Saturday, May 12, 2012

Urban Bawl 7: Hate Story

An edited version of this piece is the seventh in the series of my Urban Bawl columns in Time Out Mumbai for their 'Back of the Book' page.
This is published in the May 11-24 2012  (Vol 8 Issue 19) issue of Time Out Mumbai.

Hate Story

I don’t really hate my city, though-

I am concerned that we have more than enough resources to change the city, but hardly any to preserve it. That our urban memory does not seem to go deeper that our last Facebook update. That we have suddenly become hypersensitive about our rights as citizens but lackadaisical about our responsibilities.

I am worried that every square inch of our city is fair game for builder/speculators; including the house I live in. That it is acceptable to demolish a 5 storey building only 5 years old to build a 40 storey new one, thanks to the toppings provided by 33/7, rehab components, TDR and relaxed FSI.

I find it ironical we believe that the densest neighbourhood in the world, Kalbadevi, can be further densified by cluster development. That Chor Bazaar will inevitably become a thing of the past. That the balcony has already become a thing of the past.

I think it hypocritical that Mumbaikars complain about how filthy our slums are, when Mumbai itself does not have a culture of separating its garbage into wet and dry compartments.

I am outraged that a skywalk from CST to Churchgate could even be contemplated. That congestion on our streets can be resolved just by building another street over it. In fact, our general belief that all the problems of the city can be solved by more building.

I am filled with wonder that, on the one hand we hope that 3 compartment elevated trains with automatically closing doors will bring down overcrowding in trains, while at the same time older platforms are being extended to fit 15 dabba trains. That I live in that part of the city where rickshawallahs have never plied by the meter, yet go on strike each time the minimum fare needs to be raised.

I am disgusted that Churchgate station needed to be tarted up with public funds to become an ugly, blister-packed carbuncle. And yet, we still snigger at Antilla whenever it is mentioned.

I think it is silly that public art in our city can only be designated as such by fencing it off and putting a label on it. Come February, I dread seeing the pastiche soup of installations at Kala Ghoda that will inevitably send me into deep depression until approximately the same time next year. That the second most photographed building in the country, the Bombay Stock Exchange, needs a monstrous neon sign proclaiming that it is, in fact, the Bombay Stock Exchange.

I despair that it nearly impossible to get a couple of decent fried eggs in the city. That the local Udipi charges me Rs.16 for a cup of tea and Rs.50 for a Sada Dosa. That the Wayside Inn has already become a thing of the past.

I live for the day when cinema theatres will display slides in BIG BOLD letters that say: ‘Turn your f***ing phone off right now, Bhen****!’ before the movie begins. Same is true for announcements in local train compartments, instead of ‘Pudcha Station- Currey Road’ in 3 languages.

I am cross that I have to pass through at least three security filters before I can use the loo at the Taj, which has always been the convenience of choice when I am in the vicinity.

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