Mumbai Diary page: Tuesday Tales

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

Politics is so xoxo
Festivals come before franchise, as opposition candidates Priya Dutt and Poonam Mahajan proved yesterday.

Priya Dutt and Poonam Mahajan at the Gudi Padva rally in Vile Parle, yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Priya Dutt and Poonam Mahajan at the Gudi Padva rally in Vile Parle, yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

The former is a Congress candidate from the North Central constituency while the latter is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contestant for the same seat. The two women accidentally met at a Gudi Padva rally yesterday in Vile Parle.

Instead of daggers drawn, Poonam and Priya hugged each other, showing that contests aside, sometimes gals just want to greet each other. What can we say but: “The polls are a hotly contested race, but candidates are only human and so they can embrace.” Bad poetry. Surprising politics.

The street-corner tourist guide
Recently, one of our colleagues was waiting to cross the road at a street corner in Byculla when a taxi pulled up, with a man in the front passenger seat.

The driver leaned across to ask, “Madam, please help?” It was mid-morning but nevertheless wary of a possible robbery or scam attempt, our colleague cautiously asked what was wrong. The driver asked her to speak to the passenger in English and clarify whether his destination was the Oberoi mall or the Oberoi hotel.

Turned out the man was from Egypt, and wanted to buy clothes for his wife and kids. But when the driver explained (via our street-corner interpreter) that it was a long way to the Oberoi mall in Goregaon, the Egyptian hastily said he did not want to travel so far.

“I just want to shop. Not too expensive!” he emphasised. At which both our colleague and the driver hit upon the solution — Linking Road in Bandra. And off they went, with the visitor thanking our colleague profusely. We hope he had a happy day shopping. And hope all tourists are as lucky as him, to find such a helpful street-corner tourist guide!

Silent might
As the elections heat up and franchise day draws nearer, smartphones and screens are buzzing with jokes and quips. The latest WhatsApp wisecrack doing the rounds is: “If you get blank calls from a private number, don’t panic.

Illustrations/Amit Bandre

It’s just Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, campaigning for the Congress.” Chuckles and cheers to India’s silent man, dubbed as Maunmohan Singh by a (sometimes) quick-witted Narendra Modi.

This rickshaw driver rocks
One of the latest movies is playing on a 14-inch screen. The 2.1 surround sound music system with bass provides perfect support.

Ganesh Gupta's hi-fi autorickshaw. Pics/Harit Joshi

The cosy seating completes the set-up. Now, you would be excused if you think this is a scene straight from a living room. This, however, is the description of an autorickshaw spotted at Goregaon on the western express highway.

When we asked Ganesh Gupta, the owner of the rickshaw, what prompted him to install these gadgets, he said, “It is about giving my customers extra service. I believe in giving value for money. There is a lot of competition.” Not just the music system and the mini screen, there is also a fire extinguisher.

And all this has cost him a whopping Rs 45,000. Gupta said work is on to have a newspaper and magazine box, and a water bottle stand for his customers. “My wish is also to install a WiFi network or an internet wireless dongle in the future,” said Gupta. The future of rickshaw commuting? Ekdum hi-tech.

Thirty years’ experience
Television anchor Rajdeep Sardesai has been a newspaper journalist but may have forgotten what it was like, as he recently stirred up a furore when he remarked, at a conference, that 30 years ago journalists were no more than glorified stenographers, collecting press releases and rehashing them.

Perhaps he did not realise that many journos have been here for longer than 30 years and that many of them have good memories. Moreover, several contemporary journalists have cut their teeth under the good old warhorses of a generation gone by, and it has been gratifying to note their indignation too.

After all, there certainly is the merit of sheer years notched up at the very least, as immortalised by the multi-faceted roles played by Satish “Thirty years ka experience hai!” Shah in the Doordarshan sitcom Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi.

A scathing, yet courteously-worded, article in the online journal The Hoot noted that the other two journalists on the panel at the conference Aroon Purie and Shekhar Gupta are of the vintage so callously dismissed by Sardesai, and yet did not speak up. Perhaps his chutzpah simply stunned them into silence. And as one newsroom wag remarked, maybe Sardesai was simply trying to cover up the fact that he himself cannot type...

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