Pot- Hole

Little Johnny wants to Play…….

Rain Rain go away,

Come again another day,

Little Johnny wants to play.

This is probably one nursery rhyme that all of us are acquainted with and have learnt at some stage as a child. As we grow old, the meaning and the context in which we make use of these nursery rhymes changes. In a city like Mumbai, the weather seems to have an impact on daily living even more than any other city or state in the country for that matter. The summer season leads to water shortage and other inadequacies. It is almost around this time that people end up bearing the brunt for the government’s negligence in taking appropriate steps to curb problems of water shortage, drought and others. But when the government gives its explanation for the whole problem, they casually end up blaming the climate, global warming and at times even the masses who are the ones who suffer. Such statements made by the government itself makes us wonder who to question for what we suffer from, and where could we find a solution to our own issues.

As the warm summer heat slowly fades away making way for some monsoon showers, one wonders if the solution is found. But alas, monsoons keep adding to the woes even more. As a mumbaikar born and brought up in the city, I can say with great conviction that nothing could cause more trouble to a daily road commuter- not even shortage of water- than the pot holes that adorn our roads. Imagine sipping a cappuccino on a nice rainy day, travelling to work or back home and suddenly the car hits a pothole, cappuccino splashes all over you. At that very moment what is the first thing we do? Who do we blame? The government of course. Potholes have made life miserable for most city commuters. Potholes are usually filled up a month or so prior to the monsoons, roads are smoothened and made to look ready for the showers. However, as soon as it does start raining, the city watches its beautified roads turn into a traveler’s nightmare. Once the rains hit the city, the civic officials gradually forget about the dilemma caused and leave the commuters to suffer.

Apart from this, most drainage systems are cleaned when it does not rain while the garbage collected is left by the drain, undisposed. But knowing how prone Mumbai city is to floods, the garbage flows back into the drains, as soon as there is a slight drizzle, choking the drainage system. This results in floods and other monsoon trouble. Very recently a minister in Mumbai gave some top BMC officials a ride through the city in his swanky car. You may wonder why I am mentioning it here. Well the ride was no ordinary one; the minister chose to take a page out of Munnabhais Gandhigiri and took the officials for a Pothole darshan in and around the Western suburbs. What was surprising is that one of the officials stated that the minister drove well around the potholes. Funny, but it only shows the attitude our very own elected officials have towards our issues.

Every newspaper talks about the grievances that the citizens face, but very little is done to ensure that these grievances are resolved. Every day thousands of commuters face problems, but why did I, like any other newspaper, choose to write on potholes around this time? Precisely because if I as a youth of this country do not voice my opinion about an issue I have personally had trouble with, no one would bother to listen to what I have to say.

It’s not just the issue of potholes; most people who travel by trains would also tell you about the redevelopment of the foot over bridges that has been happening at most railway stations especially now during the monsoon. Let me give you an example of my own. The stairs of the bridge leading to Ghatkopar railway station was very badly built in the sense that the tiles use for the stairs were slippery and the stairs themselves were unequally built. Everyday there would be people who slipped off the stairs and injured themselves and even after complaints being placed nothing was done about it. However, now after the monsoon has set it, railway officials have decided to revamp the stairway adding to the inconvenience already caused. Even though most work that is undertaken is done in order to build on commuter safety, what the officials tend to forget is that such restoration during the rains could cause more trouble to the general public.

Mumbaikars are considered brave but over time have developed a ‘chalta hai’ attitude to almost everything. Terrorists attack our city and we go back to work the next day. Media portrays us as being brave and defiant, but it is this ‘chalta hai’ attitude that makes us behave the way we do. Let’s forgo this attitude now, open our eyes and see how keeping shut is affecting each and every one of us. It’s not just the potholes, there are many more issues that we need to deal with and make the government realize what it needs to do and what the call of the hour is.

For now, we could choose to continue humming, Rain rain go away, come again another day, little Johnny wants to play or work towards improving the current situation for citizens like you and me living together in this city we call home.

Giselle Mendes

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