Mumbai Diary page: Tuesday Tales

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

On a serious note
City lounge Blue Frog is not only about the music. From time to time in fact, each month, as they say the Frog “incubates” ideas through discussions and presentations during its Avid Idealogy Series. This Friday, it is hosting a panel discussion on “New narratives of economic progress for a connected world”, from 6.30pm.

Inspired by the book The Connected Age by Sudhakar Ram, the discussion will envision a future world order that works for the people and the planet with Ram, Grameen Capital India CEO Royston Braganza, and Rajni Bakshi, Gandhi Peace Fellow at Gateway House, author and expert on the open-source economy.

Yes, it’s Friday evening a time when you’re probably thinking of getting frivolous rather than serious. But the discussion is scheduled to end at 8.30pm — so you have plenty of time to kick back and chill. Or, of course, continue thinking profound thoughts.

In a puff of smoke
With the price of cigarettes having gone up practically immediately after the duty on them was hiked in the Budget, we hope the result will be fewer smokers (and tobacco chewers too). If health warnings don’t work, perhaps making the fiery sticks too pricey to afford will do the trick.

As it is, people don’t seem deterred by the statutory messages on the packets, and the clear-cut messages sent out in the promo films that are shown in cinemas and on television. In fact, we heard a rumour recently about Mukesh Harane, the young man who was shown in one of the films while he was in hospital being treated for cancer.

Harane subsequently passed away, and his story is shown as a cautionary tale against smoking and tobacco use. However, the rumour says that he is still alive, and it was only a publicity stunt. Well, this is an urban legend from all accounts, and we hope people stop claiming to have seen him on public transport, because it’s simply unjust to his memory as well as to the campaign.

Sure, there are lots of people who say they smoke and chew tobacco, and are in good health - but the correlation between tobacco and harmful diseases is just too strong to ignore. Moreover, smokers should note that besides nicotine they also take in tar and carbon monoxide, as well as additives in the tobacco. Might as well go and breathe deeply on a crowded highway!

Tongue tied
The month-long period of dawn-to-dusk fasting and dusk-to-dawn feasting is upon us. And during one such feasting trail, the discovery of a new delicacy left us tongue-tied literally. In a tiny lane, just ahead of the famous Minara Masjid, is this little eatery that mushrooms only during the month of Ramzan.

Ramzan eats include this tongue-tickler. Pic/Waleed Hussain

It serves soup, and its speciality over and above the spicy chicken soup is an even spicier tongue soup. Served hot and laced with dollops of meat, the zabaan soup retails at Rs 160 a bowl. Now, what better way to start a night of feasting than a bowl of awesome soup.

Once your tongue has been tickled, the next item on the plate is the liver, kidney, heart and fried chicken sautéed on a flaming tawa. And while taking a small walk to digest the kingly feast in your belly, you can sample some more kebabs on the way.

Profit and loose
The apex body for consumer issues, the Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI), has discovered that there is large-scale adulteration in the edible oil sold loose in the market.

Drs MS Kamath and Sitaram Dixit of CGSI at the press conference. Pic/Sameer Markande
Drs MS Kamath and Sitaram Dixit of CGSI at the press conference. Pic/Sameer Markande

At a press conference yesterday, they cited findings which, they say, prove that as high as 64 per cent of samples were adulterated (cheaper oil, such as palm oil, are mixed into more expensive oils like groundnut and coconut, for profit).

According to the society, they started their study by enlisting volunteers and students who were told to buy loose oil from across the city (Malad to Mahim, Mulund, Navi Mumbai). A total of 269 of loose edible oil samples were collected and were checked for poisonous substances.

None were proven poisonous (harmful to health) but there were instances of mixing. Palm oil (palmolein) is the oil of choice when it comes to mixing, which is done for profit, say Dr M S Kamath, Secretary of CGSI and Dr Sitaram Dixit, Chairman of CGSI.

Now the society is marching off to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with these findings. Cynics must know that the FDA had cracked down on milk sellers when adulteration was found in milk in an earlier Consumer Guidance complaint.

While action is one thing, the consumer body says the aim is to tell the state government to stop allowing oil to be sold loose. “Action and prevention, that is our two-pronged aim,” they said as they were peppered with questions about why they have not tested packed and branded oil.

In the end, the press was served vada pav and kothmir vadi in bread. When talking about oil, perhaps it was apt that the snacks were fried.

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