Mumbai Diary page: Friday Frolics

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

In the polling spectrum
When it comes to dedicated Mumbaikars, nothing can stop them from voting. Not even being autistic. Forum for Autism secretary Parul Kumtha was a proud parent yesterday when she accompanied her son Kabir, a first-time voter.

Kabir Kumtha, who has autism spectrum disorder, was a first-time voter yesterday
Kabir Kumtha, who has autism spectrum disorder, was a first-time voter yesterday

Kumtha says, “Kabir is 21 and has ASD (autism spectrum disorder). He works in a sheltered workshop. He and I went to the centre where his name was registered and I got permission to accompany him into the polling booth on showing the officers on duty his disability certificate.

I had to sign a declaration form stating that I will not disclose his vote to anybody and that I will not assist anyone else in these elections. “Although I had explained the process to him before we went to the centre and had showed him my inked finger (I voted earlier), I had to re-explain the process to him inside the booth. Kabir carefully scrutinised the ballot machine and chose the symbol he liked best.

I suppose this qualifies as ‘assisted decision making’ as defined in the Revised Persons with Disabilities Act, India.” We hope this acts as a reality check for those who, despite being eligible and on the voters’ list, shirked their responsibility in favour of partying and holidaying.

Ink Blink
Questions and comments abound on social media about, what else, the Lok Sabha elections. A sampling...

On the inked-finger photos: “What if the number of selfies exceeds the number of votes cast?” When the turnout was looking low earlier in the day: “Mumbaikars, keep calm and be apathetic. Keep calm and prepare for the next candle march. Keep calm and whine. Keep calm, but don’t vote!”

On a similar note: “The spirit of Mumbai sparks in local train only. Voting should have been performed in local train for better turnout.” Perhaps Mumbaikars were listening, for the turnout eventually improved to a decent over-53 per cent, higher than the last polls.

Q: What is lower than Mumbai’s voting percentage?
A: Gautam Gambhir’s IPL 2014 average
- @humsubscribe on Twitter

Cops come to voters’ aid
We may be so inured to hearing about police high-handedness, that it is a pleasant surprise when we come across instances of the police going out of their way to help people. On polling day it was particularly frustrating for voters who were unable to find their names, or to figure out which room to go to at their polling venue.

Voter Shabana Engineer from Bandra had a smooth experience despite her name being missing from the main voters’ list. She asked the police on duty what she should do to locate her name, as she had the voting slip and other details with her.

A constable showed her where she could find the other lists, and eventually she located her name. After she had voted and emerged from the polling booth, the police asked her whether she had managed to find her name and cast her vote.

“I found it much more smooth, and the people were more helpful and cooperative than previously,” says Engineer. Among other things, the police as well as other voters allowed some senior citizens to go and vote first, without having to wait in the queue. Are we seeing a return to the gracious Mumbai of old? We like it!

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