Striving to create positiveness despite the external negativity.
“Keeper of the Keys” is a title which has been figuring very commonly in the field of popular entertainment. In the Matrix the title holder was THE most important character around which the whole movie revolved. In Harry Potter he’s the most trusted and loyal half-giant, who has his heart in the right place but is towards the lower scale intellect wise. I’ve also been forced to take up this title recently, and my attitude towards it is similar to a cross to be borne. KoK is an indispensable position and being indispensable means moving up the ladder or increasing one’s scope of work is not for you.
The portion of Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road which hugs the IIT Powai campus and the shores of Powai lake is a lovely four lane drive.
The visually appealing buildings at Hiranandani add to the splendour of the lake and make the drive the most picturesque in the whole of Mumbai. The four lane drive just invites you to step on the accelerator and zoom from the Eastern Express Highway to the Western Express Highway. When my office shifted to Sakinaka I was overjoyed at the thought that though the office is far I could reach it relatively easily through JVLR and have a picturesque drive to keep me engaged.
Imagine my shock when after a boring day in office I get into the bus hoping to reach home in an hour, find the whole of JVLR in front of Powai blocked by traffic. Sympathetic colleagues enlighten me > apparently when the construction of JVLR begun, the infrastructure company got permissions for the construction from all the stakeholders including the local railway dept. for expanding the bridge over the railway line. Once the work was underway and construction reached the part where they had to work on the bridge and needed the rail lines to be shut for a couple of days for the work to be complete, the railways refused to do so.
The lovely flyover which seemed like a smooth slide from Powai to the Eastern Express Highway now had a nasty bump in the middle – a single lane bridge over the railway track, which ensured that the evening rush hour traffic jammed right up till IIT Powai. However, by happy chance all issues were sorted and within one month of my joining office this bottleneck was removed and the 10 meter stretch over the railway line was made two lane.
I thought now at-least I can reach home within an hour, but it was not to be, the municipal corporation had other plans. They began a massive sewage (i think it was) infrastructure renovation and dug a huge chunk out of the Eastern Express Highway right at the junction where JVLR joins the highway, effectively converting the two lane road to a single lane road. Now the bottle neck has shifted a few 100 meters but was still just as effective in ensuring that vehicles took atleast half an hour to clear that spot. A few weeks back they returned all the earth back into the hole and nicely tarred it up enabling the two lane express highway to be fully functional again.
And there I was happily making plans to take the car to office now that I didn’t have any traffic jams to content with, when I was landed another solid blow. On my way to office one fine morning I in my sleepy haze notice that the bus is taking longer than usual to get past IIT Powai. I open a bleary eye to find out what the trouble is and see rows and rows of cars and buses ahead -each and every one of them moving at a snail’s pace. Thoroughly perplexed I scanned the roads ahead for some kind of blockage on the road, but as far as I could see there were only slowly inching vehicles. It took the bus a whole of one hour to get to the Saki Vihar Road, a distance which is usually covered in 20 mins including the bus stops. Alighting the bus and hailing an auto I asked the driver the reason for the jam – Two container trucks were parked on the road somewhere near Seepz effectively creating a single lane road. Sigh!!
A horrendous week for the mumbai commuters!!!
On all the days that I sit snoozing in my office the whole world goes about its business happily in the much celebrated public transport network of Mumbai. The one week when I have all my client visits the public transport system throws a tantrum!! Starting Monday… the auto-drivers are on strike …me happily contemplating travel in the AC bus find no autos to take me to the bus stop, miss my usual AC bus, end up taking a normal bus which takes twice as long, have to reschedule my meeting, realise that the autos in main Mumbai are also on strike, call up my boss to pick me up from bus stop to reach the client’s location …eventually reach the client location one hour late for a 5 minute meeting.
Next day’s meeting is at Worli, I am happy that I have to take the local train – no goof ups this time. I ensure that I leave the house early enough to allow time for standing in queue for the ticket (thanks to my sis whose gallivanting in Singapore with my Mumbai local smart card). I get the ticket (after waiting 20 min in queue while the card machine was happily blinking away) and get the train in good time to be able to reach Worli with 15 min to spare. I reach my cross over station – Thane and all hell breaks loose > Thane, usually a jam packed station is overflowing. Having given some attention to the loud speaker I gather that the signalling system has failed somewhere and all trains are behind schedule. Left with no other option I decide to head to the bus stand, where I learn there are no direct buses to Worli – I have to take a bus to Mulund Check Naka, the bus stop for which had a queue extending right into the railway station, and then get a bus from there. Luckily the bus frequency is high and i get one soon enough, reach Mulund check naka and enquire around for a bus to Dadar, get a number and fortunately that no. bus turns up within 5 mins. However the roads of Mulund were not build to hold the mass of human populace spilling out of the Thane station and all roads are clogged with slowly inching traffic. With only 15 minutes to my client meeting I abandon all hope to get there on time and call up my boss. He advices me to get to my office instead. Which I do by getting down from the current bus and waiting to catch a bus in the opposite direction, only to realise that all the buses which have to come from the other side are jammed on their way to the other side. Finally after a half hours walk I get an auto, (which thankfully were not on strike that day and if newspaper reports are to be believed, had a field day) the driver of which was kind enough to ensure that I got into a Sakinaka bus, the route of which I had no clue and was treated to the tour of Hiranandani, before reaching my office 2 hours after I got down from the bus to Worli.
Unlike the normal buses where you can’t do more than hang on to your dear life, the AC buses provide a cocoon within which converge the lives of a multitude, leading to many amusing and not so amusing interactions …. .. a lady trying to make it to the door, asking the conductor where he was going to get down; two fresh-out-of-college employees sharing their worldly wisdom – how to drink and not get caught at home; a frail old lady in jeans and kurta, sits – after a young benefactor vacates his seat for her, with her her feet dangling 2 inches from the floor; another lady boldly asking for tickets and then realising that she left her purse at home; a conductor not letting go off the 3 Rs10/- notes which I held out though it was short of the full fare; a pregnant woman requesting but not getting place to sit in an overcrowded bus; and the rest of the crowd with their noise blocking ear-phones tightly fixed in place, in a world of their own – missing out on all the fun !!