Mumbai Diary page: Wednesday Whispers

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

Top of the pops
When a student scores a high it usually makes headlines. But when Delhi boy Sarthak Agarwal scored 99.6 per cent in the CBSE board examination, and a newspaper posted his photograph on its Facebook page, the desi internet sort of exploded.

Some of the comments on the photograph were congratulatory, but most made jokes around the topper’s achievement, and some became enshrined in meme-land too.

One, for example, said, “Rajnikanth gave a boy tuitions. Today that boy is known as Sarthak Agarwal.” Yet others made much of the fact that a student who does not wear glasses had topped the board. Some mimicked Arvind Kejriwal, saying “Itne mein toh teen gareeb pass ho jaate!”

It appears that Agarwal himself is not on social media (if he was, we might not have seen this magic figure) but if he sees these comments we hope he knows they are in the spirit of fun, and not mean-minded. At the end of the day, he has been immortalised in cyberia!

Finding the indicator
This is an instance at Bhandup railway station, on the south end, but it is observed at other stations too. The indicator showing the timing and other details of the next train is hidden, sometimes by the railways’ own display screen as in this picture, or by some advertisement or other obstruction.

Details are only visible up close
Details are only visible up close

At rush hour or even otherwise, when commuters are rushing to catch trains, it is frustrating at best and at times even dangerous that the indicator is obstructed like this.

Commuters have no way of seeing which train is next, and at what time, so every journey is a sort of gamble. Some may say it’s just an inconvenience, but considering all the other risk factors already present, this is just one more thing to make train travel a hazard.

Kicking and screaming
Tomorrow sees the start of the FIFA World Cup, and, as one commentator puts it, for the next six weeks or so, every other sport and for some people everything else in life is going to have to take a back seat.

Apart from our vibrant Sports section, we also bring you some football action on page 12, plus a thought-provoking editorial on page 14. Corner!

Toss of a coin
The little 25-paise coins have disappeared from view after having been demonetised a few years ago. You can only use them to make quirky jewellery now safe in the assurance that it won’t be stolen, hopefully! But even 50-paise coin seem to be losing currency, as it were.

Is the 50 paise coin set to follow suit?
Is the 50 paise coin set to follow suit?

The other day one of our colleagues gave a BEST bus conductor a couple of 50-paise coins as part of the fare, which he accepted without comment.

A little later when he had to give change to another passenger, an elderly man, he gave him those coins but the passenger, surprisingly, refused to accept them.

His contention was that no one accepts the coins any more and they would be no use to him. The conductor insisted that the coins are valid, but the passenger was equally adamant, and was joined by another senior citizen, a woman, who supported his “cause”.

Our colleague piped up in favour of the conductor, pointing out that she had originally given him the coins which she had received from a shopkeeper thus indicating that they are very much in use.

But the senior duo would not listen and even said they would complain against the conductor. He had done no wrong, obviously, so he calmly gave them his badge number. Sometimes the BEST just seems to become a convenient punching bag.

Under the net of city dreams
You may be forgiven for thinking an alien spaceship has landed on top of this truck (and there are many others like it). But it’s actually a mosquito net, secured firmly, sheltering the truck’s driver who has dossed down for the night.

In a city where space is more expensive than even some precious metals, most people who have no concrete, tin or tarpaulin over their heads choose to make a rectangle of pavement their bed for the night. However, even that is neither easy to come by nor free.

Pics/NIMESH Dave

And one also gets unwelcome company by way of mosquitoes. This truck driver’s solution seems the best — he serves as a watchman for the truck itself, sleeping as he does on the roof of the cabin; he doesn’t have to pay anyone (we hope) for the privilege of getting a night’s rest; and the mosquito net keeps away the little biters.

We hear of underprivileged people in developed countries sleeping in their cars because they have no home. Looks like we have some things in common...

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