Mumbai Diary page: Monday musings

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

Face-to-face with a tiger at SGNP
It's A lucky few who get to spot a real tiger up close and personal, as it were. And this diarist was one of the fortunate ones. At Borivali’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), there were huge crowds on Saturday, February 14 with families and lovers headed to the green space for some leisure. give the bus and its passengers a closer look... give the bus and its passengers a closer look...

The park’s lion safari is closed due to ongoing renovation, so the chance to see the King of the Jungle was denied to visitors over the weekend. The tiger safari was the only option. As safari enthusiasts sat in the bus, many were overheard saying that the tigers are seen in their enclosures and the lions were the best bet for those wanting to see a wild cat out and about.

The tiger wakes up from his snooze...
The tiger wakes up from his snooze...

When the tiger safari started it was a moment out of Jurassic Park as the gates opened and the safari bus was ushered into the tiger enclosure. A few antelope and herons were seen around. And then, there came a surprise as the bus halted and lo - there was a tiger, as large as life, sleeping peacefully on the road in the shade of a tree.

...and pushes off to one side, but decides...
...and pushes off to one side, but decides...

After a few moments the tiger gave the bus a sleepy look, then got up, walked ahead, came near the bus and peered with interest at the curious onlookers who, of course, were busy snapping away at the majestic beast. After he completed his inspection, he pushed off into the forest.

...from all sides. Pics/Malcolm Correa
...from all sides. Pics/Malcolm Correa

The bus moved on and passed a white tiger and another Bengal tiger in an enclosure. But the real star of the day was the sleepy big cat on the road, who gave people their money’s worth, The driver of the safari bus and the ticket checker told this diarist that it was a very lucky spotting, as it is rare that the tiger chooses to laze on the bus route.

SGNP’s tiger safari does offer a chance to see “Tiger, tiger burning bright” in the lap of nature, after all.

So much like Mumbai
One would think that you would not get a Mumbai style overcrowding situation in New Zealand, given that the country has more sheep than people.. but here it is. Hagley Park, which hosted the opening ceremony of the ongoing cricket World Cup, is also going to host a couple of more games.

It is the history of the Hagley that is most fascinating, perhaps. Its biggest claim to fame is that it is regarded as the most impressive club cricket venue in New Zealand. We learn that in its heyday, no fewer than six club games would unfold at once on the main Oval, while dozens more would be taking place on the adjacent polo ground and Christ’s College fields.

Says NZ cricket historian Brian Adams, who first played here in 1959 for West Christchurch, one of several clubs for which Hagley Oval was the home ground: “There would be three games happening on the west side of Hagley Oval, and three on the east, so you could be fielding at cover point for your own club’s game, and be leg slip for the game next door!”

Luckily, nobody ever got beaned on the head from the other game, but there were a few shots to the ankle. The experts say you needed to have your wits about you. Sounds like Mumbai, where games coalesce into each other, given the paucity of space.

Thinking on his wheels
In a BEST bus last week, going from Thane to Borivali via Ghodbunder, the driver noticed that there was a fault in the accelerator, and the bus was going faster than he intended it to. Some of the passengers who also noticed this were feeling apprehensive, as was the conductor.

The driver gets to grips with the engine he controls. Pic/Chirag Waghela
The driver gets to grips with the engine he controls. Pic/Chirag Waghela

The vehicle had reached Dahisar by now, and the driver managed to pull over to the side to check. He realised that he had indeed been right about his suspicion — but he decided that he would try to fix the problem himself.

He got down, procured a wire he needed from a nearby parked tempo, and succeeded in fixing the problem within a few minutes. It was both presence of mind as well as initiative on the part of the driver which averted a potential mishap, and got the vehicle repaired so the passengers could continue their journey uninterrupted.

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