September was supposed to bring in joy. A joy many happily know as Ganesh Chaturthi. As the Lord took his seat on the 1st, Mumbai pulled its hand brake. While the battle for supremacy between rain and sun was waging on, the commoners faced a triple blow from the erratic weather, the infamous traffic jam and monsoon viral. And the immersions of the great Lord were yet to come. Even with the lord being present, thousands were still looking for a blessing.
Every year, I go to my uncle’s place for Ganesh Chaturthi. Traditionally, my family houses the Lord for 1 ½ days. And within this short space of time, I not only have to devote my time to my family but also close friends who house the Lord for the same time. Within this chaos, I have managed to maintain a balance for over 15 years now. Never missing the evening aarti at my place nor missing a visit at my friends’.
But this year, all of that changed. A 45 minute journey turned into 2 hour 10 minute journey, resulting in me missing the aarti for the first time. When the traffic had its share of fun, it tagged the rains, saying “Tag, you’re it”. My family of 20 sat in 4 cars and headed for the Visarjan (immersion). While we were looking forward to it, the rain smirked at us, telling us he had other plans. As rain played havoc, it was nearly impossible to get out of the car, and then the parking woes were welcoming us with open arms. Being in a small car, we found a parking spot and then ran back to the main car where the Lord was. TOO LATE. The lord was gone. The rains hi-fived each other. The traffic let out a wicked grin.
As days passed, I read about Mumbaikars coming under the weather. Through smses, status messages on Facebook, Twitter feeds, the erratic weather was consuming many a soul. While one part of the city was blazing under the sun, another part was drenched in the rains. As outside food brought in pathogens, the water and air played catalyst to Mumbai’s fever. And the fever was refusing to come down. A close friend of mine was hospitalized. After checking on her, I was on my way home and the city unleashed its wrath on me that evening.
Bright sunshine followed by thunderous rains and traffic for over two hours. And it was the 5th day of immersion. As the vehicle dragged its feet like the seconds hand of a clock, what the eyes witnessed were an act of shame. While the excitement, fervour and mad dance was acceptable, staring down a woman like an object of desire, whistling and passing cheap comments under the influence of alcohol or otherwise is not. And by no means is holy. Such rascals demean the lord, the society and the community. Ghaati by definition means those from the Ghaats, but by adding characteristics of such nature, that definition too has somewhat been soiled. Anyways, after that chaotic journey my body had lost the battle, and the Mumbai fever had won.
Bedridden, all visits to major Mandals were stalled. Sorry news of many others falling sick continued to flock in. The weather continued to lash its fury. The traffic only promised to infuriate more. As many Mumbaikars hurled abuses, grunted under their breath, fought the battle of conscience with the Lord’s immersion adding to the traffic, Mumbai turned into Joker’s Gotham. It laughed down on our faces and poked us with a “Why So Serious?”