Matunga is beautiful this Sunday morning. Trees watch over roads as sentinels, while dogs and cats prance under them. A few people claim the road as they exercise with cars deferring to them.
Five trucks filled with bananas are being unloaded at the market near the station — there are few other humans in sight. Fluffy clouds float overhead and change hue as the sun rises.
Matunga is empty.
Ram Ashray is packed.
While entering, i see people in black hoodies, short black dresses, form-fitting pants, boots and the occasional skirt contrasted against pyjamas, shorts, mundus and banyaans. It makes for a great visual, one that i am a part of too.
Cars and bikes are densely parked outside the entrance. People are waiting in a line sufficiently long for me to curse myself for reaching this early. Places around here will open at 07:00 and that future, is still 50 minutes away.
Hunger is my present.
“Akelaa kaun hai yahaan?” a person working there asks as a seat opens up. I sit at the side table for two and wait. There’s time to watch people stomping in circles, eyeing other groups having their fill and creating a din reminiscent of a night refusing to end. Some people are wired, while others needs lubricants — coffee and tea — to get their wiring in order.
The man opposite me is listening to something on Youtube. He is holding his phone to his left cheek and despite the low volume, the sound of the naadaswaram wafts across. Anything to drown this noise.
The people serving are criss-crossing tables in patterns that remind me of pieces on a chess board, moving with precision to avoid all the other people and tables in their path. The person serving this table is wearing white clothes and has a black mask. He finally takes notice and takes the order.
A highly sugar-charged filter coffee and idli podi later, i am done. The crowd is maddening and a Sunday breakfast seems like a lost cause here.
I pay, step out and the rush ebbs away. The sun is now streaking across the trees. Matunga is beautiful this Sunday morning.