My father used to tell me how he, as a teenager, spent many anxious years awaiting the first public transport bus to arrive in our ancestral village in Vidarbha — this part of the state was then central province and Berar.
He said when the bus did arrive, it brought a twinkle to his eyes; he touched it gently, appreciated its colour and threw himself onto the hardtop seats.
My father is no more. But his story came back to me on Saturday when I saw the monorail up and close for the first time, appreciated its beauty, and enjoyed the trial run from Wadala to Chembur and back.
I don’t know what my hundred other co-passengers — journalists and bureaucrats —thought of the experience. But for me, I had established connect with it much before the trial runs began.
The projects’s main activity hub, the Wadala Depot, is hardly 100 meters from my home in Pratiksha Nagar.
I have watched the workers build the elevated track and station — brick by brick — from my third floor window since 2010.
It was always exciting when my wife Vanita and son Aamod would update me on its progress. And when she spoke about some rakes in swanky colours in the yard around a year ago, I couldn’t resist going to the terrace to have a better look. Photography sessions followed the trips to the terrace.
My neighbourhood has been equally enthused. A building was named ‘Mono View’ a few days ago. Casual discussions at tea stalls and bars has apprised me of three categories of people, divided on the basis of their attitude toward the project.
One — investors who expected the monorail to shoot up real estate rates and had sold or overbooked luxury housing complexes in the vicinity. Second — the simpletons who hope for a comfortable daily commute. And the third section doesn’t care; this is just another make-do government project for them.
If you think the air-conditioned monorail gives you respite from the stink and the discomfort on a suburban local train, you are right.
But if you think it elevates you from the stinking realities of the city, you are wrong.
Its cleaner glass windows bring you closer to the city’s disturbing poverty with a clear view of bigger slums, impoverished kids and mothers, and men slogging in prohibited refinery areas.