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Sunday, 23 September 2007

Builders of Mumbai are knocking on our doors....

Every Thursdays and Sundays for over two hours, there is a spiritual discourse of the religious gathering in the open compound, at the end of the lane. During these two days, the lane is converted into a crowded, busy, market place with a people selling food stuff, fruits and vegetables. But that noise and crowd is acceptable to the residents of this lane because the tranquility return after two hours of commotion and traffic. 36th road of Bandra is the lane that has cradled my building for more than 40 years. Although this lane is clubbed between two busy roads, S V Road and Linking road, it maintains its silence and its serenity. During the early morning hours, you can hear the chirping of the birds through the thick foliage that border this lane and during the late evening, the lane is filled with sweet fragrance of flowers and leaves. It is the lane that has no shanties and no serious architectural disasters except one, which is under re-development plan. Each building in this lane stands proudly. There are no beggars, no slums nor are there any yawning garbage cans. On sunny afternoons, the ground is spotted with intricate designs made by the rays that pass through the rows of green flowery trees on both sides of the lane. It is believed to be one of the cleanest streets of Bandra. It maintains its cleanliness and ownership by driving out every family of beggar that attempt to spread their tattered sheet at the corner of its street. However, beggars are allowed to rest for a while and they are permitted temporary residence but not for more than twenty four hours. There are security guards posted on both ends of the lane to ensure the safety and security of the residents in this lane. The salary of these security guards is billed against maintenance tax of every resident. The lane is tarred regularly with cheap material that lasts for one season or six months. Using a cheap material is the norm in Mumbai city and it is no different in this lane too. Two years ago, this lane was decorated with potted plants. To stop the stink from the drainage pipes, the gutters on both sides of the lane were covered with huge concrete slabs and a wall of two feet was raised around them. Investment was made on mud, soil and plants to make the street look colorful and beautiful. It has thence, become the walking plaza for health conscious people, who stroll in this lane after dinner. Many of them walk their pets, who poo at dark corners behind the parked cars. Many dogs have found their mates here. Stray dogs have a peaceful existence too, with their regular supply of meals provided by some kind hearted, dog-loving residents. This lane is a zonal paradise for those who are looking for free parking space. During the day, all the rich students of the nearby colleges park their cars in this lane. During late evenings, visitors from various suburbs, visit Bandra for shopping or a movie, drive into this lane to find a free parking spot. The residents don’t mind these parked cars if they are shiny and of good brand. But if they are dusty and are parked for too days then there is whimper from the sulky folks who force those dusty cars to move away. Grumpy residents of this lane don’t like anything ugly to pollute their lane, because they love to enjoy the view of this green laced lane from their balcony or from window. On the days, when there is nothing interesting to watch besides K-series of family drama on TV, they prefer to gawk at the young college crowd that walk down this lane throughout the day, especially, those teen-aged couples, who walk, their hands entwined, lovey-dovey’s style, stealing brief kisses behind those shiny expensive cars. Many of those college students surround the idliwallah, a rice cake hawker, who has found an unlicensed spot, under the shade of bougainvillea, near to an abandoned architectural salad of broken stones, tins and poles. This iddliwallah is pampered by the residents, some of them offering him buckets of water for washing and cleaning. Everyday morning, at 11 am, he comes to this lane on his bicycle. His bicycle is a portable kitchen, fully equipped with stove, steamer, batter for idlis, sambar, chutney, wadas and utensils. He serves tiny, steaming hot rice cakes with spicy sambar and chutney, which is appreciated by the college crowd and the lazy residents of this lane. He returns home everyday as soon as he finishes all the food-stuff. In the evenings, idliwallah is replaced by bhel puri wallah who comes to occupy this unlicensed spot. Bhel puri wallah brings bhel and pani puri in his huge basket and is parked at this spot for over two hours. He is boon to the residents because he saves them from the hassle of cooking and can be summoned to the house to serve the invitees, and all guests love his tasty panipuri and batatapuri. Outside the lane, on both ends of the street, there is a long queue of builders, waiting to raze down the old building and built Shanghais that Mumbai has promised to build. Will the resident get enticed with the green wads of notes that are promised to them for a secured future? Will they allow the builders to destroy their tranquility? It waits to be seen…….

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Now men are complaining too……

With all the women’s lib and the women joining hand to fight against the cruelty of men, I was surprised today when I read in the papers ‘Spouse abuse: It’s the husband’s turn now’. Husbands are complaining?…. It says ‘98% of the 1,650 urban husbands surveyed said they had been victims of violence in their married lives. Wow! I never thought of that!’ Nagging, grumbling, taunting, name calling, refusing food, denying sexual intercourse, abusing parents and family members, snatching salary, throwing objects, scratching with nails and biting, threats of suicide and even eviction from the house were some of the common forms of abuse that husbands are complaining. The study, conducted by two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - Save Indian Family Foundation and My Nation - looked at four aspects of domestic violence — economical, emotional, physical and sexual. In a sample survey of 1,650 urban men, almost 98% of the respondents said they had suffered violence under one or the other of these heads more than once. I am highly confused. Why it is that in a marriage, one of the spouses is always suffering? Most of the married couple I see, it is always the stronger one, who rules. Why can’t they learn to respect each other? Isn’t marriage supposed to be of compatibility and understanding? Many times, I get caught in the couple abuse. It is very embarrassing for me when they are arguing and abusing each other and I wonder if this is what marriage is all about? I cannot take sides and I think of various excuses of moving away from this situation. Something they argue for a very long time and then there is tension for next few days, and I wonder, will they get back or is this going to lead to divorce? But why do those couple continue to argue over senseless things? I think to be able to live happily and tension free one could learn to respect and accept each others. Everybody have some weakness, if we can overlook their weakness and concentrate on their good points we can make a clean atmosphere and create positive vibrations into the house. In a relationship, ego should never rule. That is the root cause of every problem. If we are able to keep a loving spirit in our nature, and solve the problems with maturity, there can never be any misunderstanding.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Praying to Lord Ganesha

Ganesha is the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He can place obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked and can remove blockages just as easily If you were in India right now, you would feel the positive vibrations in the air, almost ninety percent of people are praying… The air smells of sweet fragrance, there are sounds of spiritual hymns on the loud speakers that are installed by the road side, there are huge pavilions at every street and all the streets are dressed with long strings of colorful lights that stream from pole to pole…..and the sweet shops and the markets…well…. they have a reason to smile……..

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Still Life

This month I decided to play with brushes and paints. I bought six shades of acrylic paints and started a painting…..I wanted to give some life to those plant, so I rolled up the em-seal and molded it to form the stems and the strings of the blinds (it gives it a three dimensional effect,) and I have finished the painting today. Any buyer? If I am able to sell this one then maybe I might start one more…

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Dhamaal..chasing all the way to Goa..

This is one movie that I enjoyed watching. There is non-stop comedy from the beginning to the end. (The jokes picked up from various laughter shows) With its pace, flow and mad concepts it has adequately done its job of creating a paisa-vasool. Dhamaal is the story of run and chase of four clumsy friends, who have never thought of making an honest living. So one day while trying to save a dying man, Bose (Prem Chopra), they get their big break. He tells them about hidden millions as he takes his last breath. Here begins their misfortunes! Police Inspector, Kabir Nayak (Sanjay Dutt) has been chasing Bose for the last ten years. He finally finds him. Only dead! Desperate for his promotion, he questions the suspicious looking foursome he finds next to the body. When they manage to give him the slip, begins the Chase..... One misadventure follows after another. All five are thrown into hilarious life threatening situations that make it rib tickling….. The end, however, was the let-down with the comedy replaced by moral values of Indian society……..all that run and chase for……..sniff, sniff.

Friday, 7 September 2007

How can we expect that God will protect us from any calamity if we don’t respect Him?

Every year, we bring Ganpati home and we take so much care of Him. There is so much joy and festival in the air and some of us, even cry when we have to say "Ganpati Bapa Moriaya, Poorcha varshi lavkar ya' We go to the beach to immerse the Ganpati into the deep waters.... Have you gone back to the beach the next day? If you went you would see this at the beach. We Bring Him home and take care of Him with so much love, and then this is what ultimately happens with Him Wake Up People, We must respect our Gods. It is better that we should use small idols instead such big one or the idols made from paper (which dissolves easily).

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tsk, tsk, tsk. from riches to rags....

I have come to realize that good looks may not always buy us happiness. Sometimes it is more of a pain living in this lusty world, where good looking girls have a crazy soup to have with their meals. The story doing rounds now-a-days is about the top model Geetanjali Nagpal, who was seen begging in a market place in South Delhi, living off the streets and spending her nights in parks and temples. Disowned by her family, this 32-year old former model, with her matted hair, dirty clothes and unwashed look, now presents a picture of utter poverty. Who would believe that this was the same girl, who in 90’s had sashayed down the catwalk of Delhi with the likes of Sushmita Sen? She had seemed set for a flashbulb career in fashion! This is the horrifying story of the dark side of glamour. In glamour world, good looking girls have very few friends and if they get into drugs and alcohol, then there is a downward slide to misery. For many who enter into the world of glitz and glamour of the fashion industry hoping to make a mark, not everything is a smooth sail. With long and odd hours to work, there is too much stress and unrealistic expectations, and this becomes sometimes difficult to cope. Everything has a price....doesn't it?

Monday, 3 September 2007

Cooking is so easy...Anybody Can Cook...... Even a Rat!!

“What? Go for a children’s film? Are you mad? Won’t it look funny going for children’s film without any kids?” I said when my friend suggested that we go for Ratatouille. But as always, I can never win an argument. She had one hundred and one reasons to tell me that it was a good movie to watch. Ratatoille is indeed a great movie, and I have not stopped talking about it. I think it is a masterpiece and I will be very disappointed if it goes unnoticed at next Oscars. It is a story of Remy, a thin blue rat who lives with his unruly rodent clan in the French countryside. He finds himself torn between these two commitments as the film opens. While his family lives on stealing and feeding on garbage, Remy dreams of cooking the best food and becoming a famous chef. He has a great gift of smell and taste, and he knows he is different from the clan. He can read and understand human language, watches TV cookery show by legendary Monsieur Gasteau, the famous Parisian chef, and is inspired by his book called ‘Anyone can cook’ When separated from his family during a cooking mishap, Remy winds up in Paris, near a restaurant once presided over by the legendary chef, and he can’t resist sneaking in and spicing up a vat of soup; credit for the delicious dish goes to the poor garbage boy, Linguini (Lou Romano), a clumsy, stammering type with no talent for cooking, who is immediately ordered by conniving head chef Skinner (Ian Holm) to reproduce his success. The story is very engrossing and the genius of Brad Bird shines through in the way the story unfolds – seamlessly- and the thought that has gone into the smallest of detail, with a strong message that if you dream and work hard, things may happen to you irrespective of your backgound or the odds that you belong to different species. The entire film is a captivating visual delight, as fluid shifts between human and rodent perspective. A must-see film, don’t miss it.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Mumbai Times Café (Review)

Ever wondered how these youngsters pass their time when they are not in the college? Well, you will find them hanging around in one of the countless cafes that are scattered all over the city of Mumbai. Bandra is the suburb with more than 200 places to hang around. There are restaurants everywhere. If you are hungry, you only have to walk for two minutes and you are sure to find a restaurant. From this week onwards, there is one more place to hang around. The Mumbai Times Café (It is not the name of any newspaper, now they have started naming cafes after newspapers too. How innovative they can get!). On the 5th floor of Crystal Shoppers Paradise Mall, Linking road, we saw the opening of yet one more place to hang around. What I was amused and liked it, was a private terrace beach-like-look (sans sea) with muddy floor, fishing net and two boats. They plan to put Mumbai chaat stalls around that area. People can just hang around there, standing, eating and dining. The overall ambience and the concept of coffee are good. The menu resembles a new-paper, (what else? as the name suggests) In one corner, at far end, there is a newspaper-rack that resembles the broken dhabas and basket of dhabbawallahs of Mumbai.(Did they steal one from some railway station?). There is a mix of authentic ‘Mumbaiya’, Indian and global dishes throw in. (The prices are steep and cover the cost of bread, service and ambience). They have Wi-Fi broadband facilities, (you can take your lap-top and surf the net for free), LCD screen airing all major news channels (you can watch five news channels, all at the same time) and also separate lounge and outdoor areas. (Forget about chatting with your friends, the music murders all the other sounds). Just eat, dance and drink till you drop dead. If you are going late evenings, (8pm to 10pm) then there is ‘Live Band’ on Mondays and Wednesdays, ‘Karaoke night’ on Sundays and ‘Ladies Night’ on Fridays when there is one complimentary drink for every lady entering the café (they want to encourage ladies to become drunkards so that they can stop complaining about their man) There is ‘happy hours’ till September 30th and we took advantage of this offer. I ordered spicy fish and chips and my friend ordered Pav bhaji, but we paid for only one dish. We bought the assorted range of breads and cakes too (since the offer was to pay for one and get one free). The drawback is that there is no separate lift for this restaurant, it is shared with supermarket, which is on 3rd and 4th floor, and if you don’t wish to wait for lift then you have to use staircase, which is dirty and full of paan stains. (But, then this is the common sight, you get to see dirt and ‘Paan-stained Arts’ at all the stairways in Mumbai.) Well, nothing is perfect….. It is not supposed to be.

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