While you guys were stuck in gutters masquerading as roads, I spent the past week in a verdant, faraway land, watching majestic grey clouds ride in on the backs of winds, and unleash what can only be described as furious lovemaking manifest as rain.
Of course, when I say ‘faraway land’, I mean New Bombay. During the monsoons, it looks like the kind of place that was Instagrammed with great love, and presented in 1080p.
In comparison, the rest of the city is a badly drawn sketch on a tissue that was used as a loofah by a bunch of homeless lepers. Now I admit that since I’ve grown up in New Bombay, I might come across as biased and smug. But in my defence, when I’m smug, I’m also right.
You only need to step out on a Mumbai road to realise that there is traffic backed up all the way to Jaipur, with cars crawling at the speed of a riot investigation. Also, the fact that we get anywhere is a miracle, considering that the roads are about 80% potholes, 10% smaller potholes and 10% holes dug by the BMC sometime during the Mughal era.
And all this is before the monsoon.
To say that the authorities have a careless attitude towards monsoon preparation is like saying Milan Subway is wet. An example of this would be our CM, Mr. Chavan, who, earlier this month, went to a pilgrimage site 400 kilometres from Bombay, to pray for rain. (It was either this, or R.R Patil doing a rain dance in a leafy skirt.) I’m sure there are cannibals in the middle of a remote Bolivian forest, who are laughing at our primitive nature.
Cannibal 1: Hey, check out this report about the Indians praying to rain gods. LOLZIES!
Cannibal 2: Saw it. Now gimme back my iPad.
Cannibal 1: This R.R Patil sure looks delicious…
That brings us back to New Bombay, also known as Bombay’s Twin City, because the two are twins in the same way that Bruce Willis and Rajpal Yadav are twins. It was designed according to the principle of ‘Look what they did with Bombay. Let’s not do that’. So it turned out to be what they call a ‘planned city’, making the rest of Bombay look like a botched abortion.
The difference is most apparent during the rainy season. We’ve got hills, waterfalls and green fields, all within comfortable driving distance, and if you want to go even further to Lonavala, you can do so in less time than it takes to cross the Suman Nagar junction. Then again, you can tear down a hill, take a dump all over its ecosystem and create your very own fancy hill-station in less time than it takes to cross Suman Nagar. Just ask Sharad Pawar.
We also have a bunch of mangroves, which is just a nice way of saying that we will have a bunch of malls there soon. But mangroves actually serve a very important ecological function: they can be turned into makeshift love shacks. No, seriously. Last year, the cops busted one such operation in Vashi, wherein couples would pay 100 bucks an hour to bump nasties on thermocol sheets that were placed inside 10×10 foliage shelters. It was Survivor-meets-Splitsvilla for poor people, and was a hit with those who like to get frisky and contract malaria at the same time. So if you thought New Bombay was boring and asexual, hah! In yo face, Bandra!
It’s quite sad that I’m so excited about New Bombay though; excited about not having to wade through a pool of leptospirosis, about street lamps that do this magical thing where they emit light, and about roads that do not look like the tar version of Om Puri’s face. This stuff should be boring and commonplace, but efficiency is such a freak event that even the slightest bit becomes cause for celebration. I mean the most pro-active measure taken by our leaders is praying. I don’t think God’s listening though. He’s too busy chilling in New Bombay.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 8th July 2012. See the original here.)