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Mumbai shuts down

mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2011 01:41 IST
Aarefa Johari
Aarefa Johari
Hindustan Times
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Even before the final clinching overs were bowled in the biggest match of the season, the sounds of firecrackers, drumbeats and a crescendo of jubilant cheers erupted all over the city, and did not stop till late into the night on Wednesday.

The much-hyped India-Pakistan match paralysed Mumbai all day in the middle of the week, as every one from office-goers to taxi drivers shunned work as the game progressed.

On the main roads, traffic was thinner than usual, lanes in most neighbourhoods were deserted, and the buzz of radio commentary was audible from every unassuming corner of the city.

“Though the roads were empty in the evening, I could hear cheers resounding from every building when a Pakistani wicket fell,” said Ravi Patel, whose mobile repair store in Lower Parel saw almost no customers after 3pm.

When India finally won, taxi drivers in several areas responded by honking continuously for more than 20 minutes. “At least 20% of the taxis did not ply on Wednesday,” said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union.

Outside Dadar (West) station, large crowds were huddled around a television set put up under the flyover. Every time Team India hit a boundary, the motley street audience of flower-sellers, shop workers, hawkers and pedestrians, burst into a deafening cheer whose echoes could be heard among commuters emerging from the station with their radios plugged in.

“I put up the screen to share the joy, and by evening, the crowds had blocked the road,” said Nitesh Vora, owner of an umbrella store near Dadar station.

In the bustling Mohammed Ali Road, most shop shutters were down. In one by-lane, locals sat in rapt attention before a screen put up by a political party. The moment the final wicket fell, the crowd lost all control. “We began bursting crackers, boys from surrounding buildings rushed down on the streets with drums and dholaks, and the dancing began,” said Swapnil Koli, head of the area’s Shiv Sena branch.

College campuses did not escape the match frenzy. While PhD students at the TIFR cheered with excitement before a screen erected in their hostel, students of the IIT-Bombay piled into their convocation hall to track every ball. “Every one came armed with vuvuzelas, the atmosphere was like a carnival,” said Aditya Gandhi, an IIT hostelite.

However, those studying for their school final exams and third-year college exams rued their bad lack. “It’s very annoying that I can only watch parts of the match,” said Yash Gokani, a Class 9 student.