Dear Mumbai, If You Can Go For a 9 am Joker Show, Surely You Can Make it to a Poll Booth?


Dear Mumbai, If You Can Go For a 9 am Joker Show, Surely You Can Make it to a Poll Booth?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Dear Indifferent Mumbaikar,

I know you look forward to the “holiday list” email from HR more than Akshay Kumar looks forward to asking the PM, “Narendra Modiji ko jab zukaam lagta hai tab kya karte hain?” And that’s only fair. We are the most overworked city in the world. And who does not want to escape the 38°C heat in Mumbai to enjoy the 35°C heat in Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, or Matheran instead?

But let me remind you, in case you’ve forgotten about it amid this Joker and WAR frenzy, it’s election season. Monday is voting day and most offices have declared the day off, so you can go out and exercise your franchise. It is a weekend followed by a Monday holiday. Most of you smart ones might already have done the math and are probably planning to call in sick or have a dead grandparent die again on Tuesday. If not the hill stations, you are likely to take that trip to Goa and sweat it out at Anjuna along with other VIP-clad uncles.   

But if you don’t want more roads to cave in and bridges to collapse, if you want more public toilets and a prettier city, I’d strongly advise you to reconsider your weekend plans. There it comes, the eye roll. You might not care about the candidates or the issues, but you sure as hell care about those inked selfies on Instagram. No no, don’t deny it please. The last time most of you probably got ink on your fingers was in Class V when ballpoints were not allowed at school.

Even though they spam our feed and are cringey AF, if the desire for a selfie is what it will take to get you out of your house and vote, we will bear with it. Especially you, great snobs of SoBo, who photographed themselves in queues when Starbucks opened its first outlet in Mumbai. On behalf of every Mumbaikar on the platform, I assure you we’ll put up with it.

Dear Mumbaikars, there’s only one way to be woke this April – by voting.

Let me illustrate my keenness with a few numbers. In 2014, Mumbai had a voter turnout of 53 per cent, the highest since 1991, but like our Math grades in school, things could be a lot better. One in two people still didn’t vote. If the 9 am Joker show at Inorbit Mall, Malad can run houseful on a working day, there is no excuse for us not to show up at the voting booth a few kilometres away. If nothing else, we should be motivated by our hatred of Dilliwallahs and try to trump their 67 per cent turnout in 2015. We’ve got to show at least those wannabes that we are better.

Just a gentle reminder: Maharashtra is the highest income-tax paying state in India, and Mumbai is its MVP. Yet Mumbai’s infrastructure has been crumbling faster than Raj Thackeray’s political career. Over the years, the hollow “spirit of Mumbai” has been invoked so many times to distract us from security lapses that lead to terror attacks, rank incompetency that causes bridges to collapse, or gross negligence that causes massive fires or stampedes that it’s not even a joke anymore.

Just conjure up the anger you felt when you saw that Game of Thrones finale. Now take that anger and replace the indifference you feel when the city crumbles.

You still need a reason to vote? Let me give you a few. If it takes you two hours to travel 15 kilometres on Western Express Highway or SV Road every day, then that’s a reason to worry. If you travel by train and break one bone daily at Dadar in the mad rush, then that’s a reason to vote. If the gully outside your house has more potholes than the pimples you had on your face as an adolescent, something is not right. If you live in Aarey Colony or near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and see leopards roaming in your area instead of stray dogs, then that’s a reason to vote. If water runs out in your area faster than a politician’s promise, something is rotten in the state of Mumbai.

Dear Mumbaikars, there’s only one way to be woke this October – by voting. Go out and get inked. You can pick the BJP-Sena, the Congress, or an independent. Heck, if you haven’t googled your candidates yet, go for NOTA.

Vote as passionately as you voted for Abhijeet Sawant over Amit Sana (you heartless beasts) during the first season of Indian Idol. Because the real MVP of this election is you.  

A Fellow Mumbaikar