Western railways staff went on a flash strike this evening. Only if you live in Mumbai and travel within Mumbai can one understand the impact of this. Railways are Mumbai's lifeline. People use the local train transport all the time. The motormen and more went on a strike in the evening just when the office goers want to travel back home. The city came to a stand still. The buses were jam packed andso were the roads. the cabbies had started playing truant. In between all this I had gone to my saree blouse tailor at Tardeo. On the way back, I wanted to pick up Caramel custard for the family from Cafe Noorani. I walked two km to Noorani and ate the fresh caramel custard and packed a few. Did not get a cab and kept walking , blissfully unaware of the strike. Crossed a couple of Parsee colonies, Sardar Pav Bhaji shop, Haji Ali, Mahalaxmi race course, Wellington golf course. I felt as if I was getting reacquainted with Mumbai. Cabs not coming and me walking were in sync till I reached Mahalaxmi station. People were all over the roads and cops were managing them and traffic. A friend called to inform me about the strike at the same time. Have seen a lot of crowd at Lilavati hospital this week,with my father in law admitted there.Shiv Sena head honcho Uddhav Thackeray checking in and first Super Star of Indian film industry Rajesh Khanna checking out.
People were looking for cabs and all were full. Not a single car or private taxi stopped to offer a lift to even one person walking on the road. I dont know what I would have done if I was in a car and there were people walking all around. Saw a pretty girl with her fancy purple luggage, trying to hail a cab to the airport. I told her about the strike and she was caught unawares like our entire city. The cabbies started fleecing but who cared! All those who had money got into any cab that was willing to stop. Lower Parel which is the new business hub of Mumbai was swarming with people. I felt bad for all who lived far and had kids waiting for them at home. I got a front seat in a cab and there were four boys behind. One of them got in and started telling the cab driver about his fleecing customers at such times. He also said he should call the RTO office. I told the cab driver he will not be able to save this extra money he has charget. He said he knew that this money will go. We all chatted amiably. One of the men had been to the main railway office where this meeting was going on to get some signatures. The strike was a result of the breakdown of talks. We talked about Ramadaan. The driver said it was Sehri night. The man behind mentioned the Maruti plant tragedy at Manesar. He felt they should not have burnt the HR manager alive but the CEO. I asked him what would that achieve? He said in typical Bambaiyya Hindi"Charbi toh kam hoyega"I felt a chill run through my veins. This is how the common man feels about salary increments and Human resources issues. Dadar was a sad sight. All those who could not afford cabs and had trains as the only means of travel were waiting on the railway bridges for the strike to get over.
The driver who was obviously cheating did not even want to stop atthe place where I requested him to. It was on the road on which he was driving but the arrogance was taking over his service. I was just glad that after a seven km walk I had got a cab for the next five or six kilometers. I came home happy and kicked with myself. The icing on the cake was that the elevator was under maintenance. Waited for the children to return from school. we all walked up eleven floors together. Seeing kids return happy joyous, their dirty faces with shining smiles can make one energized enough to climb eleven floors after a rather long walk.