Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

Mumbai - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Satara's warrior travels to London
The fan-throated lizard, endemic to the plateaus of Satara, is an interesting creature. Seen for a small window in a year, it has a vibrant plumage to attract females. When Pune-based wildlife photographer Anup Deodhar learnt of it, he travelled to Satara and went on all fours for the perfect shot.

In the end, it was worth it. Not only was the photograph one of the winners in the people's choice category of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2015-16) contest by Natural History Museum, London, it's also made it to the cover of the museum's diary. "My image was selected from among the winning images from the last few years. I'm extremely happy," he said.

Double treat for Khushwant Singh fans
When Khushwant Singh passed away in 2014, his loss was felt across the worlds of literature as well as journalism. Like a colossus, he strode both landscapes with a fearless pen in hand, cutting down the big and mighty to size with his trademark candour and wit. Post his passing away, thankfully, publishers have kept his words alive.

Coming up is On India (Rupa), a selection of Singh's best writings on the country. Another book, Extraordinary Indians (Aleph Book Company), is a collection of his profiles of 50 famous Indians (and one Pakistani). Both titles are expected to hit stands later this month.

Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pic/Nimesh Dave

About looking as good as you sound
She may have the mirror before her, but something else seems to have caught singer Neha Kakkar's attention on a TV show set in Malad yesterday.

Making waves
In early 2013, mid-day had carried an inspiring tale of Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper run by women from marginalised communities in UP. The story has now reached international shores with filmmakers Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas' under-production film, Writing With Fire, winning the 2017 Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund.

The film body shortlisted eight films from over 500 projects with $130,000 awarded in grants. Ghosh, who runs Delhi-based Black Ticket Films, tells us via email, "As a journalist, Meera [of Khabar Lahariya] is working in a patriarchal socio-economic system that is gender regressive and a dangerous space to operate in. The grant reaffirms our faith in the film and that the values Meera is fighting for, have a universal relevance."

For the love of paperbacks
Who would've thought that with a piping hot bowl of soup or dhansak-rice meal that you order in, you'd also find a book in the package? On World Book Lovers Day (yesterday), a delivery app has turned its riders into book fairies, who will zip across the city all week, presenting popular titles by Lisa Hilton, Gayatri Jayaraman, Benet Brandreth and Judy Balan, to lucky customers.

This idea is inspired by the global project, The Book Fairies, where individuals leave books around the city for bibliophiles to find, read and share. Recently, this page had featured a similar initiative for Delhi Metro, where commuters would find books tucked away beneath seats and benches.

The book fairy project gained prominence after British actor Emma Watson hid books related to feminism in New York City to celebrate Women's Day. We're all for such innovative ways if they help encourage Mumbaikars to rekindle their love for reading.

No pumpkin carriages, please!
The recent stalking incident in Chandigarh, where a 29-year-old woman was chased in the middle of the night, got dirtier when Haryana BJP vice president tried to shift the blame to her for being out after midnight to protect one of the stalkers, the state BJP chief's son.

Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt

This triggered a wave of retaliation on social media, where women are sharing pictures of being out past midnight with the hashtag #AintNoCindrella. "Dear Regressive India, we ain't damsels in distress. We are independent & we don't need you to curb our freedom. #AintNoCinderella here", said one. Senior journalist Barkha Dutt also took to Twitter using the hashtag, "I'm so tired of Beti, Behen, Ma-Labels. I don't want to be your sister, mother, wife or daughter for my rights as a woman."

In February this year, a Mumbai college principal's comments about gender reversal in women's heads because of dressing up like men had caused similar outrage. And women had posted pictures of themselves wearing what they wished under #DressLikeAnIndianWoman. India may be far from being a safe space for women, but this reclaiming of the virtual space is a delightful development.

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