Ready for Ganesha?

Updated: Aug 19, 2019, 11:36 IST | Fiona Fernandez

As the city gears to welcome its favourite deity, our sutradhars wonder if we have warmed up to be more environmentally-conscious as global issues like climate change loom large

Ready for Ganesha?
Khetwadi Cha Raja being taken in a procession through the streets of Lalbaug to its pandal in Grant Road. Picture /Atul Kamble

Fiona Fernandez"Why the sulk, Pheroze? I must admit that despite the long face, you are looking really 'with it', especially with those trendy earmuff-like things. Is it after you watched that film, Gully Boy? I believe it was quite the rage," Lady Flora's battery of questions didn't exactly go down well with her friend, Sir PM.

"Not Gully Boy but Ganesh Chaturthi. These 'things' are called noise cancelling headphones, and I have decided to wear this for as long as the 10-day festival carries on in the city. I am not quite sure if my hearing can take the high decibel levels any more. And, I actually thought you'd come by to wish me and the missus on Navroze. I know, it's peak tourist season for you, but a wave would have sufficed," Sir PM realised he might have said too much, after the last line was uttered, so quickly tried to amend things with, "here, try some lagan nu custard. It's a far cry from your Yorkshire pudding but I am sure you will appreciate it." Lady Flora took a few spoonfuls and relished it. "This is utterly delicious," she said, and soon enough all was forgiven and forgotten from their little scrap.

"So, tell me, Pheroze, is it really going to be as bad as you imagine? I mean, aren't the authorities – your former bosses – planning to be more strict with rules and restrictions as far as the festival goes?" she asked Sir PM. "I am told that several of the big mandals – the groups that bring home the idols – are trying their best to follow the no-plastic and no-thermocol rule. Though I doubt if everyone is able to put this into practice. And then, there is the noise factor. There is, I am afraid, Lady, really no solution. Cousin Sohrab has been having sleepless nights ever since he moved to a bungalow that faces a vast open space. Every Sunday, those dholwaallahs assemble to practise for the big day. If this is just the rehearsal, imagine the real deal! I suggest you get yourself a pair as well. It will do your newly-restored self a lot of good," suggested Sir PM.

Lady Flora was touched by Sir PM's suggestion but clearly, the city's health was topmost on her mind. "Tell me Pheroze, will there be a solution to all the choking of our water bodies? I mean, you did see how the Mithi River and the Arabian Sea spewed all the filth back onto land after the heavy downpour? Isn't it enough of an eye-opener? And, now, as the festival draws near, I shudder to imagine how much more nature will be subjected to," she exclaimed.

Sir PM had no answer. All he could do was recall the glory days during Lokmanya Tilak's call to observe Ganeshotsav as a community building activity. It was an eco-friendly, intimate and devout affair. No loudspeakers or ostentatious and expensive decorations and certainly none of these glitzy stages. "Lady, those were really the days to experience and celebrate Ganesha," he said, lost briefly in the past.

Just then, a loud, jarring sound blaring from loudspeakers took over the streetscape. It originated from one of the mandals in the back alleys of Fort. It was a sound check as preparations for the festival were underway; the duo had clearly not seen it coming. Lady Flora looked at Sir PM, and in a flash told him, "Pheroze, how soon can you arrange for those noise-cancelling contraptions? Sooner, the better."

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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