Archive for the ‘Mumbai’ Category

CWC 2011 Final in Mumbai

So is it good news? Certainly! I am no longer a resident Mumbaikar, but I will start trying for those tickets right away. Never mind that there’s a World Cup to go before that!

My previous experience at the Wankhede was quite unforgettable! India vs England in 2003, I think. And more recently at the Brabourne, it was even better sitting in the press box watching Sri Lanka hammer the West Indies in the ICC Champions Trophy 2006 qualifiers. Ah! What a view that was!

The point here is I don’t care which stadium hosts the final, it’s an unforgettable experience. But I seriously hope it happens at the Wankhede. Knowing the ICC’s commercial requirements of a “clean stadium” (i.e. sans any advertising committments), it could well happen at the CCI (Brabourne). That was the reason the Champions Trophy matches for Mumbai were not played at Wankhede!

Boy am I glad I moved out of Mumbai! Not that I could have afforded any of these places, anyways! Still.

Note to self: Start saving to buy property in Mumbai. At the current rate of interest, the amount I may be able to save and inflation, I should be ready to buy my own shanty in Dahisar by 2030, i.e., when I hit 50. Good plan, mate, good plan!


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Diarist wonders…

Interesting column in the Mid-Day by their ‘diarist’:

THE DIARIST IS WONDERING

Whether Mumbai will sprout a new worker – the street dentist who works on filling the craters on our roads.

Whether we will soon see cars suspended on chains from buildings as vertical parking spaces get more ingenious.

Whether Kiran Desai has spent any amount of the prize money she won from the Booker this year.

If Brangelina, Tom Kat, Bennifer and other terms will be added to the next edition of the Oxford dictionary.

What Gandhi would have to say to the controversy over the remix of his favourite Bhajan.

Whether Anant Gupta will grow up to make a film about his three-day ordeal with his kidnappers.

Whether Non-Governmental Organisations should advocate a Keep Mumbai Green day where every citizen must wear a green haired wig on the day.

Whether Mumbai’s roadside bhajia and wada pav wallahs will one day fry the bhajias and wadas in olive oil given the increasing health consciousness of customers.

Whether Mumbai’s male actors who wear hair bands nowadays might start sporting those baby hairpins that women use currently.

Why are you reading this tripe, anyway?

So what do you think about the Anant Gupta question? I think he will!


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So what’s new? Plastic bags continue to flourish. More hutments will come up along arterial roads, the CM will change the next time around, the new CM will also make promises and break them like this one did, Mumbai will pay the maximum tax yet again and remain the most sorry city again.

Just another day in the life of Mumbai. Maybe it’s time to stop paying taxes and instead adopt a stretch of road to fix, eh? That way, maybe more could be done…


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On the backdrop of the Mumbai blasts a week ago, the Indian Govt. has decided to blackout blogspot hosted blogs. Good thing I moved to WP! But more seriously, this is insane. If they could not track it before and block the abuse, how will having some IPs (which would mostly be dynamic) tracked and all help?

Well, that’s the way Indian bureaucracy and politicia (like militia!) works. Reactive rather than proactive.

More details about the blackout at The Great Indian Mutiny.

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Bloggers at it again

Paeans to the blogger again. Very nice! Unfortunately the reason for the panes (the blasts, that is) was nothing to be proud of. I don’t even want to start with this…

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News Whores

Why do these News Channels have to go into buses etc and ask commuters (who are already harrowed enough, mind you) whether they are scared (NDTV is doing that), how they are feeling (CNN-IBN) and if “you think the spirit of Mumbai will prevail”? (All the damn channels). Why not just let them get on or at least ask something substantial?

The worst of the lot was (I think) NDTV who even managed to put up a “presented by” image on the coverage. Is that sick or what? That’s what you call whoring the situation.

How much for the spot on the dead body, please?

Bastards.

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I would also like to ask (again) how much Mumbai is going to tolerate… netas and babus will come, promise, tsk tsk and all will be back to normal. And some time later, all shall be forgotten. Unfortunately, some time later, all shall be repeated again too. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, maybe 10 years from now… but unless Mumbai stands up and demands its rights, things will not change. Isn’t it time we also, like the US, attacked our attackers? Why are our people’s rights and country’s dignity any less that theirs? So who is the suspect?

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At the moment (12:49 am): Traffic at St Michaels Church junction (Mahim) cleared. It has been diverted away from the Mahim area… more as available

Mumbai blasts
Photo: Hindustan Times

Blogs to follow: India Uncut | Vantage Point | Mumbai Help |
Sites to follow:
Yahoo! | Yahoo! India | The Times of India | NDTV | Rediff | Hindustan Times | CNN-IBN |

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Blasts in Mumbai

Seven (although some claim nine) bombs have exploded across the city of Mumbai bringing the lifeline of city-the trains- to a standstill.

Coverage across the net:
Yahoo! News
Yahoo! India News: Slideshow
India Uncut: Bomb blasts in Mumbai’s railway stations
Desicritics: The inside story
Rediff

And all news channels!

Another monsoon…

Another monsoon and yet again, Mumbai has come to a standstill. What a shame. For a city that is touted to be the financial nerve centre of not just India, but Southeast Asia, four days of rains is enough to wash it away. Figuratively anyways!

So all the tall claims by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh have come to nought. Ditto for the BMC. Thankfully, the rains are not as bad as they were last year and that is the only reason that things are still somewhat in control. But the forecast for July 4 and 5 is heavy to very heavy rains and that does not sound good.

The problem of Mumbai and its people is that they are accommodating. Too accommodating. They let migrants settle down. They let just about everyone who wants to come over and make a life. As a result, the roads have become inadequate, the public transport insufficient and the quality of life, poor.

Mumbai pays a great deal of India’s income tax. What does it get in return. If my memory serves me right, some Rs 1,000 crore is all that was allotted after last years floods. Like that’s going to help any. Most if it would be required to grease the palms of the babus and ministers who worked to get the grant. What did the city get in return? Another year of flood? More apathy from the centre?

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So even the docs in they city agree that Mumbai has the worst roads. Bad enough that they won’t let a heart patient travel on them.

What about trains? Can he take the train to Andheri from Virar? There is a fast one, you see…

Via Mumbai Mirror

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Cop found guilty

Remember the hideous incident where an on-duty constable was charged with raping a college student inside a police chowky on Marine Drive? Well, justice has been served and the said constable Sunil More has been found guilty. He has been sentenced to 12 years' rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 26,500.

What is really heartening is that this verdict was reached well in advance of the 30 April deadline of the fast-track court.

Full report.

Remember the erstwhile post about pigeons converting our bedroom window into their own private maternity home? The situation persists and as P G Wodehouse would say, Queer.

The scene now is that about a week ago, I noticed that the two most recent additions to the ever-growing hordes (or whatever it is) of pigeons had flown away. I planned to clean up the mess the following Sunday (that is on Dec 11)… but to my sheer horror, this morning, I checked and found two more eggs and the mamma pigeon quietly sitting on it.

When will this end? And why my window?

I could easily chuck the whole jamboree out, but I can’t bring myself to doing that. Anyway, what are pigeons good for? They just make gross noises, a lot of shit and provide Bollywood directors ideas for innuendos. Who needs them? Does their existence really serve any purpose? Any why in the name of God must they multiply so fast? Are they planning to take over the world? Are they real rulers and not the mice? Do they know the answer to 42?

Must-move-pigeons.

Improved Festivals

I have nothing against festivals and especially this one. I quite enjoy the music, sweets and a feeling of ‘nice’ that envelops one during this period.
But there is a fundamental difference in how these festivals are celebrated across India. In Pune, for example, I remember Ganeshotsav being the biggest followed by Diwali and then Christmas. This, of course, is in terms of public participation. There were other festivals also like the more local (or Maharashtrian) Gudi Padva and so on, but these were overall the biggest. And they still are.
In Mumbai (which is now home), every festival is just as big. I mean, when the 10 pm deadline was imposed (yes, it was ‘imposed’), on Ganeshotsav and Navratri, the hue and cry was just as big for both in Mumbai but in Pune, nobody (apart from those under 21 years of age) seemed to mind it for Navratri.

But has this meant that the festivals suffered? In a way, I feel the quality of festivities improved and the unnecessary show off that used to happen has reduced. Mind you, not much, though.

Eventually, this has been extended to midnight in Gujarat and Maharashtra and there is now a different kind of question being asked as to why a ‘Gujarati’ festival gets this leniance while a ‘Maharashtrian’ one does not. And that too, in Maharashtra. Interesting and to some extent, a valid question. But that is not for this article neither is it in keeping with the fabric of India (or Mumbai, anyways).
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Free Ads For Celebs?

Even I want this! Just because she has two flats of about 1300 sq ft each allows DNA to place an ad for her on their front page? they may as well have labelled it ‘For Sale: Aishwarya Rai’s flats‘.

This is just getting out of hand!

A Weekend On The Town

After a very long time, it was an idyllic weekend. A friend dropped in on Saturday evening and the three of us (that’s Tosha, him and me) chatted up late into the night. Sunday was equally relaxed and after lunch at a relative’s place, Tosha and I decided to go shopping. For household necessities, that is.
This, over the last 10 months or so (since we got married), has become one of our favourite activities. Walking up and down the aisles and looking for things we need but buying everything we don’t is perhaps the way we let our hair down. Yesterday, being in Byculla, we decided to go over to Crossroads (Haji Ali) and eventually ended up spending a good three hours there.
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No, this is not a sermon against the cops, rather just a simple question. Often I have seen (and has also been highlighted in the media) that cops tend to take liberties in terms of following rules and laws they are supposed to ensure are upheld.
Just this morning, for example, I spotted an Inspector of Police driving a green Hyundai Santro (MH 02 J 9603) at Nerul without wearing a seat belt. On pointing that out to him (by a signal), he conveniently turned the other way. Similarly, there are lots of cops (off-duty) riding around town (known thanks to the 'police' sticker on the bikes) and not wearing helmets. Does this mean I can also do this? No, stupid, the laws are meant for your benefit too. Ok, so I won't.
But in principle, if they can take such liberties in their profession (they get paid so I won't call this a public service) can I do the same?
Can an accountant do that? Can a journalist (like me) do that? Can a doctor do that? How? Not following a rule or so that they must. Unfortunately not for we are answerable to the client/reader/patient and in some cases even the public at large. But aren't the cops?
Hmmm… I think they think they are answerable to no one. I'd call such behaviour callous. No?

Lip-smacking!

Food is one of my greatet weaknesses… Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, whatever… but the greatest is what's made at home.
Despite this, though, I do wander about looking for good food all over. In Mumbai, one of my favourite haunts is the Independence Cafe on Hill Road in Bandra. There was also a time when a pitcher of beer here cost Rs 99 and I have seen some friends guzzle it only because it cost that much! Such deals are no longer available but the food remains great.
One suggestion: The chicken stroganoff. Word of caution: Don't poke the chicken too hard. Hot cheese will be caused to squirt!
Another fabulous place is the Cafe Ideal in one of the bylanes of Fort (behind Great Eastern Watch Co to be precise) and the Dhanshak here is just out of the world. Top it up with a round of caramel custard and mmm…
For more caramel custard, you could also try Rajasthan on SV Road, Khar. Quite yummy. Also on Fridays, a must-have is the Dabba Gosht. Divine.
If Kheema is your choice, rush to Cafe Excelsior next to the theatre at Fort. Awesome. The list could go on… but I think I want to stop. I just had cauliflower and chapati with dal. Tonight shall be tough on the stomach!
Yenjoy!

The City This Week

I have been meaning to write about my experiences of the floods in Mumbai for a while but after I heard and read what some have had to go through and what others are still going through, I figured my plight wasn't really a plight at all. So let's forget about that.
Some of my colleagues and friends have some interesting stories, though… ones they would ideally like to forget. My guess is that won't be easy. Given the fact that they have seen dead bodies float past, people die in a car in front of them and tourists being heckled and led towards danger, it'll take a lot for them to get over this.
One observation I do have about this weeklong nightmare (that still continues for some) is that there were no reports of abuse… no women were raped, no shops looted, no burglaries… yes some government officials were roughed up but they deserved it!
I hope the 'facts' I mention are true and if not, please let me know. It does make me proud to know that the city really came together and helped. But I think it's time we moved past the 'Spirit of Mumbai' jingoism. Enough. The worst is past (so we are told) and it's time to start rebuilding. Pronto.
How about we start with asking Delhi for some of our own money back? Rs 500 crore out of the Rs 58,000 crore in taxes paid by Mumbai last year? When the estimated losses are at Rs 15,000 crore, I say cough up at least that and then some more for repairs and then some more for improving the infrsatructure. Let the Delhiites pay for their Metro and infrastructure from their own pockets. For once.
I have nothing against Delhi or its improvements (!) but think that Mumbai deserves to get a third of its tax share back to improve the infrstructure and systems.
Oh, and Mr Deshmukh, how about a trip around the state? Flood threats (in addition to existing floods) are high in many parts. Ms Prabha Rau (at 70-plus years of age) has already had one. Or is the varsha season better sitting in 'Varsha'?

The reason there's no photo with this post, is the photos are just too graphic and disturbing.Call me weak, but I don't want to see them for a while again.

It's that time of the year: Mumbai has been flooded and nothing (and I mean nothing) is moving. Speaking to various people, here's the status:

  • Traffic jammed from Suman Nagar, Chembur to Vashi bridge (Yes, believe it). My uncle turned back from Suman Nagar after driving for 4 hours from Nerul till there.
  • Buses and trains out of service.
  • Mankhurd (near station) towards CHembur has water till the window of a bus.
  • Orange (Hutch cell phone) service is down (I believe in parts coz some friends could call their spouses, friends etc.)
  • I am in Nerul (Navi Mumbai) and cannot even reach the corner of my office street.

Suggestion: Stay where you are. Don't venture out. Irony seems the best thing to loo at at this moment. Read this.
Image not recent/today's. Courtesy: The Hindu Online.

Home Sweet Home

Four months is what it took us to find the home we liked. Too long or not is debatable but we finally have it. It wasn't easy though!
During our four-month-long struggle, we traversed the suburbs of Mumbai from Santacruz to Bandra to Sion to Wadala (yes) to Dadar to Mahim to Chembur and even parts of New Mumbai including Vashi, Nerul, Juinigar, Belapur and Kharghar.
I don't even want to think how much money I blew up on travelling to these places not to mention lost weekends and efforts. It's intangeble and unfair.
Classified ads are an example in cryptic writing. "1BHK, East facing, 10/1L, 3RD FLR, NO/LT, Near Rly Stn, Juhu". For god's sake, which railway station is close to Juhu? And which idiot in Juhu is giving away a 1BHK for 10K? I had to find out! So I called. And it was an agent. And I saw the flat. And it was a 1 RK (that's room-kitchen) about 280 sq ft that was converted into a 1 BHK (you do the math about the sizes of the rooms!) and with a common loo. Gawd!
We lived through this for 4 months.
One thing I have relised during this ordeal is that luck, more than anything else, plays a very big part. We lost two houses only because of well, timing. I stopped short of saying bad timing, because it was not us who were the culprits. One in Santacruz was lost because the owner had just gone out of town for a month "that morning" while the other in Vashi (how we wanted that one) was lost due to lack of communication between the agent and the owner.
Estate Agents are a unique breed… they can get attached and well, de-attached (for want of a better word) from you just as quickly if they realise a bigger better deal (commission!) may be had from elsewhere.
However, I have to mention Mr Chawla (from Chembur) and his resilience in putting up with me (which can be an ordeal for him and for all you know, he may have put up a post somewhere in blogsphere!) and showing me no less than 25 flats!
Funnily, though, everytime we narrowed it down to two or three, one of them got taken, another owner went missing and the third suddenly didn't seem so nice… Is there something wrong with us? No. Because wanting to live in a good house is not a 'wrong' thought to have and being extremely discerning about the house you choose is a must. There's just too many strings attached to choosing a house… You must feel like coming back there… it must be bright, conveniently located… you know… all that jazz!
Bottomline here is, we have finally chosen one in Chembur (in an area just behind R K Studios; I hope to do some celebrity spotting!). It's in a brand new building called Blue Bells, on the seventh floor overlooking only greenery and no noise or pollution to be had. Our sole companions are the hills of BARC and the building has great videophone security and all!
We move in on August 1 and neither of us can wait. Hope to see you there for the housewarming! Yes, you are invited to our home.

Yes they’re finally here and how! Mumbai has been deluged (literally) since Tuesday afternoon and this morning, I was caught in the seemingly never-ending downpour. It felt like the entire Arabian Sea had been sucked up and is being poured back down—in installments!
But it was beautiful. The freshness of the trees, the coolness of the weather, the feeling that all is well with the world, the lateness of the buses… yes, the regulars were all in attendance.
As roads choked up and traffic snarls grew longer, commuters grew uneasier. Natural progression of events, you may say. But the rain was there to make you feel better. For once, the BMC seems to have got its act together. Barring the odd open manhole, pothole and missing roads (you know, the ones without tar or cement), it was a smooth ride to office.
Leaving home at around 8:30 am, we (Tosha and I), proceeded to the nearest ATM to withdraw money. Thereafter, we were stuck for only 15 minutes at the signal under the Andheri flyover. Not bad for a rainy day, I say.
This was followed by a smooth (no pun, really!) ride till the domestic airport when we hit a small jam. This jam eventually let up at the Kherwadi junction at Bandra East. Time taken: 35 minutes. Distance covered: 3 km. Have had worse without the rain, honest.
Then we got off at the Bandra East bus stop (after travelling past MIG Club and giving up the main road) and the auto driver decided this was time to stop in the middle of the road and let us out. For a moment, I thought he was going to do a Moses and create a way for us in that sea (metaphor, mind you) of water under our legs (not feet, since it was about shin deep).
But no. He took his 50 rupee note and left. Oh, well.
Two things had to be done before we resumed our respective journeys… break a Rs 500 note so I didn’t have to fight with the conductor on the bus and she, with the cabbie. The next task entailed heading for the bus stop and hailing a cab and catching a bus respectively.
Task 1: Despite a row of about 10 shops at the corner and with each being infested with customers, none of the shopkeepers had change for a 500. But, as soon as I bought a pack of mints worth Rs 5, the change appeared—almost as magically as the guy who sits inside the ATM handing out money!
This is where the plot thickened.
There was this proverbial sea of water in front of us and more stuff (not just water, mind you) was being added to it with each passing moment. We had to make a run for it. It was now or never. For us, it was never. Tosha spotted a cab on the other side of the road and noticed someone get off. Spotting this as her chance, we both bellowed like never before for the cab to make a U-turn and come this side. But, as a truck passing by had more vocal strength, our shouts were drowned—much like our legs. The water continued to rise.
The BMC has this unique new tiling craze where each corner of every road has been fitted with interlocking tiles. It’s smart considering they need to dig the road every three hours or so. Here, just take it out and fit it back. Much like opening a door, really. But, given our day, there was a patch that had no tiles and I landed in this. Much to my disgust, I also landed in a lot more than I bargained for. Thankfully, there was enough water going around to take care of that.
Coming back to the original predicament, it was time to get on to Task 2 with complete concentration and absolute focus. No time for hocus pocus.
Task 2: We made a run for it. This time, we did it. Crossed the road and made it to the bus shed, that is. Along the way, like two smitten lovers in the rain in a Hindi potboiler, we told each other that we were getting wet. Without getting lost in the profoundity of our statements—it was raining, you see—we carried on and made it to the bus stop. I was a little more drenched than her. Of course, I have more girth and hence more scope to absorb water. Simple geometry (and I thought I’d never use it in daily life).
Once at the bus stop, we confronted our newest, well, adversary. Wind. It changed direction at will and no amount of us changing direction beat it. We were the ones left guessing. I need more practice with this, you know.
While I made up my wind about which side of me I could let get wet, Tosha was busy scouring the landscape for a cab with the meter saluting… and not at half-mast or in mourning. After 10 minutes of trying, we spotted one. More importantly, he spotted us. We waved frantically… after all, he was our saviour. As he tried to muscle his way through and get to us, the fact that there were a couple of risks involved dawned upon me… one, someone else might hop in or two, he may never make it, getting washed into the sea (sic) of traffic and flowing away never to be seen again.
Considering both possibilities, we swung into action and ran to him. More like fast walked, but you get the point. Soon, in about 17.454 seconds, that is, we were there. And Tosha was in a cab and I was getting wet. “Turn around you idiot and go into the bus shed,�? she shouted. I concurred.

Task completed with success and a pat on the back was in order.
Back in the shed, and with time at hand to think about what-not, it was interesting to notice how different people react to rain. There were some who were content waiting for their bus sitting while others, including yours truly, looked on—peering, squinting to read numbers, jostling for space, et al—for the elusive bus.
In this melee, was this very interesting group. Interesting, because I could have handed them a certificate of idiocy. They ran towards every bus as if this was the one they wanted. But returned to the shed on seeing this was not the one. After doing this for about five buses, they took turns for another five. Finally, better sense prevailed and they asked one of the fellow sufferers where the stop for bus No. 84, going to Peddar Road, was. He replied it was on the other side of the suburb. “But we were told it’s just outside the station�?, complained idiot no. 3. “On the west, not east,�? informed the enlightened soul.
Gradually, they accepted their fate, took it in their stride, stuck out a hand and hailed a cab. This was going to be a costly mistake. This set me wondering, you know. Not about how people get lost, but about how they got a cab so easily and we didn’t (refer Tasks 1 and 2 for details about this adventure).
After fighting to stay dry for about 20 minutes, I gave up and came out and stood on the road. Anything you do, go all the way is my mantra. I won’t shower tomorrow. That’s it!
Finally, I saw the magical number on the horizon. It was, at first, a small 505 in red and as it grew bigger, my heart grew warmer, the continuing rain notwithstanding. Pushing my way through (now size matters, eh?), I got in only to find a 1×1 square foot space available. This is what I would call home for the next 45 minutes. Finally, after an uneventful journey till TISS, I got place to sit. This was also about the time when I heard a ruckus at the back (yes, I had gone with tide, as it were, and was now in the front seat behind the driver). Someone didn’t have change for a 500 and the conductor refused to oblige. I am smart, I thought to myself. But in due course, I was to be proven wrong.
I diverted my thoughts to other things like the new house, how I missed my car and how it was cruel that of all days, I had to travel by bus just as it had started to rain… you know the usual sulking.
But, then we reached Vashi soon enough, and my destination was in sight. Or so I thought. It would be wise to inform the reader(s) that prior to this, I have not gone to office by this particular bus. I have used a combination of a couple of others yesterday (No 384 to BARC and then No 504 to Nerul; on Monday, I took No 507 to Santacruz East station) and the train before that. Mostly, though, it was by car. The 505 Ltd had been used only till Vashi.
Leaving Vashi depot, the bus went along Vishwajyot and continued on towards Turbhe. Odd, I thought. Wasn’t this a longer route? Moreover, only two people got off till we reached Nerul and none got on. What a colossal waste of time and resources. Anyway.
Getting off at the LP junction, (thankfully, a truck came across and I could jump out before the actual stop which is about 1/2 a km and you cant even jump on to the service road because there’s a gorge in between) I found an auto and ordered, “To Om Sagar Building.�? In five minutes, I was at the gates of mercy (office, you know, with AC and more importantly at this point, a clean loo!) only to be held back further. I had given away all the change from my mint purchase to Tosha and was left with a Rs 100 note as the lowest denomination. The fare: Rs 10. How did this happen? All that planning, foresight, washed away (sic) in a moment?
No amount of asking arund helped and I finally had to take Rs 10 from the security guard which I plan to return at lunch time. Finally, I am at work and it’s also about time I did some—work, that is. Ironically (or maybe thats what life’s like, it stopped raining five minutes after I entered office. It was 11.20 am. Almost three hours for 36 km. It takes me about 50 min by car.
I shall chronicle my return journey tomorrow. Something tells me it will be just as eventful.
Cheers. (I wish I could).

Traffic’s a bitch

It's official: I HATE AUTO RICKSHAWS.

All this while, I had nurtured a silent hatred for these 'machchars' that infest out cities but today, I got a taste of thier careless and callous attitude. In the bargain, my new three-month-old car was damaged and it will cost Rs 12,000 to set it right. Thank god there's insurance.
It was one of those typical lane-changing manouevres by the machchar and the next thing you know, there's a mini pile-up at Chembur, Mumbai. An Esteem and a Jeep were also at the receiving end and the machchar got away with just a cracked tail-lamp.

I think it's time to put my long-debated plan into action. Buy a huge truck, modify it with earth-flattening devices and run all of these a**h**** over.
This is a bad day and one I would dearly like to forget soon. My baby is hurt bad and I need to get back to nursing her.

Adios.