October 21, 2013 § 11 Comments
I live in somewhat of a close proximity to Aarey Milk Colony. For the uninitiated, Aarey Milk Colony is a vast (by Mumbai Standards) expanse of greenery, sparse forest, foliage and tabelas(cattle stables). It usually appears in the news for a leopard attack here and there or for random crimes like chain snatching, dacoit gangs that operate in the dead of the night etc. That is nothing out of the ordinary, you will tell me. To which I’ll reply, 10 sq. Km of greenery in the middle of Mumbai is not out of the ordinary for you? Oh, maybe I forgot to add that it was also famous for stories of ghosts and assorted oddities and things that go bump in the night. Did that pique your interest? Of course it does, it says Ghost in the title itself, doesn’t it? 😛
Aarey was famous for being the lair of many a malicious spirit, some of which were reported to disembowel you for the mistake of crossing their path or for having the guts to go into some buildings built on that land. This was about 20 years ago. People would stay away from Aarey after the dark and before light. But then it had clean air and greenery and what not, making it ideal for a walk, stroll or a jog. A lot of people from the area would go for such activities in Aarey. One of those people was me.
Aarey colony has a road that runs through it, with a fair amount of traffic and it has many smaller roads that lead off to places deep within. One of the places in there is called ‘The New Zealand’ hostel, which is a boarding school (I think, not sure, never quite got to know, for reasons that will become apparent in a little while). I was curious about this place with the exotic sounding name and the mysterious air about it (none of my friends had seen it). So one fine day, which was also a summer vacation day, I set off to find this place and see what it looked like. This was before the Internets or Google maps or mobiles, so I relied on helpful signs that told me that take this road to New Zealand hostel and it is x km’s away. I trudged on, mindful of the time, for I did not want to be in Aarey after it got dark.
The thing with Aarey’s internal roads is that once you are a good distance in, it gets quieter than an exam hall. And colder. This has to do with the good amount of tree cover, of course. I know this now, but 12 year old me was inclined to believe that it was so because the ghosts of Aarey preferred it so. So there I was (somewhat) merrily walking along one of the internal roads, that I spot a car parked on the road. A Tata Sumo, to be exact. I spotted it at a distance, parked on the road. At that point in time, cars were not as common as they are now and the Tata Sumo was a new entrant, so I was quite interested to see how it looked from near and all, so I walked towards it (as it is I had to walk past it on my way). As I got closer, something weird happened. I noticed there was nobody in the car itself and by that I mean, none of the usual silhouette that one can make of a person in the car. Then something weirder happened. The car started swaying. Slowly at first and as a horrified me stood still and watched, a little more, then quite a lot.
I was 12. I had heard a lot of things about Aarey Colony and its malicious spirits. And here I was, alone and believing that I was witnessing the manifestation of said spirits. I did the one thing a scared, out of his wits, 12 year old South Indian boy would do when faced with such a situation. I ran away. With furtive glances towards the car to see if the malignant spirit that was rocking the car had noticed and by any chance was following me 😛 I only started walking normally(i.e not running) after I got to the main road. After that it was a couple of days of worrying recollections and thanking all assorted Gods. Then I forgot about the incident. Until it made a reappearance in my life.
About 3 years later, as I sat watching Star Movies, indulging in what was one the favorite pass-times of my generation (watching angrezi movies, to appear cool), I had a vivid recollection of the events and a final realization of what spirits were rocking that car that day. The movie I was watching was The Titanic. In the movie, as a hand created a hand-print on the steamed up window of the car, the last vestiges of the mystery behind the swaying and rocking of the car disappeared.
August 2, 2013 § 5 Comments
Found it on quora, thought I’d document here. For the next time someone asks me to quote a nice thing about Mumbai (heaven help that person though, I could go on for an hour on that topic 😛 )
This can happen only in Mumbai… no where else.. Read on..
Only local train passengers in Mumbai will know how helpful other commuters in trains try to be. Last week, a hapless victim fell prey to the over-enthusiastic Mumbai’s Local train commuter.
Our hero, a man from Pune, wanted to go to Matunga, but as luck and trains would have it, boarded a fast train not halting at his destination.
He panicked on realizing his mistake but by then the local had started moving. On seeing his plight, a sympathetic co-passenger decided to come to his rescue.
It seemed that he had been commuting by that particular train for past 6 years and had noticed that the train always slowed just before Matunga station and crawled at a snail’s pace while passing through it. He told the man to jump out of the running train as it slowed down and that with a little bit of fleet-footedness, he would make it safely on terra firma. However, knowing the man’s inexperience, he added some words of caution : “Keep running the moment you jump or you will fall. Just keep running.” He stressed the word “running” lest the man not know the laws of motion.
The train slowed down just before Matunga Station and at the prompting of his mentor, our hero jumped out of the train and started running as if all hell had broken loose.
What he didn’t realize, of course, was that he was running parallel to the train instead of running away from it. Meanwhile, the train slowed down further, so that the man was running faster than the train. In the process, he reached the door of the next compartment and the foot board commuters there pulled him in thinking he was trying to board the train. To this agony, the train picked up speed and sped past Matunga and his new co-passengers started to congratulate him on how lucky he had been, until he told them that they had actually undone what he had done with great difficulty.
Those standing at the door of his “ex-compartment” had witnessed the whole drama and just couldn’t stop laughing at the poor man’s situation, while he grinned sheepishly…!!!!
November 19, 2008 § 1 Comment
I was in Mumbai recently for the Diwali holidays. There are quite a few changes in the city. First off, there are TV’s inside some of the buses nowadays. With ads and all running on it throughout. I could have used this in 6 years of traveling to and from college(junior and degree, just in case you were wondering 😀 ) but they wait for me to shift out of town to implement this 😛
On one of the days when I was in Mumbai, I took a rick and on reaching my destination, gave money to the rick guy and when he returned the change, I said ‘Thank You’. The look on the guys face was of pure horror. As I walked away, I was still wondering how could I have possibly terrified the man.
Ever found yourself reliving your life through pictures? I somehow managed to salvage my college pictures from my old, critically ill, on-the-deathbed PC and get them back to Hyderabad. And went through all the pics, all 2.5 GB of them. I haven’t smiled this much in a year and a half.
February 22, 2008 § 2 Comments
The heat & humidity is the same…
The Vada Pav tastes the same…
The Bus Conductor still scowls at a 50 rupee note…
The rickshaw-wallahs still ply in the dead of the night…
The fast train still takes 40 minutes to reach Vasai from Andheri….
Vasai still is as easy going as it was when I left…and the College stands..still…
The FM stations still blare out nonsense by the dozen…how I missed them 😀 (arre o deva, bohla na devi prasad naiee hai, woh apni bhiwi ko leke manoranjan shopping ko gaya…wahaan saaree, kurta, dress material sab milta hai…. 😛 )
I had gone to Mumbai last weekend. Its a city I’ve called home for the past 22 years. I now live in Hyderabad. Its been around 5 months since I left Mumbai…and returning back, even for a brief period, was relief. One always believes that things change when you’re not around. Thankfully, it wasn’t so here. Its all still the same. Much to my immense pleasure.