Finally,the monsoon has struck Mumbai with potent fury and washed clean the city that never sweeps. A years worth of accumulated garbage,grime,mulch and muck runs in greasy rivulets down the nullahs and bystreets,and inveigles its way into the city drains. Then,serpentining slowly,the sludge of the megalopolis oozes towards the Arabian Sea and disgorges into the water. It is little wonder Mumbaikars abstain from seafood during the rainy season,as the filth of the city provides fodder for the fish that inhabit its coastline.
The cruel irony of living in a city like Mumbai is that the poor pine for paani in their homes for eight months of the year and then suffer a surfeit the remaining four. Even the slightest downpour succeeds in flooding the streets and brings all semblance of normal urban existence to a squelching halt. The many hundreds of crores allocated towards improving drainage may as well have been money down the drain,as the Bombay High Court,in its wisdom,observed recently. Accompanying the thunder and rain,bijli flashes illuminate the mutating skyline and Mumbaikars are frequently subjected to a stunning display of electric storms.
Meanwhile,the sweltering denizens of Delhi are often without bijli for extended periods. As the Capital has become a veritable furnace,desperate Delhiwallahs throng the climate-controlled malls of Gurgaon,en famille,in the day and then try to put their kids to sleep driving around in air-conditioned vehicles at night. The staggering electricity bills are enough to give most middle-class citizens a heart attack and as inverters run out of juice,temperatures and tempers soar. As always,the rich and powerful,who live in posh localities and VIP enclaves,face no power cuts,but still have diesel guzzling mega-watt generators on standby,lest the loss of electricity interrupt their beauty sleep.
Delhiites should be so very grateful for their wide,tree-lined avenues whilst the pathetic sadaks of Mumbai have begun to meld into one large pothole after just a couple of downpours. Cars,taxis,buses and rickshaws can barely inch forward as the congested,enervating streets are perpetually clogged. Whilst harried Mumbai commuters struggle each day to and from work,corrupt corporators and road contractors laugh all the way to the bank. Those responsible for this state of anarchy impudently hold press conferences each year to claim it is not their fault,but instead an unforeseeable act of God.
This scenario is now familiar in towns and cities across India. Contrary to what politicians would have us believe,India is not shining. Rather,it is still pining for the basics: that holy,essential trinity of Bijli,Sadak and Paani.
In countries where words like accountability and integrity still count for something,heads would certainly have rolled. Here,the jokers at the helm of affairs are rewarded with plum,more lucrative,postings for their disservices.