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Mumbai Diary page: Friday Frolics

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

The making of Ravan
At Girgaum Chowpatty in South Mumbai, as one enters the main precinct of the beach to the right, a group of men are hard at work sticking decorative paper on bamboo frames. The eight men have been working from 10 am till 10 pm every day for the last 15 days, preparing the Ravan effigy for burning on Dussehra (today).

The Ravan faces stand in the sands at Girgaum Chowpatty. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The Ravan faces stand in the sands at Girgaum Chowpatty. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Among those making the effigy is Jaffer Mohammad who hails from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. He says, “Back home, Ravan making and burning is an ancient practice and we have learnt how to make huge Ravans right from childhood. We don’t use any measuring tape as we are so used to making huge structures. We first make the 10 heads of Ravan which takes 2-3 days. After that we start working on the body.”

Explaining the details of how the Ravan effigy is made, his co-worker Kali Charan says, “We first cut the bamboos and then tie them all together. We then put paper and cloth over the bamboos and then stick gift-wrapping paper on it. Each detail has to be done with care. We then put aside the completed part which is kept to dry.”

Charan adds, “The thought process that we have is that the taller the effigy, the more evil gets destroyed when Ravan is finally burnt on Dussehra day. The Adarsh Ramleela Mandal which brought us here told us that this is the city’s most famous effigy and so we are working with a lot of enthusiasm.”

Ram Singh, another worker on the Ravan effigy, says, “In Bollywood films and television serials we have seen many great things about Mumbai. The city has always enchanted many of us and so when the Adarsh Ramleela Mandal approached us we came here readily.”

A leaf from their book
Dussehra day means, among other things, decorating the main door of the house with toran of marigold flowers, mango leaves and sheaves of paddy. Another tradition is the giving of apta leaves, which are considered to be gold, and signifies wishes of prosperity.

The women from Badlapur, selling apta leaves at Dombivili. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
The women from Badlapur, selling apta leaves at Dombivili. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

For those of us buying apta leaves in the market, it may not matter where they come from, as long as the price is not exorbitant. But for these women selling them at Dombivili, it meant getting up really early — at a time when some of us hit the sack, in fact.

They came from Badlapur, having left their village at around 2am to catch the first train at 3am. They reached Dombivili at about 3.45am, and were ready to catch early birds. One of the women told us that they each earn around Rs 400-500 in the day from the sale of the leaves. Well, it’s all in a day’s work, and the next opportunity is a whole year away.

Clean for a day... and then?
Yesterday saw different sets of people getting on the clean-up bandwagon, wielding brooms and dustpans.

Diana Eduljee (second from left) joins others in cleaning up Andheri. Pic/Nikesh Gurav
Diana Eduljee (second from left) joins others in cleaning up Andheri. Pic/Nikesh Gurav

Consumer Guidance Society of India staffers cleaned up the area around their office near CST, and former cricketer Diana Eduljee as well as others swept up at Andheri station. It’s good to see this; all we want to say is don’t stop at just one day. Let us practice the spirit of shramdaan every day and put the dignity back into labour.

Javed scores a century... in hockey!
Though there is no Mumbaikar in the Indian hockey team that achieved a monumental feat by winning gold at the Incheon Asiad yesterday, there was one city-based hockey aficionado, who celebrated an individual achievement in Incheon.

Javed Shaikh
Javed Shaikh

Mumbai-based hockey umpire Javed Shaikh officiated in his 100th international match yesterday — the Asiad bronze-medal encounter between hosts South Korea and Malaysia. And it was quite an eventful fixture too for the 39-year-old senior assistant at Mumbai Port Trust’s Medical Department.

Known for his strict approach, Shaikh had no hesitation in awarding not one but two penalty strokes against the hosts for infringements. “It’s my job to maintain discipline on the ground. The Koreans erred and were penalised. They deserved to win though,” Ghatkopar resident Shaikh told mid-day after the hosts beat Malaysia 3-2 for the bronze.

Needless to say, Shaikh stayed back at the Seonhak Stadium yesterday to watch his country take on Pakistan in the final. So which was the more nerve-wracking his 100th match or the Indo-Pak final? “To be honest, both were equally tense,” said Shaikh.

Murali-Darren? No way, Sammy!
IF you happen to do a Google search on West Indies’ T20 captain Darren Sammy, there are a few reports of him being a Tamil Brahmin. The report is accompanied by a picture of the 30-year-old performing Sandhya Vandanam, a ritual amongst Tamilians. The report also states that his original name is Muralidharan Swamy. The report has gained importance as it quotes a maternal aunt of Sammy’s.

Darren Sammy
Darren Sammy

Pre- or post-match press conferences are generally not a good platform to talk about personal issues, so an open media session in the city yesterday was the right opportunity to get a clarification on it. When this was brought to Sammy’s notice, the former WI Test skipper burst into laughter. “What are you talking about? Is this some kind of a joke?” Sammy asked.

With technology at our fingertips, one scribe also showed him the picture of Sammy performing Sandhya Vandanam which he was astonished to see before declaring it being a fake. “This has been Photoshopped. They have put my face on someone else’s body,” said Sammy as he signed off.

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