Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mumbai - Method in Madness and a City with a heart

Suketu Mehta in his book "Maximum city, Mumbai lost and found" says the spirit of Mumbai is not seen in the politicians but its people. Suketu gives us an amazing depiction of Mumbai from two different angles, something quite similar to what I am experiencing these days.

I moved out of Mumbai in 2003 and returned back this April after having experienced a "slower" life in Bangalore, Pune and Chennai. From the time my family moved to Mumbai since 1992 , I've always experienced the best and the most memorable moments and I had a rosy picture of Mumbai. Thanks to the pampering that I received from my family, I hardly travelled in trains, and BEST buses and hence never got to see the true face of Mumbai, which according to a Gartner report published in 2005, was rated as the "rudest" city in India.

So this time around, I decide to use public transport to work, firstly to explore the city and its travails and secondly to contribute to a larger cause of promoting a greener environment by running one car less on the road. And everyday, I got different aspects of the "aamchi" Mumbai's spirit.

I wish to share one such incident that made me write this post. Last week on a rainy Tuesday morning, I took one of the most crowded non-a/c buses and with my laptop, it looked like an arduous 45 minutes of travel. It was an usual over-crowded bus, but with a difference. The 25 odd people who were standing in the bus were neatly aligned in three rows and were adjusting themselves at each stop to accomodate a few more people all the time. Usually once the bus is over-crowded and there is no breathing space left, it never stops in subsequent bus-stops.

But here, there was a leader, in the true sense of the word, who was driving a method into the madness by witty one-liners like "mulga ani mulgi close hou shakthoi...koni kaahich bolnaar nahi" (guys and girls can get closer.....right chance, no one is going to object :) and bringing a smile on the face of every individual travelling in that bus. It was indeed amazing, how this one man, brought out the human-being in each individual in that bus.

He urged people to work in a team so that everybody can reach their respective workplaces on time. Another amazing thing about this guy was he knew almost 70% of the folks on the bus by name. No prizes for guessing who this guy is, but of course the bus conductor!!

Take that for a case study on people management!!!! But what's more amazing is the perseverance and the discipline of the Mumbai public. People in that bus were drenched in sweat and were consumed by their own worries of reaching work on time. Yet they realized the importance of each person alighting the bus and accomodated him/her with a smile.

Where else can you find such spirit but our very own "Maximum City"!!!! Salaam Mumbai!!!!

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