Mumbai Diary page: Sunday shorts

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

Wah ustad!
Perhaps the highlight of this season, Mumbai’s winter if one could call it that, is the slew of music concerts in the city. There’s a biggie for the aficionado in the form of the 15th Barsi of Ustad Allarakha which will be held on February 3.

Zakir Husain for Abbaji, living on through the tabla
Zakir Husain for Abbaji, living on through the tabla

Ustad Allarakha was also fondly known as Abbaji. Artistes from all over India and other countries too are coming together at Shanmukhananda Hall in Sionto pay homage to the legendary guru and tabla maestro. ‘Homage to Abbaji’ has been one of the highlights of the classical music calendar for the past 15 years.

So, just as the birds are chirping, the joggers are pounding the Mumbai roads and the first streaks of dawn stretch across the horizon, one will see crowds making their way to the venue at 6.30 am on February 3. It begins with tabla gurus and their disciples presenting the ‘taal pranam’.

Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan, Ranjit Barot, U Rajesh, Sivamani, Ganesh Rajgopalan, Sridhar Parthasarathy, Niladri Kumar, Sabir Khan and Rakesh Chaurasia will pay a spiritual musical tribute to mandolin wizard U Srinivas.

There are afternoon and evening sessions too, and like the flourish on a signature, the grand finale of the evening will be a jam session led by Zakir Hussain, featuring several national and international artistes. Free passes for this concert will be available an hour before each session at the hall on the day of the concert. Well that sounds like music, or tabla beats to our ears.

Selfie make-up
Much has been said about taking a selfie that it can cause narcissism, mental illness and addiction. Now we are not going to start a debate, but would like to bring to light many of its, ahem, benefits.

The local trains are a great platform to study Mumbaiites and that’s where we chanced upon an awesome use of the selfie. A passenger sitting opposite us turned on the camera of her iPhone on portrait view, and instead of clicking a selfie, applied lipstick. Now who needs a mirror when there’s the selfie mode on your phone.

Waving to Obama
We in India are so accustomed to life standing still when heads of state visit, that it would be one of the wonders of the world if we actually saw one of them in person. Let alone up close. But your friendly neighbourhood diarist has had the privilege of seeing US President Barack Obama at waving distance.

US President Barack Obama. File pic
US President Barack Obama. File pic

Not in India, but on a visit to Singapore a couple of years ago. And it was sans fanfare, almost without warning. We were enjoying a coffee at a sidewalk cafe when we noticed that the main road, which was perpendicular to us about 200 meter away, became suddenly quiet and clear.

There were two policemen there but no other uniformed presence. So we were not quite sure what was going on. Then came an official state car, at a fast clip. It was followed by another which certainly looked like a pilot car.

We thought we’d get closer, and even as we began walking towards the main road, there came the POTUS vehicle, a sleek black limousine. What was surprising was that the rear window was down, and Obama was leaning out, waving and smiling. We of course screamed like girls, jumped up and down, and waved back.

Imagine that happening in India. Actually, we can’t imagine. The only thing we see when heads of state pass by, is a bullet-proof window reflecting our own
disappointed faces.

No World Cup 2015 for veteran Cozier
Much has been written about the World Cup exclusion of West Indies stalwarts Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, both household names in the Indian Premier League.

Tony Cozier
Tony Cozier

There will be another famous West Indies name missing in Australia and New Zealand next month the highly respected commentator and sunday mid-day columnist Tony Cozier.

The 74-year-old voice of West Indies cricket will miss his first World Cup in two decades. He has seen it all since the inaugural one in 1975 except the 1987 and 1996 (both held in the Indian sub-continent) editions which Cozier skipped due to health reasons.

This time though, it is learnt, he hasn’t been picked. Probably the commentary bosses think he’s not young enough and he’s not a Test player. We’d like to contest that because Cozier hasn’t lost his voice and authority.

And while we say that, cricket commentary’s most enduring product will continue to grace our pages with his incisive and bold writing.

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