Off the beaten track

Today, it rained cats and dogs, in Mumbai. And the good, old city weather bureau tells us that tomorrow will be worse. A few years back, maybe two, it would mean that the next day would be sunny but now it seems, they have pulled up their socks. Yes, nowadays they get it correct, more often than not. I am not sure whether it is due to better satellites or it is due to better clairvoyance.

When they enlightened Mumbai denizens about a long bout of heavy rainfall during the week, starting Tuesday, most people took it seriously and left for their work with an umbrella in hand. Well, atleast those who were brave enough to take on the combined threat of Corona and the pouring rains. So in addition to an umbrella in hand, they also had the twin protection of a mask covering their face. Till now we have seen cloth masks or the special surgical masks, however soon we may see plastic masks due to the rains. Or maybe not, since plastic masks don’t breathe.

As it usually happens every rainy season in Mumbai, people leave their homes in the mornings only to end up being caught in flooded streets or on flooded railway tracks. And today was no different.

While wild animals like leopards and pythons and deer have paid a visit to the fringes of the metropolis to check on their masked brethren, the fish haven’t been so adventurous. That is, till today.

Today, one of the stations on the central railway faced massive flooding; well, many stations did but this particular station made news with some rare visuals. While it is now a best kept secret that trains in Mumbai run through water during the rainy season, some visitors of the aquatic kind paid a visit to this station surprisingly.

Taking advantage of some calm waters on the railway tracks, a few fish had a great outing, swimming on those very tracks. While they gaped at the TV cameras with their pouted lips and graceful movements, the people marveled at their excursion far inland, which was certainly off their usual beaten track.

I have seen visuals on social media which show the nullahs in Japan towns brimming with colourful fish. Now, the time has come to replace these oft-repeated visuals with these newfangled fishy images of Amchi Mumbai.

Last heard, the fishermen are now making a beeline for Mumbai railway tracks and no, it is not for performing the early morning ablutions which have hitherto commanded a pride of place on the sides of the tracks.

Yatindra Tawde

The Wannabe Eye Specialists

They were white, running across a black background and comparatively tiny. One had to literally stand below them and crane one’s neck to make a head or tail out of it. Once they came on the scene, or rather screen, the people had to leave their vantage positions, run helter skelter and be in their close proximity to understand and decide on the next course of action. They tested the long distance vision, the stamina and the speed of the people who crowded to have a look at them.

The people were not watching any exotic creatures but we forced to give these reactions since their lives depended upon them during their daily struggle to earn the daily bread.

If you are confused, I don’t blame you because we are talking about the humble indicators inside Mumbai railway stations.

Recently the railway authorities replaced the red indicators with new, improved (?), energy saving black and white indicators and caused chaos in the local passengers lives.

The passengers who grabbed vantage positions on the FOB’s of the railway stations, to see the platform indicators from afar, which platform their next train would arrive, are now forced to descend in droves on the platforms and crowd near the indicators, as they are not visible even from a respectable distance.

It is not so much the B&W nature of the indicators but the reduced font which is to blame for this unfortunate scenario. Perhaps, it’s a result of some AC cabin denizen taking decisions not based on field reality. Or were they decided by some Eye specialist who wanted to do a free survey of the passengers eye sight?

Let’s see what corrective action is now taken, which seems unlikely due to the crores already spent to implement purported latest technology.

Whatever happens, it seems that Mumbai railway passengers are geared for a eye straining time; the same passengers who already travel cattle class in train compartments bursting at the seams.

Yatindra Tawde