♦ This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of theDNA newspaperpublished on January 14, 2013 (pg.6) ♦
At a road junction in the busy Ballard Estate area of Mumbai, and near two landmarks of the area — Cafe Britannia and Old Customs House — stands a memorial.
This memorial commemorates the employees of the Bombay Port Trust (now Mumbai Port Trust) who fell during World War I (1914-1918) and also Port Trust’s contribution to the war effort. A brass plaque on the memorial reads:
“Lets go for a walk. You can see a different side of Mumbai that way,” I said to a friend who was visiting Mumbai from Delhi on work and wanted to experience the city in a zara hatke way.
“A walk? In Mumbai?,” she asked incredulously.
“Of course,” I replied.
She laughed herself silly over my suggestion and then asked, “But where is the space to walk in this city? And what about the weather, the crowds, the traffic, the pollution, etc.?”
“The weather is not too bad in Mumbai now. Besides, if we go for a walk on a Sunday, the crowds, the traffic and the pollution will be manageable,” I responded.
“Er… what is there to see in Mumbai, apart from the not-so-clean beaches, the Marine Drive, the Siddhi Vinayak Temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, and houses of film stars?” she asked a little too politely.
Since this was the first time that my friend was visiting Mumbai, and was only repeating what she had heard from others, I guess she could be forgiven. But still, it was a matter of pride for me to present my city to a visitor in a way that only an insider can. “You and I are going for a walk this Sunday. No ifs and buts or whats and wheres. No arguments. Meet me outside Platform 1 at CST station at 8.00 am. And try not to be late, will you?”