Mumbai Diary page: Sunday shorts

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

Just a bit of Brazil
Brazil, Brazil. With just a couple of days to go before the 2014 FIFA football World Cup kicks off on Thursday in Brazil, the focus will, of course, be on the South American nation. So, it seemed particularly apt that Mumbai got a peek of a few things Brazilian. Just recently, the Oberoi mall in Goregaon hosted a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Submission Wrestling Tournament. It was under the aegis of the Evolution Combat Sports Academy. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. We know this nugget of information is the size of a Brazilian nut, but when it is FIFA and football and when Brazil is the cynosure of all eyes, anything is so Rio-vetting.

Evolution Combat Sports Academy
From Brazil, with love: Jiu Jitsu at the mall is another indication of the fluid nature of spaces in the city. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

They, too, love their cricket
The annual J K Bose cricket tournament for sports journalists all over the country concluded yesterday at Uppal, near Hyderabad where the sports journos of this city got a chance to parade their T20 skills at a Test venue — the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. The enthusiasm and seriousness of this tournament cannot be underestimated going by the stories relayed to us by veterans of previous editions. Two of the many stories must be shared: In the early 1980s, long before Navjot Singh Sidhu returned from England in a huff in 1996 when he discovered he was not in the playing XI for the opening Test at Edgbaston, a Mumbai-based reporter left for home from Delhi as soon as the captain declared he was not in the playing XI. A few years before that incident, the Mumbai team was traveling by train to reach a venue. When they realised that their delay at a particular station would be long, the captain called the team out for catching practice. And there was one East Zone team captain who imposed a curfew on his team the night before a key clash. Who said members of the fourth estate don’t take cricket seriously?

Dept Postmaster General Ronald Stroman
Dept Postmaster General Ronald Stroman (3rd R) and co-founder and President of the Harvey Milk Foundation Stuart Milk (3rd L) unveil the Harvey Milk Forever stamp during a ceremony in Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC

US and us
Whenever there is a meeting of the gay community in Mumbai, talk often focuses on where India ranks globally in terms of freedom, safety and progress, with reference to the community. In African countries, for example, the community is certainly much worse off when compared to India. Any feeling of triumph, though, is dispelled when one thinks of the US.

People listen as the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell speaks in front of The Stonewall Inn after announcing a new National Park Service initiative intended to identify places and events associated with the civil rights struggle of  LGBT Americans. Pics/AFP

The country is so far ahead of India in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) equal rights race that it seems laughable to compare. You need not even go to the US to realise that. Just go as far as the American Library at Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). The library has just sent a link to their latest Electronic Journal to a large database. The journal (EJ|USA) LGBT Rights in America Today. It focuses on how communities can support advancement of equal rights for persons who are LGBT.  The link for the same is:

Also consider the fact that the US just released a postal stamp on the late gay rights activist, Harvey Milk. The 2008 film, Milk, based on his life won Sean Penn (who played Harvey Milk) the Best Actor Oscar. The US has also launched an initiative to identify places and events associated with the struggle of LGBT persons and one will see, critics notwithstanding, just how closely the government works with the community. It is not just gay marriage but initiatives like these that are a barometer to how US is simply light years ahead of India when it comes to LGBT.

Coming shortly, to Mumbai

A few days ago, artiste Chintan Upadhyay unveiled a baby head sculpture near the Trident hotel at Nariman Point. Upadhyay’s artwork, which has scenes of Mumbai painted on a 10-foot high, red-coloured head, was part of an RPG Group initiative to bring art to the streets and the public. More artwork on traffic junctions in Mumbai was to follow. The next one is a 13-foot dabbawalla (they seem to have become symbolic of Mumbai’s enterprising spirit and a source of perennial fascination for tourists, especially) to be installed at Mumbai’s Crawford Market, opposite the Police Commissioner’s office. The art work was supposed to be unveiled on June 11 but we hear it has been pushed back to June 18, since artiste Valay Shende is travelling. All one can say is that the inanimate dabbawalla may be delayed but much to the relief of the hungry hordes, the real life one is always on time.

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