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Mumbai Diary page: Tuesday Tales

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

Push comes to shove
Competition is a by-product of this dog-eat-dog world, but people can sometimes take the concept too far. This correspondent was witness to just such a situation on Sunday, the first day of the Mount Mary Fair in Bandra.

Of course, we are accustomed to the jam-packed crowds that throng the area every year, but what was off-putting was the mad rush by the faithful to be the “first” to enter the church. It may be said that the meek shall inherit the world, but out there it was all about the mighty with the most muscle, who shall visit the church first.

This desire to be the first even saw a lady with a couple of kids knock down some other devotees in an attempt to be at the front of the line. How we wish these Mumbaikars showed the same kind of resilience, determination and competitive instinct in their workplaces as well.

Samosa is a Chinese dish, of course
We desis are by now used to all sorts of Indian modifications of international cuisines, adapted to the robust Indian palate. So that oddity, the Chinese samosa, is not a stranger to our tongues. But even we, perhaps, would balk at serving it to a true-blue Chinese person. Not, apparently, the Indian Railways.

International flavour of sorts at CST
International flavour of sorts at CST

The Chinese delegates who visited Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus yesterday, to discuss the proposed high-speed rail corridor, were served among other things that very same oddity. Along with dimsum and spring rolls, and the ubiquitous sandwiches, Chinese samosas found their place on the refreshment table.

We wonder what the “real” Chinese thought of this aberration… but then, considering how Indian food has morphed and spread across the world, we think it is only fitting that Chinese cuisine joins in this competition as well!

Fab in the bag
For many long years, local and visiting shoppers used to feel varying degrees of goodwill at the carry bags (pictured below) that clothing chain FabIndia used to give out its goods in. Made from old newspaper pasted into sturdy bags, with handles of rough-and-ready jute string, the bags spoke of a do-good aspect both in the retailer and in the buyer.

Never mind that we were shelling out the bucks for classy hippie chic, we felt gratified at the end of the transaction because these bags are made by NGOs which help people in need. Somewhere, we felt, someone had benefited because of the bag that we carried.

And now we find that FabIndia no longer uses these recycled newspaper bags. Instead, we get our togs handed over in slightly blah brown paper bags, emblazoned with the logo, and with what we can only describe as more upmarket handles. Is it the price of raddi that has led FabIndia to this change? We want to know.

Finding feni after Fanny
Overheard post a screening of Finding Fanny (which is set in a fictitious Goa village), on Sunday morning, as the cinema crowd was making its way out of a Lower Parel multiplex: “Man, I need a drink after this, what say we start Finding Feni?” Goa, please note.

A still from the film
A still from the film

Incidentally, the potent brew is distilled from both cashew and coconut, and the cashew version has been awarded the UN geographical indication (GI) registration as “a speciality alcoholic beverage from Goa”.

Cashew feni is the more, shall we say, fragrant of the two, which is perhaps why the designation was sought after by the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers & Bottlers Association and the Department of Science, Technology & Environment of the Government of Goa. Poor old coconut feni, not nearly as strong-smelling (and actually thus a good candidate for potential export), has not had a GI application made for it.

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