My daily morning route to the office has once again changed.
I drive up Mr. Pleasant Road, along side children going to Cathedral and Campion in Chauffeur-driven Toyotas and Hondas, up the narrow winding road, past the chief minister's house and Jinnah House and houses set behind tall, forbidding walls. Then along Ridge Road, with servants walking their master's dogs, Godrej bungalow, Jain temples and houses, the affluent Gujarati vegetarian population of Bombay, the new residences of Jhaveri Bazar jewellers.
Then Kamat's Restaurant getting ready for another day of idlis and ghee dossas, and around Teen Batti. Ah, Teen Batti…..there is that about the name that catches the imaginations, like Kemp chemists have gone. Names that are simple, direct and descriptive. No municipal party will be able to make the public change these names.
Then down Walkeshwar, past acres and acres of Raj Bhavan's unused property. That one man and his wife should have so much space to live in, while others crowd their homes on pavements! Perhaps, one day, the Raj Bhavan beach and woods and all of the complex that goes with it will be thrown open to the city's children as a giant nature park. The governor can reside in an air-conditioned suite at Sahyadri, the state guests can be put up at the new Oberoi, in the penthouse, overlooking the Arabin Sea.
And it is to the Arabian Sea that the road descends, the bay of Bombay, Nariman Point windows reflecting the light of the nine o' clock sun. The empty Chowpatty beach. The police machans, constructed for the Ganapati immersions, still there, as if waiting for next year.
From here, it is the mainstream traffic rolling along Marine Drive at fast clip. With a little imagination and a little money, Marine Drive can be made one of the most beautiful causeways in the world. And the tow hoardings, Amul and Chudasama, humor for the day. It is strange that the same city should produce tow such widely different humorist, one funny, one ridiculous, not necessarily the order mentioned.
The rest of the journey is familiar territory. Past Churchagate, with commuters ready behind police ropes like for the Boston marathon. Then Flora Fountain, still empty. Some people start their day early, most people start it late.
It is new route, quite different from the one just a few months ago, via Jacob Circle and Jalebi Bridge and Lalbaug and Cotton Green to Sewree. And I am not quite sure, but I think I preferred the old route. It was more proletarian.