The city received welcome monsoon showers last Saturday. But all the cheer of monsoon arriving before time lasted short, as the clouds had a rather shady agenda of their own. Rarely are opening showers so heavy. And like year after year, the city, especially the hallowed BMC was taken by surprise. It's a wonder how the start of monsoon always takes the BMC by surprise.
So the rains came and surprisingly kept coming, lashing down hard on the obviously unprepared infrastructure of the great city of Mumbai, a truly world class city. Things started crumbling in world record time and the unpreparedness of the BMC and the railways was exposed to the world. Water logging was reported in many parts of the city. Train services were hit, especially those of Central Railways, with trains running as late as 30 minutes to an hour. Even though the rain waters didn't go down the storm water drains, BMCs annual tall claims of monsoon preparedness certainly did.
The city was brought down to its knees, or rather on its feet. But the icing on the cake is when the news channels start talking about the 'Spirt of Mumbai', that though water logged, the city and its citizens were not to be stopped. Ahh, we have had so much of this stuff, the spirit of Mumbai!
Being regular commuters, people who spend at least 2 hours travelling each day, we can tell you that all those people who braved the rains, water logged streets and densely crowded trains and buses, did so not because they were buoyed by the so called spirit of Mumbai. They took to the streets, walked their way through water because they had to reach work. If you have ever worked in Mumbai, then you know how companies treat employees who sight heavy rains as an excuse to skip work. We can vouch that most people would have rather stayed at home. But in a city where time and money matter more than human lives, taking an off when it rains heavily is not an alternative. Employers expect you to be on work because they pay you for that.
It rains for almost 3 months in Mumbai, and because the BMC will never get its act together to ease the situation, the same case will be repeated every time it rains heavily. And every time you can not take an off from work. We brave the elements of nature because that is how it has to be and how it will be. We don't have the luxury of skipping work. And we know it's the same with every person who is present with us in these crowded trains and buses. We know that when the city crumbles help might not come, most of the times, and so we have taken it upon ourselves to help our self and others through this predicament.
What people call spirit of Mumbai actually comes out of a feeling of hopelessness. We have lost hope, faith and belief in the people who run the show in this city. But we have not lost our humanity, at least not completely. And that is why a Mumbaikar will help another Mumbaikar in such times because he knows that those who are supposed to help, will not. It's a basic survival instinct that you learn by virtue of living in Mumbai. You can call it whatever you want to - Spirit of Mumbai, if you like it that way.