Friday night. 9:30 pm. I am trying to get home. The train was crowded. But at least I had place to stand. Got down in Borivali. The Bus stop to my home is on the Chandavarkar road. The bus comes from SV Road and turns left. If I see the bus from a distance, I try to get on at the turn. The bus slows at the turn. I saw the bus at a distance. It looked like the bus I wanted. I waited at the turn. It’s too much trouble walking toward the bus. So, I waited.
Then the usual happened. There was a jam at the turn. Vehicles could not turn left. Vehicles from opposite direction stopped. No one was moving. I looked around. It was 9:30 pm. The streets were crowded. Behind me was a small-scale hotel filled to the brink. The stationary store next to it was still doing business. The jewelry store next to it was about to close. The wine shop had closed. A man, maybe a day worker was sleeping peacefully in front of the shop. Oblivious of the commotion and the noise around him.
The traffic was not moving. I walked to the turn to see what the commotion was. A small tempo was blocking the path. Inside was a four feet Ganpathi idol. People were dancing in front of the tempo. The bus from the left was trying to cross into Chandwarkar road and blocking all the vehicles on all roads. Pretty soon the situation was going to be messy. There would be lot of honking around. A lot of abuses would be flying from all corners. I looked at the faces of every driver who was driving. The car drivers, taxi drivers, the bus drivers everybody was like a volcano ready to erupt. I looked at the man sleeping in front of the wine store. He still looked peaceful in his sleep. Maybe he was very much tired to get up and take notice.
Ten minutes into the mess and the traffic was not moving. Tempers were going to flare any moment now. But something happened. The bus conductor got down. He started directing traffic. Another person joined him at the other side of the road. In minutes more volunteers joined the show. An unintentional gesture. Nobody directed the tempo to move. But one of the organizer from the tempo slowly started directing the procession to move forward. The traffic, which did not move for the last 15 minutes suddenly, was as smooth as before. Without any policing, without any traffic rules the people had solved the problem themselves. An explosive situation brought under control without any leadership, without any authorization but just the intentions.
I saw my bus moving slowly toward the turn. As usual I got on the bus at the turn. Got the last seat near the window. The man sleeping in front of the wine shop was still sleeping. The traffic was gone. My bus passed the tempo. People were still dancing. I looked inside the tempo. Ganpathi’s face was covered. I looked back. Mumbai had this strange way of deflating an explosive situation. Common individual who just have the heart to do it. Maybe god had the intention to control the situation. Ganpathi was in town.
Ganpathi Bappa moryaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!