A walk in the sky – 4: Sion Skywalk

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Mumbai and I am standing at the foot of the stairs leading up to the Sion Skywalk at the Sion Circle exit. The skywalk’s stairs are so close to the adjacent building that they appear to be an extension or appendage of the building itself! In fact, I can just lean over and tap on the windows from the stairs if I want to.

Once on the skywalk, I just take a moment to pause and look around. I like skywalks in general as I like the pleasurable feeling of being suspended mid-air and watching the world go by. I also like the perspective that skywalks offer, almost like a bird’s-eye view. But the first thing I notice here is not the view, but the relentless noise — a combination of the roar of traffic and incessant honking. And this is a sound that threatens to bring on a headache at 9.30 am in the morning !

Don't be fooled by the almost empty road below the Sion Skywalk ! The traffic noise was unbearable

Don’t be fooled by the almost empty road below the Sion Skywalk ! The traffic noise was unbearable

The Sion Skywalk, which stretches from Sion Circle to Sion Railway Station, is built at a major interchange, where traffic from Mumbai’s Western and Central suburbs meet. Inaugurated just over 2 years back, the Sion Skywalk is built in the shape of an exaggerated and a squiggly “Y” with 6 exits, of which one leads directly into the Our Lady of Good Counsel School (OLGCS). It was built keeping in mind the many schools, offices and commuters in the area and with the expectation that 50,000 commuters would use it everyday.

And does the Rs. 6 crore skywalk live up to that expectation? Let’s see…

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A walk in the sky – 3: Cotton Green Skywalk

An article titled “Walking all over locals’ lives” in today’s The Times of India talks about how the construction of (some) skywalks in Mumbai has led to the loss of privacy for residents who live along the skywalks as passers-by on the skywalk can look into the houses level with the skywalk. My recent visit to the Cotton Green Skywalk underscores this observation. Take a look at the picture below.

Looking in, not looking out

Now, the Cotton Green Skywalk does not really pass within handshaking distance of the houses like the ones mentioned in the article, but it is still uncomfortably close. Without any effort whatsoever, I was able to hear every cuss word hurled between two neighbours quarreling over something (over and above the traffic din); and saw a man tying his pajamas, and another one reading his morning newspaper. And no, tempting as it was, I didn’t photograph any of these. I felt guilty enough witnessing this!

Last Saturday I went skywalking at Cotton Green. Till very recently what I knew about Cotton Green could actually fall within the 140 characters of a Twitter update—it is an eastern suburb of Mumbai, a station on Central Railway’s suburban Harbour line, and home to the stunning art noveau Cotton Exchange Building, that I would always look out for whenever I crossed the station. That’s it. It was not really interesting enough to get off and go exploring.

Cotton Green Station

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A walk in the sky – 2: Chembur Skywalk

Last week, I took a walk on the Chembur Skywalk. While trying to take a photograph of the skywalk from one of its 3 currently operating exits, I gathered a crowd of some curious onlookers. The conversation that ensued went something like this:

“Are you a journalist?” one of them asked.

“No. I am not a journalist,” I said.

“Then why do you want to take pictures of the skywalk?” another one asked.

“Because, I am writing a series on Mumbai’s skywalks for my blog, and the Chembur skywalk is the next one to be featured,” I replied.

“Then you are a journalist,” the group said triumphantly.

“No, I am not a journalist,” I said a little more forcefully.

“Look, madam,” said one of the persistent onlookers, “why would anybody want to photograph and write about the skywalk? It is not a film hero or heroine. Only journalists write about such things. If you don’t want anyone to know that you are a journalist, fine. But we know that you are a journalist. A serious journalist.”

“It’s ok,” said another. “We won’t even ask which paper you work for.”

I gave up. There were 3-4 khaki-clad people in the group who decided that I should not be “pestered” by the others. Shooing them off, they introduced themselves as BMC employees who worked in the area and said that they would very gladly be my “informers” about the Chembur Skywalk.

View of the Chembur Skywalk from the Sadguru Kadam Baba Garden

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A walk in the sky – 1: Bandra Skywalk

Over the last 2 years or so, elevated pedestrian walkways connecting suburban railway stations to nearby commercial areas have been sprouting all over Mumbai. Known as skywalks, the first one was inaugurated at the Kalanagar junction of the Western Express Highway in 2008. Today, many more are functional all over Mumbai. Somehow, I never got a chance to take a walk in one of these till last Saturday. I was on my way from Vashi to Borivali via Bandra.

It was 9.30 in the morning when my bus from Vashi deposited me near the Hill Road exit of the Bandra Skywalk. I had to walk up to Bandra Station to take a train to Borivali. From where I stood on the road, the skywalk was lit up by the mellow January morning sun making it irresistibly welcoming. Not to mention the fact I would encounter no traffic at all on the skywalk!

Walking on a skywalk is actually quite surreal. It is quite unlike travelling on a flyover or an elevated road in a fast-moving vehicle, while the world around you appears to be stationary. The skywalk’s experience is quite the opposite with you being stationary with the world rushing by. I could get a bird’s-eye view of the Bandra Talao as well as a peek into the BEST Bus depot—places that one would not get to see with such a perspective. I felt like I was suspended somewhere up in the sky, not altogether an unpleasant feeling. Thankfully, the skywalk did not pass near residences or I would have felt like a voyeur, the way I do whenever I travel on the JJ flyover or the Sion flyover in Mumbai!

So, what are you waiting for? Come, take a walk with me in the sky at Bandra :-)

Bandra Skywalk from Hill Road to Bandra Station

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