Saturday, September 26, 2009

Life At Marine Drive

There are few too many things that I feel have been a part of my life growing up. Marine Drive has been one such constant, yet memorable, companion. I stay a few kilometers away from Marine Drive and this is one place that I have seen virtually seen every day of my life growing up. Right from the time I remember boarding my school bus when it used to meander its way through the traffic through the crowded streets of Hughes Road, Babulnath before it turned left next to Wilson college and land on the expressway that is Marine Drive. There used to be a certain thrill of looking at the sea; Marine Drive in those days used to look majestic to me with the way it used to curve all along the way and offer a view of the queen's necklace. It is still majestic, but I guess at certain level I now take it for granted because, well, I know it's right there and I can go whenever I want to. Traffic was much less in those days, so the bus could gather much speed. Though my school was off Marine Drive, we could see the bay from the upper floors.



Over the years, I stopped using the school bus; students above eight standard weren't allowed to use the school bus anyway I think. So it was the BEST bus then and in those days we had the double-decker bus on Route No 123. The route is still there but eventually they phased out the iconic double-decker buses on this route. Now we only have single-decker buses. But if you wanted a ride on our historic double-decker buses, then route 123 was the one you had to take. The best place in the bus was the upper deck and the front rows. No use of the side windows; the front windows were more than enough. Girls were never found seated here because most of them care about their hair (or stroking it every 2 seconds) more than anything else. This was a guys-only place. A strong gush of wind would blow on your face that would make you squirm your eyes, it was the upper deck, the speed of the bus on Marine Drive and the sea wind. Absolute fun! The best part for waiting for the bus on the way back home was that although there were bus-stops, we never used to sit on the bus-stops. We used to sit on the parapets and watch the waves and count the countless crabs that crawl on the tetra pods.

Marine Drive is a stretch of around 4-5 kms that starts from Chowpatty at the north-end and goes all the way to Nariman Point / National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) / Oberoi Hotel. It's one of the widest roads, apart from the Eastern and Western Express Highways, in Mumbai. The beauty of this is that it was never widened in phases; it was this wide right from the time it was built. Or atleast since time immemorial. Taking a walk on Marine Drive is an absolute pleasure. The place was done up recently so the pavement looks all straightened up.  Unlike Worli sea face where pavement bricks are in complete disarray. But that place is also being done up I am told, so hopefully in a year's time it should become nicer.



The best part of taking a walk on Marine Drive are the dogs. You mostly see Labradors, but occasionally you could also spot pugs, pomeranians, German shepherd, and so on. Some dogs like each other's company and seem to be very eager to 'get a feel' of the other, but some dogs seem to erupt in anger on seeing one another. But it's fun to see the camaraderie amongst dogs; they seem to communicate with one another in some of the most intriguing ways, you don't know what you are saying but you know they're definitely saying something! There is a yearning to go there every weekend. Today is a Saturday. Let me see if I can make it today...

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