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Mumbai Diary page: Wednesday Whispers

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

Playing to the wrong beats
One of the joys of listening to All India Radio in these days of innumerable FM stations, is the sheer size and the richness of their archives. And so it was with much happiness that Wednesday Whispers tuned in to 100.7 MHz to listen to a tribute to Ustad Alla Rakha Khan on his 95th birth anniversary.

As we began our journey from Vile Parle, the RJ, with her deep sonorous voice and extensively researched narration, impressed us. But we got the feeling that she impressed herself equally as well; because she did not stop talking till we had reached the treacherous traffic jam at Kherwadi on the Western Express Highway, six kilometres away.

We were already 15 minutes into the programme (and her monologue), so when she told us about the brilliant collaborations of the Ustad with Pandit Ravi Shankar, and that she would play one, we went, “Phew! Finally.” But our relief lasted a mere 30 seconds or so.

She played the piece from somewhere in the middle, and then ended it half a minute later. It was like entering a movie hall at the beginning of the intermission and then being asked to leave the premises at the end of the break.

But hope springs eternal in the human breast. Or so they say. Her next monologue was about the tabla maestro’s collaboration with the legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich. We smiled in anticipation, only to hear a repeat of the Ravi Shankar fiasco. This clip was even shorter.

At this point, we had had enough and changed channels, going back to regular Bollywood programming. Admittedly, we love All India Radio. In the cacophony of private FM stations dishing out the same stuff ad nauseam, AIR is like a breath of fresh vintage air.

But, dear bureaucrats at AIR, here’s the thing: we tune in to listen to great music, and no matter how much your RJs are in love with their voice, we would have still preferred to listen to the magic created by the Ustad on the tabla. It was an opportunity lost.

Time to pause, time to spare for a clock fair
In A city where time is a tyrant, unique timepieces and the latest in clocks and watches will be on display at the 17th International Watch and Clock Fair called ‘Samaya Bharti’ to be held in Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai from May 1 to May 4.

The iconic Rajabai clock tower, the city’s most recognisable symbol of time, will not be at this exhibition though!
The iconic Rajabai clock tower, the city’s most recognisable symbol of time, will not be at this exhibition though!

The event, is expected to bring together at least 100 national and international companies and watchies (is that a word for those with a weakness for watches?) will be able to see some great watch and clock brands from Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, China, Italy, France, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Middle East, USA and Hong Kong.

One hears there are also going to be watch accessories and lifestyle products. For more serious matters, delegates at the four-day event are supposed to opine, exchange thoughts and views on a number of topical and contemporary issues such as import duties on premium watches, the current market scenario, government policies and the global market for premium/ fashion brands among other issues. Hmmm. What would these time experts do, once the exhibition is over for the day and night falls? Rock around the clock, but of course.

Defensive driving, the wrong kind!
The defence forces are supposed to protect us not endanger us. But a vehicle with Ministry of Defence markings was seen indulging in some rash driving in the city last week, putting at risk a number of vehicles (as well as itself), and causing at least two cars to be involved in a mishap.

Fortunately no one was hurt, but what is galling is the attitude of the vehicle’s occupants, who shrugged off the matter and drove away. City resident Deepa Thomas was driving from Malad towards the south of the city along the Western Express Highway last week.

At the end of the Jog flyover, at Andheri, a jeep in front, with Defence Ministry registration and markings, suddenly veered off the road in order to take a U-turn at a place where there is a small opening but not an authorised road or turn-off.

The sudden swerving caused her to brake, and the car just behind her was unable to stop in time, and collided with hers. Thomas’ car suffered damage on the bumper, tail lights and side, but it is fortunate that no injuries were caused. Thomas told Wednesday Whispers, “I tried to tell the four men sitting inside the vehicle that they were in the wrong, but they did not even have the courtesy to say sorry, and just drove away from the spot.”

It should be noted that there is no U-turn between the end of the Jog flyover and the domestic airport flyover, where the vehicle made the illegal move. Thomas has written to the Defence Ministry, asking that action be taken against those who broke the law and acted so rashly. Thomas said, “I want a written apology, compensation for the damage to my car and also a commitment that government and defence vehicles will adhere to traffic rules unless it is a national emergency.”

Ministry of Defence Public Relations Officer Narendra Vispute said in response, “Deepa Thomas should immediately send us the pictures of the defence vehicle. We will verify the facts and then comment.” We hope they realise that no one is above the law, and certainly rash driving and rule-breaking cannot be condoned.

Contributed by: Sachin Kalbag, Hemal Ashar, Ranjeet Jadhav, Vidya Heble

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