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From the air Mumbai is a patchwork of blue. It is as if somebody has taken a load those bags you get at Ikea and randomly thrown them out of an airplane, forming a metropolis quilt  that any Amish mother in law would be proud of.


To Indians this blue tarpaulin is probably the third greatest invention, close on the heels of the wheel and cricket. It is everywhere. I half expect the stuff to appear on the commodities market, next to gold, corn and pork bellies.


According to Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, shelter and warmth is right in there with the pysiological needs, vying for position with other needs like water, food and excretion. So this blue plastic is an essential part of Indian survival. It is difficult to have your eyes open and not have some of this blue wonder material occupying a large part of the picture.


When our office’s roof sprung a leak in the last monsoon downpour. The action taken was to tie down some of this blue plastic and the problem went away. I am sure there is no long term  plan to fix the problems, but if it arises again I’m sure another sheet of this blue stuff will be on hand and readily dispatched.


Likewise, any self respecting slum or pavement dwelling cannot be, unless it is festooned with this magic material and its amazing capabilities to keep out water. If it didn’t exist, then the poor would just get wet.


The question that arises in my head is why blue? There is limited supplies of white, often used for covering stalls selling complete rubbish by the station, but predominantly it is blue. India being a nation of colour, with its ladies elaborately adorned in a rainbow of saris, and spices of every colour imaginable and then there is Bollywood a technicolour extravaganza, but this ethos does not come down to the humble tarpaulin. Blue is what you get.


Maybe this is a business idea for some up coming entrepreneur “Maslov’snot blue tarpaulin company”. Any colour you want, so long as it isn’t blue, guaranteed to keep you on top of that hierarchy of needs and keep you up with the Joneses or Kamals.

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