happening in Mumbai, sometimes slumdwellers getting big money because they're sitting on prime real estate.. good for them.

Portia said...

rotlis eh? i looked it up and i do believe Mr. God will be at your house:)

Proxima Blue said...

That sounds like just how my luck would go when trying to be at the right place for things.

How about Rottis with Masala Aloo? Yummy! I love Naan with oil and big chunks of garlic on it. It's like being wrapped in a big, warm, fluffy blanket. Maybe Naan is not so popular that far north though, is it?

Have the rains died down yet, at least a little bit perhaps?

Later,
-P

austere said...

Portia- later I learnt it took ppl 14 hours in the queue for a glimpse of the God, so...A stackful of fresh rotlis for you, fluffy and hot off the tava..

proxima- nans are too oily, gujju cooking tends to be a little kinder on oil. we're in the west. the thar desert is closeby.
its nasty this time, the rain. we need a saint to shake a fist at the skies and say enough now! swami ramtirth did it, perhaps.