TLC for the city

Updated: Dec 09, 2019, 07:52 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

With the change in guard, our sutradhars want their actions to speak louder than words by focusing on getting their beloved muse back in shape.

Sir PM would much rather that the gods at Mantralaya paid more attention to Bombaywallahs', oops, Mumbaikars' immediate problems, such as the city's badly pockmarked roads
Sir PM would much rather that the gods at Mantralaya paid more attention to Bombaywallahs', oops, Mumbaikars' immediate problems, such as the city's badly pockmarked roads

Fiona Fernandez"What's with the rouge, Lady? Are you headed someplace fancy for dinner?" Sir PM couldn't contain his curiosity. It had been some time since the two had met for their nighttime walks around their favourite parts of SoBo.

She was a bit taken aback with his observation skills and forthrightness, especially since she felt subtlety was her forte. "Oh, you noticed, Pheroze! I was trying something new that my cousin from Portland had shipped for me. Let's say, this is an early Christmas present from her," she shared, before quickly adding, "But then you must also know that with tourists' inflow reaching its peak now, I have been receiving more footfall than I can recall. And, all of this in my 150th year! I must look my best without ruining my carefully restored avatar."

Ever the genial gentleman, Sir PM nodded his head, affirming that things had changed for the better. "This sight is encouraging. It reminds me of the city squares of London. I wonder why the city's gods aren't replicating this at other important landmarks, where pedestrians and tourists can enjoy the view that is otherwise missed out in the daily rush."Lady Flora was clearly having the time of her life. First, the renovation, then the UNESCO Asia Pacific award, and now the increased public interest – which was in fact, true validation of its significance.

Amidst all the attention, Lady Flora noticed that even Sir PM was looking quite spiffy; a far cry from the embarrassing sights he'd been subject to in the past, where bird droppings on his head and robe would take ages to clean. "I see that you have been given a terrific clean-up. Tell me about the turnaround," she prodded. It's what she loved doing.

"Well, you see Lady…the change in government; it seems to have helped me. The new gods sitting in Mantralaya want to make Bombay, oops, I mean Mumbai "ekdum chakachak", I've heard. Then again, it depends on the requisite files reaching the correct departments; I've heard how anything can happen from there to here," he remarked, while referring to his former office at BMC. "I believe they are keen on saving the trees of Aarey, too," interrupted Lady Flora, eager beaver that she was, "Does that mean this drilling around us will also be phased out?" she asked. "I don't think we will be that lucky. That ship has long sailed. But, at least the trees will be spared," he tried to reason.

"And I hear that the long-time dream to introduce 24x7 nightlife in the city is also being weighed seriously," she added. "That will be something, Pheroze! Imagine the city that never sleeps, will actually live up to its name, with all-night balls, and celebrations." Sir PM could tell that she had imagined the frame in her head.

"But I have my reservations about this idea. First, shouldn't the gods be focusing on the basic issues — like pothole-free roads, better connectivity of local trains and drainage, more public toilets? It's bad enough that most Bombaywallahs, oops, Mumbaikars, have to encounter these issues almost every day," Sir PM reminded his friend. For once, and in a long time, she had to actually concede that he was right. "Yes, they should first firm up their act and get the city back in shape. This is their best chance to give us back the real world-class city — Bombay or Mumbai," she agreed.

It was a moonlit night, and the city, their beloved muse, had never looked more glowing in its nightly grandeur. Both took in a moment to soak in the outline of the Victorian Gothic ensemble that greeted them as they halted at Oval Maidan. The new gods ought to treat it well; both silently said a prayer, and continued with their walk.

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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