Joe Biden in Crater Mumbai

Jul 28, 2013, 07:38 IST | Rahul da Cunha

Earlier this week, the BMC (PHU) hit panic button. (The BMC (PHU) is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Pothole Unit) “The US Vice President is coming to Mumbai and we need to get him from Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport to the Taj Mahal Hotel,” said Talpade, head of the unit.

“That’s a bummer,” said his number two, Ghorpade. “Obama is not the US Vice President, you bewakuf. It’s Joe Biden. How do we transport him, bola?”

“In what vehicle, Ghorpade? The state of our roads is so bad. Kaisa karega?”

“The BMC guidelines state that we send 15 Ambassadors for any US dignitary.”

“No no, the fifteen Ambassadors with red light and small fan is for South East Asian leaders. For US VIPs, there has to be at least one foreign car, specially imported from America.”

“Arre but the US don’t make cars anymore. Even Detroit has declared bankruptcy. Also, it is impossible to get a visa to go to America. If Modi can’t get one, how can we?” said number three, Gaitonde, disconsolately.

Talpade cut them short — “Idiots, my problem is not the brand of car, but the choice of vehicle. There are such big big potholes near Sakinaka. An Ambassador or even a China-made Range Rover will never make it on the Western Express Highway. Plus the Metereological Department has predicted 72 hours of heavy rain, coupled with high tide, so major flooding. Mr Biden is coming here to strengthen economic ties. How will it look if he floats in a car to the Taj. He is likely to sink faster than the Indian rupee!”

“Should we get those specific potholes filled up, sir?” Ghorpade, asked helpfully.

“Nahin nahin, those potholes are so deep, they are termed ‘ditches’. Plus they don’t fall under our purview — that’s the job of the BMC(DD) — Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Ditch Division.”

“Sir, how about we take him through Powai and then onto the Eastern Express Highway?”

“The problem in Powai is that huge craters have formed on the road. The Astronomical people are advising us what to do about those.”

“Sirji, I have an idea. What about choppering him, airport tarmac straight to Taj terrace? Dus minute lagega.”

“Ghorpade, the whole of India has only three helicopters. Mallya and Mukeshbhai have both flown abroad in theirs. And the third one, unfortunately, crashed in Uttarakhand.”

Talpade, Ghorpade and Gaitonde were downcast, as more heavy rain and high tides rendered Mumbai totally flooded. Biden was to land in two hours.

The quiet number four, Ranade, sitting in a corner spoke up, “Sir, I think we should contact the BMC(WSC). They will be able to get VP saab to the Taj.”

“Who are the BMC(WSC), Ranade?” Talpade snapped.

“Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Water Sports Club.”

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper. 

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