Our Mumbai for 2015
At the onset of 2015, I would love to see a few changes in the city. Let’s implement affordable ferry services connecting South Mumbai with the suburbs. This will save us time, and how! I also feel that there are very few single-friendly options in the city. Restaurants should adapt the concept of ‘Table for one’ with separate menus comprising suitable quantities or certain items on them that can be cooked in a jiffy for the solo eaters. And lastly, bookstores and libraries should extend their timings till midnight and provide cubicles to their patrons. This would not only help the bookworms read uninterrupted, but also students who need to burn the midnight oil and may not have their own space.
I have always considered myself a Mumbaikar before most other things. I love this city. Here’s my personal wish list of a few things I think could make my city even more magical than it already is, in 2015. For starters, please hold more cultural festivals in the central suburbs, which are otherwise deprived of these gems. Let’s save us the annual trip to Goa and organise flea markets and night bazaars at Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty. Also, housing societies should be encouraged to provide space for schooling of children of their service providers such as sweepers, guards, etc. It is commonly known that thousands flock to our ‘City Of Dreams’ enamoured by Bollywood. A version of organised studio tours like the Universal studio tour that is popular the world over, would be a terrific salute to our film culture. Lastly, and importantly, we’d like for the menfolk to live the term ‘gentlemen’, and make this city safe for women!
We’ve cringed while spotting busloads of foreign tourists go trigger-crazy at spots like Dhobi Ghat, SRK’s bungalow and Hanging Gardens. What about the rest? This New Year, I wish that our state tourism ministry does a lot more than be content with promoting the typical, oft-seen city landmarks and sights. A serious, 360-degree approach must be adopted where the concerned departments ensure that guided tours and walks incorporate and celebrate the real Mumbai — its landmarks, its cultural spaces, its film studios and other sights of historic significance that shaped the city. Funds should be infused in the right places. Information must be provided at iconic sights with audio guides and information kiosks. Vandalism of such sites is another concern that continues unchecked. Graffiti on the facades of Elephanta Caves and CST are examples of this concern. If we wish to be regarded as a leading city in Asia, let alone the world, we cannot afford to neglect this integral element of our dynamic and rich legacy.
The city needs more parks. Abroad, big cities can boast of Central Park and Hyde Park that provide much needed free space for public recreation. In Mumbai, uncontrolled urbanisation has led to green places only being reserved behind gated communities, you pay for empty space today in big housing societies. This isn’t affordable to all. One of the success stories is Maharashtra Nature Park. One of my favourite places is the Bombay Port Trust Garden.
Hassan M Kamal
Back home, while growing up, there was no better escape from the mundane school life than watching the film Sholay, every Sunday at an open-air public screening. In spite of the same scenes being played every weekend, we always returned home inspired and rejuvenated. I hope that one day, we in Mumbai, can watch films in the open, where we can live the magic of cinema outside the confined doors of air-conditioned theatres and tiny chairs.
Of the several songs written about Mumbai, the lyrics ‘Sone ki Raaho mein Sone ko Jagah nahi’ from Taxi No. 9211 have always struck a chord. And it is these streets of Mumbai that need to get more empowered. Kolkata has College Street for finding that obscure book your friend just recommended, we have Hutatma Chowk though it isn’t as resourceful as it used to be once. Colaba Causeway has always been my favourite place for a bargain buy, though the stalls aren’t a constant due to legal issues. Linking Road is a designated space but it turns into a monster for residents on holidays when at the closing of the day, the streets are littered with plastic wraps. A place like Delhi’s Sarojini Market, which stands on its own would be a budget-shopper’s delight. The same goes for our street food stalls. Better organisation in terms of waste disposal, traffic monitoring and hygiene and designated areas will do wonders for our food industry.