I ask a fellow traveller in the train about where to get off if you want to see Lalbaugcha Raja. He suggests Currey Road, and gives me Rs 12 as an offering for the Lord.
It was terribly hot and I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to see him. On Monday, the queues had reached almost Byculla. But I am in for a surprise. I offer my prayers in less than 45 minutes.
Chandrakant Takkal (58), standing next to me is luckier. “I finished the whole thing in 20 minutes,” says Takkal who lives in Masjid Bunder. “Last year I couldn’t see the idol until it was being taken out for immersion.”
The queue for ‘mukh darshan’ (getting a glimpse of the idol’s face) moved so fast that it looked like a film being fast-forwarded.
“It’s a workday, that’s why. You picked a good time,” says Mangesh Bhosle (35) when I express surprise over the lack of a crowd.
As we near the idol, the crowd gets more and more frenzied.
The college crowd has already slipped under the ropes and is running towards the idol.
A child runs out easily from under the rope, and his mother follows suit. People immediately remove their cellphones and start clicking photographs of the idol.
It is now that I realise that the queue I am in leads out.
I reach a railing around the dais on which the huge idol stands.
I reach out to see if there is anything I can throw the Rs 12 on. Nothing.
I am out the exit in a flash. It’s like being thrown off a moving train.