Mumbai Diary page: Thursday Theme

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

Footie fever on the feet
It's been over a month that Germany lifted the football World Cup crown in Brazil, and the impact of the tournament has led to a quantum leap in the following of the sport, not just among football fanatics but also young players who follow their stars on television.

One such case was evident during an inter-school football match at the Cooperage ground yesterday. For a semi-final match for his school, a 14-year-old footballer purchased shoes worth Rs 25,000. The youngster plans to play with those shoes for special matches. As this was an inter-school match played on an astro-turf surface for the first time he couldn’t stop himself from showing off his priced possession. The bonus was that his school won the match.

Filling it up
What do you do with a pothole? Put it on Google Maps, perhaps! When the roads of Mumbai are dotted with so many craters that they resemble the surface of Mars, road users have no option but to stretch their creativity. Some two-wheeler riders choose to ride on the pavements, which are in (slightly) better shape. And some wield their skills to weave around the potholes a la obstacle course races.

Words cannot do justice to the irony of this image. Pic/Amit Sangoi
Words cannot do justice to the irony of this image. Pic/Amit Sangoi

When it comes to manholes, however, it is a different story. Two-wheelers cannot risk braving them, and people are at real risk of falling in and being lost to humanity, perhaps forever. (We see a thriller film plot here, if anyone from Bollywood is listening.) The sensible thing would be to place a warning sign at a manhole which has been opened for maintenance or other official purposes.

Our city being what it is, however, it is all too likely that the sign itself will be lifted for its metal or plastic value! So we jugaad experts have gone one better, as in this instance at Malad - the manhole is marked with a poster stuck sideways into it, drawing attention to both the yawning gap and the message on the poster.

Heads up, I-Day is here
You cannot pass a traffic signal during this period without seeing the familiar tricolour in different sizes and avatars. It can be a simple paper flag on a bamboo stick, which people put up at their office cubicles, or a slightly more robust version that goes on the car dashboard.

The flag seller ahead of Independence Day. Pic /Harit Joshi
The flag seller ahead of Independence Day. Pic /Harit Joshi

Then there are attractive metal pins that can adorn a shirt pocket or hold a dupatta in place. Miniature flags are also in vogue, as they can be stuck just about anywhere. Come August 15, you won’t be at a loss to find some variant of the tricolour for your surroundings.

For this young vendor of the flags, balancing his wares on his head serves two purposes - better visibility as people in cars can see him from afar, and his hands are free to pass the goods on and receive his earnings.

Turn time
A little boy was overheard asking his mother for an answer amidst the hurly-burly of Churchgate station. The local train was stationary and was filling up as it neared peak hour.

The mother and son had found seats and the boy kept asking his mother, “Where does the train turn? How can it go back?” while his mother tried to patiently explain to him that the motorman can drive the train from both ends, so it does not need to turn around to go back in the direction in came from.. “No turns?” said the little boy, quite incredulous, to the amusement of passengers all around.

It’s Offline
A common lament nowadays is that e-reading devices are replacing “real” books. Publishing house Penguin India has taken a dig at the issue with a “disclaimer” on a recent release: “This book is an entertainment device and does not require batteries.”

Phone tone
Mobile phone users are being plagued with a new sort of nuisance - calls from international numbers, which ring for just a second or two so that there is no time to answer. If you call back, your phone balance gets debited big time, with the amount getting credited to the dialled number.

Local providers are warning their customers about such calls, and we thought we’d do our bit too. The calls often come from numbers beginning with +2 or +3 - Eastern Europe or Africa, in most cases. And they tend to come at odd hours of our clock, such as 2am and 3am.

Of course, Mumbai being a city that never sleeps there are always those of us up (if not about) at that hour. And if you see the “missed call”, think twice before calling back. As our cellphone company said in its warning message, “These may be fraudulent calls and will result in higher charges.”

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