Gannu Drowns

18th of the month was not my first Visarjan in Bombay. However, the experience was vastly deviant from the expected. And yet I don't know where to begin. So the best place would be work. Like all offices in SoBo, ours too shut early that day (late afternoon which extended into early evening really thanks to work taking unusual affinity towards a day everyone was looking forward to running back home soon). The roads were comparatively deserted and a colleague was kind enough to drop me at Churchgate.

The train was emptier than Sunday afternoon in general compartments and the weather added its two bits. When I was exiting Bandra station though, the drama of an unusual quietness struck me. I touched KFC at Linking Road in a record three minutes. Suddenly I had a LOT of time, no crowds by which to be bothered, with all the shops still open, thorough policing on the roads and nothing to do. So I shopped and managed to walk home.

I still had time on hand and so decided to go visit my cats. By this time night had fallen and I could already hear drums and recorded dance music hollering from the loudspeakers on the roads. 'Shit' was my first feeling. So I avoided the main road and trod the inside roads of Khar to get to the closest exit near the old Santacruz house. I prepared myself at the last leg (read: the last crossroad where I had to turn left towards Linking Road) to confront the cacophonic crowd.

I was shocked. One side of the road was completely empty. The other side had people dancing, vans-trucks-motorbikes-wheelers carrying the deity as well as at least 4 bazooka speakers that played one or the other of the (by now-) standard 5 item numbers. Traffic was still passing smoothly beside them, and people were fearless to walk past them.

What took me completely by surprise was a servicing tradition I have never witnessed anywhere ever. Several housing societies that line the arterial road were out supporting & cheering these pedestrians out to say goodbye to the elephant Lord for the year, imploring him to return again next Chaturthi. But the act wasn't empty - they had set up stalls with water, soft drinks and other light refreshments to keep up the morale of these night walkers. But not for no reason - for all said and done, this was quite a show! The procession of colours, music and creatively rendered forms of Ganpati enthralled an audience not only of passersby and the refreshment stall attendees, but also attracted more who had parked their cars and were sitting around with their own popcorn-n-cold drink for the show.

On my way back, I even saw quite a few oldies sitting out on plastic chairs firmly footed on the pavement on the opposite side for a comfortable view!

I've seen this city enjoy free shows of all sorts. The other day a tight-rope-walker distracted me while I was in a cab taking my boss's call. Brawls in Dadar and the chawls of Bandra and Dharavi are probably everyone's favourite live (& free!) entertainment. Watching a Ganpati Visarjan rally was something of a novelty that will take its time to wear off...

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