Many theories did the rounds following last Wednesday’s rumour of the late Shiv Sena supremo’s demise. Mumbai also got a trial run of what could be expected. When the news was made official at 5 pm on Saturday, the Shiv Sena was given due credit for its timing. With fewer people at work, and therefore, fewer commuters, life indeed was far less obstructed.
But those who spent thousands on the Swedish House Mafia gig at Tote, which was soon cancelled, didn’t agree. Those who hadn’t stocked up on Saturday-night basics didn’t either.
Probably that’s why news channels knew where to go looking for descriptive footage of the city’s panic-stricken mode. Wine shops! Shots of mini stampedes outside a few went on air within the hour. Those new to the situation watched and wondered what fickle-minded citizens we are. But then, if their city had been bombed and ‘bandhed’ as regularly as ours is, they’d probably be doing the same too.
By 10 pm on Saturday, those stranded at home with no supplies were forced into playing ‘Survivor’. Channels were blacked out, stepping out was too risky, shops were shut, eateries wouldn’t deliver and asking your neighbours — whose names many of us now know — for eggs and Maggi was the ultimate dare.
The #bandhexchangeoffer hashtag on Twitter seemed to be helping too. It also made some wonder why people were willing to trade milk and Pink Floyd LPs for cigarettes and rum. A post even offered a “live music session by Ankur Tewari for some smokes and ricotta cheese”.
Other enthu cutlets, with the Shiv Sena flag on their bonnets, were driving around helping those who weren’t climbing traffic signals at the sight of the flag, get to their destinations.
A friend and former colleague, Nikhil Taneja, started the hashtag #OneMumbai. He asked everyone to post a picture of how they spent that night. The Flickr album, which now has 103 photos and over 1,700 views, documents that evening well — poker, books, Scrabble, grooming sessions, pajama parties, cooking, guitar playing and so on. Almost as if many had a better time that weekend than they do on most Saturday nights when they’re spoilt for choice.
So Mumbai went through an interesting experiment — a Saturday night with a twist.
A lot of which was also possible because the cops, for a change, were taking care of issues that actually deserve their attention. Of course, not counting the arrest of the Palghar girls.