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Rain gods and civic gods, are you listening?

Updated on: 08 July,2024 07:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Fiona Fernandez |

Our sutradhaars reconvene after a month and take stock of the city’s wellbeing and its woes that seem to increase with every changing season

Rain gods and civic gods, are you listening?

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Rain gods and civic gods, are you listening?

Fiona FernandezSir PM was pacing up and down at the back of the Cathedral, the space behind the pews where one could get a good view of the goings-on in front by the altar, as well as keep an eye on those entering the place of worship. It was well after service, and he was waiting to meet Lady Flora who was expected any moment now. It was nearly a month since they had last met; both were on holiday. While Sir PM went to visit family in Bharuch, Lady Flora did the long trip to the British Isles.

When he spotted her, Sir PM saw no trace of the fatigue that comes with many days of sea travel. “Ah! There you are, my dear friend,” exclaimed Lady Flora, looking as fresh as an English rose. “It’s so good to see you; not so much the city though,” she scowled; the tone of her voice did a turnaround in seconds. Sir PM smiled, because he could tell that the catching-up was going to be a fully-loaded one. “Correct me if I am wrong, but it doesn’t feel like we had a good monsoon, Pheroze…” she enquired. They were sipping on mint tea, as they walked around the famed flying buttresses towards the north end of the Cathedral’s façade. “My Lady, we’re in July but are yet to experience the full might of the monsoon. I’m told that we could be staring at water cuts shortly, if the rain gods don’t oblige in a big way.” Lady Flora chipped in, “Back home too we had some pretty warm days. This wasn’t the pretty British summer that I grew up to love; it was a harsh version. It’s the dreaded curse of climate change that’s rightly coming to haunt us. Our civic gods took it lightly in the past, disrespecting the city’s fragile ecosystem and its location by the sea but never imagined it would affect us,” she sighed, quickly adding. “On a related note, despite a weak monsoon so far, I read somewhere that the new big pride of our city (coughs twice), the Coastal Road, has had leakage issues. How did that happen, given the hype around the ground-breaking technology being executed for this infrastructural wonder?”

Sir PM was waiting to vent, “You recall the unforgiving summer, and now, this endless wait to ensure our lakes get filled with rainwater. Back in my day, I had voiced my views to invest in rainwater harvesting. My enemies mocked that I should shift from law and civic administration to weather sciences. Imagine, we are a coastal city that receives heavy rainfall, and instead have to rely on many lakes around us for water supply. It defies logic.” Lady Flora looked to the skies, “I think they heard us. Let’s head indoors,” she suggested, after drops began to fall. “Not to worry, this will halt in minutes,” Sir PM assured. As if on cue, it did. “This has been the nature of the rains in June and now, July. Then again, maybe the weak rainfall is a sign from the rain gods to ensure our civic gods get their act together, so that the city is actually rain-ready. Have you seen our roads? After my return journey from Bharuch via road, my back was sore for three days. Walking on the Moon and Mars might possibly be easier; plus, we have to endure the multiple ongoing road widening and Metro Line work projects. Not to forget the debris that is lined up on either side of these stretches. Who is accountable for this collective mess? I hear the suburbs are in even worse shape due to these endless infra works. At least we are on our pedestals; my sympathies will always be for the poor Bombaywallah who does the daily commute, by train or by road.”

Lady Flora rolled out her complaints, “I spotted makeshift jobs being hastily done around drains from where I had disembarked. Honestly, instead of using fancy taglines like the city is ‘upgrading’ can we just get the basics right? Make departments accountable so we have a clean, liveable city,” she rued. “Speaking of liveable, imagine my luck to return on the day when those cricket champions had that open-bus ride. I was caught in the pandemonium and crawled back to Fort. There was very little intimation for those poor sea-facing residents who faced a lot of inconvenience from multiple nuisances, going by visuals and reports across the press. Percy [the pigeon] and his flock had to leave their SoBo abodes because even the trees lining the route weren’t spared from fans hoping to get the best view of these demi-gods. Why not just head to the stadium and spare us this jamboree?” she exclaimed.

In his owl-like wisdom, Sir PM looked towards the heavens and summed up the present scenario, “We, Bombaywallahs are paying the price for slow, stopgap, reactionary–instead of proactive–decision-making. We have to pray to our real gods to save us, because the other gods have let us down.” Both friends said a silent prayer for their beloved city.

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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