The End of the Road

Update for 31 December 2009

The road that hugs the railway line ends a few meters short of the MIthi River. Town planners did not foresee the need to cross this dead river and now conveniently blame the eco brigade for their own lack of foresight – there is a teeming mangrove forest on the banks of this river/sea water inlet/ sewer which cannot be “disturbed” and hence no bridge was constructed here. (This could have set back the town planners a few crores of rupees short of 100, but they don’t mind spending Thousands of Crores for a Sealink that takes forever to build; but townplanners and politicians will never change; the more costlier the project, the more money they make!). I usually take this road by the Rail Track to and from office and I like the way it is clutterless (most of the days), and with few traffic signals, it is actually well regulated, even on festival Wednesdays, when the “whole of Bombay” descends onto Mahim for a novena at the Church by the bay. And just as it looks to end near the mangrove forest, there is a diversion to the left that actually takes you onto a bridge so that you can turn right over the rail tracks (confused, then try and use the road and this bridge when you pass by Mahim, next). In a place that is close to nowhere, has been living a community in government developed low income housing, juxtaposed to a “Diabetic” Hospital (apparently the hospital does not need insulin shots, but caters to patients with the affliction). To meet some of the basic needs of the community at the end of road, there is a little fish market and some veggie vendors as well. And like fungus, there is a shantytown that has cropped up where nothing else will – and their cheek by jowl tenements leave little place for anything else to survive there. And again like fungus, they have no chlorophyll cover, so are barren brown or dull grey. But look again and in the little Shanty Colony at the End of the Road you will find this hardy (though not literally) banana plant that sticks out of the paved sidewalk and has been through the vagaries that this harsh place unleashes upon such water thirsty plants. And mind you, I have noticed this plant stay green for so long that it has actually fruited. The banana bunch is at least a metre long and has a dozen hands of bananas, at least and growing. Amazing how nature sometimes learns to not only survive but also thrive in times of adversity. The shanty town folks know the worth of the fruit and plant and have ensured that no-one vandalises it. Ironical, given that they were the first to vandalise the “Great Wall of Mumbai paintings” on the wall opposite their colony that fences in the rail tracks. But such is life, where some things are taken for granted, while others are treasured and valued.

We are at a logical end of the Gregorian Calendar year; and despite trying times and uncertainty, the D Street Boyz have been taking the straight path with few impediments in their way and have learnt to live through adversity in other places without getting distracted. They have at times vandalized the street with their cans of Red paint, but have always known how to nurture some of nature’s gifts that lie with them and it is heartening to note that they are giving due credit to some of the parameters – like the GDP and profitable Indian companies – the SENSEX has scaled up 80% in 2009 from its lows and despite the high inflation (especially food), poor exports, lack of any infrastructure growth in 2009. Take today for example – the markets remained green all day on this ultimate day of 2009, consistently above 100+ points to close 120 points up at 17464. Like the 100 cm or longer banana bunch hanging on the plant at the end of the Road. The only fear is that the D Boyz should not get carried away and must reward industries that promote growth and must continue to be the moral controller for those trying to hoodwink small investors. The D Boyz in turn look forward to the policy makers to stick to their plans of achieving overall growth in the country.

The banana plant is easy to tend and vegetatively propagates through its roots, and being an annual it must die after fruiting, but with its roots it will ensure life remains eternal for this fruit. The corm roots of this plant are also succulent like the stem and apart from storing lots of water, they also absorb quite a few pollutants in the soil, thereby purifying the land it grows on. Its lesser cousin, the canna does a similar function in flower beds of municipal gardens around town. Perhaps this is the philosophy behind why so many Indians revere the banana fruit and offer it to their Gods, apart from the fact that they always fruit in bunches with over 100 bananas, at least, symbolizing fertility.

On this auspicious note, I would also like to wish you all very Happy and Prosperous New Year. As much as I have enjoyed writing about the shenanigans of the D Boyz, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as well. This is not the end, so look forward to meeting you all in the “New” Year.



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