Mumbai Diary page: Thursday Theme
The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Bridge across time & borders
It reads like a movie script. Writer Saaz Aggarwal was sorting through old stuff when she came across a small document that tells an entire story.
The special India-Pakistan passport which was issued just after Independence. Pic/courtesy Saaz Aggarwal
Here it is, in her own words: “Clearing out my parents’ home after my mother died, I came across this 1957 India-Pakistan passport belonging to my dad. It appears that a special passport was issued for travel between the two newly-separated countries.
“I knew that my father had visited Pakistan as a young man. But all I knew of the visit was that as he was leaving, his passport, given to the Karachi police on entry, appeared to have been misplaced and there were some seriously tense moments until it was found.
“Now, connecting the dots in the unearthed documents, I’ve learnt more. In 1956, soon after completing his MSc in Chemistry, my dad, Ramanand (Bob) Savur, joined Franco Indian, a pharmaceutical company in Bombay. He was 22 years old. He was appointed Statistical Officer, and promoted to Assistant Publicity Manager a few months later.
It was in this position that he travelled with his director, M Postel, to Karachi in August 1957, to appoint new agents, distributors and medical representatives. In Karachi, the distributor was Ali Gohar & Co, at an address on Bunder Road.
“Looking at the stamp in this passport, I realise that my father must have been in Karachi on the occasion of Pakistan’s tenth Independence Day! What were the celebrations? What did he see and do? “I posted on Facebook, tagging all the Pakistani friends who might be able to help.
I also sent an email to M Postel, via Anna Pinto of Franco Indian, and hope to receive a response soon.” For history buffs, sociologists, cultural scholars and just about anyone who loves an interesting story, this is rather exciting. We’ll be keeping an eye on the tale, so, as they say watch this space.
New generation woes
A young man was in an electronics store, when his mother called on his cellphone. He told her, “I’m buying a tablet.” His mother apparently took this to mean medicine, not a handheld computer, and a worried conversation ensued with the chap explaining that his health was fine, but struggling to define to his puzzled mother why the device is called a tablet.
Innovation is the key
This real estate firm seems to have hit upon a way to kill several birds with one stone. A bunch of young men are employed to wear sandwich boards advertising the company’s property, and stand by the side of a busy road in Dombivli East. When passers-by stop to see what they are advertising, one of them quickly gets details of the person, and hands out a brochure with more information.
Customers who get intrigued by the ‘walking advertisements’, are asked for their contact details. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
The person’s information goes into the builder’s database. The rest is for us to visualize. The construction site is at Badlapur, and is being advertised in this way at Ambarnath, Ulhasnagar, Kalyan and Dombivli. We guess the company is saving on ad hoarding costs by hiring these “mobile billboards”, plus they get people’s details which is not possible with a passive hoarding. Also, we are sure the youths are benefiting from being employed.
Tears for fears
For countless people, the word “alien” probably brings up images from the iconic 1979 film of that name, with the monstrous metal-effect creature terrorising space travellers and viewers alike.
The man who defined that image of alien horror for us died earlier this week at 74 after a fall in his home town in western Switzerland. Hans Rudolf Giger was the genius artist behind the monster in Ridley Scott’s landmark science fiction film Alien, for which he won an Oscar.
Intricate artwork went into designing the alien (top). (Below) Birth Machine, another well-known creation by Giger
But more than just designing aliens for movies, Giger was a cult hero for gamers, science fiction fans and Surreal Art followers all over the world. Mumbai has not escaped this pall of gloom that has spread across geekdom. Hundreds of online discussion groups continue to mourn his death, and there is hardly any nerd forum where Giger has not been praised for a lifetime of creating classics.
The website hrgiger.com gives viewers a glimpse of his genius, although at the moment it carries only a mourning message. Most of his art consisted of fusing humans and machines into some sort of a macabre reflection of society, in the process inspiring generations of filmmakers.
In an interview to a magazine in 1979, he said, “My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy. If they like my work they are creative or they are crazy.” If you take a look at his paintings, you might agree.
Gallop over to India
The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) with its headquarters at Mahalaxmi is on tenterhooks about the new government. The apex racing body is awaiting a most probable change at the top, which will then decide the fate of the racecourse, SoBo’s green lung.
RWITC chairman Vivek Jain (fourth from left) with the Asian Racing Federation flag in Hong Kong
The racecourse’s lease has expired last year, and currently, there has been no decision on whether the lease would be renewed. That uncertainty notwithstanding, racing is galloping ahead. The 35th Asian Racing Conference was recently held in Hong Kong, attended by 850 delegates from across the world. Bringing together the racing industry big wigs, it is four days of networking.
India and with that Mumbai was represented by RWITC chairman Vivek Jain, who represented the country there. Besides the horse talk (what else can it be when the enterprise is about equines?) and chatter there was top class racing at Hong Kong’s two race courses, which included night racing at Happy Valley.
Maybe the RWITC should explore the night racing concept next season. Imagine Mahalaxmi bathed in floodlights, a slight nip in the air, hot chocolate from the racing cafeteria and the sound of hooves on the ground... seems stupendous.
Meanwhile, time to stop dreaming and focus on Hong Kong... Mumbai hosts the 36th Asian Racing Conference in January 2016. Jain was handed the Asian Racing Federation flag at the grand finale, a symbolic gesture that it is on to India to impress the racing world the next time around.
One hopes the authorities are listening and reading. A lease extension is in order, looking at the faith the racing world has reposed in India.