An article titled “Walking all over locals’ lives” in today’s The Times of India talks about how the construction of (some) skywalks in Mumbai has led to the loss of privacy for residents who live along the skywalks as passers-by on the skywalk can look into the houses level with the skywalk. My recent visit to the Cotton Green Skywalk underscores this observation. Take a look at the picture below.
Now, the Cotton Green Skywalk does not really pass within handshaking distance of the houses like the ones mentioned in the article, but it is still uncomfortably close. Without any effort whatsoever, I was able to hear every cuss word hurled between two neighbours quarreling over something (over and above the traffic din); and saw a man tying his pajamas, and another one reading his morning newspaper. And no, tempting as it was, I didn’t photograph any of these. I felt guilty enough witnessing this!
Last Saturday I went skywalking at Cotton Green. Till very recently what I knew about Cotton Green could actually fall within the 140 characters of a Twitter update—it is an eastern suburb of Mumbai, a station on Central Railway’s suburban Harbour line, and home to the stunning art noveau Cotton Exchange Building, that I would always look out for whenever I crossed the station. That’s it. It was not really interesting enough to get off and go exploring.
Once upon a time in Bombay (actually, this was about a 100 years back), there lived a man called Lowji Megji. He was a cotton merchant and ran a very successful business exporting cotton. He lived with his wife, mother, 5 sons, 1 daughter, and 4 servants in a large mansion in Bombay (Note: about a 100 years back, political correctness had not crept in, so I use the words “Bombay” and “servants” in this post).
Lowji Megji loved all his children, but he loved his daughter Kusumbala just a little bit more. Nobody minded this, as everyone who knew Kusumbala also loved her just a little bit more. She was a kind-hearted, happy and cheerful soul, who always spread joy wherever she went. She loved going with her father to his cotton godown and giving drinking water to the workers who loaded and unloaded the cotton bales. The workers too loved her a lot and would wait for her visits to the godown eagerly.
Unfortunately, such visits were rare as Kusumbala was a sickly child and prone to frequent bouts of some illness or the other. In her 13th year, her frail body could not withstand yet another bout of illness and she finally succumbed. The family was disconsolate and Lowji Megji devastated. He lost all interest in his business and if it hadn’t been for his faithful employees, he would have been ruined.