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Mumbai Diary: Saturday Dossier

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

My father, the quizmaster
The father of Indian quizzing — Neil O’Brien, is unwell, and recovering in a Kolkata hospital, according to a tweet by his son, quizzer and Trinamool Congress leader, Derek O’Brien. He tweeted, “Twitter can be beautiful.

Neil O’Brien and Derek O’Brien
Neil O’Brien and Derek O’Brien

Thank u for those many messages for my dad, Neil O’Brien. Read each one to him in hospital. Smiled in his frailty.’ Going by the tweets posted on Derek’s page, ranging from fans thrilled to have his signature on their ICSE mark sheets (he was Chairman of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination) to quizzers who’ve been at the receiving end of the legend’s questions, his impact and popularity among thousands of fans is evident.

This diarist recalls being in the audience (thankfully!), witnessing Senior O’Brien play quizmaster and conduct the iconic DI (Dalhousie Institute) Open Quiz in the lawns of the landmark in Kolkata, over a decade ago. Seated on the safer side of the stage, we watched in awe and amazement at his mastery over this specialised profession.

Even son, Derek best remembered as the articulate, tough-as-nails quizmaster from Bournvita Quiz Contest, couldn’t match up to his father’s skills; something that Derek would admit candidly, on several occasions. “I enjoy watching the master on stage,” he would say. Here’s wishing the master a speedy recovery.

Birthday cheer for Nana
The CK Nayudu Hall at the CCI played host yesterday to former mayor and two-time sheriff of Mumbai, Nana Chudasama’s birthday celebrations. A high-tea party was held for the first time to celebrate the occasion by his daughter, politician and designer Shaina NC, and was attended by the who’s-who of the city’s civic and political circuit.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shaina NC launch nanachudasama.com on the 83rd birthday of Nana Chudasama, the former mayor of Mumbai, at CK Nayudu Hall at Cricket Club of India, Churchgate on Friday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shaina NC launch nanachudasama.com on the 83rd birthday of Nana Chudasama, the former mayor of Mumbai, at CK Nayudu Hall at Cricket Club of India, Churchgate on Friday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The club was packed for an evening of well-mannered frivolity. But even the most popular names could not steal the show as a smiling Nana entered the hall, who despite being wheelchair-bound, made it a point to shake hands with everyone irrespective of their political mileage.

Spotted among the guests were childhood friend, industrialist Adi Godrej as well as popular Mumbai faces including Niranjan Hiranandani, singer Alisha Chinoy and politician Gopal Shetty. Even the fashionably late entrance of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis failed to steal the show, as all eyes were on the birthday boy.

“For me, the evening is about a doting daughter who loves her father like oxygen,” admitted Shaina. “And for him, Mumbai is his oxygen.” We’ll believe.

The kind father of 26
Reji Thomas has a big family and a big heart. His family of 26 members lives under the same roof in Panvel, Navi Mumbai. Unfortunately, 22 of them are HIV affected.

Reji Thomas
Reji Thomas

These 22 abandoned children have found home and a father in Thomas and live with his two children like siblings. In 2009, when Thomas started the Bless Foundation to take care of the children, he hardly had any facilities to enable him to realise this responsibility, not even a bank account.

Eventually, with help from friends and neighbours, he managed a decent living condition for them. The story of his dedication and love has now been featured on Blush, a channel of Culture Machine, in a video titled, Mr India. Hope this helps him with more support for his endeavour.

Google’s video wins hearts
Google India has released a short film about a relationship between a father and son, timed just before Father’s Day. And just a day after being uploaded, it has over a 1,00,000 views.

The beautiful, sensitive film featuring Vicky Kaushal of Masaan fame, digs out a story of failed aspirations and dreams without meandering into bitterness.

It is a story of a son eager to take his father to Mumbai along with him. And then he discovers that his father was once keen to travel to Mumbai to make it as a film hero. Father and son then set off on a journey together. The story perhaps is saccharine-heavy but no one seems to be complaining.

Cycle for someone else’s health
This weekend saddle up for a cycle ride. And this time, the reason to do it is not just good health.

As a premium Swiss bicycle brand announces the SCOTT Owners’ Club Breakfast Ride in Thane this Sunday, voluntary donations collected at the event will be donated to St Jude India Childcare Centre to help fund the treatment of cancer-affected children.

Around 100 individuals from different walks of life will be participating in this breakfast ride, which is open to all cyclists. Later, you can also catch a talk session about bikes at the Golden Swan Country club.

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