On India’s 59th Independence Day, Mumbai wore a tri-colored look and people everywhere were celebrating Independence Day in their own way. Walking down the vegetable market near my house, all the vegetable vendors had put up flags which were either tied to their stall or even stuck into the tomatoes or potatoes that they were selling. Many street children were selling flags of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately for some years now, plastic flags have come into the market in a big way.
Ahead, outside Grant Road station, many people including senior citizens from the area had gathered for a flag hoisting ceremony. Many people had worn Gandhi topis and a politician came and hoisted the flag amid some speeches and singing of ‘Vande Mataram’. Thousands of such ceremonies must have taken place at various places in Bombay including the August Kranti Maidan at Gowalia Tank, Mani Bhavan, Mantralaya and all government offices.
There was tight security at Grant Road station with lots of policemen at the entrances. The trains were moderately full. People had small tri-colored flags pinned onto the shirts on their chests. Children were carrying flags and also tri-colored pinwheels.
On my way to the WSD kennels, I passed the Dhobi Ghat (at Mahalakshmi). For them it was a normal working day and they were busy going about washing the clothes in the little washing place compartments. Some dhobis had flags tied to the handles of their cycles carrying big bundles of clothes brought in for washing and ironing. I could hear the sound of patriotic songs like Meri Desh Ki Dharti coming from a loudspeaker inside the Dhobi Ghat. In the slum outside the kennels, all the houses had put up paper or plastic flags. One flag was already hoisted on a make shift pole and another was being hoisted as I was passing. The resident had worn a Gandhi topi specifically for the purpose. As the kennels are located in the premises of the BMC Dog License Department, a flag had already been hoisted there. Many taxis had flags on their dashboards. The Ganapati Idol makers too had put up flags in their tents and I could see that they had finished coloring many of the Ganapati idols.
All offices have a holiday on Independence Day but I could see uniformed school children on their way back home after the attending the Independence Day function in their schools. BEST bus services were few as any other holiday but the trains were full of people going out to visit relatives and friends.