My 160 sq. ft. on Mumbai

Two cents are not of much use in Mumbai. What is really worthwhile is a having a small 160 sq ft apartment for yourself. I happen to be lucky enough to have one on rent, happily given to me by a Marathi Manoos and hence here is my 160 sq ft on this city.

2009 has been a tough year for the city. Living in the shadow of 26/11, recession and parochial violence, the city once again endured a lot. Add to this, poor rains in a city that always makes headlines for its torrential rains.

So 2010 started on a bleak note for the city. As the days progressed things went from bad to worse. The city’s water crisis has become a major cause of concern for the ‘aam aadmi’. Every day most of us wake up with or even before the sun to fill up our buckets and tubs so that we have enough water to last through the day. The state irrigation minister has for the time being diverted some water from the irrigation department for drinking water purposes, to keep the water cut from increasing to more than the current 15%. Then there are the reports that two hydel power plants will have to be shut during the summer due to water shortage. Which means some more power cuts in areas that already have many hours of load shedding daily. The prices of vegetables are already high. For singles like me who live mostly on take away food, these hikes have resulted in more than 2k rise in our spending, not something we can afford in times of recession. Summer would mean irrigation problems and further shortage in vegetables raising the prices even more. It is going to be one tough summer this year for Mumbaikars.

So every day while I scan the newspapers I think that there would be some good news to tell me that the summer would be better. That there is some policy change, some statement, some tussle in political circles over these issues that touch me everyday. But everyday I hear of andolans for North Indians, Marathis and every other thing but no word on how the city is to survive this summer. And in the midst of this all, the leases of many occupants of my building too will expire, which could mean some more money to be shelled out. So this summer I wonder, along with my Marathi neighbours, if there would even be a 160 sq ft of borrowed ownership that we could claim in Mumbai, while politicians and socialites debate on who the whole city belongs to.

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