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Mumbai Diary: Friday frolics

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Water machine!
Even as we hear about an automated teller machine (ATM) in New York which dispenses cupcakes for those who just can’t be satisfied with a chocolate bar, the oft-compared city of Mumbai can’t be far behind. Except that here, what comes out of the machine is more prosaic but probably even more precious than cupcakes. Don’t think vada pav — we’re talking about plain old water. An ATM dispensing clean drinkable water for R 1 per litre has been set up by non-profit groups Vandana Foundation and Aquakraft, at the Indian Oil MHADA Colony in Mankhurd, which is plagued by water contamination problems. 


Clear Attractiopn: The water ATM. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari

Local resident Shewantibai Phalke, 62, told this diarist, “In our area, people were fascinated by the first TV and computer. This water machine has also made everyone here very excited. Children spend almost all their time watching the machine as it gives out water.”

Operated through a prepaid card, the machine provides the area’s residents up to 1000 litres per day. The water comes from the lake but is treated using reverse osmosis and ultraviolet technology.

Quenching a thirst for excitement, perhaps? 

Handshake at the station
Yesterday morning, as office-goers in Mulund West were making a dash to catch their local train, many were in for a surprise as they headed towards the main entry point at the station. One side of the station approach that is normally packed with hawkers and parked autos was strangely clear. Many wondered whether there was a bandh. Even cops could be spotted regulating traffic in an orderly manner. But it wasn’t a bandh. Saffron stole-wearing supporters were seen directing the suburb’s commuters as they alighted from autos and BEST buses; these volunteers had formed a human fence and were leading the public to meet none other than the old warhorse from the Mumbai North East constituency, the BJP’s Kirit Somaiya. Having lost to NCP’s Sanjay Dina Patil by a narrow margin in the 2009 elections, Kiritbhai seemed unperturbed that he had disrupted the commuters’ morning sprint to the station. Even several unsuspecting passersby, who weren’t going to the station, were herded in his direction to “handshake” the smiling politician as he greeted each of them warmly, smile plastered in place. Once the handshaking was done, these non-commuters had to take a U-turn to get away from the station. Some poll vault, this. 

Reporter… not!
IF YOU see someone diligently taking notes at the scene of a news event, you may think it is a journalist. And you may be right. But not always — as our colleague found out when reporting about a fire at Nerul. She saw a youth taking notes in a diary, and, thinking he was a fellow journo, she asked him about some details. He replied quite politely but when she asked which newspaper he was from he said he was not a journalist but the personal assistant to Navi Mumbai mayor Sagar Naik!

Plans? Don’t talk about them!
STOP! That seems to be the message from the Election Commission whose roster of restriction stymied a scheduled meeting at the Press Club next to Azad Maidan yesterday. The meet was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, starring Mumbai municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte  and a senior journalist from a national newspaper.


HALT! Mumbai municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte

Kunte was to give an opening introduction on his plans for the city, which was to be followed by a debate among the panellists; and finally a round of questions from members of the media.  They were to talk about “Transforming Mumbai into a world class city” (huh? What happened to Mumbai banega Shanghai? Or Singapore? We don’t know which). Now, we hear the transform-Mumbai meet is scheduled post election results to be declared on May 16.  We wait. With bated breath. 

(Musical) notes for Srinivasan
Embattled BCCI chief N Srinivasan should heed the Jim Reeves classic He’ll Have to Go. The lyrics don’t matter in this case, but the title of Gentleman Jim’s track does. And over on the television show Suhana Safar with Annu Kapoor (the eponymous host’s expression having become a notch more lugubrious), they are playing Talat Mehmood’s classic Jaayein toh jaayein kahaan…?

Screen scream
FILMS can bring you fame and its opposite, too. In the Mumbai North West constituency, where actor Mahesh Manjrekar is a candidate, sources from the saffron alliance say they are planning to ask local cable operators to show movies in which the MNS candidate plays negative roles, in order to discredit his image. One cable operator has reportedly agreed and will kick off with a movie in which Manjrekar plays a “bad cop”. We don’t know whether Manjrekar’s acting skills will be useful here, or whether they will backfire! 

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