Mumbai Diary page: Wednesday Whispers

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

Warriors in a noble cause
Ashok Row Kavi, gay activist and founder of Humsafar Trust, and Wendell Rodricks, one of India’s top fashion designers, were awarded the Kashish Rainbow Warriors Award on Sunday night at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) film fest held at Alliance Francaise and Liberty Theatre in the city.

Ashok Row Kavi receiving the rainbow sash from Celina Jaitley at Kashish 2014
Ashok Row Kavi receiving the rainbow sash from Celina Jaitley at Kashish 2014

The award, which was instituted this year, recognises the work of persons in furthering LGBT rights. Bollywood actor and former Miss India Celina Jaitley, gay rights supporter and a visible presence at queer events in the city, presented Kavi with a trophy and a rainbow sash at the closing ceremony at Liberty Cinema.

Kavi stated, “We live in difficult times following the Supreme Court verdict recriminalising same sex relationships, and a turbulent political climate. Don’t rely on politicians or Parliament to come to the aid of the community or change laws. We all fought for decades to get the law changed. The fight now will have to be fought by us.”

Goa-based fashion designer Wendell Rodricks was in breathtaking Bhutan at the time, but he was there, in spirit at least, with this message: “My dear friends, from over the rainbow in Bhutan, I send you my best wishes. I regret that I am not with you all this evening. This year 2014 has truly begun as a year for the LGBT community in India.

Despite the Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377, the transgender community got sexual status recognition ... and an openly gay man received the Padma Shri. And now you give me this award. How honoured and happy am I! Thank you everyone at Kashish. More power to us all. More peace, freedom and equality in India and the world around us. Soldier on. Stay happy. And gay!”

Lift to the 10th floor
Mumbai may well have its own urban legend about a mysterious lift. And we don’t need to house it in any decades-old building either, a modern office block is fine.

At Indiabulls Finance Centre, Elphinstone Road, the lift in Tower 3 is notorious for stopping at the 10th floor after 11 pm, every night, even when no one has pressed the button from that floor. In fact, the 10th floor houses the McDonald’s office, and is usually deserted after 8pm.

Not just other employees, even the liftmen are spooked by the mystery stops, and a few months ago the liftmen tried waiting on the 10th floor to see if anyone was pranking them. There was no one on the floor, but the lifts nevertheless stopped, and the call button lit up as if someone had pressed it.

The liftmen say they have checked the lift’s electronics and found no fault in the system. People who work late in the building including the employees of two newspapers and one television channel — are used to a “blank call” kind of stop at the 10th floor, but no one has pinpointed the cause yet.

The McDonald’s office on the 10th floor has the standard plastic model of Ronald McDonald sitting on a bench, in the corridor, and to add to the spooky happenings it was found on the ground floor one morning — bench and all. Some wondered whether it was Old McDonald himself pressing the lift button.

Where there’s smoke...
China, our regional rival and originator of our knick-knacks, is taking what seems to be a radical step in the cause of cleaner air.

Reports say it is scrapping close to six million old cars, which don’t meet emission standards, in order to reduce the air pollution particularly in the north of the country. A couple of months ago we read about a similar move, restricting the use of cars on certain days, in Paris.

Mumbai may not want to emulate Europe but surely we can keep up with our fellow Asians. Of course, scrapping vehicles is a drastic step and in any case, given India’s flourishing kabaadiwala industry where nothing is thrown away if it can be recycled, the scrapped cars will probably end up repurposed into new avatars, defeating the endeavour altogether.

PS: By the way, when we say “scrapping vehicles” we don’t mean “stopping production entirely” a la the classic Ambassador. Are you listening, Hindustan Motors?

Swearing by a laugh
We thought it odd that Maneka Gandhi chose to take her oath in English at Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, considering she speaks Hindi quite well. A colleague remarked that maybe she is getting Anglicised and is going to become “Monica” Gandhi.

Milky way
The heat of summer can send tempers rising along with the thermometers, but there are those who spare more than a thought for four-legged friends.

The dog gets the milky treat all to himself
The dog gets the milky treat all to himself

The heat affects animals just as much as humans, and sometimes it is worse because the animals cannot turn on the tap to cool off with some water. Kind souls don’t forget their animal companions, even if they are neighbourhood strays.

Bowls of water kept out are regular sights, and the now-unused grinding stones make excellent receptacles for water that cats, dogs and birds too enjoy. Often, dogs get treated to cups of vanilla ice cream which they lap up with glee.

We saw a kind-hearted dairyman share some milk with this stray dog on a hot afternoon the other day. Maybe the milk had spilled from a sloshing receptacle or a torn packet; whatever the cause, the dog was enjoying the treat.

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