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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Great SEEPZstern Trendkill (Apologies to Pantera)

It's finally time to document this experience. I work in a software company in Mumbai's definition of a 'Software Park' called SEEPZ. Very well maintained area, lots of greenery. Nothing wrong with it. But getting there...is a different story altogether. Ergo, this piece.

As a rule engineers are sturdy beasts of burden. Surviving 4 years of our wonderful syllabus is no mean achievement. So destiny just takes you for granted, and piles it on even more. If you are an 'IT' guy in Mumbai, chances are you would be mostly working in and around the Andheri (East) area (Now why the place is called Andheri(East) eludes me...cos it's a separate suburb in it's own right. I know people who stay in Andheri (W) and have to travel for an hour from Andheri(E) to get home. Ironic, don't you think? Since they technically stay in Andheri...). The best (and most of the times...the only way. Try hunting for a rick when it's raining) to reach SEEPZ from Andheri(E) is to travel in a bus called 415 (Chaar she pandhra). The bus-stop is situated just outside the station on the Eastern side.

It's here that the 'majja' begins. After negotiating the friendly crowds on the platform, you start to ascend the staircase to get on the 'footover' bridge. One step at a time. Baby Steps. Baby Steps. Head down. Ants Marching (Thank you for that Dave Mathews)


Once on the bridge, if it's your day, the line for this bus will be overflowing onto the middle of the bridge before you have even got out of the railway station...all the way to the stop outside.

Tangent time :
What if a guy doesn't have a rail ticket, and he's just standing there for the bus. Isn't he right in doing so? Not his fault right? The grand board saying 'This is railway property. You must have a valid ticket to use this' (or some such) sounds a bit unfair, no?

Customary curses over, you stand in line just like everybody else.
You can easily pick out the frazzled newbies who just can't believe that the line starts from the railway station itself.
"Yeh 415 ka line hai? Yeh 415 ka hi line hai na?"
"Abbe line dekh...aur peeche jaana padega bridge pe..."
It's times like these that a smug smile can take away some of your pain. "Welcome to the real world..."

Talking of lines, there's more to that than meets the eye. There are two broad families. The 'standing' line and the 'sitting' line. Simple. Stand in either one..depending on whether you want to sit or stand all the way in the bus. The standing line moves faster. The sitting line takes a little time. Personally, am a sucker for the sitting line, since I'm not much of a risk taker.

"Risk?" you might say.

The distance from the station to SEEPZ is not even worth 15 minutes. But in case the traffic gods of Chakala are in a particularly dyspeptic mood...god help you if u want to reach within the hour.

Speaking of Chakala, words fail me in describing this geographical wonder. The geniuses who developed the area thought of pretty much everything...swanky glass facade waala buildings on the corners...a semblance of a tar+concrete road, lamp posts, post boxes, light/telephone boxes...the works...save a FOOTPATH. There is NO footpath at all from the Western express highway to Nelco. Whatever be the locality...there are footpaths which have been gratefully encroached upon. Not that we actually get to use them, but they are THERE...these guys probably meant it act as an anti-encroachment exercise. They did succeed there..not entirely...cos you can still spot a Nimbu Paani waala, a Wada Pav waala and a smattering of chai tapris. But no footpath.

On days when the 415 lines have piled up beyond belief...the stock quotes from the BEST boys in blue who manage these lines are "Chalo chalo...Chakala Jaaam hai", if they spy you being too choosy and not boarding a bus. Masters at the art of body language.

In addition to this, there's the 'ladies line'. Which invariably moves faster. Since they get to board the bus first. It's enough to make you wish that you had a little more estrogen.

The BEST supervisors do a decent job managing the lines. Not a very enviable job, given the wonderful civic sense that most people have. They have to physically stop people from jumping lines. Which of course a lot of people try to do. It's testimony to our mindsets that when these guys finish with their duties at around 11 am or so...there is total anarchy. It's every man and woman for himself. Thumb rule. If there are no BEST guys at the stop, spend on a rick. Will be worth it.

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7:27 PM, September 01, 2005
Blogger sid said...

hmmmm...have said it before,will say again...u have a flair for writing dude...btw,the story is pretty moving man...its been ages since i have encountered this ugly side of mumbai life < touchwood >...god had pity on me after those hard days of 5 hours trudging to nerul from goregaon......sad sad....btw,why dont u get ureself a bike ?    



7:42 PM, September 06, 2005
Anonymous Gaurav said...

Now that I am reading this, I almost miss it!

Such a strange place Mumbai, when you are in there, you crib about the 'marne ka gardi' and 'pollution' (the thing that one breathes if he takes an 'auto' from Andheri to SEEPZ).

But once you are out of there, you swear by the crowd in the local trains that there is no place in the world like Mumbai.    



9:46 AM, June 13, 2006
Blogger GuNs said...

I did see this enchanting sight once when I managed to get to Andheri station in the morning. I usually travelled by company bus to Andheri.

I came, I saw, I 'escaped'. Got a rick on sharing !!

-PeAcE
--WiTH
---GuNs    



11:19 AM, July 24, 2008
Blogger Deepak Soni said...

That was a great narration but believe me once u get habitual ...u will always remember and cherish these moments....I have travelled for around 1.5 years in the same way and cursed Mumbai, crowed, buses everything at that time but now I feel like Hero that I managed to reach office despite of those things...

Also, we should not forget that despite the immense crowed you will never see a fight and I love Mumbai for this...
Mumbai Rocks...    



11:20 AM, July 24, 2008
Blogger Deepak Soni said...

That was a great narration but believe me once u get habitual ...u will always remember and cherish these moments....I have travelled for around 1.5 years in the same way and cursed Mumbai, crowed, buses everything at that time but now I feel like Hero that I managed to reach office despite of those things...

Also, we should not forget that despite the immense crowed you will never see a fight and I love Mumbai for this...
Mumbai Rocks...    



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