Mumbai Diary page: Saturday Scene

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

An alien in Paris
An old Mumbai friend of Saturday Scene now lives in Paris with his French girlfriend, and is quite the peripatetic kind.

After one such journey, while returning home, he went to Monoprix, a popular retail chain, to pick up the day’s groceries. While exiting the shop, he saw a man walking from the metro station armed with two shopping bags. He was yet another face in the crowd, but a familiar one.

Our friend, a certified nerd, decided to call out his name to confirm he had not been hallucinating after a long journey. And the man turned.

It was indeed Madhavan Nair, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, and man who oversaw two of India’s most notable space achievements the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. Dr Nair was in Paris to attend a conference on the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. In other words, aliens.

We don’t know whether he thought our friend who recognised him in the streets of Paris was an alien, too. What we do know, though, is that Dr Nair was pleasantly surprised that despite not being a Priyanka Chopra or a Shahrukh Khan, someone had called out his name and chatted with him in distant Paris.

On the wrong track
Train commuters taking the 10.55am from Andheri to Churchgate yesterday had an unexpected dose of entertainment. The train’s public address system clicked on, and the motorman’s voice came through the speaker.

“Attention all passengers,” he said. And then his mobile phone rang. Possibly flustered by having to multi-task, he answered the phone — but forgot to turn the microphone off.

Thus it was that a trainload of passengers heard the motorman’s conversation — it sounded like his wife on the line, as he said, “Yes, I have paid the electricity bill. Yes ok, I will pick it up on the way home in the evening.”

The commuters were having a whale of a time listening to this “slice of life” until the motorman realised he was being overheard, and turned off the mike. Some commuters quipped, “Wish he had told us earlier, we could have asked him to pay our electricity bill also!”

Think pink
Flamingo watchers may balk at the idea of their favourite hobby becoming a family activity, but the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) aims to encourage interest in these birds and other winged visitors with its ‘Flamingo Festival’ at Sewri today, from noon to sunset. The occasion includes the launch of the children’s book Phia, The Little Flamingo and an exhibition by the BNHS.

The BNHS’ Flamingo Festival is today
The BNHS’ Flamingo Festival is today

People wanting to do more on a Saturday than tramp through the malls or catch a mindless flick, can head over to the Sewri Jetty — either drive via the Mumbai Port Trust road, or take the Harbour train line. Buses have been organised from Sewri station (East) from 11.30am, at half-hour intervals. Wear comfortable footwear and remember, don’t litter.

Circus punch to cruelty
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is known for roping in celebrities to espouse their causes.

Vijender Singh
Vijender Singh

From dressing them up in fur, to caging them, (the celebrities) PETA uses different ways to shock and get attention for the cause. Now, we see Olympic boxing star the good looking Vijender Singh landing a punch on circus cruelty.

In PETA’s latest ad, Vijender is posing next to the tagline, ‘Knock out Cruelty: Boycott Animal Circuses’. The star who was recently embroiled in a drug controversy, seems to have put that behind him as he gears up for his next rounds.

In this ad, he is urging fans to say no to animal circuses. “Animals cherish their freedom every bit as much as we do, but circuses deny them their freedom and every other form of natural expression”, Singh says in a knockout sign off note.

History or horse-tory?
The Mahalaxmi racecourse is all excited about celebrating 130 years, and is underlining the significance of the anniversary with this poster.

It reads: “Before Dadasaheb Phalke, after Yash Chopra. Before Victoria Terminus, after the Sea Link. Before the mills, after the malls. Before the telegram, after the telegram. Before the vada pav, after the Big Macs.

Before Shivaji Park, after Tendulkar. One place has always been there for the Mumbaikar, and always shall.” We’re not sure if the racecourse was in existence before the mills, but we admire the fervour that is evident in the words.

Contributed by: Sachin Kalbag, Maleeva Rebello, Hemal Ashar, Vidya Heble

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