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Mumbai Diary page: Tuesday Tales

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

Of movers and, well, Shekhars
You did read it here first. Just a week ago, Malavika’s Mumbai wrote that Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta was quitting to join India Today. Malavika Sangghvi even speculated on the reasons for the move, which she said was imminent.

The story in Malavika’s Mumbai on May 26
The story in Malavika’s Mumbai on May 26

And so it was. Gupta put in his papers yesterday, and wrote a slightly rambling letter of farewell to his colleagues. We can grant him that, because he certainly has spent very many years at the Express.

However, he did try to make amends, saying at the end, “One antidote to compulsive rambling is to steal a poet’s lines,” and in conclusion quoted a verse by Gulzar, from the song “Naam gum jaayega”...

“Din dhale jahan, raat paas ho,
Zindagi ki lau, oonchi kar chalo,
Yaad aaye gar kabhi, jee udaas ho,
Meri awaz hi pehchan hai,
Gar yaad rahe...
We will always be in touch...”

A grouse in any other lingo
Even as we read about city taxi drivers being given lessons on politeness and speaking English in a course initiated by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), the rest of the metropolis continues on its mad whirl racing, rushing and sometimes ricocheting as drivers crash into dividers and vehicles scrape corners in their hurry to get there faster, quicker, now.

We encountered one such rash rider the other day, a motorcyclist who decided to jump not one red light but two, at a busy multi-road junction. The gods were smiling on him and he did not fall victim to one of the many other legitimately crossing vehicles, but he did have a close encounter with a taxi.

The near escape did not prevent him, despite being squarely in the wrong, from unleashing a torrent of scathing verbiage on the cabby all in English. The cabby held his cool and let the motorcyclist careen off before remarking philosophically (in Hindi) to his passenger, “Whether in English or in Hindi, gaalis are gaalis!” We wonder what the MTDC has to say to that.

Words from Wadia that resonate in celebrity land
Just a few days earlier, this newspaper followed Mumbai’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) film festival, Kashish, from opening night and through various awards.

(l to r) Pia Benegal, Nitish Bharadwaj, Roy Wadia and Avantika Akerkar, jury members for the Kashish Queer Film Festival 2014
(l to r) Pia Benegal, Nitish Bharadwaj, Roy Wadia and Avantika Akerkar, jury members for the Kashish Queer Film Festival 2014

We had reported about how Roy Wadia, gay rights activist and part of the jury had, at a pre-festival press conference spoken out about how were times full of trepidation for the community, in India with the Supreme Court re-criminalising gay sex, and outside too.

“We have to remember that recently, the Sultan of Brunei has re-imposed Sharia law in the country. By that law, gay persons living there can be stoned to death,” he had said. Now, one reads that celebrities in the West, actors, fashion writers, the rich and the famous, are boycotting the Dorchester Group of Hotels in the UK, because they are owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

Those boycotting include the fashion world’s most powerful voice, Anna Wintour, and Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson. By bringing that to the notice of the press, Roy had put his finger on the pulse of a concerned world.

Now you sea it
When we visited the beach on the weekend, lifeguards were telling holidaymakers not to go into the water as the sea is rough. Then we heard one of them add, “When the sea is so rough, it means it will rain soon.” An old wives’ tale? We hope not!

Taking to the air
Browsing through the news feed yesterday we came across an arresting image a group of well-dressed people, strapped securely with harnesses, seated around a dinner table high above the ground.

With space a constraint, crowded Mumbai can surely follow the example of Belgium’s up-in-the-air restaurant concept. PIC/AFP
With space a constraint, crowded Mumbai can surely follow the example of Belgium’s up-in-the-air restaurant concept. PIC/AFP

The “Dinner in the Sky” concept has taken off, almost literally, in Brussels, Belgium, where 22 guests sit around a mini kitchen, a starred chef preparing and serving their meals and wine.

The whole business is suspended from a crane and the location - well, take your pick. Belgium has pulled off the stunt in its bid to grow in stature on the European gastronomic scene, but imagine this in crowded Mumbai, where even an inch of commercial space is as precious as, say, a white truffle.

If the airy-fairy dining concept is implemented, we would not have to think twice about dining with a view. Anywhere.

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