Part of my work requires me to travel from Pune to Mumbai with a colleague every fortnight. We go to several hospitals to collect clinical samples. Today was one such trip, the first after July 26. We left Pune in a hired car at 8:30 AM.
The view was fantastic - green-liveried hills with silver bands all over them, and the lakes and rivers shimmering the same sterling hues. So was the ride - a fast car on the expressway always gives a thrill. The problem was the driver. He was a stubborn fellow, not quite given to obedience. He refused to stop at the foodcourt at Malavli, preferring a shack near Kalamboli which he liked.
Mumbai was crazy. It took us two hours to move from Belapur to Mahim, the same time it took us from Pune to Navi Mumbai! The work details can be skipped, since it is too technical in nature. Except that we had one patient's father (all our patients are terminally ill infants), who was showing off a very contrived American accent. It was a mystery to Aijaz and me: if he comes from America, why not take the best medical help there, rather than come to us? We are a rudimentary research lab in this field, and offer no competitition to the US of A. He got Aijaz so turned off, that we nearly refused to take the sample.
From Hinduja Hospital at Mahim where the above incident happened we moved to Wadia Children's Hospital at Parel. Not before our driver gave us an impromptu tour of large parts of Mumbai. He wouldn't stop to ask for directions. Wadia Hospital takes in poorer patients, and the staff there are more endearing. Though Hinduja is better off, we always find it a pleasure to go to Wadia. Of course, the disease we study is a hopeless genetic one, with no cure available, be ye rich or poor.
The return journey was fun. Our driver for his faults was quite a safe motorist, refusing to drive at anything above 80 kmph. Except that he had a tendency to look rather long(ingly) at billboards of the movie Barsaat, which sent shivers through our spines as we feared a crash. The city is chock-full of these billboards, with the lead actors leaving nothing to one's imagination. There is nothing sublime about this supposed remake of Sweet Home Alabama.
As the fog descended over the hills and enveloped the traffic, it gave off a sweet smell like what could make me fall in love with the nearest girl. Sadly, it also bore heavily the stench of burnt fuel. And the colours, green, green and more green, interspersed with silver, silver and more silver. No other colour present, no other colour desired. Brown and black, in the form of crumbling industrial buildings, allow me to spin a story. A story of nature reclaiming her glory in front of mankind's triumphant march of progress. And then night falls, the colours swirl into each other, and in the eeriness, sleep overcomes a tired soul.
The lights of Pune wake me up, and I'm home at 10:30 PM.