Mumbai Diary page: Sunday shorts

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

Himalayan concerns in the city
On April 18, 2014, 16 Sherpas died in an avalanche which struck them while they were working in the Khumbu Icefall area, constructing routes for their clients. The climbing community the world over has been thrown into crisis by the tragic event, with climbers now in a quandary about whether they would be able to attempt the ascent at all this season.

Members of the Altitude Junkies Everest Expedition 2014 return from Mount Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu. Pic/AFP

According to latest reports, a couple of climbers have already started returning from base camp as Sherpas have decided to stay off work. The crisis has resonated in Mumbai too (we live in a global world) and the Everest, after all, holds all in its thrall.  Dr MS Gill, President Emeritus of the Himalayan Club at Mahalaxmi, has expressed the views of the Himalayan Club, asking serious questions about the accident.

An excerpt from his letter posted on the club’s website states: ‘This incident raises disturbing questions. The yearly Everest climb by this route, with oxygen, tour guides and every possible assistance, has little of the 19th century sports endeavour left in it. Those who climb with help of all these aides, the assistance of tour guides and Sherpas, even when some of them are neither trained nor fit, do so for their moment of glory, simply because they can afford the money. Therefore, we have today very large numbers going up in crowded queues, sometime leading to fatalities, and always environmental damage.”

Surely, some of these words must resonate with climbers in Mumbai and elsewhere. Meanwhile the Himalayan Club in the city also added: ‘The Himalayan Club shares the anguish of the families of the Sherpas who perished, the Sherpas who are alive and fighting for the rights of their community and the anger of the world mountain community. It is time for some authorities to take some cognizance of the warning signals that the mountain is sending.’

Five-star access
At a recent Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) event in the city at the Trident Hotel in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi struck a serious, introspective note. The activist said, “I am a hijra, I do not identify myself as a transgender but we come under the transgender umbrella.” She added, “It is not just laws, policies or court judgements that are a barometer of how far we have come.

The fact that I am allowed entry into this hotel, a five-star hotel at that, is an indicator. Just a few years ago, it would be unthinkable.” Silence followed that candid observation. The truth had touched a raw nerve. One could not help but wonder though, that Laxmi may have been allowed because she was part of a United Nations (UN) event. Would she, or others of her ilk, still be allowed into five-star hotels without the umbrella of an international organisation hosting an event? It’s a question that has no easy or quick answer.  

Lord’s set for Indian summer
It’s indeed an Indian summer in England this year. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team will be touring Old Blighty for a five-match Test series — yes that many Tests for the first time in 50 years — and Lord’s Cricket Ground is dressed for the occasion even before it hosts the second Test on July 17.

Portraits of former India captains Dilip Vengsarkar, Bishan Singh Bedi and Kapil Dev at the MCC Museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London. Pic courtesy/Marylebone Cricket Club

Visitors to the fabled ground’s museum will find portraits of three Indian greats — Dilip Vengsarkar, who is the only non-Englishman to score three successive hundreds at Lord’s, Bishan Bedi, who claimed six wickets in an innings there in the 1974 Test and Kapil Dev, the only India captain to win a Test at Lord’s (in 1986).

Apart from these portraits, what holds pride of place at the Marylebone Cricket Club museum is mid-day lensman Atul Kamble’s Wisden-MCC Cricket Photograph of the Year 2013. Kamble’s image of Tendulkar walking out to resume his innings against the West Indies in his farewell Test on November 15, 2013 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai is the most talked about image in cricket circles today. And deservedly so, we may add.

Temporary grandma
Kindness is often unexpected. While on an exhausting bus ride in the afternoon, a little girl was crying at her loudest. Her parents were unable to calm her down and that’s when an elderly lady seated behind them decided to take matters into her hands — quite literally. She stood up, leaned over the seat in front of her and urged the young mother to let her hold the baby. Then, she sat down and held the baby close to her chest. The old lady not only rocked the baby calmly but also alternated between blowing air onto her cheeks and neck, and gently kissing her forehead and temples. The little girl didn’t make a sound again as her head found comfort on the elder woman’s shoulder.

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