Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ajeeb Mumbai Ki Ghazab Kahani

Mumbai seems to be going through a major identity crisis. There are any number of really weird people fighting over the metropolis, like it’s a half chewed bone, left behind by a pack of wild dogs. The scraps left behind are for scavengers of all hues – and yet, everyone is pouncing on them. Why? The answer is obvious – even those measly scraps of this mega city are worth a fortune. And nobody wants to let go of those precious leftovers.From politicians to businessmen , there is just one story worth narrating about this ajeeb city . It is called Real Estate. Take whoever, doing whatever, in whichever sphere - the motive is just one – land grab. Which is why Sachin Tendulkar’s innocuous remark – ‘Mumbai belongs to India’ – has triggered off reverbrations, not just in Sena Bhavan, but across party lines. It has been twisted out of context and given political hues by those who would like to appropriate the city and stake an exclusive claim over it. No other city in India generates this level of possessiveness and passion. And the only reason why Mumbai gets people to froth at the mouth each time the ‘ownership’ issue comes up, is because those who hope to plunder it still further, start feeling threatened. Earlier, this perceived threat used to come from ‘outsiders’ who were determined to acquire chunks of pricey property, using locals as frontmen. Often , these ‘outdsiders’ were underworld kingpins consolidating their hold over their gangs through illegal acquisitions of land in prime areas. The ‘Dons’ continued their dirty games from their hideouts overseas, even after getting chased out during the fierce inter-gang battles in the ‘80s and ‘90s. These old Bollywood- style dons were soon replaced by a new breed - the political dons – but the objectives remained the same – buying Mumbai. And selling it, piece by piece to the highest bidder. Dhanda!
The lines have totally blurred now. Most of the old players are either dead or dying. The new laptop ‘Dadas’ wear Versace ( itself a dying brand, but who’s to tell these designer goons?), and crack mega real estate deals with smooth talking builders in shiny suits. Most of the ghastly construction one sees in suburban Mumbai, is the product of these scumbags who have stripped Mumbai of all aesthetics, in their greed to make a fast buck. I was told by an erstwhile royal who is a globe trotting , card holding member of the Luxe set, that a top Italian designer who visited Mumbai in search of good locations for his stores, actually held his head in his hands and wept after a drive through the city. He couldn’t accept its ugliness. He was appalled by the hideous ‘development’ that lacks character or taste. He kept repeating, “ How could anybody do this to such a historic and important city? Why doesn’t someone stop this horrible growth?” He fled vowing never to return. Yes, he was that traumatized. Mumbai’s ‘ghazab’ story can only get worse. There are no real stakeholders left to protect it from marauders who are determined to exploit every last inch of space available. And these marauders are not the feared ‘outsiders’ , but insiders themselves, who want to hang on to the booty. Helping them in their sinister design are the greedy worker ants of Mumbai – those who sign ‘no objection’ certificates, okay crazy plans, are a part of this dirty nexus . From lowly staffers in the BMC, to hangers- on of MLA’S and ministers, they are all in the conspiracy to own India’s most valuable real estate – Mumbai.
What does the average Mumbaikar do to protect the city… his\her own interests? Very little. The cynicism is so wide spread, the Mumbaikar shrugs resignedly and life goes on. Every time there is a crisis, Mumbaikars are reminded about their ‘resilience’ and the great ‘spirit’ of the city. This is nothing but a cheap alibi that excuses those who are responsible for the safety and prosperity of India’s premier hub. Mumbaikars shrug, laugh and get back to work after each devastation, knowing that if they don’t, they’ll be finished. They read exposes on corruption in high places, in low places, in virtually every place! And are not shocked. They accept that most of the netas they themselves have voted into power are goondas. They don’t react. Nobody wants unnecessary ‘lafdas’, they say tiredly. As long as the goondas get them water in the taps, it’s okay. It’s all a big joke – just like in the current Ajeeb-Ghazab hit movie.Serial blasts, terror attacks, David Headley and whatever else might befall Mumbai in future, one thing is certain – politicians will never get poor. Today, Mumbaikars are willing to say sportingly, “ It’s okay, baba…. paisa banao. Loot maar karo. No problem. Grab what you can while in power. But at least make sure the public also benefits a little.” Is that too much to ask??
I think it is very fair and very practical. It’s time to do a deal. Maybe Mumbaikars should talk turkey with those who are busy plundering Mumbai and work out a formula. We have some of the canniest financial brains in the country in this overburdened city History tells us Mumbai came as part of a ‘dowry’ for a Portugese princess in the early 17th century. Time to file a dowry harassment case, in that case?? It can’t get more ghazab than that for this ajeeb city.

29 comments:

Alex Engwete said...

Your description of real estate gone mad in Mumbai sounds exactly the same as the one about Moscow I recently watched on Aljareeza TV channel: historic buildings left to die their slow death so that city officials could peddle them to real estate agents; beautiful neighborhoods that used to feature jewels of Russian architecture are now dotted pell-mell with monstrous high-rises, etc--and, yes, all this against the backdrop of universal corruption... The moral of this resemblance of re-emerging and booming historic cities: citizens must take political action by voting for politicians willing to reform governance at all levels and to tackle corruption head-on... In fact, Ms Shobhaa De, why don't you run for office in Mumbai?

obssesor said...

Times of India!

Theyoginme said...

Perhaps there are many dowry cases to be filed across the country...why limit it to Mumbai.. I have seen the city of Pune being wrecked the same way in the last 12 years.

ZB said...

very true about mumbai. Or most cities in India. Certainly The cities here are the worst and ugliest in the world. We compare ourselves to China, but have a look at Shanghai and you would stop comparing.

Is there a way out of this mess that India is in? Sometimes i feel democracy is our biggest drawback. Nice post.

cmpershad said...

"These old Bollywood- style dons were soon replaced by a new breed - the political dons – but the objectives remained the same – buying Mumbai. And selling it, piece by piece to the highest bidder. Dhanda"

Dhanda with a Danda is replaced by sweet smile tactics- but the result is the same :)

Jogeshwar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sidhusaaheb said...

The ‘resilience’ and the great ‘spirit’ of the city have been created by the NDTV 24x7-, Times Now- and CNN IBN-types, I suspect.

Aditya said...

I have seen the prog on timesnow today and you were on the panel.
I share your anger and frustration.
Please read this that I had written last year after 26/11

http://aditya-rsw.blogspot.com/2008/11/shame-shame-puppy-shame.html

kala said...

Mumbai problems are due to the super rich and super poor. The hardworking middle class is crushed by both. Super rich grab land with their super money and create artificial hike in real estate prices. While the so called poor make the city filthy besides occupying land without paying single paisa as tax. Middle class has to take loans at high interest rates even to own a matchbox.
And Arnab and Times are repeating the same formula of inviting you along with almost same set to air views. Are you that desperate to attend all these shows which are just popcorn stuff? And why blow out of proportion Sachin's statement and Thackeray's statements? Are they not forcing Sachin to take a stand or moving away from it? Why dont they just report and forget? Why do they stoke and make a big fire? We should rather extinguish fires like what the much criticised politicians are doing. Like Ashok Chavan asking for preference for locals(not necessarily marathis) and Mamata Banerjee initiating local languages for railway exams which is a step needed to cut out separatist forces.

ms said...

mz de, after reading this, i feel like one of those who see a beached whale and helplessly sit beside it, watching it die a slow and painful death. most cities are dying, but to see a beautiful princess harried to death, devastating. i am surprised when maharashtrian politicians go blue in the face screaming, "amchi! amchi!" and do nothing about its destruction. then it is also true, no undertaker knows CPR! if my city was notorious as a hotbed of terrorism and my people, leaders in every crime and shamelessly involved in aiding and abetting murder and killing - i would be so overcome with grief, i would die. but look at the great leaders of this state, they have time to create useless controversies, incite racial violence and join in the looting. next time i read a statement by these keepers of all things maharashtrian about how great their heritage is and how it only belongs to them, i will say, "keep it. because your heritage also has elements of terrorism, corruption and treason".

Illkilya said...

I've watched Bangalore also die its slow death. Every beautiful bungalow with bougainvillea garden is replaced by an ugly glass facade. Story of every developing city in India!

krish said...

hi ....

True to each word....its a bone left to the dogs who will chew it dwn....the suburbs have and are being developed without any thought..... and south mumbai is following .....from whr did mr raj thacker get 400 crs to buy kohinoor mill land at dadar is a big question...from whr does all the money come for sena.....and same for all toher parties......being from the construction feild its a said rule at BMC ..every file that moves in has loads of cash in it with cuts ....right from the CM to the peon and yes thy ask with all right....


In this doomed democracy we have the right to shout screm play to the camers...but no power ..will toc chage the system....bec the system does not want to change...bec the system is perfect for the system handlers.... thr likes a fauly with the people....

Luv

Kris

mahatru said...

Truly wonderful post...i think same is with Bangalore too.

I remember when we last visited Bangalore way back in 1997 it was like "city beautiful" so thickly populated with dense trees, gardens and parks but now when i am settled here since 2006 Bangalore is entirely different no trees & gardens without plants n flowers.
Traffic n concrete jungle are mushrooming here like "some viral disease"

Regards
popular venues in Mumbai
popular venues in Pune

kala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kala said...

This post reminds me of The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith.
Poona and Bangalore are the other 2 beautiful cities going to dogs, if not already.
Every city is turning into gutter city with mountainous plastic trash.
The strict visa system and vigilance is preventing the entire Indian population turning even world cities into trash cities.
Our celebrities go ga ga over filthy streetfood and stray dogs in the same breadth and our newfound prosperity invites the plastic monster.

Balvinder Singh said...

Thackereys keep questioning the contribution of others to Maharashtra, in particular to the city of Bombay.

Shobhaa, through your blog (which has a large following) may i ask that whether somebody can put me wise on the contributions of Balasaheb Thackerey and his clan to Maharashtra and to the city of Bombay. The changing of name of this great city from Bombay to Mumbai (after which its actual down fall started) seems to be the only one to me. Any one please?

NIM said...

it is really a shame whats hapenning to mumbai today...every street has a new development in process and it has completely changed, nay distroyed the charm that mumbai had earlier. I'm just a 20year old but my family has been living in mumbai for generations and this is our hometown. But when i see in pictures what the city used to be like, i only wonder how could it change so drastically. Its all our fault in the end. The people who actually sell the real estate to all these "goondas" that u describe in most of ur posts. Its really a pity...

Vinu said...

Superb penning of thoughts..true to the heart..It's just unbelievable to see city like Mumbai tearing apart like this..More painful is to see least of efforts coming from the elite and reverred section of the society...

Nipun said...

awesome post mam!!
i am 2 small 2 judge the spirit of the city..
Can;t be critical 2 at this point of time..
Kudos 2 u..
Nuts
www.nipunmittal.blogspot.com

vijju said...

Shobha,

Great Writeup.Its time people take up the matter more sriously...I wonder what the netas in the center were doing from ages even after knowing such " " and so called protectionists of Maharashtra existed

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Bihar is developing/progressing? News?

Romulus said...

'Kala' is most definitely on the ball.

Bijoy said...

Dear Blogger,

We are a group of students from cochin who are currently building a web portal on kerala. in which we wish to include a blog roll I found your Blogs interesting so inviting you to join our new venture you could find our site here: http://enchantingkerala.org

the site is currently being constructed and will be finished by 20 of Dec 2009

we wish to include your blog located here

http://shobhaade.blogspot.com/

we'll also have a feed fetcher which updates the recently updated blogs from among the listed blogs thus generating traffic to your recently posted entries.

If you are interested in listing your site in our blog roll; kindly include a link to our site in your blog in the prescribed format and send us a reply to enchantingkerala.org@gmail.com and we'll add your blog immediately. Ypu can add to our blog if you have more blog pls sent us the link of other blog we will add here

pls use the following format to link to us

KeralaTravel

Write Back To me Over here keralaenchanting@gmail.com

hoping to hear from you soon.

warm regards

EnchantingKerala

Peter Williams Amalraj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Williams Amalraj said...

Shobha,

The article was a real eye-opener.. Never ever did i imagine the 'Real Estate' to be the real reason behind all these reel like acts.. But their counterparts in TN often come up with similar acts terming them to be true patrons of Tamil language and culture.. Now that after reading this, it leaves me exploring for real reasons behind these ones.... :)

BTW.. thank you Ma'am for the piece of information..Mumbai came as part of a ‘dowry’ for a Portugese princess in the early 17th century

Mukesh Bhatia said...

Its in our hand to make or break Mumbai, a real real estate. Let there be some platform to blow the bigule. I would be the first blow it out.

*Aham* said...

Making an issue over a nonissue. I have nothing against either tackrays scoring brownie points by sending the wave of Hatered, but if they did this strategically and smartly, id sit back and appreciate it.

Look how smart and strategic was terror tourist guide vilasrao, he left mumbai and headed delhi. Smart chap. Smart move.

Varan baath naahi tarr sarson da saag hi sahi. He would be eating pot bhar... and listening to heavy metal.


*******************************

resilience is followed by a re silence- A repeat of the silence and inaction.

We are largely choiceless, if i dont go to work the next day, i lose a days salary. I go to work for that. Is that resilience? No.


******************************
yes, we have this thought ki paise banao, but bhalai bhi karo...


*******************************

the deadly headly was a might spank on the butt of the bhatt... and that thappad was so loud that mumbai was shaken.


***************************

And our goverment. drama bazi.. and
vaade and neak iraade...

fir, abhi thanda... but we know yehi dhandha.

Sam said...

Hi Shobhaa. I love your blogs. Also, like your inputs on TV. My thoughts on Mumbai are on my blog. Hope you agree. http://samsondsouza.blogspot.com/2009/11/2611-and-mumbai-few-thoughts.html

krutika said...

who buys these lands...65% live in slums thats funnybecuz these real estate agents dont really make much towards the end