Last week, I took a walk on the Chembur Skywalk. While trying to take a photograph of the skywalk from one of its 3 currently operating exits, I gathered a crowd of some curious onlookers. The conversation that ensued went something like this:
“Are you a journalist?” one of them asked.
“No. I am not a journalist,” I said.
“Then why do you want to take pictures of the skywalk?” another one asked.
“Because, I am writing a series on Mumbai’s skywalks for my blog, and the Chembur skywalk is the next one to be featured,” I replied.
“Then you are a journalist,” the group said triumphantly.
“No, I am not a journalist,” I said a little more forcefully.
“Look, madam,” said one of the persistent onlookers, “why would anybody want to photograph and write about the skywalk? It is not a film hero or heroine. Only journalists write about such things. If you don’t want anyone to know that you are a journalist, fine. But we know that you are a journalist. A serious journalist.”
“It’s ok,” said another. “We won’t even ask which paper you work for.”
I gave up. There were 3-4 khaki-clad people in the group who decided that I should not be “pestered” by the others. Shooing them off, they introduced themselves as BMC employees who worked in the area and said that they would very gladly be my “informers” about the Chembur Skywalk.
I am an occassional, rather than a regular, temple-goer. And when I do go to one, it is to the Sharadamba Temple in Chembur, Mumbai. I like this particular temple because it is quiet, peaceful, and most importantly, very clean—it is a pleasure to walk on the cool granite floors. Another reason I go to this temple is because it is never crowded, except on festival days like Navratri and Mahashivratri, and even then it is never unbearably so.
The Sharadamba Temple is one large hall with the entrance at one end and the Sharadamba deity at the other end. A simple wooden barrier separates the devotees from the sanctum sanctorum. Like in most temples, the men flock on one side of the hall and the women on the other side, though there is no physical barrier to separate the two sexes. The children, of course, keep running between the two sides.
Over the years that I have been going to this temple, I have noticed something very curious at this temple. After the aarti is over, the priest always offers it to the assembled men first, in particular the office bearers/trustees of the temple. Only then does the aarti thali come around to the women’s side. This is the case with the teertham (holy water), the prasad, as well as the flowers.