Santa's wish for Bombay
As Christmas nears, our favourite sutradhars spread Yuletide cheer with their fellow Bombaywallahs, who desperately need some light and joy going into 2020
"My word, Pheroze! What's with the attire? Don't tell me you are having visions of playing Santa Claus for the neighbourhood Christmas party?" exclaimed Lady Flora. She had never seen this avatar of her friend until now, and the wonderment on her pale white complexion was writ large. It was well past midnight on a pleasant December night, and despite the poor visibility around them, his bright red suit stood out. He seemed at ease in his new garb, but looked a tad alarmed at his friend's reaction.
"Well, if you must know, Lady, I am doing a trial session with my Santa suit. I wanted to spread some cheer around the city and what better time than now to do this. We Bombaywallahs have had it really bad this year, don't you think so? I thought why not pay a visit to a few aggrieved souls on this special day that is synonymous with joy and happiness," replied Sir PM, looking every bit the genial Santa, minus the signature Santa-shaped potbelly. After all, Ms Mehta had put him on a strict diet for a while now, to keep his diabetes under check.
"That's such a warm thought, Pheroze. Now be a sport and show me the list," nudged Lady Flora, "…Maybe I could add a few suggestions," she added, eager beaver that she was. "If you insist, Lady," he agreed. It didn't take much persuasion to get him on board; that's what Lady Flora loved about him, as she waited for him to reveal the list.
Sir PM pulled out a paper from the front pocket of his Santa suit and rattled off:
"Residents of Rani Baug: They've had a rough year, with countless mega expansion plans that look set to cause new problems; poor infrastructure for the existing inhabitants, a drop in numbers barring those who throng their in-house Page 3-type celebs' [read: the Humboldt penguins] enclosure and the possible relocation to a far-off land in the northern part of the city.
Kolis of our Koliwadas: With the Coastal Road project being relooked at, my heart goes out to the city's oldest inhabitants. Once again, their livelihood will come under threat; there's little support or sufficient financial backing to ensure they don't have to give up their profession.
Occupants of Aarey and SGNP: They have truly had a forgettable year. First, their home gets certified as a non-forest, then come the bulldozers and finally the hacking of their beloved companions — the thousands of trees. They need all the TLC they can get.
Train commuters: What a resilient lot, this! Fourth seat, third seat, no seat. Up-down madness, cancellations, rain delays, overcrowding and yet, they make it to work and back. Let's hope the air-conditioned locals help cool things off.
BEST drivers and conductors: Our men who ply one of the city's oldest lifelines ought to get a better deal from the gods with more sops and innovations to bring back the crowds
And yes, this one's a little something from my personal list:
Irani cafés and Udipi restaurants: GST. Real estate sharks. Mall mania. May these old-time restaurants continue to hold the fort for community cuisine in today's inexplicable times," he concluded, waiting for his friend's response.
"Bravo! Bravo, Pheroze. What a well thought-out list. I have no additions. You'll make a fine Santa with this wonderful gesture. And what have you decided to gift them when you visit?" asked Lady Flora. "Well, I was hoping you'd accompany me to Crawford Market to make things easier…." Sir PM asked, gingerly. "Ah, it would be my pleasure. But I have a request for you, too – Will you accompany me for Christmas service at St Thomas Cathedral?" she asked. "Most certainly. You know there is a Parsi connect at the Cathedral, don't you? Come, let me tell you all about it," said Sir PM. And the two trailed off towards their favourite part of SoBo, not before whispering a special Christmas wish for every Bombaywallah.
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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