Wishing and hoping…

Pheroze, I haven’t seen you look this spiffy since our awards night. But I am glad to see you’ve dressed up for New Year’s Eve,” remarked Lady Flora, hoping her friend would return the compliment. He did. 

“The moon’s afterglow is making you look like a movie star,” he smiled, shyly acknowledging his friend’s appearance. Suitably happy, both Bombayphiles decided to head down towards their favourite vantage point from the Cathedral—towards Apollo Bunder, where the Gateway was looking like a stunning jewel in the silhouette drawn by the near full moon.

“Shouldn’t we quickly get cracking to curate one of our most fun things that I wait for all year—the wish list for 2024?” exclaimed Lady Flora. “I have heard that terms like ‘work list’ that are being suggested by important and powerful people, so I am not sure if we should prepare a wish list or a work list,” asked Sir PM, hoping his friend would find a solution, which she mostly did. 

Lady Flora gave her friend’s statement a long, hard thought, and replied, “We can make it a good mix of both—what we wish for, and what can actually be worked upon.” Sir PM liked the idea, and both put their heads together to get the list ready. Here is their final list:

>> Breathe again: We hope that the civic authorities treat the rising air pollution levels as a serious problem and approach experts and also refer to success stories in other cities. There needs to be stricter fines on serial offenders, especially when it comes to dump yards and construction sites. This new concern is here to stay; gone are the days when would pooh-pooh Delhi about their annual scenario. Buckle up, Bombay. Please.

>> Spare us the non-roads: More than half the city is dug up, thanks to the unplanned coming together of infrastructure projects. Can some body/platform come to our rescue to ensure we are spared of countless, inexplicable craters and obstructions of every conceivable size and shape each time we are on the road?

>> Remember the pedestrian: It’s been another year of destroying our footpaths and pavements. This newspaper has been at the forefront of reporting on several unfortunate accidents. Poor Pheroze, too, very nearly missed his footing while walking down DN Road; thank god for the nearby tree that ensured he didn’t meet with a nasty accident.

>> After the big fat elections: Our netas are back to working at some speed to ensure major plans and projects are ready in time for the civic and general elections. But what about after that? Walk the talk, dear neta, and don’t disappear after your win. Promises must be fulfilled.

>> Flooded with cluelessness: We’ve lost track of the number of times when Bombaywallahs have been at the receiving end of the apathy and lack of long-term solutions when it comes to annual flooding. Why cannot our babus and their large teams work in sync with the politicians to save our city from this annual trauma? Last year was awful, since due to lack of civic elections, accountability nosedived and we had to literally pray to the gods [not the rain gods] to keep us afloat.

>> Art, culture, what’s that? The cultural scene was woefully lacking a solid thrust. Barring the existing festivals and the odd visiting stellar exhibition, there was little effort to revive or introduce new spaces and ideas. Apart from the big, glitzy one in BKC, little else emerged to support the arts and culture communities. Corporations should work in tandem with the authorities because not enough is coming from India’s financial capital that once boasted of its philanthropist spirit.

>> We like the colour green: In the last year once again, environmentalists were shouting from the rooftops to help save our paltry few and hence critical green patches; these are our guardians from climate change that is already affecting the city’s weather patterns. Tighter rules and regulations ought to be the norm rather than the exception, be it our mangroves, [the ever-growing drain called] Mithi River, SGNP and Aarey, Thane Creek and countless other precious locations that need our protection.

>> Redevelopment, rethink: Not every ‘old’ building needs to be pulled down to make way for a tower. Sadly, the city seems to be quickly metamorphosing into a uniform landscape of such unimaginative towers. Most of the eastern and western suburbs now look like replicas of each other. There are ways and means to conserve existing buildings, using experts and informed architects. Ask residents of some of the buildings that form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Art Deco cluster that faces Oval Maidan about how they successfully and sensitively preserved their nearly century-old buildings.

“I am a tad worried that we’ve overshot the word count; our creator Ms Bombayana will be in a bind, so we should stop right here,” signed Lady Flora. Sir PM nodded, “Agree, it’s a bumper edition, so we should be considerate. Now, it’s over to the powers that be to get cracking, and make it their work list,” he smiled.

mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones…wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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