Mumbai Diary page: Wednesday Whispers

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

Cops, an easy target
It is no secret that corruption exists among the police force, and traffic cops are probably the ones most said to be on the take. But this also means that people are only too ready to believe anything about the police, whether or not it is true.

In the age of connectivity, the logical conclusion to that is hoaxes. Sometimes termed the vandals of cyberia, hoax creators seem to get a secret kick out of sending out fake messages.

These messages usually contain some fact that sounds true, and a name that sounds real. One recent instance is a hoax message about a traffic policeman who literally holds people up late at night on the Western Express Highway and robs them.

This is supposed to have “really happened” to a lecturer at a coaching class, who is named in the message, but there is no person by that name and the holdups have never happened.  

It’s sad that people are so willing to accept the worst about Mumbai’s traffic police even believing them capable of thuggery. Two things must happen. We need to stop believing and spreading such messages. And the cops do need to pull up their socks!

In the name of health
For all its impressive-sounding title, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) has a tough time maintaining even general cleanliness within its ambit, going by this picture. Right in front of the board announcing its health department is a sprawling garbage dump, between sectors seven and 12 at Kharghar.

It's a public nuisance. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
It's a public nuisance. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

And it is not even supposed to be a garbage dumping area, as the place for garbage bins is demarcated but is not being used. This spot seems to be more convenient. Ironically enough, the Cidco office is just 100 feet away from this repulsive sight. But then, when the common man is bombarded with such sights, not to mention smells, every day, all over the city, why should Cidco be exempt, eh?

Talk in the time of monsoon
Noted Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away two months ago, was beloved of the Indian intelligentsia, among whom his writings struck a chord.

A discussion on Gabriel Garcia Marquez (centre, in this file picture) should be a sure draw for the thinkerati. Pic/Getty Images
A discussion on Gabriel Garcia Marquez (centre, in this file picture) should be a sure draw for the thinkerati. Pic/Getty Images

While Mumbai has thrown up its own crop of writers who can match Marquez’ style and brand of melancholy and wit, the Nobel laureate was a giant who occupied a unique space, and rightly so.

Those who have something to say about Marquez, or just want to hear and learn more about him, can attend a discussion on the writer today at the Asiatic Society. The event, organized by the society’s Literary Club, is at 4pm in the society’s Durbar Hall.

The discussion will be led by professor Vispi Balaporia, former head of English at Jai Hind College. Not too convenient in the middle of the working week, but if you can wriggle away from work early, it will be worth it.

Disguised sexism
Cloaked it may be in a cutesy ad with a genial gent as the main player, but when the message has sexist overtones, it comes through no matter what.

A recent television commercial for a model of a “people’s car” shows a middle-aged man asking the salesman what will happen if he presses the accelerator instead of the brake, and if he parks on a slope without using the handbrake. The salesman asks, “Sir, you do know how to drive…?” whereupon the man smiles and says he’ll buy the car.

We then see him giving the car to a young woman, apparently his daughter, who squeals with delight. The implication is clear: he has chosen a “safe” car as he believes his daughter cannot drive well and will make all the mistakes he described to the salesman.

We think this ad is irresponsible, as it reinforces all the stereotypes about women drivers. Especially considering that men get into so many accidents due to dangerous driving. We think the guy should just take a cab.

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