At 6:00 pm, on a foot-over-bridge (FOB) leading to Andheri railway station, looking around to familiarize myself with the streets and the shops clustered with people, who in vain to save themselves from the showers of monsoon sought shelter there, I paused my feet from taking any step ahead. The time did not pause with me, it went on as if to board a train in an unending journey. But, I stood there, carefree of the happenings in the world away from the aura of this particular engineered structure.
I had a schedule on my mind to run on, which did not include the very moment I was experiencing. A railing with a slab of the length of three sedan cars was filled with men and women. What were they doing here when the rest of the mob was running amok to board the crowded trains to reach its destination?
A peep. One group of teen-aged boys shouting in glee, about their academic examination results, about girls they were dating and aghast about their fathers being miser. None of this disturbed the couple of a man and a woman engaged in tasting the taste buds of each other, but seeing this infuriated an old man gasping while walking, accompanied by hundreds of co-commuters in hustle, complaining about the rain that they long for otherwise, brushing aside one another after a day long work or merry-making. As the dark clouds were darkening the evening, the number of couples across the length of FOB increased, along with the number there was a raise in the gestures of making love in public, some cuddled, some kissed, some hesitated, some fiddled, all with one thing in common – the urge! Little did I realize that the urge in me caused hunger pangs in my pot-belly.
Walking down 34 stairs to the ground level, getting a ticket to Churchgate station from an automated ticket vending machine, I entered a well-lit food court maintained by IRCTC, taken aback by the clean ambiance, I relished 4 pieces of Uttapam (supposedly South-Indian cuisine) cut in the triangular shape of pieces of fish in a fashion that Bengalis do. When I turned towards the window, I saw two men holding hands and kissing. Two hours had passed from the moment it started raining. We, the commuters in the local train were getting drenched in the rain drops that drifted in when the doors were sliding back.
At the lesser crowded Churchgate station, among many others was a girl shivering in her wet clothes, an abandoned boy whom almighty had not gifted all senses, an old lady helping her ailing husband and many ladies pushing off the water from the entrance of the station. I did a little that was required for one among the needy. After a while, my friends arrived with one mission – to enjoy the Paus (rain).
Omelettes and buns we bought, munching them and stuffing our umbrellas in our bags, we drenched. Howling on the road, dancing on the pavement, splashing the water from the pot-holes, we paved way for the honking cars. We laughed at the people running around to protect themselves from rain, holding umbrellas that turned upwards not withstanding the force of the wind, wearing jackets those seeped water in. Holding my hand she pulled me to cross the road, to that piece of land we were excited about – “The Marine Drive”.
She wanted to eat raw mango, pleading the seller to add all spices, we handed him wet currency notes. Talking about everything we know in the world of ours, we sat facing the waves, those that emerged one after the other. Our mobile phones wet in our bags had many calls unanswered. Struck by the aroma of roasted corn, we rushed to the family selling them. Joyfully we churned while families, ill-mannered men and shy women were looking at us. Many men seemed awe-struck looking at my friend, as if it was the evolution of man-kind and they were seeing a woman for the first time. She was gorgeous and bold enough to chase one of the on-lookers away, even before I could realize and react at him.
Like the icing adds on to the flavor of the cake, ice-cream does to the rain. Indulgence is the term for our madness of gulping in scoops of ice-cream while it rained.
The hustle and bustle is the life of every man everywhere. No time for many things. No space to live. Yet everything is available at the end of sleeves. That’s how a Mumbaikar lives and also celebrates monsoon!