Name of the game
As another station in the city readies for a change of name, our favourite sutradhaars wonder whether the commuter's welfare will be lost once again
"Why so glum, Pheroze? Is it the weather that's caught you unawares? But, how is that possible considering you have seen more sweltering Septembers in this city that most of us can imagine?" enquired Lady Flora as they began their midnight walk by Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg. She was at her snarky best, more like playful.
She of course was doing a mental countdown of her return to public viewing. That day wasn't too far away; she'd eavesdropped on the news while her caretakers were exchanging notes. 'I will breathe again!' she told herself, imagining life without plastic shields, and a million other layers that she had lost track of.
She returned from her little dream to prod about her friend's off-colour demeanour. The still breeze from the Arabian Sea seemed to have helped Sir PM. He smiled a bit as they watched two sleepy mynas nearly fall off a tree while they had taken a pit stop near Lion Gate. "If you insist, Lady Flora. Well, you see, I was visiting relatives at Worli and Parel, and my faithful taxiwallah took the Elphinstone Road Bridge after I guided him to do so - "Elphinstone se lena," it came so naturally to me. But I was stunned as I glanced at the station office. The familiar nameplate was gone, and in its place…" Before her friend could complete the sentence, Lady Flora interrupted, "My dear Pheroze, it does seem that you've been living under a rock. It's been ages since that station has been renamed Prabhadevi."
He gazed back at her in shock; it was a crescent moonlit night but she could swear that Sir PM had lost some colour from his face. He did miss the news while he was visiting relatives in Dahanu in early July.
"But Lady, that's not all. I hear there is more such news coming our way. Bombay Central will be renamed after Nana Shankarseth. But at least he was a great visionary and a pioneering mind with regard to the Indian Railways in its early days. It's getting very difficult to keep track of these names, you see," he mourned. "Bombay is changing too fast…"
By now, Lady Flora seemed a bit miffed as well, and asked her friend, "My question is simple - What good will these name changes bring to our harried Bombaywallahs? Haven't they had enough of it, and instead, don't they deserve better railway facilities like cleaner compartments and stations, safer and wider bridges and better approaches to platforms?" Sir PM nodded in agreement.
The two halted outside St Thomas Cathedral to spend a few moments in silent prayer - Lady Flora reminded her friend that it was the first anniversary of the Elphinstone Road station stampede, where innocent lives were lost last year.
"They've changed the name of that station; let's hope that it doesn't erase the horrific tragedy that could have been averted," sighed Sir PM, "There is a reason why we call it 'the city's lifeline.' Bombay's railways ought to get back on track." The pun was entirely intentional here, we believe.
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 Send your feedback to email@example.com
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