Cotton Green Musings

Cotton Green if you are hearing it for the first time is a railway station on the harbour line that plies through Mumbai..Is it green with Cotton? You might ask. It seems that the name was coined because of the Cotton Exchange building in the east that came up in 1924 and the sprawling warehouses that used to store the grains from the goods rail road.  That is where we grew up in the 70’s. Most of the buildings in the Abhyudaya nagar comprised of 4 storeyed ones being home to atleast 90 tenants in each. The ground floors of some of them had shops. In the 70’s Cotton Green was a pretty sight. The bullock carts carrying kerosene and ice blocks, the kulfiwalas(ice cream vendors) and the salt vendor all on hand pulled carts. Cars were a rarity so as to say even though you had good roads everywhere, the big sprawling mota (means big in marathi) maidan now renamed to Shahid Bhagat Singh maidan where good cricket tournaments were held. During the summer vacations, you could see atleast 30 active cricket pitches where different groups drawn from the various buildings around used to play. If not attentive you would be fielding for a team other than yours, not to speak of the hits you used to get from the various balls from all quarters. During the rainy season, the ground would be transformed to football playing ground. During a long lasting shower, this could become a mixture of fine clay, that one get the inclination to become a potter.

Where is Cotton Green? It is on the postal radar 400 033 and this  article is meant to be a short guide to Cotton Green.
 
The roads in Cotton Green used to get flooded during torrential rains causing us to wade in the waters. The main road parallel to the Cotton Green railway station used to resemble a raging river especially when trucks plied through the water way. Those were pretty and sometimes horrible sights,  to memorise, especially when some of us use to fall struck by such generated ‘tidal waves’.

There were a lot of colonies in this area, a great community of people living in M.H.B colony, Bombay dock labour colony (BDLB), Bombay Port Trust quarters, the Police quarters and so on. Since most of the buildings had atleast one of our school mate staying, the whole area of around 6 square kilometers  used to be one big playground. There were instances of parents sending out other kids as patrols to locate their wards.

Notable places included the Cotton Exchange buildings standing as ramparts of the olden British era, the popular soothing Ram Temple, The inaccessible Air Force station in Cotton Green east. Towards the back of the cotton exchange was the ship container yard  where we used to play and study. In fact the godown or the so called warehouses  areas had study groups where some members including me used to be seen perched on trees and studying. Come exam season, you would see atleast 100 plus students studying either sitting, walking or as said earlier, in trees or sitting on the old platforms for goods trains in the ware houses section. We used to walk up to the next station – Reay Road while studying. Every day we used to walk atleast 4 kilometers.

The Abhyudaya Education Society High School, Ahilya Vidya Mandir, The Shivaji Vidyalaya and the Municipal School were the most prominent schools in the Cotton Green area, from where most of us did our education. 

The most prominent festivals were Ganesh Utsav, Janmashtami, Diwali and Holi. Abhyudaya Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal and the one in the Cotton exchange now referred to as Cotton cha Raja, were the most prominent Ganesh mandals. We were close to Lalbaug where we had Lalbaug cha Raja  and Ganesh Galli at a distance of 15 minute walk.

Famous Family Doctor was Dr. S.R. Pandit who used to commute from dadar area and was always present in his clinic at Building 33 at sharp 9:00 AM. He should have treated atleast more than 10000  patients in his time in our area. I recall, he was one of the very few persons of that time who owned a car. A blue Premier Padmini.

Another Doctor was Dr. Hegde at Abhyudaya Nagar at his Dental Clinic.  Over the years, the dental specialist has taken good care to root and canal himself among the local community.

The Lalit Kala Bhavan at Cotton Green came in the early eighties thus creating one more avenue for pastime. Another one was the nearby Jijamata gardens at Byculla where we used to go even without slippers even though it was a good 30 minute walk. Sometimes most of us children used to come down to play without footwear and take a decision there and then to visit “Rani baug” as it was called in those days, the moment we had some money with us. The entry fee was only 10 paise at that time. 

During our walk in those hot afternoons, we had to run or jog, as the smooth tar resembled burning coals atleast for our tender feet. In the summer we used to trail the bullock carts carrying ice, so that the vendor when he used to remove the saw dust and cut the ice with his knife, we used to collect the pieces and gobble them up. 

We were also welcome/unwelcome visitors to wedding parties in and around Abhyudaya Nagar,  especially to savour the ice cream and the cool drinks that were served. I rarely remember of having ventured deep inside the reception hall to see the bride or the groom during those parties.

For long term residents and people looking out for traders in Cotton Green this might come handy to relive nostalgic memories..

Ration Shops, especially, the one in Building 33 and 32 on Shrikant Hadkar Marg was always busy with queue of about atleast 50 people especially when the kerosene cart drawn by bullocks from Sewri Oil terminal used to make their port of call. During my school years, i used to chip in helping the dealer dole out grains especially when his only assistant had his hands full.

Dinesh Medical Stores was another big medical shop in those days and looked very neat as all medicines and other items were well arranged, and the assistants at the store looked professional.

2 Irani restaurants dotted the G.D Ambedkar junction to Shrikant Hadkar marg. It was a nice joint with rickety chairs and marble tops and most of us would order bun maska and lemon soda. The lemon soda was a combination of good old days Dukes Lemonade with a soda. This combination was enough for a gang of 3 or 4. Tea, also ordered as cutting chai was popular for a quick meeting between comrades, be it college mates or medical representatives.

Amar Opticians & Watch Co. was always a shop to watch at, especially when things could go wrong with your time pieces or wrist watches or clocks.

Tasgaonkar Egg & Chicken Shop on Shrikant Hadkar Marg(Road) was a favourite place to shop for eggs and chicken.

Metro Stores was a good place to shop for school stationery and books, especially at night, when we discovered to our horror, that one of our notebooks was full, or the ink pot was empty.

Town Stationary another shop close by to Metro that you could depend on, for school stationary items, especially text books.

Pals Hotel on G.D Ambedkar Marg the only hotel at that time and still standing.

Mumbai Photo frames on G.D Ambedkar Marg(Road) was a favorite haunt for religious people to frame their favourite pictures or marvel at the photos of gods and goddesses..

Laxmi Jewellers  another favourite place for shoppers of gold and silver jewellery..and

if you had trouble reading this blog, it is time you visited Amar Opticians on Shrikant Hadkar Marg.

Thanks for reading, and let me know your comments 🙂

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The Lost Child

A good one from a great author – Mulk Raj Anand

The Lost Child  (Mulk Raj Anand)
It was the festival of spring. From the wintry shades of narrow lanes and alleys emerged a gaily clad humanity. Some walked, some rode on horses, others sat, being carried in bamboo and bullock carts. One little boy ran between his father’s legs, brimming over with life and laughter. “Come, child, come,” called his parents, as he lagged behind, fascinated by the toys in the shops that lined the way.

He hurried towards his parents, his feet obedient to their call, his eyes still lingering on the receding toys. As he came to where they had stopped to wait for him, he could not suppress the desire of his heart, even though he well knew the old, cold stare of refusal in their eyes. “I want that toy,” he pleaded. His father looked at him red-eyed, in his familiar tyrant’s way. His mother, melted by the free spirit of the day was tender and, giving him her finger to hold, said, “Look, child, what is before you!” It was a flowering mustard-field, pale like melting gold as it swept across miles and miles of even land. A group of dragon-flies were bustling about on their gaudy purple wings, intercepting the flight of a lone black bee or butterfly in search of sweetness from the flowers.

The child followed them in the air with his gaze, till one of them would still its wings and rest, and he would try to catch it. But it would go fluttering, flapping, up into the air, when he had almost caught it in his hands. Then his mother gave a cautionary call: “Come, child, come, come on to the footpath.” He ran towards his parents gaily and walked abreast of them for a while, being, however, soon left behind, attracted by the little insects and worms along the footpath that were teeming out from their hiding places to enjoy the sunshine.
“Come, child, come!” his parents called from the shade of a grove where they had seated  themselves on the edge of a well. He ran towards them. A shower of young flowers fell upon the child as he entered the grove, and, forgetting his parents, he began to gather the raining petals in his hands. But lo! he heard the cooing of doves and ran towards his parents, shouting, “The dove! The dove!” The raining petals dropped from his forgotten hands.

“Come, child, come!” they called to the child, who had now gone running in wild capers round the banyan tree, and gathering him up they took the narrow, winding footpath which led to the fair through the mustard fields. As they neared the village the child could see many other footpaths full of throngs, converging to the whirlpool of the fair, and felt at once repelled and fascinated by the confusion of the world he was entering. A sweetmeat seller hawked, “gulab-jaman, rasagulla, burfi, jalebi,” at the corner of the entrance and a crowd pressed round his counter at the foot of an architecture of many coloured sweets, decorated with leaves of silver and gold. The child stared open-eyed and his mouth watered for the burfi that was his favourite sweet. “I want that burfi,” he slowly murmured. But he half knew as he begged that his plea would not be heeded because his parents would say he was greedy. So without waiting for an answer he moved on.

A flower-seller hawked, “A garland of gulmohur, a garland of gulmohur !” The child seemed irresistibly drawn. He went towards the basket where the flowers lay heaped and half
murmured, “I want that garland.” But he well knew his parents would refuse to buy him those flowers because they would say that they were cheap. So, without waiting for an answer, he moved on.  A man stood holding a pole with yellow, red, green and purple balloons flying from it. The child was simply carried away by the rainbow glory of their silken colours and he was filled with an overwhelming desire to possess them all. But he well knew his parents would never buy him the balloons because they would say he was too old to play with such toys. So he walked on farther.

A snake-charmer stood playing a flute to a snake which coiled itself in a basket, its head raised in a graceful bend like the neck of a swan, while the music stole into its invisible ears
like the gentle rippling of an invisible waterfall. The child went towards the snake-charmer. But, knowing his parents had forbidden him to hear such coarse music as the snake- charmer played, he proceeded farther. There was a roundabout in full swing. Men, women and children, carried away in a whirling motion, shrieked and cried with dizzy laughter. The child watched them intently and then he made a bold request: “I want to go on the roundabout, please, Father, Mother.” There was no reply. He turned to look at his parents. They were not there, ahead of him. He turned to look on either side. They were not there. He looked behind. There was no sign of them. A full, deep cry rose within his dry throat and with a sudden jerk of his body he ran from where he stood, crying in real fear, “Mother, Father.” Tears rolled down from his eyes, hot and fierce; his flushed face was convulsed with fear. Panic- stricken, he ran to one side first, then to the other, hither and thither in all directions, knowing not where to go. “Mother, Father,” he wailed. His yellow turban came untied and his clothes became muddy.

Having run to and fro in a rage of running for a while, he stood defeated, his cries suppressed into sobs. At little distances on the green grass he could see, through his filmy eyes, men and women talking. He tried to look intently among the patches of bright yellow clothes, but there was no sign of his father and mother among these people, who seemed to laugh and talk just for the sake of laughing and talking. He ran quickly again, this time to a shrine to which people seemed to be crowding. Every little inch of space here was congested with men, but he ran through people’s legs, his little sob lingering: “Mother, Father!” Near the entrance to the temple, however, the crowd became very thick: men jostled each other, heavy men, with flashing, murderous eyes and hefty shoulders. The poor child struggled to thrust a way between their feet but, knocked to and fro by their brutal movements, he might have been trampled underfoot, had he not shrieked at the highest pitch of his voice, “Father, Mother!” A man in the surging crowd heard his cry and, stooping with great difficulty, lifted him up in his arms. “How did you get here, child? Whose baby are you?” the man asked as he steered clear of the mass. The child wept more bitterly than ever now and only cried, “I want my mother, I want my father!”
The man tried to soothe him by taking him to the roundabout. “Will you have a ride on the horse?” he gently asked as he approached the ring. The child’s throat tore into a thousand shrill sobs and he only shouted: “I want my mother, I want my father!” The man headed towards the place where the snake- charmer still played on the flute to the
swaying cobra. “Listen to that nice music, child!” he pleaded. But the child shut his ears with his fingers and shouted his double-pitched strain: “I want my mother, I want my father!” The man took him near the balloons, thinking the bright colours of the balloons would distract the child’s attention and quieten him. “Would you like a rainbow-coloured balloon?” he persuasively asked. The child turned his eyes from the flying balloons and just sobbed, “I want my mother, I want my father!” The man, still trying to make the child happy, bore him to the gate where the flower-seller sat.  “Look! Can you smell those nice flowers, child! Would you like a garland to put round your neck?” The child turned his nose away from the basket and reiterated his sob: “I want my mother, I want my father!”

Thinking to humour his disconsolate charge by a gift of sweets, the man took him to the counter of the sweet shop. “What sweets would you like, child?” he asked. The child turned
his face from the sweet shop and only sobbed, “I want my mother, I want my father!”

The value of remaining positive and beating procrastination.

Procrastination does to you mentally what paralysis makes you physically. I agree it is a strong statement, but that is what truly affects most of us, who fall prey to this life debilitating condition. There are times howsoever positive minded you may be, the events and happenings on a particular day or issue might leave you negative. If you do not pay heed to the developing symptoms,  it would repel the success that knocks on your door once in a while.

There are so many incidents in our lives if we trace back personal history, where we had got ample opportunities to prove ourselves, but negative thoughts assisted by the procrastination habit had closed doors to potentially successful avenues or ventures.

Imagine  getting a call from an old time friend, about a lead in business, but you don’t turn up, or give the lead a call, as mental cobwebs in your thinking force you not to pick up on the lead. You get a call letter for an interview or get selected for a course. You do not turn up for both, and still continue searching for other avenues out of your grasp.

You get a good opportunity to patch up with your colleague or a friend, but you just leave it and lose out on friendship, that could have been revived, had you used that opportunity.

During my work history in the Middle East, i was trying desperately to close a software implementation in payment systems at a bank, for more than 6 months, but the user was always bringing out his negative examples of how the software had glitches with the payment hardware, and thereby delaying the user acceptance. I had almost given it up, of ever getting the user acceptance.

One fine day, i got a call from a Project Manager from the bank’s side, who had assumed responsibility recently, and was looking at such delayed projects. He asked me, if i could meet him and the user in half an hour time in the payments department. Maybe he was also trying to test our response time. I said – Yes, and put the handset in its cradle.

Procrastination and negative thoughts dormant as they are, in some part of our thinking process, immediately started getting activated and started to weave their cobwebs. But i was out of my office in a minute and hailed a cabbie before they could get hold of me and force me not to go. The rest of the story as they say is history, as the PM asked the user in my presence, as to how much of his time was lost in what he referred to as software glitches. These  were in fact hardware timeouts, where we had provided a software solution springing the machine back in no less than 5 secs. He asked him, how many such timeouts happened in his clearing time of 4 hours. Maybe, 2 or 3 times,he said, now on the defensive and sounding meek. The PM : “Ok, can you sign the acceptance form, if you have no other issues?” in a tone that had a air of loaded machine guns.

This example just shows how we can beat procrastination by immediate action and the DO IT NOW principle, so very well illustrated in the book by Napolean Hill and Clement Stone –  Success with a Positive Mental Attitude, link of which is pasted below for your convenience.

http://books.google.co.in/books?id=NA1vDgWzAsIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=napoleon+hill&hl=en&sa=X&ei=G1sxUp7rCsbJrAf1gYGQDw&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=napoleon%20hill&f=false.

The Lost Explorer

In search of gold, I land in a forest
where in plenty, are ants of all sorts
that would add to potential costs
as with bites they force me to rest.

I take a long discarded canoe
with a treasure map in hand
that would direct me to the gold
held and lost by an incredible tribe.

In the land of piranha and reptiles,
where the snake and the wolf make
their solo appearance in the dark,
I for one would be at my wit’s end
as to stand still or break into a run.

During my wanderings, I come upon
a deserted hut, that is for me to berth
to lodge myself away from the animals
who are all out as one, to dislodge my
plans and myself from this very earth.

I wake up to see the remnants of my boat
that has been destroyed by some creature
that went this way, and luckily missed me
and was i surprised to see my bag gone
with all it had that I could subsist on.

I will have to roam again as a fugitive,
as a  person who lost his coordinates,
and hoping for others to come in search,
of me, a treasure for my beloved ones.

The much awaited flight

Having caught my prey
I make up my mind
to get ready to soar
above the nearby hills
to my hut on the cliff.

Putting the final thrust
I lunge forward to take
the wind in my feathers
that helps me glide slowly
over the fields now left behind.

The snake between my claws
is already a dead case
but will make fresh food
for my little ones that await
my flight to arrive in time.

Branding Birthdays

I woke up to the sound of
birds chirping and the
bard singing his tunes.
In the distance, a church
bell rang in sweet chimes.

Down in the street, there
appeared a few people
celebrating some event.
With bugles and trumpets
they were all ready to start.

The wind had a fragrance
and a vibrance never seen
before, and yet little
flowers kept beckoning it
to keep them swaying.

I wondered what it could be
memorable as it seemed to be
and then remembered it to be
a special day, that could only be
a day to cherish, Your Birthday!

A pet candidate

When I need a pet, whom I can pet

sure you will bet, it would be a cat.

I don’t mind having curly skin

keeping  paces with me as i walk.

but the moment I step on him,

he screeches and scratches.

I would love to have a dog as a pet

he has so much love that he places

on the platter ready to lick you,

at every single opportunity you offer.

But when  you try to take his plate away

he barks and almost bites me,

leaving  me in the dark, lonely and alone…