Mumbai Musings

After the eviction of some 200 illegal hawkers, the Hill Road in Bandra seems to have revealed itself afresh.
Mumbai Musings

Culture Vulture

The BMW-Guggenheim lab, here since December, now winds up from Mumbai this Sunday after having conducted design projects, participatory studies, workshops and film screenings. The results of their studies, which seek “to address challenges and opportunities related to public space and the choices Mumbaikars make to balance individual and community needs” are awaited. (Check out BMW Guggenheim Lab for more). Although this special guest is on its way out, the series of cultural programmes is far from over.

Amidst several classical music programmes, the four-day Nalanda Dance festival starts January 19 and has Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi and Kathak performances. Just last week Pandit Birju Maharaj, fast approaching his 75th birthday, performed at a festival in Ville Parle. Theatre too is not far behind and one of the most awaited plays would be Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, in which Alyque Padamsee not only acts (with Sabira Merchant) but has designed and directed the play, produced by his daughter Raell Padamsee. Then there is a photo exhibition of a photographer from Ner Village in Yawatmal at Jehangir Terrace Gallery with some interesting images.

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Good times for culture vultures – local, desi and anglais!

The Probing Nation

We are a nation that likes its probes, commissions and enquiries. In keeping with the ‘probing’ reputation, the chief minister Prithviraj Chavan ordered two such investigations this week – first is a judicial probe in the Dhule rioting incident, which started off over a minor tiff and ended in the killing of six people in a riot and a curfew for several days. The second is a CID enquiry to find if hawker Madan Jaiswal died because of the eviction drive carried out by none other than the ACP Vasant Dhoble in Santacruz.

Everyone – the hawkers, apparently from north India, citizens who wish to have footpaths to walk on and not stumble every two steps, politicians supporting hawkers (Congress leader Priya Dutt) and those supporting policemen and citizens (Shiv Sena and MNS), activists etc – erupted, all of them having their own protest.

However, Dhoble was instantly transferred first to control room and then nowhere as the probe will decide whether he can be reinstated in the same position. Is it ironic that some of the citizens who opposed him tooth and nail for shutting down pubs and clubs after 1 am are now supporting him for action against illegal hawking?

Also, not to miss the new squeaky clean Hill Road in Bandra, as it seems to have revealed itself afresh after some 200 illegal hawkers were evicted. Enjoy it till it lasts. Or do you prefer all those cheap clothes stalls?

While these probes were well-publicised, a little less known would be the one into Slum Rehabiliation Authority. After Medha Patkar led agitation, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, persuaded the government to enquire into SRA schemes at six localities in Mumbai at Golibar, Ambedkar Nagar, Mulud, Ramnagar-Ghatkopar, Chandivali, Sion-koliwada and Indira-nagar Jogeshwari. What after that? We will see.

Market Vs Market

Even as the Sensex finally crossed 20,000 mark (often termed ‘psychological’ by business experts) and ushered in some sighs of relief in the shaky market, another market in Vidarbha seems to have failed its farmers. Reports indicate despite not-so-bad rains the farmers are resorting to committing suicide again. That is because of the falling prices of cotton from more than Rs 4500 last year to Rs 3900 per quintal this year. “They haven’t recovered from previous loans and prices have fallen yet again. What does a farmer do?” asks farmer and activist Vijay Jawandia. With water scarcity and failing crops affecting many areas of the state already, one is worried about “if winter has come, can scorching summer be far behind?”

BP - Balak Palak

Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh recently – hopefully unintentionally – said that sex education was also one of the reasons for increased violence against women. (More cases of rapes and molestation were reported including that of a 70-year-old, who was arrested for repeatedly raping a minor in Govandi). However, the popularity of a recently released film BP – Balak Palak (children and parents) (BP incidentally is an acronym for blue print (films) – received a refreshing positive response from the Marathi middle class with an annoying stiff upper lip about the subject of sexuality and sex. The film, directed by Natarang-fame Ravi Jadhav, advocates sex education, better dialogue between parents and children and has some very memorable scenes by the teenaged star cast. (Unfortunately, a person was killed in a tiff in the queue for tickets of BP in Parel. Another incident of rising pointless rage quotient in Mumbai?) And yes, it is produced by Riteish Deshmukh, who seems to avoid risks in his multi-starrer films but has chosen a rather bold one for venturing into Marathi films production, and Uttung Hitendra Thakur, son of Virar-based politician Hitendra Thakur.

Run (Away From) Mumbai Run

Yes we are now busy visiting exhibitions, watching dance, listening to music and so on and perhaps beginning to digest the horrific rape and the gruesome LoC incident. However the latter has had its impact in Mumbai. Sadly on the sport which needs all the encouragement and support one can give. Hockey players from Pakistan, here to play the Hockey India League (on the lines of IPL but a far cheaper version) were sent back. The women’s world cup (cricket) is in jeopardy as the BCCI may have to shift the venue or postpone the tournament to ensure safety of Pakistani cricketers.

Of course, we welcome everyone except the players from destination Samjhauta Express. That was evident from the curiosity for two-time Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie, who is here for the Mumbai Marathon, scheduled on January 20.

One of my friends, frustrated with unending traffic, jam-packed trains, mega blocks on railway tracks and non-existent foot paths said, “Instead of running 40 km on a specific day once a year, perhaps we should practice walking and running and cycling to work instead?” 

Can we have permanent tracks please?

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