(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)
It was when I missed the last suburban train that I realised the city that never sleeps actually takes a nap. After a late evening movie show at a multiplex, I thought, my friend and I could make it on time for the last train. But alas! That night proved that Mumbai is no longer the city that never sleeps. Hence, I was stranded at Dadar from 1:45 am to 4:30 am till the first train arrived.
As a college student, I had limited money on me; no ATM card as well. In such a case, my sole option was to wait until morning to get the first train. My friend and I couldn’t afford a cab, and to our terrible luck, we were both going in different directions – he towards South Mumbai and I was headed for north. A couple of cops came up to us to inspect if all was good.
It then occurred that Mumbai’s suburban trains snooze for about three hours to complete the sequence of the day. We decided to sit at a bus stop, as there was no public place that was open at that hour. A handful of buses were awake on the road, but not wide-awake to halt at any bus station. Cab drivers doing their 7:00 pm to 7:00 am shift approached us, but we were not capable of paying the normal fare let alone the night charges.
On one of my recent visits to Goa, a friend and I decided to go out for coffee after stuffing ourselves with a sumptuous dinner that comprised everything meat and fish. Being born and brought up in South Goa, I rarely stepped out of the house after 8:00 pm. But this night, I was out past midnight. We rode till Colva beach and walked towards the shore. I nudged my friend and asked if we could go to the beach at that hour. He replied with a confused look on his face. So I had to narrate the story.
About two years ago, after an event at one of the five star hotels in Juhu in Mumbai, a group of friends thought we could sit by the sea. So following our idea, we walked towards the shore, and were shocked to witness a chase by the Mumbai cops. Since then I started to believe that we couldn’t visit a beach after midnight. However, we took a cab and headed to our respective homes.
Today, when we say that Mumbai is the city of dreams, it’s non-negotiable. But when we say that this city never sleeps, we are definitely going wrong in our perception. If you compare the number of clubs that exist today with those that existed five years ago, the number has the answer. If you were a party-hopper, you will know what I’m trying to convey. No nightclub has the permission to operate post 1:30 am. Even before the clock freezes its hands on one and six, a Mumbai police van will halt outside the nightclub. More often it’s not the clubs that generate noise, but it’s the people who are congregating in front of the club.
As laid down by the Maharashtra government, nightclubs should bring down their shutters by 1:30 am so that even the neighbourhood is released from the constant party-animal rant.