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Mumbai Diary page: Wednesday Whispers

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

Been there, heard that
South Africa is calling, Cape Town to be precise and look who is heeding that musical call... it’s Rakesh and Friends (RAF) Fusion Group, which includes flautist Rakesh Chaurasia and his talented colleagues, who have been invited for the 15th Cape Town International Jazz Festival, South Africa to be held on March 28 and 29.

Rakesh and Friends (RAF), a group of young musicians who believe music is going global, consists of Rakesh Chaurasia (flute), Gino Banks (drums), Satyajeet Talwalkar (tabla), Sheldon D’Silva (bass guitar), Sanjoy Das (guitar) and Sangeet Haldipur (keyboard)
Rakesh and Friends (RAF), a group of young musicians who believe music is going global, consists of Rakesh Chaurasia (flute), Gino Banks (drums), Satyajeet Talwalkar (tabla), Sheldon D’Silva (bass guitar), Sanjoy Das (guitar) and Sangeet Haldipur (keyboard)

For jazz aficionados, the festival is also knows as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, earning that moniker because it is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. Like every year, the event is to take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). The schedule spans five stages and over 40 artistes performing over two nights.

It is made up of a 50/50 split between South African and international artistes. Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of the legendary flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, makes all the correct noises when he calls this a “proud moment” and stresses that more so, because the aim is “cultural exchange and bringing together musicians from all over the world to represent their respective countries and music”. We agree. Now, RAF, go rock it.

SS spice mix in election masala
Election fever sees parties and candidates trying to score points over one another, often with allegations flying fast and furious on all sides. Not content with speeches and slogans, the Shiv Sena has brought out a slim book encapsulating various scams that they say took place during the Congress-NCP rule in Maharashtra.

Titled Ghotalebaaz (roughly, “scamster”), it is a compilation of various allegations levelled against the Congress-NCP government in the state, from 2000 onwards till date. But whether the party leaders have taken these allegations to a logical conclusion, is left unsaid.

Tiger, tiger – that’s a Wagh!
Recent news about leopard sightings has made residents hyper-vigilant apparently, for any and all big cats. We received an excited call from a resident near Sanjay Gandhi National Park, saying his neighbour had spotted a tiger and had even captured a video of the striped cat on his mobile phone.

We were sceptical because the city is not known for tiger movement, but nevertheless, we went over to check out the story. Turns out the big cat which had been sighted and videoed was a leopard – not uncommon in the environs. The person who had tipped us off was disappointed, but explained it away saying, “The man who spotted the big cat his name is Wagh (tiger), maybe that’s why he got confused!”

Never say ‘bye’ for Tata’s old boys
Old cricketers, as we know, never go away… they sometimes make reappearances on the pages of your favourite newspaper! More often, they meet on the field and off, making for great reminiscences and photo-op moments.

One such occasion was the felicitation by the Tata Sports Club of its current team, which won the Times Shield cricket tournament recently. The club invited its former players to the event, and it was a rare opportunity to catch up with the old boys. Hemant Kenkre, who was one of the gang, shared a picture of the moment, capturing the camaraderie. Kenkre was Sachin Tendulkar’s captain when the batting maestro first played for the Cricket Club of India in 1989.

Talking about the money...
AT A time when the state coffers are depleted and the state debt is soaring to new heights, the sales tax department has to step up to the crease and do its best. More so as the government is insisting on maximum income through VAT to shoulder additional financial burdens such as the cost due to the hailstorms in the state’s interiors.

Milind Gunjal, Ravi Kulkarni, Lalchand Rajput, Kiran More, Milind Rege, Ranjan Baindoor, Alan Sippy, Hemant Kenkre, Raju Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar
Milind Gunjal, Ravi Kulkarni, Lalchand Rajput, Kiran More, Milind Rege, Ranjan Baindoor, Alan Sippy, Hemant Kenkre, Raju Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar

The department is already under pressure to meet the annual target of Rs 72,000 crore set for the current fiscal ending on March 31. With the elections looming, the state branch of the Election Commission of India has sought the services of senior level officials such as assistant commissioners and officers, leaving the department high and dry. Do they meet the March-end deadline, or report for election-related work?

Finally, the state federation of sales tax officers found its own way of lodging its protest as the departmental bosses were unwilling to intervene. Officials started working for an extra two and a half hours, beyond their usual time of 5.30 pm. Also, besides exemption from poll duty, they also added other demands such as better working conditions, computerisation and much-needed additional space. To begin with, they received exemption from poll duty last week. For the rest, they are still working...

Contributed by: Ravikiran Deshmukh, Hemal Ashar, Ranjeet Jadhav, Vidya Heble

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