Mumbai Diary page: Friday Frolics

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

A sign-off in blood
The Guru Nanak Khalsa College (Matunga) is in the news for the wrong reasons, with principal Ajit Singh and a personal aide caught in a bribery scandal. The principal was arrested by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for demanding money for a Science seat.

Principal Ajit Singh sitting on the weighing scale during the blood donation drive
Principal Ajit Singh sitting on the weighing scale during the blood donation drive

Now he is out on bail, but it is time to rewind to 2009. At that time, this newspaper had carried a report about something called “Rakt Tulabhara” which the students of Khalsa College had arranged. It was a blood donation drive, which was supposed to be a farewell gift for the principal Ajit Sethi as he was supposed to retire.

(He subsequently got an extension for a couple of years). So, the students were donating blood equivalent to the principal’s weight, which was 68 kg. The students had eventually collected more than 68 kg in blood.

Principal Ajit Singh had told this paper: “I was very touched by the entire function. You know, a farewell like this is so motivational, for all the institutions. I think it is such a practical way of saying goodbye.” The headline of that report had read: “What a bloody brilliant idea.” Today, the principal is evoking headlines of a different kind.

Smiling through the pain
Some of the stories that journalists work on can be harrowing, even traumatic. But reporters have to put aside emotion and write dispassionately, bringing readers a picture of what they see and encounter.

Journos covering the health beat have it hard as they see sickness and sadness almost as a matter of routine. But sometimes there is a moment that makes us pause, and even smile.

When our health correspondent visited the three-year-old Samruddhi Nakti, whose leg had to be amputated following the train mishap in Raigad, it was a lesson in courage even in the most trying situation. That too from someone so young.

The little girl not only greeted the correspondent with a huge smile but also offered up a sweet she was holding. While she played with the toys that well-wishers offered her, she showed interest in the correspondent’s tablet device too, and played with it before handing it back with the most charming smile, despite the pain and trauma she must have been experiencing. Truly, big lessons come in small packages.

Wheels take wing
Oh, To be in Goa! That’s the song of the season as last-minute holidaymakers look to the neighbouring state for a quick getaway.

But that is easier said than done, and you had better have a fat bank balance to make your wish come true, as we found out. Last-minute flights are of course outrageously priced, so we headed to the Mumbai-Goa bus stand in South Mumbai, cheek by jowl with Fashion Street.

One ticket seller, who introduced himself as Pascal, offered us a Volvo air-conditioned (AC) sleeper bus seat for R 5,000. When we said a flight may be much the same price, he said this included food, and pointed out that if we flew we would incur the additional expenditure of going from the airport to the city of Margao, our destination.

The non-AC bus rate was R 3,000 but he was ready to bring it down to Rs 2,500. Off season, he claimed, the tickets were R 800 for AC sleeper and R 600 for non-AC. Pascal advised against taking a non-AC bus as the heat does not make it convenient to travel.

He said he would charge us Rs 3,200 for the Volvo AC bus. Either way, dashing to Goa seems sure to burn a hole in our pockets - or give us sunburn! Still, we saw vacationers shelling out the cold cash… maybe a holiday is worth any price.

The golden season
People who are accustomed to grabbing a bite or a cup of tea to and from Dadar (East) station have had to look beyond their regular joint this summer. The “Adarsh Uphar Griha” has turned into a mango shop.

The refreshments joint turned mango outlet. Pic/Sujit Mahamulkar
The refreshments joint turned mango outlet. Pic/Sujit Mahamulkar

Not just a portion, the entire premises has been given up to the storage and sale of the golden harvest. And this shop is not unique - many other small retailers have also temporarily halted selling their regular goods and have stocked up on mangoes instead. With the prices said to be dropping, we are not sorry.

Of course, for those passing by Dadar their tea might taste a bit different. Come monsoon, however, we will need that hot cuppa again.

Eat, meet and greet
The Cricket Club of India at Churchgate is sparing no effort in trying to put on a great show when they host the Indian Premier League Eliminator on May 28.

Of course, some members may be deprived of their summer evening chilling-out sessions on the hallowed turf of the Brabourne Stadium, but then, as the former and late president Raj Singh Dungarpur used to remind people who didn’t place priority on the game, “It is ‘Cricket Club of India’ and not ‘Catering Club of India’.”

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