My aunt Hilla is eighty four years old. She holds a master’s degree in mathematics, hates housework and cooking, is unmarried and has been working since her early twenties. She still goes to work every day in a BEST bus and we tease her that she spends more on her transport than she earns and only visits her office to surf the internet on a computer which is virus free and under a maintenance contract. Hilla is fiercely independent and refuses to let her soul and body compromise to comfort. Like a lot of elderly people in Mumbai, her share portfolio and extravagance are inversely proportional.
Last Friday, Hilla was crossing the road at the pedestrian zebra crossing in front of Asiatic Library, near Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai. She waited till the traffic light turned red, the pedestrian light turned green and trudged across the road. A driver in a fancy car was impervious to her and decided to accelerate before the signal changed. He hit Hilla with his car and thirty five kilograms of my frail aunt fell down on the road. The driver stepped out of his car, picked her up, plonked her on the pavement and drove away. Hundreds of Mumbaiwallahs passed her by and did not admonish the driver or help her. Her head was buzzing; she felt dizzy and was trembling. She just sat on the pavement for a while. A woman who is worth a fortune but is under estimated because of her unpretentious demeanour.
A driver in the BEST bus that she frequently took saw her on the pavement. The driver stopped the bus on the road and asked the conductor to assist her and bring her up. They asked her what had happened and told her that they would ensure that she reached home safely. The driver stopped the bus near her south Mumbai flat. The proud lady had recovered slightly and said that she would be able to walk to her flat. She luckily did not break any bones but is in pain and is on bed rest.
Face it dear Mumbaiwallahs, it is this apathy to the environment that is taking the city downwards. The last quarter of 2009 was the first time ever that the number of new companies incorporated in Delhi was higher than Mumbai.