It rained heavily in Dadar the day before. For a moment I wondered if I should return home rather than negotiate the stretch from the platform to the over-bridge and beyond.
Along the road bridge that passes by the station and flooded with rainwater is a narrow lane that exits in the direction of Lower Parel. It is squeezed between two rows of flower sellers, one with their backs to the bridge, squatting with flower baskets in front, and the other operating from tiny shops opposite where flowers strung together hang from hooks in the ceilings.
One lot of passengers exit the station in the direction of Matunga, the other in the direction of Lower Parel, while the third disappear into the bustle of Dadar’s markets and beyond, maybe to Prabhadevi.
On rambling days rainwater can be fun. But on crowded weekdays flowing rainwater, after unsuccessfully seeking storm water drains, will have washed a hundred hurrying feet before washing mine, a service I would rather be spared of. Add to it rows of early morning customers bargaining over baskets of myriad colourful flowers squeezing the lane further, crowding the narrow passage so thick that I can barely see my own feet as I get nudged and pushed on my way out. I might’ve overlooked this as well if not for the mucky shade the rainwater takes in the lane littered with wasted flowers and leaves, turning the ground beneath my feet to a soggy carpet of squishy muck.
“It is Ganesh Chaturthi, the Municipal Corporation folks must be busy holidaying to turn up to clean this up,” I hear an elderly man say to another. Umbrellas are out. I hold mine firm as it is knocked around by other umbrellas held similarly.
“Fold your umbrella now,” a rotund gent chides me from behind. I realize that I’m better off folding it than fight for umbrella space in a patch of sky barely visible under the rag-tag plastic shelters that the flower vendors have rigged up outside their shops along the length of the lane, narrowing it even further.
Getting off the train I had sprinted up the incline that joins a narrow corridor connecting to a large hallway. There I bumped into a large crowd of passengers sheltering in the open space that leads to the over-bridge. Having left their homes without umbrellas they stood watching the rain pour outside. Few expected it to rain today though most would’ve known that there is no knowing when clouds would open up during Ganesh Chaturthi.
“There’s no telling until the last day (11th) of the festival,” a fellow passenger had noted as we scrambled for cover from the rain the winds blew in through the door as the train slowed down approaching Dadar.
It was when I slowed down to pick my way through the crowd in the hallway that I saw a man holding a mike. A board seemingly materialized out of thin air in front of me. Curious passengers paused by the board to read the appeal written in hindi.
“Bihar pranth mey bhishan baad ki tabahi mey juunj rahey logon ki madad mey aapna haath aagey badaye, madad karey, madad karey”.