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.
Over the last 2 years or so, elevated pedestrian walkways connecting suburban railway stations to nearby commercial areas have been sprouting all over Mumbai. Known as skywalks, the first one was inaugurated at the Kalanagar junction of the Western Express Highway in 2008. Today, many more are functional all over Mumbai. Somehow, I never got a chance to take a walk in one of these till last Saturday. I was on my way from Vashi to Borivali via Bandra.
It was 9.30 in the morning when my bus from Vashi deposited me near the Hill Road exit of the Bandra Skywalk. I had to walk up to Bandra Station to take a train to Borivali. From where I stood on the road, the skywalk was lit up by the mellow January morning sun making it irresistibly welcoming. Not to mention the fact I would encounter no traffic at all on the skywalk!
Walking on a skywalk is actually quite surreal. It is quite unlike travelling on a flyover or an elevated road in a fast-moving vehicle, while the world around you appears to be stationary. The skywalk’s experience is quite the opposite with you being stationary with the world rushing by. I could get a bird’s-eye view of the Bandra Talao as well as a peek into the BEST Bus depot—places that one would not get to see with such a perspective. I felt like I was suspended somewhere up in the sky, not altogether an unpleasant feeling. Thankfully, the skywalk did not pass near residences or I would have felt like a voyeur, the way I do whenever I travel on the JJ flyover or the Sion flyover in Mumbai!
So, what are you waiting for? Come, take a walk with me in the sky at Bandra 🙂