Friday, September 26, 2014

Mumbai diaries #1

I'm going to Pune for the weekend, so this morning I came to office with a huge bag containing the week's laundry. Don't judge me, my washing machine is still in Pune and my bathroom here is still confused about its job description, so it keeps pouring water on the outer side of the door. Till ol' bathroom figures out exactly where I conduct my business, no clothes are going to get washed in the Mumbai apartment.

Anyway, since there was no way I was getting anywhere near the local trains with that bag in hand, I took an auto. The autowallah was in a chatty mood, talking now about his home town in UP, then about more cost-effective ways to live and commute comfortably in Mumbai. At a signal under a flyover, we both watched a family of under-bridge dwellers, the mother grooming the girls in fine little dresses to mark the occasion of Navratri. There were other kids about, mostly toddlers, some of them nibbling on biscuits presumably given to them by one of the more charitable passers-by. The youngest, a boy less than two years old was toddling around naked, biscuit in hand. This he offered to one of his sisters, sitting pretty in a princess dress, a tiffin container in her hand decorated with a picture of the Goddess on a bed of marigold petals. Wary of the burning incense sticking out of the container, the little guy tossed the biscuit in it for his sister to eat. The gesture seemed to offend the young lady, who quickly tossed the item on the road, where the baked treat remained, ignored by a brood of homeless kids.

Watching all this, a quick giggle escaped the autowallah, who sagely tells me, "there's someone watching over every one of us. They (the homeless family) will all have eaten something by the end of the day."

Remembering a little incident with a Marathi autowallah some days ago, I asked him if he and his fellow migrants still face problems from political goons here. No, he said, 'those guys' had all cooled down, and now they were all living happily together. He further told me that he voted for the Shiv Sena during the last elections, because he respects Uddhav Thackeray, who comes across as a level headed, educated man.

P.S. By the way I've moved to Mumbai. Working for (what else?) a magazine here.

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