May the 1st has a lot attached to it. First comes the May Day or the International Labour Day for which it is widely know for. Then comes the day for the feast of St. Joseph the worker in the Christian calender. And then, in India, comes the Maharashtra Day. So to know more and feel more about this day and Marathi culture, I choose a trip to Shivaji Park, the so called nexus where all the “Mei Marathi” activities takes place.
The day was a Friday i.e a weekday. Weekdays are always a bane for the people commuting, whether in their own vehicles or in the public ones. So I, just as always, took my faithful Honda scooter and decided to trip up to Dadar for the Maharashtra Day celebrations at Shivaji Park. I took the Sion Panvel highway and went towards Dadar, crossing the Tilak Bridge, then the Plaza theater and finally reached the Gadkari Chowk, only to be stopped by the signal. The park stood straight in front of me but I had my doubts of going through that road as it was barricaded by the cops. To avoid much problem, I took the right turn to see if there was any alternative route available. As I moved forward, I found an axillary road with lead to the park, but again this too was closed. I asked the cop who was standing over there “Sir, zara bata sakte ho yeh gaddi kidar laga sakta huun, parking jaise koi jagah?” (Sir, could you suggest to me a parking spot near by where I could park my vehicle?). And this guy talks in the most arrogant manner the “Mumbai Police” is know for, and said “Tum kidar bhi lagao. Hame maat pucho. Hamari zimedari nahi hai” (You park it anywhere. Don’t ask me. Its not our duty). Not really getting insulted as I know what is the worth and attitude of these guys and their total insensitivity towards the common citizen, I moved ahead, found a spot further down, parked the vehicle and moved on.
As I walked my way towards the park, I saw many of the morning joggers my brother used to talk about. And yes, the dogs! I really liked the attitude to these morning public. My brother studies in a college close to the park. So he used to see these people and the dogs that used to come for walks each day (Yes, I am a dog person!). This place was one of the “best furry friend” loving public I had seen. There were so many of them and it was indeed a pleasant sight. The joggers themselves were hardly bothered about the tight security amidst which they made their routine jogs. I really liked this attitude of these people which didn’t give away to the unwanted restriction the police had put around the area.
It was almost 10 minutes that I had been going around the perimeter of the park to find out the viewing area reserved for the public. I asked approximately 5 cops who reluctantly used to point out to some area in the distance and when I reached there, thanks to their “amazing help” I would be told to go a little more ahead. Finally I did find the entrance, which was in fact a very much hidden gate like those in the Harry Potter and Narnia movies. That made it really evident that these guys didn’t want any of the public to enter the venue, which was to add to their woes. And again, at the checking I was told very easily “No bags allowed”. I told them I had come from far and there was nothing in it except my camera and gear. Finally after pleading for a while, they let me in. That’s when another cop stops me and says “Flash maar! Flash maar!” I was quite confused and what he was actually indicating to as there was no need and no scope to fire a flash for me to make a shot. That’s when the “CID dimag” fired in me as I remember that in one of the “Mallu” films I had watched, a killer triggers a bomb using the infrared rays emitted while he fired the flash gun. I laughed at myself and anyways did fire a few shot for his satisfaction!
I reached this place which was actually reserved for the public and what I saw was a sparely populated venue. Hardly any people. Neither much of the public nor the people for the programs were to be seen. Oh yeah I did see a bunch a dressed cops, few trucks which were newly painted, few “VIPs” in better tents and setup. That’s it! I had goggled up last night and saw a lot of traditional dance and stuff, which really seemed interested. But here…
I got to work and started clicking shots. And yet again not much good to say about. I expected “Chinese army level coordination” in the march past. Maybe my shots should say the rest..
The whole deal was over in just 15 minutes. I was like wow. Maharashtra Day, that too in Shivaji Park was only this much? I came to see and experience the really “Marathi culture” on the very day this amazing state was formed at the most apt place possible and what I found was a bunch of cops who were so eager for a pack up. Come on.
Knowing that my complaining here or anywhere (even on this blog) is not gonna make a single change in the system. Anyways I write along…
P.S – The most amazing and ironic part of the day was the traffic cops who had “decorated” the “new” bikes with lights and horns, where seen removing them just after the parade was over, and yes, speeding away without helmets.