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Mumbai Diary page: Friday Frolics

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

Mystery hand in car boot
Crime serials may have made people a little more alert about mysterious sights, though sometimes it turns out to be a false alarm. Four men arrived in the city from Shahapur to visit a friend of theirs, who had been in an accident and had been admitted to KEM Hospital.


Illustration/Amit Bandre

After the man was discharged, all of them wanted to go back to Shahpur along with two additional people. As there was no space in the Indigo they were using, one of them sat in the boot of the car.

The driver of a car that was travelling behind the Indigo saw a hand emerging from the boot and got suspicious, so he alerted the police control room and gave them the car number. The car was halted at the Thane check naka, where it emerged that a perfectly healthy passenger was in the boot.

However, this is against the law (although not as serious an offence as murder!), so the driver was booked under the Motor Vehicles Act and fined Rs 5,000 before being released. It was a false alarm this time, but it’s good to know that people are vigilant!

Toe the line of traffic, or get towed
Mumbai has its share of responsible car users but they seem to be often outnumbered by those who believe it is their right to break the law, and outshout anyone who tries to stop them. Such was the experience of a colleague recently when waiting at a bus stop.

Errant drivers have scant respect for rules
Errant drivers have scant respect for rules

A car approached, the driver honking insistently and indicating that he wanted to park in front of the stop. When our colleague pointed out that it was a bus stop and he should not obstruct it, she was the recipient of a barrage of protests from the driver and his front-seat passenger, a woman.

They let loose with statements like: “Who are you, traffic police?” “Everybody parks here.” And finally, to drive home (as it were) their point, “Shut up!”. Our colleague tried to stand her ground but the driver seemed ready to run her over, so she had to move but managed to get this picture of the offending car.

She was unable to follow up as she had to catch the bus, but readers can note that if such incidents occur, they can call the traffic control room at 24937747, and if the vehicle is breaking the law it can be towed away.

The 'other' Khushwant Singh
With the legendary writer-columnist Khushwant Singh (of With Malice Towards One and All fame) passing away, another writer named Khushwant Singh, whose most recent book is Maharaja in Denims, says that India has lost “a literary giant.”

Fauja (with mike on right) and biographer Khushwant ‘the other Khushwant’ Singh at a press conference held at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh for the Mumbai marathon in 2013. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Fauja (with mike on right) and biographer Khushwant ‘the other Khushwant’ Singh at a press conference held at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh for the Mumbai marathon in 2013. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

The ‘other’ Khushwant as he calls himself, has lived with tags like impostor and scoundrel levied by his critics. In fact, the younger Khushwant, had even written a piece on that in Open magazine earlier. In the magazine piece, the ‘other’ Khushwant stated, “It is because my grandfather named me Khushwant, after the inimitable writer Khushwant Singh, that I have been pushed into questioning my very name.

The namesake journey has been a rollercoaster ride, harrowing and funny. But, at the same time, it has left me with a yearning to seek the dirty old man’s blessing. So what if it is through his favourite four-letter word.”

The ‘other’ Khushwant, whom incidentally we met at the Mumbai Marathon in 2013 when he was accompanying the famous Sikh runner, Fauja Singh at a press conference, said, “More than a literary giant, we have lost one of the most secular men of India, let us not forget that he was an important binding factor at a time when India was building up its foundation, after being split on religious lines.”

Note-worthy memory
Former mid-day photo-journalist Sanjay Austa shares a fond memory of Khushwant Singh. When he was in school, and dreamt of becoming a writer, he had written to Singh and received a helpful note from the literary great, which he treasures till this day.

Khushwant Singh’s note to photo-journalist Sanjay Austa
Khushwant Singh’s note to photo-journalist Sanjay Austa

Singh told him, “There are no short cuts. You have to read a dozen books to get one article out of yourself.” Wish today’s “short-cut journalists” woud heed this!

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