Mumbai's Good People
If I complained about Mumbai's mean people, I must write about it's good people too, now that the time has come.
On a dark Mumbai night, amongst torrential downpour, streets water logged with knee deep muddy rain water, the Kranti family came back home, drenched to their skin, only to realise that we had locked ourselves out. It was 1 a. m. No, we were not going to get a locksmith anywhere this time of the night. No, we had not left an extra key with anyone else. We looked around helplessly. Our youngest- 8 and 11 years, were sleeping sitting on the staircase, tired and passed out. The others shivering from the cold breeze passing through their soaked clothes.
Robin and I started looking through our phone list. Who could we call at 1 30 a. m.? John Francis Abraham, 3 floors above us opened the door in a sleepy daze. "We can't open our apartment door, John." He thought we meant the door was jammed. So he trundled down 3 flights of stairs and started pushing at our door. "What are you trying to do, John? John?!"
"Opening your door," he mumbled, eyes half-shut.
"We've locked ourselves out and you can't break down our door. We need to sleep in your living room."
John gave us more than his living room. He gave us his bedroom, the 2 pairs of clothes he had, his sleeping bag and his only blanket, and went to sleep himself on the cold marble living room floor covered in a towel.
Ronaan Roy, two streets down, our angel dancing on a pin-head, who volunteered teaching our girls 4 hours a day after work. Tonight he sheltered us. Dried the girls heads with his towel, fed them cornflakes and milk, gave them his mattress.
And then, there was Dinesh Mali, two houses down. I walked into his apartment, teeth clattering, soaked through and through, arms folded in front of me to cover my silk top, become see-through in the rain. He opened his cupboard for me, and his sister her kitchen.
At 3 a. m., everyone was dry, clothed, fed and sheltered. In these terrible couple of hours, terrified that the young ones would get pneumonia, that we would have to spend the night wandering the streets, the street dogs barking under dim neon lights- I knew that Mumbai was also filled with good people, ready to give us what's there's. And I know we are going to be ok, tonight, and every night.