Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blow Cold, Blow Hot !!!!!!

Yesterday, the almost unthinkable happened in Mumbai. The signs were ominous and for once, people had been warned. Still, not many (me included), thought it would come down to that. As I left office today, saw the DNA headline: ‘Its 9.4 degrees in Aamchi Mumbai’. So after a long time, the mercury has finally dipped into single digits. It is still well clear above the lowest mark: a truly bone-chilling 7.4 deg set in January 1962. Outdoors, the repercussions of this ‘abnormal’ climatic behaviour are hard to miss. As I leave for office at 7.30 am, I have never seen so many people clad in sweaters, mufflers, monkey caps etc. If you are a woolens retailer, it is like finding El Dorado. And for once in the Mumbai local trains, people are actually avoiding those prized standing spaces at the doors. Climatic changes are happening at a rate far faster than any seen before and the effects are there for all to see: not just in Mumbai. Delhi had come close to seeing its first snowfall, China is in the grip of severe snowfall and many other places are seeing unprecedented winters. We are moving towards a climate of extremes. I would not be surprised if, exactly three months from now (May 7th), the newspaper headline were to read: ‘Hottest May Day in 40 years !!!’. We seem to be getting what we deserve.

But amidst all this chill, the self-proclaimed ‘powers-that-be’ have found innovative ways of beating the cold and seeing some action. So the old ‘Marathi v/s North Indian’ saga has been reopened again. That there has always been an undercurrent of tension is undeniable. It just needed a spark to ignite the flame. In this whole controversy, I have just two points to make:

  1. The role of the media: The day after this whole thing flared up, I happened to watch a few channels on TV. And if you were sitting somewhere in Delhi or Kanpur, one look at the visuals being shown and you would have thought that there is rioting all across Mumbai. No wonder few of my office colleagues whose familes are up North received immediate calls inquiring about their well-being. The justification apparently was that these were staged attacks especially for the camera. So now does the media take orders from some small-time mischief-mongers on what to broadcast ? Or was it solely for the extra eyeballs that such visuals (shown repeatedly over) catch ? When will we a bit more responsible in bringing news, especially on such sensitive topics ?
  2. Stopping migration: While it is true that Mumbai is for everyone, the parties that are now acting as aggrieved and victimized should do well to realize the cause of the migration that is at the heart of this controversy. Almost non-existing infrastructure, large-scale corruption and breakdown of law and justice are largely responsible for the sorry state that some of India’s states find themselves in. Instead of shouting hoarse on how Mumbai is no-one’s private property, the leaders there need only look at their backyard and try and improve the state of affairs there.

Finally, in all this, I was reminded of a wonderful line about this great city:

“ The great beauty of Mumbai is that it welcomes anyone with open arms”……..

And the great tragedy of Mumbai is………………………..





“it welcomes everyone with open arms !!!!!”



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