Saturday, June 30, 2007

Say ‘SORRY’ Essel World!!!

Saturday, 23rd June, Essel World, Mumbai’s acclaimed amusement park, turned out to be a nightmare for visitors. Scores of people were stranded at exit point in the park drenched in continuous heavy showers and cold winds for over three hours. What added to woes was the endless wait in the severe conditions for a way out. Ferry service, the primary mode of transportation from the island park to Gorai and Marve creeks, had been affected. After initial one or two ferries at about 7 p.m., the next ferry came in as late as 10 p.m. Meanwhile, a single bus was brought in to move people via road. But the bus cramped in people like cattle and took almost 45-50 minutes for each round trip. A jeep did try to help visitors out. Effectively though, movement of the number of people was sluggish.

Disheartening was the dismal handling of the situation by park authorities during the waiting process. A tiny shed sheltered a handful of people while others got drenched in the furious rains. Unprepared visitors from as far as Punjab, Rajasthan, Kutch and even local crowds struggled for cover. The site was particularly pitiable as parents tried to protect shivering wet tiny tots and crying infants with dupattas and thin towels. There was unrest all around and even slogans of ‘Essel World Sucks!’ went up in the air. But that did not affect the authorities much, or so it seemed. There was no attempt to transfer the people into some room or shed inside the park as the people continued getting wet in the rains idly. Fingers turned numb and white, but authorities did not make any comforting announcements or arrangements as the crowds jostled for information and some relief. People feared if they would be able to actually get out that night. There were fears of train services getting terminated due to flooding of tracks. Besides, with phone networks down there, no communication was possible. What was worse was that lower rung staff near the exit was casual and stood under protective coverage of shops inside. One-two of them even moved around with huge garden restaurant umbrellas singly for themselves which could have provided roof to many people. Finally, a ferry did come in at about 10 p.m. But then the rains hit harder and people scampered to catch it. Some decided it was not worth the risk to travel in ferry with lashing waves, and decided to wait for the bus. As the loaded ferry precariously navigated in the strong currents and winds, people kept fingers crossed and prayed to be out of the ordeal. The transit process continued even after that.

While it is understandable that such situations do occur, what was expected was a better management from Essel World authorities, who could have at least helped people get under some roof rather than leaving them wet and frustrated. A visitor fumed that in lieu of high admission rates (Rs. 480 for weekends), it was a callous attitude and service. Indeed, but more than money, it is moral duty of park officials to take care of their guests. Who would bear responsibility if some infant or child, or for that matter any adult, got sick as a consequence of the incident during the incident or even after? What if there had been a major stampede of agitated visitors? Besides, knowing the approaching monsoons, why aren’t larger sheds in place and alternate arrangements ready? Why is the staff uninitiated and lax in tackling such conditions? Are these the kind of memories Essel World wants people to carry home about them? We hope not. But this time, the park authorities must accept their lapse in response and apologize to patrons with no excuses.

(This piece was rejected for publication in a major daily of Mumbai city despite best efforts. Perhaps, using newsprint to discuss whether Madhuri Dixit still retains her charm or not was more important. Maybe, the negligence on part of Essel World and the inconvenience caused to people didn't matter to them who claim to showcase 'Mumbai Talking'. Shame on them!!!)


Raj said...

very Not done, simply put!!!

Maxim said...

Very impressively outspoken, my friend! Not unexpected, but still very impressive...