Mumbai Diary page: Saturday Scene

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

Chaas class
Maybe you had heard all those jokes about chaas (also colloquially known as the kutchi beer) just after Narendra Modi won the election. Maybe not.

The ultimate cooler, outside the Lalbaug Income Tax Office. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The ultimate cooler, outside the Lalbaug Income Tax Office. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Chaas though, is no laughing matter but livelihood for the family of Namrata, Sambhaji and Omkar Bhasme of Lower Parel, who have been selling chaas for six years now. They are stationed outside the Income Tax Office at Lalbaug (Parel) and their glasses of the refreshing, white drink are salve for parched throats this summer.

They say that they sell roughly 100 glasses a day during summer, and monsoon may see a slight dip in business, but not too much. Priced at Rs 10 a glass, they say when they started out, chaas was only Rs 3, but escalating milk prices have forced them to go double digits.

One sees copious amounts of people quaffing down the kutchi beer outside the tax office though. Evidently, when things get too hot inside the income tax hub, when there are beads of perspiration lining the brow thanks to the taxman, cool off with chaas.

Tusker bluster
Though the Forest Department has been diligent about its circular, banning the use of elephants in city limits, it seems mahouts may not have read them. An elephant was again seen in Dahisar East at around 11.30 am very recently. It was resting along with its mahout under the shade of a tree.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) had issued a circular on October 28, 2013, stating that elephant is listed at S. No-2 in Schedule-1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2002. The circular reads: "Elephants are often brought within the city limits of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.

These elephants are brought into the city to give joy rides, beg, entertain guests at weddings, act in serials and movies, bless and entertain guests at functions in temples and political rallies.

All of these activities carried out by elephants are in contravention with the Wildlife Protection Act." The question which arises is, even after officials have passed out the above circular, how and why are these mahouts still daring to take the elephants in and around the city?

Kaju katli and almond cookies
Mumbai's celebrated film journalist Bharathi Pradhan, was one of the few to have met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif when he was in Delhi recently, during Indian PM Narendra Modi's swearing in. Pradhan had originally gone to Delhi with Rakesh Roshan and family for the release of Roshan's biography.

(From l) Shatrugan Sinha, Bharathi Pradhan, Nawaz Sharif and Shatru's manager in Delhi
(From l) Shatrugan Sinha, Bharathi Pradhan, Nawaz Sharif and Shatru's manager in Delhi

Post book release, Shatrugan Sinha asked Pradhan, who is Shatru's official biographer to extend her stay in Delhi. Says Pradhan, "On Tuesday, we went to the Taj in the afternoon. Incidentally, Shatru and Nawaz Sharif have been friends for 30 years!"

Pradhan says with a laugh that Shatru introduced her to Sharif as, "My official biographer and an intellectual of the country!" Calling the meeting as "substantial" Pradhan also added that, "Shatru had taken along a box of kaju katli for the Pak PM as he knew he loved the sweet.

In return, Sharif gave Shatru two green boxes as gifts. On opening them, we saw that there were almond cookies inside," said off Pradhan, adding as a post script: "They were delicious." Analysts have described the invitation of the Pak PM as a 'Modi masterstroke'. Others say it is ding dong diplomacy. Call it whatever, but we say cross border exchanges like those of kaju katli and almond cookies are so much better than that of gunfire.

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