Monday, November 24, 2008

Re-Exploring Bombay

Exactly a week after I explored and strengthened my love for Bombay, I got chance to visit SoBo (South Bombay) a very different way though this time. I went with my family in our car, unlike last time when I was all alone, walking down the streets. Luckily we got parking opposite to Ambassador hotel, a stone throw from marine drive. Throughout our way, we drove at our best to catch sunset and we reached bang on time. Breeze from Arabian Sea refreshes our mind and body. I love when I face the sea and my hairs fly with the wind.
Marine drive is simply amazing. Necklace stretches from Nariman Point to Chawpatty. Though the view ends at Governor of Maharashtra's bunglow at the tip of the curve. Marine drive posses so many buildings facing the sea. There are Five Stars, Government buildings, stadium with flood lights popping up, guest houses, hostels but my eyes stuck at a very small, cute looking street corner restaurant-Jazz by the bay! Its a small restro-bar, all sea facing seats, good country music, dim lights and amazing food. After lovely food we took our our car and start rolling towards Gateway of India, my wife was Ahhhhed on seeing The Taj!! We roamed around for some more time and with a promise of visiting again we left for our home.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Exploring Bombay

On 16th November 2008, I got time and luck to roam about my favorite place in Bombay-The South Bombay. I had three full hours with me starting from KC College, Dinshaw-Wachha Road, Churchgate at 1030AM that Sunday.

I have couple of options to spend these three hours. One, I thought to take a journey through Mumbai Local. I have planned to take a return ticket to Virar from Churchgate to enjoy the local train on Sunday morning, which is the only time one can find local ‘enjoyable’. But the other option was more enticing. I thought of roaming around the real Bombay all alone, all by myself, without knowing, without asking for direction from anyone.

So the journey begins. There was a book shop – Oxford bookstore, just next to KC College. Being a book lover I couldn’t resist the temptation and the air conditioned shop welcomed me. I recognized couple of faces who came to the shop to ‘kill’ these three hours. After relaxing for 10-15 minutes, enjoying the smell of the books and AC, I realized that am not here to waste time. Why to waste time here at bookstore when there is so much to explore today.

I rushed out of the store and straightaway went to oval maidan. It’s a huge rectangular ground. Very interesting to see there were more than 38 cricket matches played by local boys. Some wickets were so close, I wonder what an amazing concentration needed by the batsman to trace his bowler come out of hundreds of fielders of different match and fielder to identify his green colored tennis ball amongst dozens of balls flying in all direction. But amazingly this is the Bombay which gave great cricketers like Sachin. Just opposite to the ground there was a line of sugar cane juice stalls all of them busy making juice for the budding cricketers. Sugarcane juice is very refreshing. Especially during Indian summer and October heat of Bombay freshly prepared cane juice adds best to energy.

Ahead of this, I walked through the streets that has so many banks; Standard Chartered, UCO Bank, Dena Bank. These streets which see hundreds and thousands of faces in week days is completely empty now. These broad empty roads become the best place to play cricket by the teams who dint get place at the oval maidan. For once, I was surprised to see these roads barren, is this due to current financial market condition or is it because of the weekend. I enjoyed watching ‘gully cricket’ after a long time and that too in Bombay!

Just at the side of the street was a cute, small, old park holding an exhibition from Prithvi theatre in memory of ‘Satyadev Dubey’. I just strolled in the park for some time. As it was the last day of the exhibition, everything was wrapping up there. I read few pamphlets and exited in hope of exploring more. And very soon I reached in front of Bombay Stock Exchange. A smile came on my face on seeing the bull outside the stock exchange. Carrying smile on my face, I proceeded.

After few minutes walk, there were many buses lined up with so many wondering eyes. People were staring at each and every building around. This place is ‘Jehangir Arts Gallery’, the famous art gallery and a dream of budding painters to host a gallery of their masterpieces some day. And hence this is one of the favorite spot, along with Bachchans home at Juhu and Mannat at Bandra, for Bombay Darshan. Visitors were properly dressed for the Bombay trip. And why not, Bombay is dream city for millions and millions. Small distance from the art gallery is famous, historic Gateway of India opposite to legendry Taj Hotel. When I was kid I used to think this is Amitabh Bachchan’s hotel, till now I don’t know if this is true. Gateway of India was built in 1911 and it is said that last British troop to leave India passed through Gateway in 1948. Today, everyday more number of people comes to visit Gateway than those might have came to bid adieu to British troop.

I got too tired walking all the way without eating, drinking anything. So I decided to walk back. On my way back was Mantralay, BCCI (Board of Cricket Control in India). The site of ally with hawkers makes the walk enjoying and makes easy to cover the distance.

After the day, I began to love Bombay more. More than ever!!

Note that I knowingly used Bombay instead of Mumbai because that’s what I feel describes South Bombay as it is. It is Bombay, famous, historic, lovely, dreamy city of Bombay.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Experiment on Life

I still remember when my friend Animesh bought a cute, small pomerian dog, we named her Anny. We were quite young then. I think we were in 5th standard. I remember it because that was our board year, as M.P. Board used to take board exams for 5th class way back in 1992-93. We used to play with Anny a lot. I and Animesh used to go school by cycle. I remember Anny used to run behind us for quite some distance and then return back to home. Happiest moment for Anny was the time when we come back from school. In the evening when we play cricket, Anny was our fielder. She used to fetch the ball for us whenever any of us hit the ball for long. We never felt a need of third friend. The only sad time for her, rather for all three of us, was when we had to study.
Time passed and we began to realize that Anny is just a pet. We started getting bore, playing with her all time. At that time we tried a cruel experiment on her. Though, we really didn't ever realize that the experiment was 'cruel', actually we never realized this was an experiment. We were making our pet follow a 'routine', which we thought is a process of making it more 'disciplined'. We made a strict routine for her. We make her wake up early, taught her to clean the place where she slept (we called her den) with a cloth, get ready for a walk in the morning, collect all our tennis-balls we used to play cricket with and that too before we come from school. Above all we tied her with a rope and make sure that we only open it whenever we want. Though the rope was long enough so that Anny can move around freely only in the garden it is tied. We used to free her very few times, mainly on weekends.
Time passed, we grew old and Anny too. By the time we passed our schooling we made sure that she followed the routine we set few years ago. I and Animesh completed our engineering together. We stopped giving any attention to the poor pet. Then luckily we both got into a good college for Management in US of A. So we had to leave our country for at least 2 years. We were happy that we friends are still together.
After a long time we came to India for a fortnight. I went to Animesh's place, which is now at a distance from us as we have moved to a new home in the suburb. I was so excited to meet Anny this time. When I reached his place, I was so sad to see that Anny has grown old and weak. Animesh's parents have untied her after we left, so she was free to move around. We observed it for quite some time. Anny grew so old to even recognize us. We were so surprised that she still religiously follows the routine we have set for her years ago. She still moves inside the territory we have set for her, though now she is free to move inside the house, garden, and porch. She still cleans as we taught her to clean our place and still looks around for tennis-balls that Animesh's small brother sometimes throws.
I was in deep pain to see this. I now realized how cruel experiment we did on the poor life. We were cruel on Anny to take her independence, her freedom, her life. And now even when she is gifted her freedom, she is afraid of it. We tried our best to bring Anny inside the house, to take her out but she got so scared. She was happy in her own place, as if prepared for the last day. But deep inside, we were ashamed of ourselves. Ourselves for what we did to the poor being…
Isn't it a part of our society or so called modern society? The whole story can be compared to part of contemporary India. In many part of the country, married women are forced to follow a routine. Even now, as we talk of women liberalization, there are woman in our society oppressed by their man. This was prominent in generation above us. Now when these ladies see the modern world of our times they are afraid to gain their freedom. Some have tried and succeeded; others still clean their den, accept their legs tied to the rope, and follow the routine and religiously waiting for the experiment on their life to get over some day! I only want to raise this question: Women are not an animal, why can't they raise voice against the atrocities, injustice. I just hope whatever women of last generation has suffered, may not be experienced by women today.