Yesterday, on Gandhi Jayanti, this paper carried a piece about how a woman in labour was forced out of a taxi on her way to hospital by a heartless driver. She gave birth to a baby boy after women in a Wadala temple rushed to her aid. The report stated that Ilyaz Shaikh (27) and his wife, Noor Jahan, (24) were told that the due date for their second child would be around October 5. However, Noor went into labour in the early hours of Thursday (4.30 am). The couple set off for Sion Hospital, but after an hour, Noor was close to delivering the baby in the taxi. The driver told them to get out. The cab stopped near a Ganpati temple. Female devotees saw the woman and rushed to help. Soon, with their aid, a baby boy was delivered outside the temple. The couple are ever grateful to God and the women. They have decided to call their son Ganesh.

This is a heartwarming story about strangers who ensured a baby came into this world safely. Who knows what would have happened if the couple had no help after they were abandoned? This incident also reveals the two faces of Mumbai, an indifferent one, via the cab driver and that of a Good Samaritan, as seen in the women.

It is the latter that we need to see more often. Not the one where people turn away from accident victims, because who wants to get into a police lafda? Or when we ignore somebody being harassed because we ‘don’t want to get involved’. Sometimes, Mumbaikars walk away from a crisis because in a city where time is a tyrant, we do not want to waste precious minutes trying to help someone. The hard-hearted Mumbaikar is a label that has some validity.

Having said that, this city has the ability to spring a moving surprise like it did in this case. There are examples where people have demonstrated tremendous compassion and kindness to complete strangers. Let us strive to be more like them and make the ‘heartless Mumbaikar’ label scarce, if not completely redundant.