Aarey, kya ho raha hai?
Our sutradhars get into activist mode with the latest news that spells further damage to the city's green lungs
"Pheroze, where were you last Sunday? I was hoping to spot you in the crowd outside Aarey who braved the rain to protest against the nod given to the felling of 2,700-odd trees inside the forest," Lady Flora asked her friend Sir PM, as soon as they met near the Kala Ghoda traffic island. Sir PM went silent. He knew it was a bad call to have extended his Sunday siesta at cousin Persis' elaborate luncheon that felt like an extended Navroze celebration. He couldn't get himself to make the trip to far-off Borivli after the hearty meal. And then, the incessant rain in the suburbs didn't help.
He was hoping that his friend Lady Flora would also give it a skip. Quite the contrary, the perfectionist that she was, she camped at Dr Viegas' sister's home in Bandra the previous night and made it in time to support the countless Bombaywallahs who turned up to protect their beloved forest. After all, she was one of the many aggrieved souls from the day the Metro work began on DN Road in her favourite neighbourhood. Life was never the same. From endless sinusitis attacks to the constant fear of developing cracks on her newly restored self, she had endured a fair bit thanks to the constant drilling and night-long work threatening the arteries and veins that ran through her dear city. And, then, there was her interrupted spells of sleep. She had to be there; she had made a promise, and hoped that her friend would not disappoint.
"I expected better from you Pheroze!" she exclaimed, as her decibel levels increased. "After everything that we have experienced because of the Metro, it's the least we could have done to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brethren." Clearly this wasn't going to be a gentle rap on the knuckles, Sir PM realised. His mind was racing to come up with something intelligent to distract his friend. Starting off with an apology would help, he figured. "Lady, I apologise for my utter laziness. But I hear from friends that the stirs will continue. So I will be there another time for sure. The activists will go all the way to India's highest courts, I am told. A divided opinion by our parties in power is making it more confusing for Bombaywallahs to believe their leaders. They have been taken for a ride, I suspect," he explained, as his friend's mood changed to one of full attention.
It began to pour by now, and so they decided to take shelter under one of the arches along Rampart Row. "Hope you were okay on the September 3-4 rain days, Lady?" She was. Luckily, she had taken abode inside the Town Hall, since her dear old friend Edward had sent out a timely warning through his trusted Percy (the pigeon) that dark clouds were fast approaching the city.
"Gargoyle had some shocking stories to tell, heard from commuters who were stranded inside Victoria Terminus. But I believe the suburbs were the worst hit because the swollen Mithi River had paralysed areas along its course," Sir PM continued. "But tell me, Pheroze…if this isn't a wake-up call to the gods and babus in your former office, then what is? I keep hearing of the extent of climate change and how the fires raging in the Amazon forests will make it worse. But this is right here, in our backyard. I overheard one such 'expert' who was in favour of this act who said that the long term benefits were larger. But my point is, it is a clear danger knocking at our doorstep. Why not find some other abandoned space in the city to build the Metro car shed? Why touch this verdant forest that is home to so many species of flora and fauna?" Lady Flora asked. What a true Bombaywallah she was, Sir PM told himself.
By now, the rain had halted, and they decided to walk down towards the lawns inside the Prince of Wales Museum to soak in the lit up landmark. Soon, they arrived near the over-a-century-old baobab tree. It was one of their favourite green spots in the city. "I hope, Pheroze, that common sense prevails, and the people's voice is heard. Or else, who knows, all of this will be under threat in the near future?"
mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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