Mumbai Diary: Thursday theme

Feb 19, 2015, 08:18 IST | Contributed by: Sachin Kalbag, Shrikant Khuperkar, Chirag Waghela, Vidya Heble

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Two wheels and a guy
On a hot afternoon in Thane yesterday, we heard a distinctive roar. A beautifully-maintained Harley-Davidson motorcycle cruised past the autorickshaw we were in, a case of royalty versus the hoi polloi, we thought.

But then the great leveller, the traffic signal, turned red and everyone had to stop. The bike, which sported a Rajasthan number plate, was a couple of vehicles ahead of us and we spotted the rider asking another autorickshaw driver next to him, for directions.

He then took a turn and we had a good look at the sleek machine before it pulled away and left us with the receding throb of the engine sounding in the air. The rickshaw drivers were also watching the bike roar off, and when the signal changed we found ourselves level with the rickshaw driver who had given the biker directions.

We asked him where the biker was headed to, and discovered that he had been seeking directions to the highway. Well, with India Bike Week starting in Goa in a couple of days, perhaps the Rajasthan roadster was headed that way. Safe riding, and have fun!

The price is right
Doing the right thing pays in many ways. Sarang Bhalerao, a journalist with Star Sports, posted this experience on his Facebook page, showing how his determination to be upright ended up teaching a crooked cabbie a lesson we hope will stay with him for ever.

“While coming back from Lower Parel to Mulund, I noticed the taxi meter was running at a rate of knots. The normal fare is up to Rs 370 but I was shocked to see the mark was well over 400 at Vikhroli. I politely asked the cab driver if he was cheating.

He gave me a vague answer and asked me not to question his integrity. When I reached the actual destination the meter showed the never-seen-before sum of Rs 548. At that point I decided to take up the matter with the local police. “The taxi driver showed me the meter reading, saying the distance between Lower Patel to Mulund is 42 kms.

That’s when Google Maps came to my rescue. The police arrived immediately (unlike Bollywood movies) and found out that the driver didn’t have his badge and wasn’t in uniform. “I had the option of ending the matter then and there but the taxi driver wasn’t ready to accept his mistake.

Had he accepted his fault I would have ended the matter then and there. “I decided to file a complaint against him simply because I gave the driver multiple opportunities to accept that he was at fault. “The driver had to pay a fine of R 800. He was short of cash, had only Rs 450.

That’s when I realised I hadn’t paid the taxi fare. I gave him Rs 370 despite the police asking me not to pay the sum. That would’ve been so wrong. “The cab driver thanked me for teaching him an important lesson. Paying Rs 548 was not the issue but teaching the driver a hard lesson was the endeavour.”

Praying it cool
The Mahashivratri festival on Tuesday saw people thronging temples, fasting through the day, going barefoot, making offerings and even travelling distances to worship at their favourite Shiva temple.

Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

Of course decorations at the temples were worthy of attention all by themselves, and at the Ganesh Mandir Sansthan in Dombivili East, the decorations included ice sculptures or rather, carvings.

The idols and symbols were carved out of blocks of ice and installed at around 2pm, and for devotees on a hot day it made for a cool diversion.

Signboard? What signboard?
Our city is chock-a-block with signboards telling us to stop, go, stand, sit, wait, not loiter… in fact, take your pick of instructions. Of course, not everyone heeds all the signs all the time. Far from it, we would say. Except when it comes to Irani restaurants where the signs are strict and the owners even more so, and if you don’t obey you could well find yourself turfed out.

Even the crow is not inclined to heed the sign. Pic/Chirag Waghela
Even the crow is not inclined to heed the sign. Pic/Chirag Waghela

But on the whole, signs are something one just winks at while passing them by. One example is this sign on the skywalk at Ghatkopar station, which asks people not to stop (ie, loiter, pause or otherwise block the space).

But will we, free-spirited children of democracy that we are, heed it? You wish. From people taking their lunch break, to college students doing “timepass”, even a crow is perched on the instruction itself. Signboards are for the birds, it seems!

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