Mumbai Diary page: Monday Musings

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

Lighting up with a difference
He works as a night watchman at Bhandup, and lives in Kanjurmarg village. Having discovered in 2002 that he has a talent for art, Nandkumar Maruti Ghag decided to put it to good use in his spare time, and began making lanterns for Diwali. His initial output of 10 lanterns sold out almost immediately, so he decided to increase production, but still does all the work by hand.

Nandkumar Ghag with one of his creations. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
Nandkumar Ghag with one of his creations. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

Ghag has begun making innovative shapes such as butterflies and cartoon characters, which sell well, especially to families with young children. His family helps in the lantern assembly, and his neighbour Vishwanath More now helps him in cutting out the shapes for the lanterns. Ghag places the lanterns for sale in his father’s shop.

Although his fame has spread, and people now place advance orders, sometimes in bulk, Ghag has no plans to expand in a big way. “I just put the profits from the previous year into production for the next year. I only focus on making innovative new designs every year.” We have seen that mass production can sometimes lead to a drop in quality, so perhaps Ghag’s handmade way is the right choice.

Tearful farewell to Uncle
The ‘Uncle’ of Mumbai’s popular suburban Chinese eatery Uncle’s Kitchen, who passed away on Friday night, was given a befitting farewell at Our Lady of Lourdes in Orlem, Malad yesterday. Family, friends and more importantly patrons of the famed restaurant gathered in large numbers (we hear there were well over 1,000 mourners) to pay their last respects to Jerome D’Souza (72), who gave chicken lollypop its popularity in this part of the city.

Jerome D’Souza
Jerome D’Souza

Incidentally, few know the real story behind ‘Uncle’. It so happened that when a young Jerome returned from the Gulf looking for an investment avenue here, one of his well-wishers, whom he referred to as ‘uncle’, advised him to open a Chinese restaurant. That’s how the name ‘Uncle’s Kitchen’ originally not named after Jerome came about in 1987.

Of course, later with everyone referring to Jerome as ‘uncle’, the name stuck for good. Lately, with Uncle taking ill, his sons Sunny and Ronnie, and younger brother Peter have been running the show, and promise to carry on doing so unflinchingly. “Our father was the rock of our family and without him around, it will be difficult.

But he was a warrior and battled his illness till his last breath. He never gave up. Dad hated the chalta hai attitude. Whatever the situation, the job had to be done. Keeping that spirit in mind, we hope to carry on his Chinese legacy,” said Sunny.

Liquid state of affairs
With the mercury rising, drinking water availability for the public is a must. Not just on roads but also on railway platforms. And in this particular regard, Navi Mumbai scores over its sister city as all the railway stations on the other end of Vashi Creek boast of at least one faucet. The same can’t be said about Mumbai.

And so much to waste, too, it seems. Pic/Shakti Shetty
And so much to waste, too, it seems. Pic/Shakti Shetty

However, providing water is one thing and ensuring that the tap is accessible is quite another. If the basin is overflowing, then what’s the point? Interestingly, this unhygienic condition is a recent phenomenon. Perhaps times are fast changing and the authorities aren’t able to keep up with the demand.

From the child’s cradle
Our city is one of opportunities and opportunists. Take what you can when you can, otherwise it will be gone for ever. That’s the motto for most, and true enough, if you slow down you will be left behind.

The ‘lion’ apparently gets the prime spot. Pic/Varun Singh

But surely the line has to be drawn at taking candy from a baby or in this case, letting the little one sleep on the ground while the adult snoozes in the makeshift hammock.

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