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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Mumbai keeps Fingers Crossed for 2021

After a harrowing 2020, Mumbaikars hope for a 2021 that will bring better tidings on every front.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala , Sadaf Modak , MAYURA JANWALKAR , Benita Fernando , Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Updated: January 1, 2021 2:05:38 am
Madhavi Sate Nurse, Kasturba Hospital.

After a harrowing 2020, Mumbaikars hope for a 2021 that will bring better tidings on every front – in the fight against coronavirus, vaccinations, on the economy and jobs, on their children going back to school. The Indian Express asked city residents what they want from the New Year, and this is what they said:

Madhavi Sate, 50

Nurse, Kasturba Hospital, Chinchpokli

“I have been posted in Kasturba Hospital’s Covid ward since February. Six months I stayed in the hospital to look after patients. I stayed in the hospital because my husband is 53-year-old and has diabetes, I could not risk his health. Now there are just 25 coronavirus patients in the hospital and our workload has reduced. For 2021, I am hoping this downward trend in cases continues and vaccine works for all those immunised with it. I don’t know if Covid-19 will go away in 2021, but I really hope the mutated variant from UK and Africa is not lethal and there is no widespread transmission again in our city.”


Dr Gunjan Chanchalani, 40,

Private doctor, Grant Road

In the early pandemic days, a fearful intensivist Dr Gunjan Chanchalani would maintain physical distance from her six-year-old daughter. In August Chanchalani was admitted in Bhatia hospital with Covid-19. For six days of hospitalisation, her daughter, no more complaining about how her doctor parents don’t spend enough time with her, would quietly sit in hospital waiting room with strangers, playing with her dolls. Her father, a cardiologist, would treat patients and mother was herself a patient. “That was when I thought what if I never survive. I regretted not playing with her Barbie dolls when she asked me, I would be so tired after work,” Chanchalani says. On her birthday Chanchalani could only do a video call from isolation ward with her husband and daughter. After discharge she has started spending more time with her daughter.

Amrita Mahale, 36,

Author, Bandra

“In 2020 I found myself unmoored from my old life in two ways: the pandemic forced me to spend a large part of the year indoors, and in July, I had a baby. Life has been strange in the past months: I miss eating out, I miss cafes and crowds, eavesdropping on random conversations; in short, I miss the contact thrill of everyday city life. I am hoping to wrap up my second novel in the next year or two. In 2021, I hope there’s opportunity (in the world) and time (in my own life) for serendipity, for chance encounters and for quiet reflection, which makes good writing possible.”

Azad Tejaswini Ghanshyam Sonar, 6,

School student, Thane

Azad, who is in Class 1 at a municipal school in Thane, misses her classmates and teachers. “I have been studying on the mobile phone, my mother helps me with my school work. I like it but on some days it is boring. I miss walking to my school, meeting my friends and playing on the school ground. From next year, I want to go to school — sit in the classroom, meet teachers, eat from my lunchbox and play every day on the school ground.”

Vijay Iyer, 34,

Banker, Goregaon

“Testing positive in August was a scary experience. I had to ensure I did not pass on the illness to my elderly mother living with me. However, once I recovered, I donated plasma twice that helped people recover and was a satisfying experience. I hope in the coming year those who have antibodies come forward to donate plasma as I will do and hopefully the vaccine is out soon so we can go back to normalcy.”

Kailash Mahadeo Shinde, 42,

Dabbawala, Andheri

“I have been a dabbawala for 22 years but I had no work for ten months of 2020. I walked everywhere to save Rs 5 of the bus fare too. I had no money for rent or power bills. In 2021, I just want work to be like it was, sing a bhajan in the train, money to return to our hands so that my three children can study to be graduates and also to be safe from the coronavirus.”

Dr Niranjan Hiranandani,

Founder and MD, Hiranandani Group

“The pandemic was like a nail in the coffin for the already reeling real estate sector. It just ground to a halt. All of us were impacted. Thankfully, the government’s timely fiscal impetus and sops have triggered the pent-up demand from both domestic as well as NRI communities. Going into 2021, we’re seeing a positive momentum in the first home buyers’ market and also the luxury home segment. Commercial real estate will also gain its growth trajectory as the economy recovers. Our mantra in 2021 will be digitisation, upskilling human capital and more innovations.”

Rohan Borkar, 38,


All Borkar hopes for is a job in 2021 to support his wife and two daughters. “I worked in Della Resort in Lonavala to manage ventilation and air conditioning. In March they asked us to go home after lockdown was announced. The resort eventually reopened but they never called many of us back,” Borkar says. Jobless, he dipped into his Provident Fund account for household expenditures. After the PF got exhausted, he took monetary help from his sister and mother. His daughters study at home through online lectures. “I am desperately looking for a job in hotel industry, but there are no offers. I really hope I get a job in 2021,” he says.

Meenal Rege, 68,

Retired teacher, Mahim

“We look forward to the vaccine against Covid-19. We will take it when it is available. In 2020, we stopped going out on walks. Shivaji Park is so close to our house but it gets very crowded. In 2021, if parks can reserve some time of the day for senior citizens, it would come as a great relief. If the government or the BMC could engage some people to check on senior citizens who have no help, many would also take comfort in that.”

Mohini Rathod, 33,

House help, Andheri

“This year has been very tough for me and my family, as due to lockdown, we were not allowed to work and even my husband lost his job that directly had an impact on our salaries. We took loans from our neighbours and friends to fund our children’s education. I hope there is no further lockdown in 2021, so that our salaries are not affected. I also hope to expand my egg business that I have recently started.”

Param Bir Singh,

Mumbai Police Commissioner

“The year that went by was challenging. Policemen had to be out on the field in spite of the risks involved due to the pandemic. We lost some of our brave personnel to the coronavirus. My wish for the next year is that no lives are lost due to the pandemic, that people behave in a responsible manner and for full co-operation from Mumbaikars when it comes to following all the precautions listed by the authorities so that we can get back to normalcy without any more casualties.”

Anupa Das, 41,

Chef and mother, Kandivali (East)

“I would really want my daughter to redo this year in actual school. In online school we don’t have the camera on so technically, the teacher doesn’t even identify my daughter. We can’t send them out and they are all restricted to playing in the building compound. Normally an 11-year-old is independent but because of this year my child is like my shadow now. In the year ahead, I hope that changes for both of us.”

Tasneem Zakaria Mehta,


Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla

“Like everyone else I pray that 2021 brings relief to so many who have suffered and that the world goes back to some semblance of normalcy. But I’m sure it will be a different world. It’s not just technology and how we work that will change but we will be much more aware of what we cherish and how we live. I believe we will need to curate special experiences at the museum for the next year or two besides significantly upgrading our digital outreach. I think people want positive experiences after so much suffering. I believe art and culture will help the healing process.”

Ashok Singh, 37,

Vegetable vendor, Kandivali

“I struggled in May in re-opening my vegetable stall. There was fear of falling sick. In addition, every day, I was reprimanded by police for defying lockdown rules. I expect that I don’t have to face these struggles in 2021. I don’t know if there is any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus, I pray that I don’t ever have to close down my stall and that I earn a living and take care of my family.”

Vikas Dilawari,

Conservation architect, Goregaon

“From a conservation perspective, 2020 is a wake-up call to be happy with what you have and to look after the lived heritage… This was improved upon in the last century by the City Improvement Trust… In comparison, it pains to see new constructions come up now with no urban design component. The rental housing which constituted the grain of the city requires to be reintroduced and that will give instant affordable housing stock. The unloved and uncared heritage (our century old residential fabric) should be given some sympathy, encouragement and funding… The pandemic encouraged having work spaces closer home and mixed land use.”

Simone Fernandes, 32,

School teacher, Parel

“The unexpected turn of events has proved it difficult for any of us to predict what we expect in the near future. The path seems untraversed. In the field of education, we must be prepared to step up our game, be innovative and adopt new teaching pedagogies in the limited virtual space that we are provided with. The situation may continue to be the same or change in a blink. Nevertheless, learning must continue in any form.”

Geetha Mehra,

Gallerist, Parel

“The cultural space has lost too many precious people this year. The world shall not be the same without them. Too many gone, in too short a time. In a leap of faith we dedicate 2021 to those we lost. A moment to pause, to take stock and move ahead with renewed hope in a world that has changed forever. We will continue being mindful of our entire team’s safety and that of all the artists we work with. The past year has given us the opportunity to go through our inventory and what we have found are some gems which hopefully we will have occasion to share with our audience.”

Anup Pandey, 26,

Migrant worker from Madhya Pradesh, works at an eatery in Kandivali

“The year 2020 put me back financially by many years with all my savings lost. Things are slowly going back to normal with more customers at the eatery I work at. But, I read about the UK strain of the virus and it has me worried again. I cannot imagine everything being shut again. I can only hope for 2021 to be without anymore lockdowns so that we can at least rebuild what we lost.”

Ravindra Batawale, 32,

Project manager at construction site, Mira Road

“Since the train facility is not available for us, I have to drive to my office in Tardeo. Earlier I would take around one and a half hours to reach my workplace, now it takes me more than three hours. From 2021, I hope that the government takes a decision to start trains at the earliest, because the traffic on the road is mentally exhausting. Besides I hope the economy of the country and the cash flow gets back to normal so that businesses kickstarts and the costs of basic necessities like petrol and vegetables come down.”

Deepak Vishwakarama, 26,

Animal rights activist, Navi Mumbai

Founder of Create Together Foundation, a Navi Mumbai-based NGO helping prevent stray dogs from coming under the wheels of vehicles at night by fitting them with reflective collar bands, said, “My NGO continued with the work of feeding stray dogs during the lockdown. My expectation from the coming year is that humans become more compassionate towards animals… In 2021, I aim to complete the project of fitting stray dogs with reflective collar bands, which halted because of lockdown.”

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