Aug 4, 2010
For some personal work i had to proceed to Mumbai during the third week of July. The incessant rain that had started by then had made my journey right from home till the railway station and thereon up to Mumbai filled with anxiety. Meanwhile, i became apprehensive about Matsyagandha arriving in time at Udupi from Mangalore and reaching Mumbai on schedule as the monsoon season has been the most difficult of the seasons for the Konkan Railway.
Srprisingly, Matshygandha arrived and left udupi railway station right on schedule. As the rain lashed across the windows and doors of the moving train, the outside view from the train was quite hazy and unclear at some stretch of the journey. One could see the rivers in spate, the rivulets and streams gushing with mud coloured water and the paddy fields inundated with flood waters. It rained with varied intensity at different places on the way to Madgaon and beyond during the night. Up to Madgaon the journey was quite pleasant with rainsoaked greenery presenting a spectacular treat to the eyes.Even during the rainy night, Matsygandha did keep its tryst with the schedule and reached the Thane station surprisingly at the early morning hour of 5.30. Probably this was the first train journey that i had undertaken through the rain soaked coastal belt that too as per schedule, something unusual from the later disastrous reports of the condition of the Konkan railway due to which i had to cancel my return journey ticket and take a bus back to Udupi few days later.
Being alone and nothing else to do after completing my personal work, i decided to explore the southern part of rainsoaked Mumbai and took a local train early morning of the week-day to Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and walked to the Marine Drive reaching the spot at around 8 am. The traffic was not much and the Marine Drive promenade had fewer people jogging or taking a morning walk. I could see a middle aged couple sitting on the parapet wall facing the sea in a meditative pose. Few policemen were also at the promenade looking at a suspicious bundle that had washed ashore and resting on the cement tripods below. The buildings on the other side of the Chowpatty and the Nariman Point stood tall and looked hazy in rainsoaked morning light.
After spending around half an hour and clicking few pictures at the Marine Drive, i moved towards the Oval ground from where i could see the tall and majestic Rajabhai Tower which brought back old memories. It was in the University Library beneath this tall Rajabhai tower that i had spent two years in 1970s studying for my post-graduate degree and five years in 1980s doing research for the doctorate degree. From the other side of the Oval ground this edifice along with the High Court building looked quite photogenic with colonial architecture.
With nostalgic memories of the past i moved towards the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Hotel, my first visit since the dreaded 26/11 terrorist attack on the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel. Here too there were few pepole some of whom were tourists. Looking at the facade of the magnificent hotel, one cannot imagine that such a horrible attack had ever taken place on the pride of Mumbai. The magnificent and artistic building has been restored to its original glory. The memory of the terrible terrorist carnage is being kept alive by few policemen and two commandos who along with other curious people were watching the turbulent sea in front of the hotel.
As my eyes wandered around the hotel and Gateway of India, i saw a large number of pigeons and few dogs scrambling for grain in front of the building. While walking through the promenade, i became curious to see a young man shredding bread and throwing in the sea. When i asked him why he was doing so, he said that the bread was meant for the fish. Meanwhile, he also kept some pieces of bread on the parapet wall to be picked up by corws. Another person alighted from his bike and emptied a large ball of kneaded wheat (dough) and flower garlands offered to deities from a plastic bag into the sea. When peeped down, i could see plastic bottles, flower garlands and other garbage hitting the parapet wall with the waves.
Walking leisurely back to the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) through the Fort area crossing Flora Fountain to take a local train back to Dombivli, i could notice the old buildings with colonial architecture. Right from the Crawford Market to the Gateway of India, if one has time and an interest in aesthetic features of colonial architecture, he can appreciate the various buildings, both public and private which still remind the people of Mumbai and the tourists the glory of the colonial architecture right from the Crawford Market, Anjuman Islam School building, Times of India building, Municipal Corporation, CST, and a series of private buildings lining both sides of the road up to the Regal Cinema and even beyond.
Not that i have not been to these areas or noticed these buildings earlier. But this time i just went around with new curiosity to see some of the favourite points frequented by the tourists in the megacity of Mumbai, that too for few hours during the rainsoaked morning.
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