NRMU Dadar Shaka
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”.
(Extend your hand in help to the people in the state of Bihar coping with the devastation of floods, extend help, extend help).
Behind the black board four men sat by a table with receipt books. The National Railway Mazdoor Union was organizing a collection to provide financial relief to those affected in the devastating floods the likes of which Bihar had never seen in its history. Papers are reporting over 3 million displaced by the Kosi as it breached its embankment in Nepal, changing its course to what is said to be an old course it had abandoned a century ago. Not for nothing is the Kosi known as ‘The Sorrow of Bihar’!
A member of the National Railway Worker’s Union spoke into the mike calling on people to contribute generously towards the effort. They were accepting donations of Rs. 20/-, Rs. 50/-, and Rs. 100/-.
A curious crowd gathered behind the man with the mike. After one of the four men at the table issued me a receipt for my contribution and another a flyer listing the relief efforts the Union has undertaken over the years since its inception in 1954, the man holding the mike spoke to me in chaste Marathi.
“We’re the Dadar branch of the National Railway Workers Union. At other major stations respective branches are organizing the same effort.”
Yesterday was their first day of the collection. “We’ll be holding it for five days,” he said. I could barely hear him over another announcer to the other side calling on people to donate blood. The blood donation drive has been on for several months now, unconnected with the flood relief effort. Cubicles line the wall where volunteers donate blood.
Behind the man with the mike a second board lay propped up against a support, announcing the objective of the collection drive and appealing for donations to help the flood affected.
A loudspeaker partially obscured the letters NATIONAL RAILWAY MAZDOOR UNION.
In yellow and blue chalk the following message in hindi appealed to passengers.
“Badd pidith jano ki madad karey. Bihar mein aayi bhishan badd se pidith jano ke liye madad karey. Iss satkarye mein bhag lekar unkey jaan bachaney mein aagey baddhey.”
(Help the flood affected. Help the victims of the devastating floods in Bihar. Participate in this good work and help in saving their lives.)
If you are traveling through Mumbai and were to happen upon any relief effort being organized to help the flood victims of Bihar please step up and help.
Note: In the flyer one of the members of The National Railway Mazdoor Union passed me were listed the following relief efforts the Workers Union has undertaken since its inception in 1954 –
“(1) Flood Relief in Raigad District – Rs. 1,52,000/-, (2) Flood Relief in Beed District – Rs. 50,000 in the year 1989-90, (3) Floods in Andhra Pradesh – Rs. 50,000/-, (4) To Kargil Martyrs – Rs. 1,20,000/-, (5) For rehabilitation of Latur earthquake victims – Rs. 1 lakh on 30-9-93, (6) Rehabilitation of Narmada Bachao Andolan – Rs. 10,000/- on 4-9-2001, (7) Orissa Cyclone Victims – Rs. 15 lakhs, (8) Rehabilitation of earthquake – affected of Gujrat – Rs. 15/- Lakh – 26-1-2001, (9) To help riot victims of Gujrat – Rs. 10 Lakh, (10) Assistance to Adivasi Children – Rs. 9 Lakh for Bore wells & Ambulance at Nandurbar, (11) To Tsunami Victims – Rs. 5 lakh to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, Rs. 6 Lakh for rehabilitation of Kameshwaram Village, and (12) Towards relief & rehabilitation of 26th July 2005 Flood Victims in Mumbai & Konkan – Rs. 50 Lakh.”