Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spirit of Mumbai

City of dream never stops amaizing me,The only city where you do not know your neighbour of 10 years living in the same locality but yet you have "Train Friends" a concept which exist only in Mumbai ,Where you do not have time to stop by the roadside and chat with your close friend because both of you are busy...... but paradoxically you will stop to give directions to a complete stranger........

I remember the rains of 26th July 2005 which put a brake to the city which is alien to the meaning of "Stop" at all.....That Day the road outside my rented flat in Mahim was flooded. It was flowing like a river. I waded through, then dragged my feet lest I stumble into a gutter.

I reached the main road leading to Mahim after walking for 2 hours from my Office in South Mumbai... where I saw the spirit of Mumbai and once again I was proud of being a part of this city. The traffic was at a standstill. There was complete chaos but the Mumbai cops were not giving up. They still continued to direct traffic.

There were more people walking on the road than inside cars or buses. Mahim Causeway was flooded. The water level was so high that we could reach out and touch it. But the flood of people walking eclipsed the floods. They were laughing, singing, dancing and no one was complaining.

Strangers on the road helping each other.......Shopkeepers serving buiskits and tea,I saw young men on the streets keeping people away from potholes and gutters. They were dripping wet but looking after strangers.

The rains may have paralysed the city of Mumbai. It had failed to paralyse the spirit of the people. I saw a wine shop crowded.....after all a large "Patiala" does wonders on a rainy day.

Latter, I head that  few people in my Office were stranded in a cab overnight....One of my colleague was saved from being washed away at Andheri Subway....... even today every one in Mumbai has a story to share....stories of their horrific experiences,stories of grif,stories of hardship but most of all stories of grit,determination and compassion.

Another time when the same spirit came to the fore was the horrific day when  11 blasts ripped through our local trains,I was in my conference room at office in a management meeting where the TV is perrinneally in mute ......and I remember one of my VP who was facing the TV loudly  exclaiming that there is a blast on the news....In a jiffy each one of us started checking on our colleagues who were out for meetings and  our family members, I too took time first to locate my Brother and check his safety and than to call my parents  back home to inform them about our safety before the phonelines get jammed with innumurus calls......

While getting back home on a cab .....I saw a family serching for their Son ,apperently the mother was in shock and decided to accompany them to "Sion Hospital"...The family was lucky that their Son was "Hurt" but still alive when we finally located him in Raheja Hospital unlike so many who lost  someone in the family.

That day I saw people helping each other.....assisting each other,consoling strangers.

Next day most of us were back at our stations to get a train back to our "Work", many cynic proclaimed that this was not the "spirit" but sheer helplessness on the part of the people to board train next day to work......would those cynic help explain why did people choose to go to work at all the next day ?........

This is what makes Mumbai the commercial capital of the country. Not the money, but the spirit of its people.........We may not have the best of infrastructure,we may not have the best of wether but we know how to make the "best use" of  whatever we have .....We know how to spend the morning rush hour reading "Newspaper",playing cards and listning to iPods........We know rains will continue and authorities that might be can keep giving reasons for flooding .......Low Lying Areas ,High Tide...etc...etc...we will still wade through knee deep water singing,laughing or just munching on our "Bhuttas"......

Three cheers to the spirit of the city that I love

1 comment:

*Aham* said...

When the world stops and stoops! Bombay awakens with resilience. the incidences you mentioned are very typical of bombay, yes, i might not meet someone who lives next door... but might engage in a deep discussion with an absolute stranger.

Though we shouldnt take bombay for granted because of the sheer resilience tahts the innate nature of hers, if such a catastropic event happened in any other absolutely "Hospitable" city,(read jaipur etc, known for their hopitality) I doubt if the same magnitude of support would be rendered.

In other cities, it still takes media coverage for people to wake up and help others. Bombay ke maamle mein "Random Acts of Kindness" is in her nature.