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   I am delighted with the introduction of... (October 15, 1996)

I am delighted with the introduction of the Mahindra's hovercraft service between Chowpatty and Juhu. Though Rs. 100 seems a lot of mony to spend daily to commute to work (actually, Rs. 200 for the return trip).

And what is Girgaum Chowpatty! Chowpatty is Chowpatty, and the beach at Shivaji Park is the Dadar beach. Some people even refer to Juhu Chowpatty. Juhu is Juhu.

But that is an unnecessary aside. To return to the hovercraft, the city was now two routes, one from the gateway (Palva Bunder) to New Mumbai, the other, starting in a couple of days, from Chowpatty to Juhu.

While I was residing at the Yacht Club for a few months, since I had been thrown out of the house, I used to see the hovercrafts entering and leaving the Apollo Pier through the day and late into the evening. The last boat left around 9 p.m., its beacon light throwing a silver path across the harbour, as it first made towards Butcher Island, then turned left. Now I whould be able to see the hovercrafts on their new route, from my window at home. It should be an interesting sight, the speedboats travelling parallel to the shore, hopefully full of commuters, or car-owners who have left their cars at home. I pray the hovercraft service does not meet the same fate as those limousine buses that nobody seems to want to travel in.

In India, the place where boats are particularly used for day-to-day transport is Cochin. You stay at the Taj's Malabar Hotel, a property prettier than the Udaipur Lake Palace, sit in its coffee shop, which is also its main restaurant, and watch a family of ships of all shapes and sizes parading past. There are tug boats, rice boats, sail boats, boats supplying fuel to the ship anchored beyond the Chinese fishing nets, and of course, the commuter launches connecting Cochin and Ernakulam, the launches filled with men in cylindrical dhotis, holding on to their cycles. And in the back ground is Mattencherry, like a Dutch painting.

Goa also lives to some extent on its sea and rivers, especially as the bridges spanning the rivers colapse regularly. On one occasion, the bridge over both the Mandovi and Zuari had collapsed, and the entire population, with its cars and cattle, plus the usual tourists, traveled by boats. The service was very efficient, I must say.

Boats also carry people to different islands across the mainland. There is this island of St. Estavados, with a church on a hill, home of George Menezes, Mario Cabral E Sa, the late and lamented Mr. Dias, etc. to reach it, you drive through Old Goa, with its cathedrals and churches and monasteries, go under the Admiral's Arch, and emerge on the coast. A boat is always waiting to take your across. Makes like both simple and picturesque.

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