The stench emanating from the Mithi river has apparently been disturbing Balasaheb Thackeray. Of course, relevant authorities have been informed and the needful will no doubt be done. As an unfortunate who has been suffering the stench of living next to a mangrove filled creek, I fully sympathise with the SS head. It is difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you’re wandering through garbage dumps in your dreams. It is difficult to breathe free and easy when the stench slaps you in the face and knocks you senseless.
When we bought our flat, located in the plush new Mindspace area in Malad, we were floored by the wide clear roads. Coming from the congestion from an area called Dahanukarwadi in Kandivali where, if I put on a couple of extra kilos my hips could block the entire width of the strip of asphalt masquerading as road, this was wide clear road heaven to me. I could have knelt down and kissed it. And the compound of the building. Open. Wide. Unlike our previous building where, if you happened to be the first in the evening to park your car, you needed to knock on every other door in the building to get folks to remove their cars to let you out. And good help you if there was an emergency necessitating taking the car out in the dead of the night, you would reach the hospital faster running on foot. And the flooding in every monsoon, where we stocked on candles and pretended we were stranded on a deserted island, and went for days without electricity and water. Those were the days. But at least we breathed stench free air.
Anyway. To come back to moot point under discussion. The stench. There was none when we came to view the place. For the first time. The second time. And through the many times we came back to supervise the interiors being done after we’d mortgaged our souls to the devil for the EMIs on the massive loan taken for the honour to live in such a wonderful, wide open, clean road locality. We moved in and have lived here happily ever after. For one and a half years to be precise. Until the stink hit.
Recently. During the monsoons. The stench, the stench. Like rotting animal carcasses trapped in the mangroves. I lived through those days with a clothes clip on my nose. Any attempt at a lengthy conversation led to involuntary gagging with the stench crawling down your throat and choking you with its odiousness. A regular walk in the park was a fight against collapsing midround due to unabashed attack on olfactory organ with stench. The children refused to play in the park, and preferred to sit home watching back to back cartoons rather than go down and be forced to breathe in the stench. Luckily, the swine flu mania happened at around the same time and it was perfectly acceptable to tie disposable masks around one’s face and step out in a public situation. The rotting carcass stench went away for a couple of days. We breathed free air with the hungry gasps of the oxygen deprived. And then it returned. Wham. With such redoubled fury that all our french windows were shut day and night should we want to keep our innards toxin free. I swear the ferocity of the stench burnt up all my nostril hair. We singlehandedly were responsible for the steep rise in the sales of air fresheners. I think we probably emptied out a can a day in the house during peak stink days. We seriously contemplated running to the hills to escape it. And then, as suddenly as it had come, it disappeared, only to be replaced by a stinking rotting fish smell that hung around morosely, tainting even the food that we ate. We lived with hangdog expressions, wondering whether selling off the flat and moving to the foothills of the Himalayas would be a more prudent decision than this foolhardiness of dying through slow olfactory abuse. Or whether it would be worth the investment to fit in oxygen chambers in the dry areas of every house.
Finally the stench disappeared. Coincidentally, the monsoon ended too. We all breathed deep breaths of relief. Now we wait for the onset of the next monsoon with our nostrils geared to face the challenge. Dont be surprised if you wander into the Malad Mindspace area next July and find people moving around with helmetlike masks with oxygen tanks on their backs. Or maybe, I might just move to the Himalayas.