Chutney in between, public-police-politicians
For those who live in, work in, commute through, by or to Andheri West probably know of a small lane called Juhu Lane. It’s not a very popular street or locality like Lokhandwala or Juhu or Yari Road. But it is way more important. This little lane links the highway, S.V.Road and Main Juhu to each other. On one end of the road is S.V.Road, right across is the Andheri east-west flyover which leads to the highway, and on the other side is Gulmohur road which is actually the First road of Juhu, starting from Mithibai till Chandan Circle which further leads on to other popular hotspots like Lokhandwala, Yari Road and further North to Jogeshwari.
This little paragraph was just to explain the importance of this particular road to all those who are unaware of it. This road is at peak hours jammed from the beginning to the end. Choc-a-bloc with cars and autos and trucks and buses. There are commercial buses parked on the side of the road which further narrows down the road. Residents of this area have repeatedly appealed to the traffic chowky in front of the flyover to post a traffic-policeman at the Juhu end of the road. But there’s hardly one there. Ever.
Hence when a couple of nights ago, when returning from Juhu, I saw two policemen at the signal I was shocked. We were at the back end of the road. Trying to reach the S.V.Road end of it. After waiting for around 7 minutes my friend riding the bike kind of got frustrated. The two policemen were just not letting our side of the traffic through. Only the incoming traffic from the S.V.Road side was flowing through. When it first started the street was full of cars. But after consistently letting the traffic flow, the street totally cleared up. There were hardly 3 or 4 cars passing by after every 15 seconds. Which is very fast for Mumbai standards.
Drivers were getting impatient. People were tooting their horn. There were two lanes on this side that were blocked and not being let through. From more than 10 minutes now. All of a sudden, another traffic police bike rides up, and off pop two more traffic policeman. Just a second later one more Khakhi policeman rides up too.
This junction which rarely ever has just a single policeman on duty had 5!!!! Horns were honked more persistently. It was over 20 minutes now. Since we were onthe bike, we were in the front line of the traffic. I caught one of the havaldars talking to the other. From the conversation all I could catch was “road.. bandh…mumble..mumble.. saamne wala line chalu”. When I reported this to my already agitated friend he rode up to them and asked if the line we were in was closed off. The traffic-policeman said something incoherent. My friend took it to mean yes and drove up, took a U-Turn and joined the line opposite us, which was also packed and waiting to enter Juhu Lane. We were now jammed in the opposite side still waiting to enter the street.
Another 5 minutes passed. The traffic policemen were still not allowing any vehicle to pass through, while the incoming traffic was still open with barely a few cars breezing through. The khakhi Policeman procured a walkie talkie out of nowhere and started yapping on it.
Now it made sense to my friend. “A minister is coming through this lane,” he remarked.
“Crap”, I said, “How can you be so sure??”
“Look out” was all he said.
10 more minutes. Everyone around was getting terribly impatient. We had all been standing at one spot for more than 35 minutes now. No one has that kind of free time in Mumbai. It was after 9 in the night, and getting later by the minute. People had to reach home, I had to reach home.
Finally, a few more minutes later, two Police jeeps cruise by, followed by a white contessa with dark black windows. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief and gunned up their engines. “Now at least we’ ll be let through”. The police still hold the traffic back. Someone hurls a few choiciest of hindi badwords directed at the police and the ministers and the politicians. The policemen ignore it.
10 more minutes. Two more police qualis’ speed by, followed by two white Ford Ikons and two more qualis’. People are yelling out collectively at the government now. A press car follows.
Before the Polocemen can move out of the way, all the cars and vehicles pour into the street. It had been an hour since they were helplessly watching an empty street in front of them. When I stoped by to ask the Policemen what was the problem, they say, “agar tum sab ko rok ke nahi rakhta to saala minister log hamko naukri se nikaal deta. Aur tum sab ko rok ke rakho, toh public gaaliyan deta hai. Ham toh beech mein chutney.”
(if we wouldn’t have stopped your traffic the minister would have removed us from our jobs. And when we follow their orders, the public bad mouths us. We are stuck in between the two). The policemen also used some colorful language to express their position along the lines of the badwords that had been thrown to them by the public earlier, which I dont think I should be mentioning here.
Turns out, some minister’s or high strung politician’s wife was entertaining guests from some exotic country and wanted to take them for a movie to a posh theatre in Juhu. Hence orders were given out to the policemen to keep the road they were going to be using totally traffic free. They could hold up which ever other road was necessary to be held. The guests had to catch their movie on time.
What a hospitable country we are, are’nt we??