Mumbai Diary page: Monday musings

Khiladi on the football field
It's common knowledge that Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar is a fitness freak. But not many know that he’s quite a football lover too.

Bollywood superstar Ashay Kumar at the Don Bosco High Schoool (Matunga) ground yesterday for the Kenkre Champions League seven-a-side football tournament. Of course, he was a big draw himself, and chatted with kids and parents after the match. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
Bollywood superstar Ashay Kumar at the Don Bosco High Schoool (Matunga) ground yesterday for the Kenkre Champions League seven-a-side football tournament. Of course, he was a big draw himself, and chatted with kids and parents after the match. Pic/Ashwin Ferro

The “Khiladi” was at his alma mater, the Don Bosco High School’s grounds in Matunga last morning, cheering on as his son Aarav participated in the Kenkre Champions League seven-a-side football tournament.

Not content simply watching the action, though, Akki and a few of his mates, including singer Shaan, decided to get into the action themselves and played against a young set of kids from the Kenkre Academy. Akshay’s wife and actor Twinkle Khanna was a keen spectator as her hubby played goalkeeper (he used to be goalkeeper for his school team too).

Akshay’s team ended up 4-2 victors in the fun kick-about that saw the 47-year-old pulling off some long one-armed throws with ease and sprinting across the breadth of the ground like a teenager. “I love football... I follow Manchester United,” Akshay told us later.

The busy actor in fact even made time to watch the late-night matches of the FIFA World Cup on TV last year. “I was supporting Germany throughout. They are a very good team. I was sure they would win the World Cup,” he said, even as he walked away to happily oblige a bunch of kids for autographs and selfies.

Working a little too well
Going by what we learn from her support staff, the state’s Rural Development Minister, Pankaja Munde, is proving to be a rather tough boss in Mantralaya. The elder daughter of the late Gopinath Munde wants everything perfectly done and frankly, staffers like office assistants, junior clerks, office boys and liftmen are not used to it!

She keeps them on a leash, doesn’t take any nonsense and pulls them up whenever required. Sources said the tough regimen they have to undergo has forced many staffers to get shifted to other offices where their goof-ups could go unnoticed, perhaps. We learn that a few have already quit her office. Efficiency, apparently, has a price.

Teching it to the streets
Traffic signals are necessary, but they can be a source of irritation as well. Not because they make you stop, but because of the beggars who take full advantage of the stationary vehicles. We were waiting for the lights to change at a signal in the city the other day, when we saw a not-unfamiliar sight a hijra, all decked up in a nice sari, sauntering up getting ready to stretch out her palm.

But just before she reached our vehicle, she received a phone call. We could only watch in amazement as she dug out, of all things, an iPhone 6. There is no mistaking the swish new offering from Apple, and those of us with more humble cellphones were admittedly awestruck.

You wouldn’t expect a hijra earning her daily bread from small donations to be toting a high-end accoutrement. Unless, of course, it was a knockoff in which case, it was a really good one.

Peace, love and acceptance
At the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) parade on Saturday, one of the first-time attendees included American Meena Wells, a trans-gendered woman in her 20s. Although originally from the US, Wells said she visited India in the course of her cultural studies research, and fell in love with the country.

Meena Wells. Pic/Varun Singh
Meena Wells. Pic/Varun Singh

She has been traveling to India, mostly Bangalore, for the last five years and is currently in the city. Wells finds India fascinating and says that she has not encountered any discrimination a heartening note for those who have been ostracised, shunned and attacked for their alternative sexuality.

Her favourite suburb is Matunga, because of the excellent South Indian food to be found there. Maybe there was good reason the book (Eat, Pray, Love) and the movie started with the word “Eat”!

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