Inconvenience in progress…

July 29th, 2009

Traffic snarls are a common feature in Mumbai. Hardly a day goes, when one is not stuck because roads are being dug somewhere, there’s some morcha and if nothing else, some construction work.

I travel by road on the Western line (for non-Mumbaites, the Western line is from Churchgate to Virar, maybe even further now). And there are stations like Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali that many Hindi movies have made quite famous.

Of course, the moment I say ‘I travel by road’, friends pounce on me to with ‘trains are much more simpler’ or ‘you waste so much money everyday’. Well, after taking their concerns into consideration, let’s say I don’t feel like travelling on Mumbai locals any more.

So, road it is for me. Yes, it costs me a bomb. And on bad traffic days, it leaves a huge hole in my wallet.

But what surprises me is the complete lackadaisical approach that the ‘BMC/MMRDA/whoever else is responsible’ has towards the city.

In 2005, when ‘Torrential Tuesday’ occurred, lakhs of people were completely stuck – hey even Aamir Khan was stranded. Four years since then, things have marginally changed.

Yes, a number of bridges have been built on the Western Express Highway. But roads still suck. Entry and exit to the Andheri bridge are always full of potholes. And every year and several times during the rainy season, BMC workers keep on filling it up (why can’t there be a permanent solution???).

The best part, though, is the Malad bridge. It is being built for god-knows-how-many-years, and still everyday on the way back, commuters spent at least 30-40 minutes on this stretch.

My sources (taxi drivers and autowalas) claim that there was some litigation initially. But if my memory serves me right, this bridge is being built for several years – in fact, longer than most of the other ones in the same route. Yet, I keep hearing that it will be completed this month or next month.

Let’s take into consideration the total cost one incurs while crawling through that single stretch. There would at least be a total of 5,000 – 10,000 cars or autos or taxis passing through that road everyday and each would be wasting least Rs 30-50 because of the hold up. The daily loss: Anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 5 lakh.

And if one multiples that number over last four-five years, the total amount would run into crores – perhaps, even more than the cost of constructing this bridge.

A point, the authorities should consider. But, it wouldn’t matter to them because it’s my pocket that takes the hit or their argument would be like my friends, ‘travel by train to save time and money’.

In Mumbai, one can see these hoardings all over the place. ‘Work in progress – Inconvenience regretted’.

To me it means… ‘Inconvenience in progress – Work regretted’

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Duronto, Ijjot and now… Boget

July 6th, 2009

Budgets always invoke a lot of speculation. While a whole bunch of experts believe that it is a non-event, a lot of people keep themselves hooked on to the television. And then, the usual culprits come and demystify the numbers for ‘aam aadmi’.Here are some common features of every Budget.

The opposition will always say that the incumbent government could have done much more. Some like the Left even say that government is anti-poor and anti-labour. And that, even after the FM allocates some 50,000-60,000 crore for the poor.

The finance secretaries, who helped prepare the Budget, will come and defend it stoutly.

Then corporate honchos will give ratings. Seldom it’s very low.

The worst part – the poor FM has to give interview-after-interview to television channels. Given that the number of channels have increased manifold since the mid-nineties, I wonder how any FM gets the energy to speak to all of them.

In my view, the FM should call all of them in a single forum and let the editors shoot their questions. And let all channels telecast it at the same time.

For one, it will save the ‘aam aadmi’ from flicking through some 20 channels (all of them claim that they have an exclusive with the FM). More importantly, it will help the FM save some serious breathe because he has to answer the same questions to different editors.

Most importantly, since the crème de la crème editors land up to interview the FM, they will make sure that they do not repeat the same questions. The result – good quality questions from the best editors. And the best part – television watchers won’t have swollen fingers due to channel-flipping.

Coming back to the headline… Mamata didi brought the ‘Bengali flavour’ back to the Budget on Friday. After Lalu’s crude humour, it was back to ‘duronto’ and ‘Ijjot’.

Now I am waiting for Pronob da’s ‘Boget’ … :)

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