Mumbai Diary page: Monday musings

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

Between the batting lines
India's batting icon Sunil Gavaskar was often referred to as the Little Master, but cricket’s original Little Master was Pakistan’s Hanif Mohammad, the batsman who acquired a great reputation after his 970-minute 377 against the West Indies in the 1957-58 Barbados Test.

Sachin Tendulkar presenting a shield to former Pakistan cricket captain Hanif Mohammad (left) during a visit to Karachi a few years ago. Pic/AFP
Sachin Tendulkar presenting a shield to former Pakistan cricket captain Hanif Mohammad (left) during a visit to Karachi a few years ago. Pic/AFP

That Hanif was a hit in India especially when he came here for the second time in 1960-61 is well documented in a new book, The Unquiet Ones – A History of Pakistan Cricket, by Osman Samiuddin, one of the world’s leading cricket writers. Samiuddin writes in the book, published by HarperCollins: “By his second tour to India in 1960-61 his (Hanif’s) celebrity was already approaching a strange peak.

On arrival in Bombay from Poona (where incidentally he had fancied his chances of making a rare triple hundred in one day), Hanif was thronged by fans at the station. They wanted to shake his hand. Many did. One, Hanif remembers, cut his finger with a razor while doing so.

“Later, during the Bombay Test, Lata Mangeshkar, the great Indian playback singer, wanted an audience, and invited Hanif and family to a song recording.” The eighty-year-old Hanif is, we hear, fighting a grim battle with liver cancer. We wish him a speedy recovery!

...and a doggy new year!
Festivals are fun for us humans, except those who can’t stand the high-decibel auditory assault of music and firecrackers.

Two-year-old Charcoal, who has just returned from her Khandala holiday. Pic/Ayan Roy
Two-year-old Charcoal, who has just returned from her Khandala holiday. Pic/Ayan Roy

And like these suffering souls, our furry friends too have a hard time when there are extra-loud drums and thunderous fireworks reverberating all around. Often, we can’t do much but comfort our pets, who cower until it’s all over. But some Mumbaikars did a smart thing this New Year’s.

Well before the music and dancing began, they sent their dogs to their very own canine hill station, in Khandala, where the four-footers spent a nice relaxed week with their own kind and returned to the city when it was all quiet. Bet you’re wishing you could do the same!

Space no bar, it’s a crunch
In this city and its ever-expanding branches outside municipal limits too space is the one thing which remains at a premium. Not just indoors, real estate commands pretty prices even under the wide open skies, never mind that there are neither walls nor any other demarcation for the precious space.

A stitch in time, and who cares about the environs! Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
A stitch in time, and who cares about the environs! Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

Those who ply their trade (which includes the skilled craft of begging) on the pavements know this only too well. And a hard-won theka will not be relinquished, come hell or high water. Or sewage water, for that matter.

This tailor at Kalyan West, on the Murbad road near the railway station, is one example. He specialises in alteration work on men’s clothes and, rapt in his work, he pays no heed to the dirty gutter water just next to him.

Where’s the doc?
Given that marathon season is upon us and the race is just days away, January 18 to be precise, there are a slew of press conferences and announcements about the event. Conspicuous by his absence is Dr Ashish Contractor, a familiar face at the run-up of this event.

Dr Ashish Contractor, at a press meet for the marathon last year
Dr Ashish Contractor, at a press meet for the marathon last year

Dr Contractor was with Asian Heart Institute, which is the medical partner of this marathon. The doc quit the establishment a few months ago, to branch out on his own. Which explains him missing in action, pre-marathon.

Otherwise, one remembers the doc, explaining about all the medical arrangements and contingency measures that were in place in case of emergencies on race day.

This cardiac rehab specialist has moved on, but the Asian Heart is still medical partner for this event. This year too there are several cardiac patients running in the event, inspirational for others afflicted with heart problems.

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