Last Sunday, going to a wedding at Mulud, I had an opportunity to travel on the now forgotten Bombay-Agra Road. Once it was a national highway, the main artery out of the city, now it is reduced to being a service road for the western side of the eastern suburbs. Or, if that sounds too complicated, the service road for the western side of the railway tracks of the central (railway) suburbs.
It was a long journey. So, to begin at the beginning, the start was easy, along the concretised Annie Beasant Road, Mr. Tinaikar's parting gift to Bombay, past the Charles Correa church, the Sunday Dadar market, crowded with Maharashtrian housewives making last minute purchases for the Gananpati festivities. Tilak Bridge, the Dadar-Matunga Road, with the Parsi colony on the right and the Hindu colony on the left, living in comfortable harmony, King Circle, Sion Circle.
At Sion, the first decision had to be taken. Should we turn left and proceed along the creek (is the creek still there or has it been filled up?) to Kurla, or go towards Chembur and take the Eastern Express Highway to Thane? We took the highway, bowled along it, jumping over occasional potholes. As highways in Maharashtra go, it well kept. Then turned in towards Ghatkopar. In front, hutment's climbed into the Powai hills, presenting a pretty picture in the glow of the setting sun, though they must have permanently destroyed the ecology of the hills.
In Ghatkopar, we were on the Bonbay-Agra Road. And arrow pointed to Agra, as if it was down the road. Actually, it lies almost a thousand miles away, beyond the tribes of Nandurbar and the herders of Marwar, beyond the Tapti and Indore and the god of Dewas and highways with peacocks dancing in the center of them and the Gwalior fort (to think that after all its glorious and romantic history its final progeny is a politician who wants to become a prime minister) and the Chambal ravines and Agra with the Taj sitting on the banks of the Jamuna.
But I am going too far - on Sunday, my destination was Mulund. Between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli the road was in top condition, smooth and even and lined with gracious and cooling trees and factories with green lawns and flower-beds. I suspect, the Godrej may not have been physically responsible for maintationg the road, but they must have applied pressure on the authorities for doing this.
The suspicion becomes stronger as beyond Vikhroli the read deteriorates. I bumped and banged my way, and, after inquiries with obliging auto-rickshaw drivers, turned into Mulund.
There was no difficulty finding the venue of the wedding. The bride was evidently one of the distinguished dignitaries of the town and the whole the wedding was taking place.
The bride and the groom stood on the stage and received the guests, very conscious of the Mahabharata Studio thrones that were placed behind them and taking care not to sit on them. In and adjoining room, dinner was being served. After three helpings of bagala bhat with lemon pickle, I was in a mood to drive all the way to Agra.