If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Sep 11, 2008

The Real Waiting for Godot

Guest writer DENZIL SMITH

What happened to the Bandra tramp? The lovable, popular harmless corner fixture. Whatever happened to Manu, Mario and Vincy? Bandra has never had tramps like them since…those were the days of the glorious tramp, always clothed in shirt, jacket and boots… These 'maladjusted' people as modern politically correct parlance would call them, in good ole seventies and early eighties, ran errands, entertained, dug graves and were generally loveable people who could inevitably be found at key spots in and around Bandra.

Manu always wore a coat and loose trousers. Manus territory was the St Andrews graveyard where he sometimes dug graves for a living. Manu was harmless and never drank alcohol...he was just naturally blown …. Manu was intense and yet happy…all the boys knew him and even if they hassled him,he took it in his stride, which had some sort of chaplinesque resemblances. Manu was a fakir of sorts who seemed to have reached nirvana where nothing really mattered except a good chai or khema pau… his prize for an errand run or for just being there!

When he spotted a familiar face he would rush to ask, "Guive no one ciggie". Taking advantage of this request...one of the boys would say, "Manu, Manu want four annas or what?"...Manu would nod his head vigorously in the affirmative. "Then do jig men"…and Manu would start his routine like a wound up toy let loose….he jumped up and down while he sang in his inimitable falsetto…. "Money is the root of all evil ,money is the root of all evil, take it away take it away take it away… take it away take it away take it away." He went on and on and on. As soon as he was done with he would ask for his four annas and scoot off hurriedly to Yatch.

Then there was Mario whose eyes blinked a million times each second…Mario too wore a jacket which most often than not were two sizes larger than him, with a string holding up his three sizes bigger trousers Mario was our living, walking, talking juke box…."Mario, Mario want four annas or wat" one of the boys would scream on spotting him near the Yatch from Vasants steps on which they were perennially perched discussing the intricacies of Chimbai flavours…at which point Mario would rush up to them beaming and shaking his head from side to side saying, "Yesyesyes yesyes…." till he was out of breath. Depending on the mood for the evening ….the song was decided! (Not that there was a great repertoire to decide from) "Mario sing night fever men"…and Mario would position himself very seriously like a tenor about to set forth on an aria at a concert and yell with his finger pointing in the air Travolta style, "Night fever night feveeeer….Night fever night feveeeeeeer, Night fever night feveeeeeeeeer…" Mario never went beyond that line, it would go on and on, and on like a stuck stuck DVD …After a few protests if it went on too long he was dismissed. Armed with his four annas he would rush to have some tea or just vanish into the serene night air.

When Mario and Manu were together they were our Vladimir and Estragon.

Then there was Vincy...the slickest of them all…his haunting coloured eyes and red hair made him stand out. If ever there was a living Godot, it must have been him, for Vincy never really spoke….he silently wandered about Bandra…from St. Andrews school to Mt Carmels, always with purpose and focus but never really going anywhere. That was Bandra then!

Denzil L. Smith

The Golden Mile.

September brings two very disconvergent souls, together. Ganesha and Mother Mary. Mother Mary who rose from the seas of Bandstand in a fishing net. To be forever enshrined at the church at the top of the hill. Ganesha who is consigned to the waters at the seas of Bandstand till September next.
So you trudge up the hill for the novena , if you’re this side of 40 or share a rickshaw with your sodality friends if you’re not. The culmination of the novena happens on the 8th. The feast of Our lady, if you’re a saint. For every body else it happens on the Sunday following the eighth. The day that every one celebrates as Bandra feast. The day that Bandra fair begins. The day that little piggies have given up their lives for. To be re-incarnated as vindaloo and sorpotel.
The day has to start with a visit to the Mount. For mass. A half hour here or a half hour there doesn’t matter. There’s a mass every 1/2 hour. You get the homily onwards from the 7.00 a.m. mass and the stay on till the homily begins of the 7.30 mass. A bit disjointed but a full mass. If only I could have got my parents to see it this way when we were kids. I tried . They never did. Time spent in church is time spent away from the fair. Quickly you bought your candles . You went into the church. You drop your candles into the crates at the foot of the altar. You genuflect before the satue. You look warily at the crazies who have prostrated themselves flat out on the floor. At other faiths who are banging their heads on the chequered Italian marble floor. At the priest who is trying to explain the difference between prasad and communion to Hari Prasad Lohia. And why Hari isn’t getting any. At the dress of woven gold that adorns the statue of Our Lady. At the balloon wallahs who lurk just beyond the gate.
Mass done. You move to the fair. The church compound is filled with church supported stalls. St. Anthony’s home for the aged. Lucky dips. Where for a rupee you can win three embroidered handkerchiefs. Or a jar of home made pickle. Or a trio of plastic flowers. Or a set of dentures ? No. Those belong to the stall manager who’s taken them off for a break. The sisters from the convent next door have a stall with sandwiches and cold drinks. Orange juice, Kala katha, lemonade. Pre coke and pepsi days these. Sweet stalls . Chikki. Gram. Freshly roasted. Freshly shelled. None of the games yet. After an hour in church hunger overrides all else. The gas balloon guys know you want one even before you do. They tie the string onto your wrist quicker than the proton goes thru the Haltron collider. It’s a cruel parent who would make them take it off. But when they try and sell you one for each hand even kind parents turn cruel. The guys with multi colored hats make a racket with their pam-para-pas. The residents around the fair are agitating. To ban pam-par-pas. They have to put up with their flower beds doubling up as spittoons. Their compound wall being the loo. Their driveway being a sheekh kebab stall. But their sleep they hold sacred. Afternoon siesta included. And this holy space where angels fear to tread is threatened by pam-para-pas.
More food. Samosas. Chole bhature. Bhelpuri.
‘ But you just ate 4 sandwiches.”
“But I’m still hungry “
“Ok eat them but when you vomit don’t tell me.”
“ Ok.”
And then to round it off dessert. You’re spoilt for choice. Candy floss. Ice cream. Gulab jams. The candy floss wins. But a deal is made with a sibling who chooses ice-cream. So that you’ll both have the best of both worlds.
The games are popping up with more frequency between ever decreasing channa and bhelpuri stalls. And in the distance you can see the top three seats of the giant wheel as they go round and round. The call of the siren. ..
So you’re torn. Rush to the giant wheel. Or get into the Well-of –Death. On whose parapet they have a sequined clad motorcycle rider. Who revs [ what seemed like a Harley Davidson to you then] to full volume. While the loudspeaker next to him says something that even he can't hear over the noise of his machines engine. So we go up the rickety wooden ladder. And the game show starts out tamely enough. With cyclists defying gravity and going around a well that if not death, meant at least a few broken bones if they slipped and fell. And then the motorcyclist came on. A few practice rounds on the floor of the well of death and he was off. Soon just a blur of motion. Riding up to within a few inches of the railing against which we stood. At that speed and at that height the Well-of-Death could easily have been the Well-of Death. But it never was. Then came the special attraction . A woman was going to go into the Well-of –Death. Fanfare music would roll out from the tinny Ahuja speakers. A hush settles over this woden framed amphitheatre. And in a flash the said woman would be looking Yama in the face. A flash of flying hair . The jumpsuit with sequins the same as her predecessor. And when she finished her round she pull up at the bottom of the pit. And take a quick bow. Before vanishing into the little door cut into the side. And only those spectators right in front of her caught a glimpse of her Adam’s apple as she vanished.
Onwards Christian soldiers. On to the girl Snake Girl. Who had a head of a girl and the body of a snake. In badly sewn rexine. Which dangled below the table on which she lay. Rolling her large kohled eyes. Which at ten years old had seen it all and then some.
“ You want more candy floss ? You’ll get worms. I swear there must be a hole in your stomach. “
But you got more candy floss. And the worms. Well we’ll worry about that bridge when it’s time to cross it.
The laughing gallery was for fools. Who wants to pay good money to laugh at themselves ? Lots of people . So we laughed at them laughing at themselves . For free. Jo-boy , Clara, their fourth cousins from Borivli. Third cousins from Andheri. Second cousins from Santacruz and first cousins from Khar are spotted. So we stop. We kiss. Sweaty cheeks. Ours must be sweaty too. And candy flossed. We say “ Happy Feast” We promise to visit each others houses in the course of the week. Jo-boy slips some money into our pockets. Mother says “ NO.” Half heartedly. We try and give it back. Half heartedly. Jo-Boy insists.
That was a bonus.Which vanishes. When we try and toss five inch diameter rings over six inch long soaps and watches in seven inch long cases. And two inch long matchboxes. But we feel happy. Walking away with the most expensive matchboxes we’ve ever had.
There’s a table at the side of the road. Where an artist sits with his pallete of water colors. Coloring the black and white pictures that are being shot behind him. Behind sheets of black cloth. He has his work cut out for him when someone wants their whole head including their hat of many colors, colorized. So we agonise over where to pose. On the moon. A-la- Neil Armstrong. The moon is in profile. And we could stand on the bench behind it so that we crest the surface. Or the jeep. An open jeep. With a gun strapped to the front. Or the cardboard motorcycle. Hardly Davidson it says on the side. [ I made that up. But it should have ] And we finally pose in front of the Taj Mahal. The sight of whose badly plagiarized proportions would have made Mumtaz head for the family court in Bandra East and claim maintenance from Shahjehan for Aurangzeb.
Come back in 30 minutes. Coloured ? No black and white.
Into the hallowed portals of “ The September Garden “ we enter. Giant wheels and merry –go-rounds. Hot dogs and ribbon sandwiches. September Kings and Queens of the future manning games stalls. Test your hand. Trace the 1mm wire with a 3mm loop. And the minute one touches the other. Bells ring and lights flash. And the crowd watching you sighs in disappointment. They wanted you to win.
Candles on a board. Light twelve candles with one match and walk away with one Rasna bottle. Two blisters later you havent been able to light up even seven candles. Who likes Rasna anyways ! You try and kick the ball thru the hanging tyre. Now you know why you’re in the B team. You try and knock down a pyramid of empty cans. With three balls. From a million miles away.
Knock the bottom row out first.
Throw the ball really hard at the table and the cans will all fall down with the vibration.
The advice flows fast and furious. Nothing works. You aim for the table and hit the lampshade in the adjacent White Elephant stall. Thank god its plastic. You softly lob the next two balls onto the cans. But there are still more cans vertical than horizontal. You move to the hockey stall. Where you have to shoot the ball into a sideways lying 1kg Dalda dabha. You shoot twice imperiling said white elephant lampshade once again. For the third shot you close your eyes and shoot blind. And the Rasna bottle is finally yours.
Your budget is exhausted. And the family has to go to Uncle Giles’s house. Who almost lives in the fair. For lunch. Which will draw cousins from the far flung reaches of the city. From Khotachiwadi to Rathodi. Where Aunty Maries fugias make you go down on your knees and shout Alleluia. Where Uncle Giles will slip you a glass of shandy while he tells your Mom “ See crow !”
The giant wheel line reaches all the way to the niches of Mt. Carmels graveyard now. So we might as well save that for another day.
A detour from the strip is called for.A side exit past Suapri Talao. Which carries the remanants of the fair. Spread on sheets on the ground are fair worthy but not stall worthy items. Glass birds that alternately dipped and rose and dipped and rose. Ad infinitum. Filled with blue and green and red magical liquids. Motor boats that putt-putted their way interminably around a plastic basin. Powered by a little lamp. Doll house sets of furniture. In steel. In wood. In plastic. Earthen ware piggy banks. For whose contents you would have to break the bank. Posters spread out on an obliging compound wall. A wide angle shot of the grand canyon with Rhonda Byrne like quotes superimposed on the Colorado river. A younger happier Amitabh Bachan. Sacred heart of Jesus cheek by jowl with Zeenat Aman and Rekha. The resident of a building is disputing an entrepreneurs right to use said residents’ building gate as a display stand for his assortment of belts. Leather, cloth, metal and plastic. Coiled and looped obscuring the wrought iron lettering that proclaims. Av_ Mar_a Co_op Hsin_ So_y. Water filled balloons with long rubber cords attached make yo-yos. A little fragile. Assortments of plaster of paris fruits. In Gauguinesque colours. Replicas of birds. With plaster bodies and sequined eyes. But real feathers. Chains with little crosses below. Rings in brass and copper and aluminium and bronze. A stray channawalla. Who has a cane stand with all his wares contained in one basket. Makes for a quick getaway when the munciaplity descends on them. Because they’re off license. As you walk past you are implored to buy. Implored to Give. To assorted beggars. With an assortment of body parts gone wrong. The fascination for fingerless hands and legless torsos is something the adults don’t share.
“But how does he go to the toilet Mummy.”
“ Don’t ask silly questions now. Hurry up .”
Past the Supari Talao and on to Uncle Giles and Aunty Maries house. Where the noise of cousins who met each other only last month leads you to believe they are meeting after twenty five years or more. Where the cake and fugias are a pre cursor of good things to come. All the men of the family led by Giles himself are at the Mount. Where they organize communion lines and collection boxes. Priest’s vestments and visiting choirs. The women in the family keep the invading hordes at bay. With mince filled scones and patties. While news that they told each other over the phone yesterday is retold once again in person. The boys repair to the terrace to fly kites. Overtures are made to generous uncles. About how the money ran out at the September Gardens. About how at the ice cream stall there were so many flavours but so little cash.
The pillars that hold up Mount Mary's basilica are back. Tired from a duty that has had them on their feet from 5 in the morning. More wishes. More kisses. More shandy. For me. The piggie is being readied for his transfiguration. From piggie to protein. Sorry fats. Someones spectacles are borrowed to help him look cool. A lit ciggarete clamped between his jowls,helps him take his execution like a man.The pies are withdrawn from the oven. The moile and vindaloo ladled out into the serving dishes. The fugia bowl readied on the table. It follows the law of diminshing returns. Every time you return from the table, bedroom, terrace, bar, the fugias in the bowl diminsh. But Aunty Marie's largesse knows no bounds. And the fugia bowl replicates the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. So we all gather for the grace before meals. And then settle down to eat, eat and eat. After which the children ready for another foray into the fair. The parents are settling down to a siesta. One uncle is coerced into forgoing his siesta to escort the kids back to the fair. Where the line at the giant wheel, in the heat of the afternoon sun now has only the requisite mad dogs , Englishmen and us. Soon we're screaming our way in circles. Looking down at Bandra from a height we've never ever seen it from. Crammed four in a box meant for two. Getting that sinking feeling as the box plummets down to earth from a seemingly unrecoverable drop. The wheel goes faster and faster and just when you think it's going to help you become a replica of the Endeavour,it slows. Then the whole film played out backwards. And that for most of us was the high point of what was the Bandra Fair.

Sep 9, 2008

Goodnight you Princes, you Raja's of Bandra

There was a little room on Bazaar road. A sign outside grandiosely announced it as Raja Bar. It had no bar counter. It did’nt have waitresses in frilly mini skirts a la Vegas. It did’nt even have a resident band. What it did have was the quarter system. Which made it more popular than if it did have mini skirted waitresses. You were served your choice of poison in a quart bottle. Which was plonked on your table with as little ceremony as Phelps third gold.. The choice of chatna was short. Boiled eggs or boiled eggs. On good days the menu stretched to fried fish. The fillers were water and water. On good days it stretched to a soda. There was no TV and there was no music player. There were the regulars who had not just their favorite table but their favorite chair at the table. Because often times because of the space crunch you found yourself sharing a table with a stranger. Not really a stranger , because the stranger was someone who was there every evening. Just somebody you hadn’t had a chance to discuss the existence of God with and the political scenario that would cure all of our countries ills. A situation that remedied itself as the evening wore on. And the quarters piled up. They weren’t cleared from the table. Because when you called for your bill,the waiter tallied the empties and knew how much to bill you for.
And you did feel like a Raja in Raja bar. Occasionally the cops would drive by and shut the bar down for a while. So every one would troop out. The owner and the cops would get into a huddle. The hafta would change hands. The cop would request the owner not to re-open until they were back at the station. Enjoying a the variety of a few boiled eggs as accompaniment to their dal chawal dhabba. And the owner would say sure. And re-open the bar as soon as they had turned the corner. And back in we’d all troop. The empty quarters still in place on each respective table so that the billing did’nt get messed up.
The tables were steel. Guaranteed to stand up to glasses being banged down a million times. Easy to clean the spillage of an over emphasized point of view . You would hear the occasional shout “ Daddy “ from the doorstep. “ Mummy says come home immediately.We’re waiting to eat khanna “
And with everyone's eye on the offender he had no choice but to say
‘ Tell her I’ll be back after an hour.”
While he quickly downed what remained of his quarter and slunk away and was at his dining table in time for the grace before meals.
Raja Bar shut down . I don’t know why. Frankie's and Joe's at Chimbai are history. Little known history. But still history. Frankie's wife now takes catering orders. And Mosambi and Santra are only available at the fruit wallah. In the form they grow on trees. Not the way you got them in quarter bottles at Raja Bar. Which is the way God intended them to be.

Dirty Linen.

In the passage of our house stood many things. A shoe rack. A book rack. A clothes line suspended from the ceiling. And the dirty clothes box. 4’ high and a 2’ square in plan.The name says it all ? Not really.
There was a flip lid at the top. Which you lifted open and threw your dirty clothes into. When the box was full you opened a little door on one of the sides at the bottom of the box. Unloading the box was then a piece of cake. The sides were slatted for the upper half of the box. This stopped the clothes from getting musty. And allowed the monitoring of level of dirty clothes in the box. And allowed your mother to determine which day would be laundry day. And after the laundry was done the box was pressed into service once more. To stand on to reach the ceiling suspended clothesline and hang the recently evicted inhabitants of the box.
The box really came into it’s own when there was a game of hide and seek. Even the littlest inhabitant of the house could open the side door and crawl in.Then smother herself in the dirty clothes. So that visibility of any human form thru the slats was zero. All would be well until a larger inhabitant would decide that the dirty clothes box was the best place to hide. His chosen point of entry would be from the top flap. And the muffled screams that would emerge from the box when the new inhabitant of the box settled on the head of the old would give the game away.
When the fans had to be cleaned the box was pressed into service as a make do ladder. When the house needed painting the painters were allowed to use it. But only after the promise of it getting a new coat of polish was extracted.
The dirty clothes box was living on borrowed time though. The washing machine soon made it semi redundant. And when the washing machine came out with a built in spin dryer every day could be wash day. The washing machine triples up as dirty clothes box, washer and dryer. An aluminium ladder that folded neatly onto the loft allowed you to get the cobwebs off the fans.
The Mother does’nt have the heart to get rid of it. So it still sits in the passage. It’s used to store the Christmas tree that folds away in two parts. Boxes of packed away decorations.
The Mother notices her favourite tee shirt that says “Worlds Best Mom “
[ Sent by the now NRI ,littlest inhabitant ] missing. She used it just last week. Thieves . The maid ? The plumber who came to fix the washer in the kitchen tap last week ? The monkey that was trained to go into peoples houses and steal ?
It turned up at Christmas time.

The Twelve Steps

Mt. Carmel’s church is a gracious host. To the school kids of St. Aloysius. To her parishioners who troop in for mass. For burials and first holy communions.To the September Gardens with it's Giant Wheels and merry-go-rounds. For a meeting that happens once a week.
A meeting where each attendee introduces himself and confirms his addiction.
"My name is Tony G. and I am an addict."
Alcohol and drugs. What to most people are social pleasures. To everyone at the meeting is a Ravana. A hundred headed monster that has destroyed their lives. Fathers, sons, teachers, officers, peons. People who come from worlds that never collide. A world where they cease to function as a father , as a provider, as a husband. A world where most waking moments are given to feeding a hunger that is destroying them. And with them the people in their orbit. Where getting to the Auntie’s at Chimbai wins out over getting to the office on time. Where the sideboard your grandfather made with his own hands is sold to the jaripurana walla. The cashier at Pinky Wines and BoozeUp trades in hard cash. Not sideboards or wedding rings.
The children turn inwards . The wife to novenas . Which work. And Tony G. finds himself at Mt. Carmels basement with the will to change. Where he meets with a man called Fr. Joe P. Who gives introduces him to Ramesh C. , Imtiaz M, Gurpreet S. , Solomon E. and so on and so forth. And every day he struggles. To stay away from his Ravana. Just that one day at a time. Counting it out. Ramus been clean for 36 days. Imtiaz for 104. Guru hit a hundred days and figured one little drink would’nt hurt. If he could stay clean for a hundred days… he’d be able to stop after one drink. He was wrong. Sol’s first anniversary of being clean was coming up.
Prayers in the morning. A simple meal. House work. Sweeping and mopping this basement that was now home. Yoga. Meditation to try and exorcise the demons in him for ever. The first few days are the hardest. Shivers and chills. Someone stays with him all the time. A new kid comes in. His mother has come to drop him off. He’s never spent a night away from home.
They’ve moved from taking to giving. Of their time as they arrange the chairs in the quadrangle for Sunday mass. And clear it out so that it’s free for the kids to play the next morning. Of helping with the household accounts. With the marketing for which they would go in pairs. So that if you started to fall there was a shoulder to hold you up.
The wife and kids dropped by for a visit. He introduced them all around. They went across the road to the Irani’s for a cup of tea. The shame that had always been there but he had’nt seen, he now could. It almost made him head straight for the usual path to oblivion. Almost.
So it went. A day at a time. Till he felt he could get back home. He was back at Mt. Carmels for the meeting every week. The years moved on. At the kids weddings he toasted them with a Coco Cola. The wife did’nt insist they go into every party late and leave early anymore. { It used to cut down on his drinking time }. He did. Because he knew how fragile he was. Even now. And how fragile he will be. Right to the very end. Where his epitaph will read
"My Name was Anthony Gonsalves."

p.s. Ossie was the man who held it all together at the AA centre in Mt. Carmels.Fr. Joe's right hand. And he was ably assited by Rex. Silver haired and looking like a film star even when he was in the throes of recovery. And Smitthy and Russel who now help others from their so very different points in the universe.

Sep 8, 2008

Rainy Day People...

MRF always has a rain day announcement. Trying to predict the day the monsoon will descend on Bombay. They don’t usually get it right. So the next day they run an ad saying ‘we got it wrong but aren’t you glad you’re ready for the rains with your new MRF tyres. And we wait for the rains to come. Eagerly, at first and after a few weeks anxiously. Crops start dying in far away fields. Vaitarna and Vihar lakes are close to being empty. Prayers are read out in church. Novenas are made. And then on a day the weather report says will have lots of sunshine and no clouds. The rains come. Umbrellas are taken down from the top of the Godrej. Raincoats are washed clear of the powder they’ve been preserved in over the last year. Rain shoes are tried on only to find they’ve shrunk while in storage. [ No ! my feet could’nt have become fatter. ] Wipers are fitted back onto cars. Because you’ve removed them before the local junkies did. Theres a solution called Anti-Rust that goes onto all the chrome that makes it shine like gold . Theres a choice of anti-rusts. Gold or bronze. While all the anti-rust that gets left behind on your fingers only makes them black. And sticky. But it keeps the rust away.
The rains came down. And the floods come up. The gutters either drain the rain water efficiently or choke like when you had to have the bitter jaundice medicine.
. It depends on the tide. High tide , and the rain water can’t get out. Low tide, and our gutters runneth smoothly into the sea. Paper boats are dropped into one side of the sewer that runs beneath the driveway. And applauded when they emerge unscathed on the other side. The little streams that run above ground don’t have enough of a draft for our nautical masterpieces. The bit of palm leaf at the point where it joins the tree makes a perfect boat. Kon Tiki inspired . You paint it. You sandpaper it. You christen it. And then you don’t have the heart to put it into the gutter to test it’s seaworthiness. So you put it in the showcase.
If it’s raining when you go to sleep, you pray very hard. That it might continue to rain very hard. So hard that the next day will be declared a rainy day holiday. The newspaper gets delivered . Not good. If the paper could come to you then you are probably going to be able to get to school. You set off with your socks rolled up in your pocket . You’re instructed to put them on only when you are in class. You’re told not to splash in every puddle between home and school. You’re told to keep your raincoat cap on. You’re told not to forget your raincoat in school on the way back.
You try to get as close to the puddle the bus has to splash thru in before it can proceed. What are raincoats for?
You get to class. A sorry and washed out bunch. Raincoats dripping over the railing. The floor a mix of mud from the playground and the rainwater still leaking thru a not very watertight roof. Fifty raincoats. One umbrella.[ the teachers]. A few wet socks on top of the raincoats. [ Everyones mother didn’t have the foresight of yours.] Books are removed from plastic bags that are removed from schoolbags. A little smudge from where the water managed to get thru the double fold of the plastic bag. And as you settle down a notice is brought to the class. The school is shutting down because of the rain. Did you hear the cry when the Israelites trumphed over the Egyptians. Did you hear the cry when Dhoni and gang won the ODI world cup? Did you hear the cry when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon ? If you heard all these you’ve still heard nothing. Till you’ve heard the cry of 2500 boys who are informed that instead on spending the next eight hours at a desk ,they are free. Free to play football in the rain. Free to sail paper boats in overflowing gutters. Free to try and swim in the 18 “ of water that might flood St. Pauls road. Free. Free. Free.
You rush home. Past stranded cars and motorcycles. Which seem to be wheel less in the rising waters. You stay far from the edge of the road. Where the fine line that divides road from gutter is a thing of the distant past. You give the corner dustbin a wide berth. Some of it’s contents still sail pretty close to where you are. You dump bag school bag and raincoat and socks [ now soaked ] and shoes and school uniform. And set of to enjoy what the raingods have bestowed upon you.
And so it goes. Two days of rain. Three days. A week. The washing is hanging from the backs of the chairs around the dining table. The electric mains are switched off every time the water in the staircase threatens to get to know the meter box in a biblical way. The top woman .[ I love that word. Top woman . Is it because she’s on top of everything ? There’s no such thing as top work. Work is work. Is it because shes top dog in this cluster you call home. Though you’re father thinks otherwise. He does’nt think he’s top dog. He thinks it’s your Mom. ] I digress. The top woman’s house is under water. So she hasn’t shown up for work. Understandably so.
Prayers are now being said to ask God to turn it off. Novenas to mitigate flood damage.
Anthony of Anthony’s Car and Body works is happy. Even the anti rust hasn’t been able to withstand the rain gods fury. The sun comes out. The dining chairs are swiftly emptied of wet clothes. And so it goes. Till the Duckback raincoats are re-powdered and put away once more. The wipers are put back into the dickie. And the fall of rainwater trickling down your open skywards turned mouth becomes a “Was I dreaming ? “ moment in the heat of Mumbai.