Let’s start with that popular euphemism
The buzz of Bombay
“Everyone is always walking so fast!”
Now think about it.
If you have to spend 4 hours every day going back and forth to work, the one thing you wouldn’t want is to extend those 4 hours by another half hour.
So you walk faster.
And it’s not like you want to stop and smell the armpits of the lepers and eunuchs who are inescapable in this city.
So you walk faster.
And don’t you just love the smell of benzopyrene in the morning?
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) latest Environment Status Report (ESR) released on September 3, 2011 shows shows that the presence of benzopyrene, a highly cancer causing chemical released in the air, in the city has risen eight times from its minimum level of 0.13 µg/1000m3 in 2008-2009 to 1.09. The maximum level has increased five times, from 0.54 µg/1000m3 in 2008- 2009 to 2.56. Long-term human exposure to benzopyrene can lead to genetic damage. I bet you can’t wait to raise children in Mumbai.
The Axe Effect
I’m not making this up. Mumbai authorities have purchased 42,000 litres of perfume to spray on the city’s enormous waste dumps at Deonar and Mulund landfill sites after people living near the landfill sites complained of the stench. The Deonar landfill site, one of India’s largest, was first used by the British in 1927. Now this festering pile covers more than 120 hectares and is eight storeys high. Around 500,000 people live near the two dumps.
In March 2011, Mumbai was ranked seventh in a list of the world’s 25 dirtiest cities published by Forbes magazine, a worse rating than even Baghdad. Mumbai’s council now has plans to close part of the dumps and use the methane the rest generates to help solve the city’s power crisis.
Hafeez Contractor’s vision of hell
Mumbai is a city built without city planning or zoning restrictions. A haphazard clusterfuck of a city designed by architects from the post-aesthetic school of design.
The trouble is typified by a nascent proposal for the development of a defunct textile mill at Prabha Devi. This 8-acre plot is being allowed to use a Floor Space Index of 10: three million sq ft of built up area. In Lower Parel, a 62-floor supertall skyscraper called the Namaste Tower is proposed. At the narrow Hughes Road intersection, is planned a 60-65 floor condominium; and at the even narrower Marine Lines Road near Charni Road station we are soon to have another splendid addition to Mumbai’s deluxe hotels.
All these oversized developments are permitted because FSI and building rights are treated in isolation from all other factors, divorced from the needs and requirements of the locality and, consequently, the city itself. These constructions bear no relation to the roads on which they stand, the capacity of those roads, or, for that matter, the supporting infrastructure, let alone the physical or visual feel of the vicinity.
The people, the vibe.
Naresh Fernandes, reporting for the New Yorker in the aftermath of the recent Mumbai blasts (What Mumbai Spirit?) said it best. “It suddenly became clear this morning that the sentiment many had identified as the Mumbai spirit was probably epic apathy all along. And, really, who could blame the residents of this city of just over twelve million for being too exhausted to think about anything other than their gruelling daily routines? Behind the sparkling Bollywood façade it projects to the world, Mumbai is a city riven with gargantuan problems. It’s more slum dog than millionaire. More than sixty per cent of the residents of India’s financial capital live in shanties, with twenty thousand people packed into each square kilometre. The pollution is often throat-searing; the water supply and road systems are overstretched. The trains, which carry about 6.9 million commuters every work day, are designed to transport seventeen hundred passengers each, but in peak hour bone-crunchingly pack in forty-five hundred travellers.”
Then there’s the pidgin Hindi lingo that has evolved out of this abyss. A coarse doggerel that is best suited to low-life and those without the IQ to understand a language properly. It is a commercial shorthand that evolved to deal with a large number of uneducated people. Like, imagine you have an illiterate Marathi maid and you speak only Tamil. In a matter of time you will concoct a form of speech with few words and few complications that get the point across ignoring finer nuances. Baby talk, essentially. Bumbaiyya Hindi is a version of baby talk between Marathi and Hindi speakers.
Subhuman, abominable shithole
If you watched Danny Boyle’s much lauded Poverty Opus, Slumdog Millionaire, the term ‘Beggar mafia’ would be familiar to you. I can’t think of any criminal act more debased than those committed here. I can understand someone stealing because they’re so dirt poor that they have no option. But what sort of person, what sort of sick fuck can be so violent and amoral that they are prepared to hack the limbs off children, as well as steal new-born babies from hospitals? And abuse and starve these children as begging ‘props’ to maximise their earnings from sympathetic passers-by?
Although this problem is pan-India, you guessed it, Slumbai is the heart of this industry. The beggar mafia makes more than Rs 160 Cr a year in Mumbai alone. According to official figures, as many as 44,000 children fall into the clutches of the beggar mafia in India each year and of these, hundreds are deliberately mutilated.
Mumbai is number one when it comes to missing children. Mumbai has been partly responsible for India being placed in Tier 2 of the human trafficking watchlist by the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
When I say Mumbai is a shithole I don’t mean that other Indian cities are shining examples of community living. Shit happens everywhere but why does the sickest shit happen in Mumbai?
And every day I read about someone raving about how awesome Mumbai is and there’s no place in the world like it. Fuck, yeah. There is no place in the world like it. If you love it so much, live there. You deserve it.
Enjoy the benzopyrene.