We Mumbaikars will get our own Metro Rail very soon. Versova to Ghatkoper which takes nearly two hours will be achievable in 22 minutes. So the distance between them would be reduced. You might think I am talking nonsense but its a fact that in Mumbai we measure distance in minutes and hours not in kilometres and metres. Still if you dont believe me ask any guy from Mumbai how far is Dadar from Andheri? He will say in all probability, "Twenty five minutes by train." You ask again, "No, tell me how many kilometres it is.?" He will scratch his head and realise that he doesnt have an answer forsuch a simple question.
Myself being a true Mumbaikar face lots of problems when I go to some other city. "How far is Qutub Minar from Malviya nagar?" I ask someone in Delhi. The pedestrian replies, "Seven kilometers." and walks away. Now I scratch my head. It would have been better if Mumbai would have used distance as a unit of distance and not time as a unit of distance.
Coming back to Mumbai Metro. The construction of Metro has shortened the width of already narrow roads of Mumbai by half. Everywhere we see signboards saying, "Please bear with us for a better tomorrow". I have been reading such signs since childhood. That tomorrow has never come. I feel myself lucky that Bandra-Worli sealink got completed before i turned seventy.
The traffic was already bad on the roads on which Metro is planned. Now you cut the width to less than half and you have a nightmare. This is what roads in hell would be like I feel.
I was on my bike with my brother passing through such a road. It was a Sunday afternoon, still there was bumper to bumper traffic. After waiting on a red light for some time I saw a few people on the footpath. Beggars, hawkers, flower sellers and a few street children. I have seen one thing about street children. They all have brown hair. Staying in such strong sunlight for so long has changed their hair colour. The Metro will provide them some shade atleast.
I also saw a small child sitting on the footpath. He was no more than a year old. Even he had brown hair. He was eating a fruit, probably a guava. He was relishing it. There was so much innocence on his face. I have seen many one year old kids. No one would have eaten a guava on their own. Probably it was the first and only meal of his day. The fruit fell off his hands and got mixed with mud. The child picked that up and was eating the mud mixed fruit with same relish. He probably doesnt know what taste is. The option he has is not of whether there is tasty food or bland food, but whether there is food or not.
I was thinking what will he become when he grows up? This innocent child didnt know what life has in store for him. He will be forced to beg. If he is lucky he will sell balloons or flowers. People will abuse him, big street children will beat him and take his hard earned money.
Who knows he is already earning. Maybe his mother starves him and begs when he cries to get more alms.
The signal turned green, I kickstarted my bike and moved towards home . I was not able to stop my eyes from looking at that child. I realised that if I wont look in front, I might meet an accident. I focussed my vision on the road and drove away.
How shameless and helpless I felt at the same time!