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Rains in Mumbai but I am not complaining

People wade through waterlogged streets of Mumbai after heavy rains in Mumbai on July 2, 2014. (Photo: Sandeep Mahankal/IANS)
After an acute dry spell all of June not to mention the scorching heat, Mumbai finally received rains yesterday. And the rains Gods well and truly opened their hearts out. No it wasn’t like the July 26, some 8 or 9 years ago but it did bring respite from the sweltering heat.

People went ballistic on social media (yours truly included) talking about the rains. Everyone was either posting pictures or discussing rains. Hot topic of the day it was.

As expected, life was out of control with flooding, traffic jams, potholes, you name it and you had that…

But I for one was surely not in a mood to rant. It brought the much-needed respite from the heat. The sun went into hiding for almost the entire day as the grey clouds took over the skies. Just that the clouds opened up so temperatures dropped from the 35 degrees + that we were living in to under 30. May not mean much to all but it meant the world to Mumbaikars.

Air, road and rail traffic was all thrown out of gear. The first rains always do that in Mumbai but we are used to it so the typical “chalta hai” Mumbaikar braved it all. As usual it debunked the usual claims of the municipal authorities that they had done their work and there would be no flooding etc. But still “chalta hai”

As I write at 0630 on Thursday it is raining outside. I could not go cycling as it was pouring hard but I am surely not complaining. Just a hot cup of coffee with R D Burman music would do the trick for me.

Rain Gods, please continue to pour. Mumbai (and the whole of India) very badly needs rains. And also please pour in the catchment areas so that the lakes get filled up. Mumbai’s annual water supply is at stake already.

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Mumbai traffic – getting worse!!

Yesterday, February 13, 2014,Mumbai Traffic I had the misfortune of driving from Andheri East (MIDC) via Dharavi to home. It was an awful drive and thank God for the multiple FM stations, the phone with bluetooth and the AC that kept me company throughout the ordeal. It took me a good 90 minutes to drive the distance which under normal conditions would take me a third.

The bottleneck at Kherwadi junction was so bad that traffic had backed up all the way to the Vakola flyover. I wondered if all idiots like me were suddenly out on the road at the same time. Raised tempers raised, frayed nerves, you name it and it was all visible in abundance. Seriously driving is so stressful now in Mumbai!!! And the new crop of drivers is no better either. I used to think that Mumbai has the most disciplined traffic in India but how wrong I was. Drivers just think they all have the right of way any and everywhere. (my friend, Kiran will say the same thing for me but no I AM definitely better off) Two wheelers honestly are a bane anywhere. No I am not looking down upon them after all I am a fellow cyclist but the motorised two wheeler population think they can go ANYWHERE and I mean it. Most of them break the laws with impunity and think they are consistently right! When you are in the midst of bumper to bumper traffic you feel like taking a machine gun and getting rid of all these 2 wheelers who get in every possible nook and corner of the road. I mean it.

By the time I got home yesterday, was so tired that had dinner and slept like a log even as I was talking to Kavya. Sad but true.

Thankfully in Delhi I sometimes make use of the metro and AirPort Express. I find I can travel from one point to another without worrying about the traffic outside or the pollution. Yes it is crowded sometimes depending on the hour of travel but far better than the maddening traffic. Unfortunately the local trains in Mumbai are just not conducive to travel in even in the first class. Why can’t we have a world-class public transport system? Singapore has a damn good one. Delhi metro is good too and Bangalore AC buses are good too. Why can’t we just have a mix of Delhi and Bangalore in Mumbai? Lack of political will I guess. Mumbai May have the monorail and the upcoming metro but no plans to improve the local trains which are then lifeline of Mumbai? Beats me!! But honestly I am frustrated.

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The Mumbai Monorail …. finally

ImageYesterday, February 1, 2014 saw the Mumbai Monorail finally being inaugurated. I had all good intentions of taking Kavya today as it is thrown open to public for a joyride on the Monorail but looking at the images posted on twitter, I chickened out. Just not worth the long queues…. Mind you it is India’s first mono rail and so is special.

Reminds me of different experiences on monorail with Kavya – Sentosa in Singapore which was her first trip abroad. She was less than 2 then but it was a good experience though she may not remember anything about it.

In 2008, she visited USA for the first time and since we had time between connecting flight at JFK, we went around the terminals of JFK in the monorail there. Little did I know then that there was a VJTI hand in that project. A fellow Engineer (Civil) and a very dear friend, Sanjeev Malhotra was then with the Port Authority of NY & NJ at the designing stage.

Unsure if there are other monorail that we have visited – Maybe at Changi Airport in Singapore, there is a monorail that connects the terminals? Just looked up Wikipedia and it seems like it is not a monorail.

So after Sentosa and JFK maybe it is Mumbai for Kavya on the mono rail. But that will be next Sunday and not before that.

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Another English gaffe

20140126-181702.jpgJust clicked this picture outside an ATM of Dena Bank in Gamdevi. I truly “REGRATE” having taken such a picture:-)

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The rains are here with a bang


Mumbaikars were screaming their throats out for some respite from the heat and looks like the Gods sure heard them loud and clear. The past week Mumbai has seen quite a few spells of heavy showers and today, Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 1915 too, the rains show no sign of abating. Yesterday in particular, was extremely heavy and traffic went bonkers. At times like these, policemen too can do little honestly but watch the traffic and the drivers slug it out in the automatic mode. Every driver seems to break any and every law with impunity and this only leads to extreme chaos and it was evident yesterday. Thankfully my car is out for repairs and even if not with a broken wrist there isn’t much driving that I could do. Forecasts too don’t look like a Sunday we could be spending out of home so sit back and enjoy at home. And yes once it begins to pour the first casualty is the Satellite TV so no entertainment either and today is an India Pakistan cricket match too. Let us hope for the best.

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Club memberships in Mumbai – Annuity fund maybe?

Thought of how to start the post and decided to first look up what Wikipedia had to say about the word Club – A club is an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal.

I have been a member of 2 local clubs – Matunga Gymkhana opp Podar College and Matunga Gujarati Club Ltd. near Aurora Cinema. Besides these I also am a member at Garware Club House (Wankhede Stadium) at Churchgate and Otters Club, Bandra.

What has amazed me is the fees that one needs to pay to become a member! Matunga Gujarati Club Ltd. is the at the lowest of the rung with memberships going to open at 0.3 million Rs. + 12.36% service Tax! Then comes Matunga Gymkhana which is currently at 1 million + 12.36% service Tax! Garware Club House – I do not know the present membership rate but should be at 1.5 million atleast + service Tax and followed by Otters Club at a whopping 5 million + service Tax!!!! I wonder what is the reason people are willing to pay top dollar to get into clubs? Is it because there is no open space? No common facilities for use too. Little space for parks or gardens.

When do I use these clubs?

  • Matunga Gymkhana has the only swimming pool in our area and I use it every morning either for swimming or yoga. Since I go there so frequently I get to know of some other activity or the other like the Splash event coming up on Saturday so I am going there for the heck of it. Then we have Housie there on the 2nd Saturday of every month that Kavya enjoys. Plus the Diwali function over the past two years has been amazing with the live singers performing chartbusters of the days gone by. Must thank this one for this is where I learnt swimming at this age and so did Kavya. Used the gym before but now am totally drenched in the pool:-) Learnt yoga here too. Who would have thought that with my girth I could so Shirsasana.
  • Matunga Gujarati Club doesn’t have a swimming pool. I was using their Gym once upon a time but since I became a member at Matunga Gymkhana, I have stopped going there. They have banquet halls so Kavya’s first birthday was celebrated there plus some other events too. Typical Gujarati catering and no liquor served here. The restaurant is meant for people who will wait for maybe 3 hours just to eat there and yet pay their bill too! I am not a frequenter there. Sparingly used but once their renovation plans are approved, you never know I might turn a new leaf:-)
  • Garware Club House – A decent club which was recently renovated. Known for the cricket stadium on premise. As a child I used to go watch live matches there but these days TV does a better job of that so I don’t go there to watch matches. Occasional meeting in town or the dinner etc. happens there. They have the same 25 metre pool as all clubs but is much deeper than the one at Matunga Gymkhana.
  • Otters Club – Now this is a club that people seem to give an arm and a leg to get it considering their membership fees! The club is awesome as it is jutting into the Arabian Sea. Amazing view, amazing breeze (at times), huge as in huge pool (even if it is 25 metres only but the L shaped pool has a deep end and is used for diving from 3 levels!). Nice restaurants, nice bar. They have awesome events too. Kavya loves their Library a lot there as she gets to draw and colour. As a child I remember my sister and me would go for the Xmas parties and while so far Kavya hasn’t been to the Xmas party, this year she will surely visit. The Club Day is also happening with all members coming together. There are Bollywood celebrities around so Kavya is naturally most tickled. All in all a fab place to be in. Have spent so many precious moments there with my better half, then with Kavya too there and with friends. So many Sunday evenings spent there with Parin and Namrata just sitting at the far end of the club touching the sea.

But I wonder if these memberships are sustainable at these rates? Rs. 5 million? I am sure someday all these memberships become transferable and tradeable. Would be a good retirement fund for me then as who know prices would have more than doubled by then:-) Wishful thinking but well not a remote possibility.

PS: The picture above is of the awesome pool at Otters Club taken thanks to Google Image search.

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In the name of religion, life has no value…..

Friday was Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. So far so good. But year on year why this ritual of dahi handi? For those who do not know, dahi handi consists of the handi, a clay pot filled with buttermilk that is positioned at a convenient height prior to the event. People form a human pyramid and the topmost person on the human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a blunt object. Mostly nariyal (coconut) is preferred being a sign of purity, truth etc. in Hinduism. When that happens the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group, symbolizing their achievement through unity. Handis are set up around the city, and groups of youngsters, called Govindas, travel around in trucks trying to break as many handis as possible during the day. No points for guessing that cash prizes are doled out and with every passing year the handis go higher and the cash amount goes up too. Every year, there are accidents as the human pyramid collapses and some people are maimed for life or paralysed or such. Despite this the handis have political patronage. Isn’t it a bit too much? And I fail to understand how these people (who I am told are sozzled) just don’t want to exercise restraint? Lord Krishna as a child would mischievously steal butter and curd from the neighbours’ houses. These pots of curd and butter were hung high up in the kitchen. But what has that got to do with this? I mean his birthday yes but surely he did not wish to see a few paralysed for life or dead?