Mumbai Diary: Saturday scene

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

Praying vs partying
Ringing in the new year is a time-honoured tradition, though it is sometimes marred by wild partygoers who forget the limits, both alcoholic and behavioural.

Maybe that’s why many parishes in the city will be seeing the return of midnight mass at 12 on New Year’s Eve, rather than the 10 pm night masses that they have become accustomed to. When we heard about this announcement, we could hardly believe our ears.

For more than a decade now, midnight masses on open grounds have been disallowed in Mumbai. We wonder whether this is a move to get more people praying and less people partying as the old year is seen out, and the new one ushered in.

It may keep revellers sober, and perhaps more prayers will bring in a better year! No one’s complaining, and in face we’re wondering whether Easter and Christmas will also see the return of midnight mass at, well, midnight.

This cat doesn’t say Meow
Leopard sightings have become increasingly common in Goregaon as well as other places - but we did not realize just how accustomed people are to spotting the big cats, until recently. News had reached us that a leopard had been seen crossing a road in the Aarey Colony, and in fact a local BEST bus had stopped to let it cross.

The bus driver confirmed this, and pointed out the direction in which the animal had gone. Before we left the spot, however, the driver added, “Oh, why do you let the animal roam free like that? It is someone’s pet, isn’t it? Keep it safely!”

It turned out that leopard sightings at that spot had become so common, that the bus staff believe it is a pet animal who wanders around. We would like to underline here that keeping wild and endangered animals in captivity is an offence, so don’t think about it!

Don’t be so square
Announcements and invitations are nothing new to a newspaper office, and we see many of these on paper and in our email. Their noteworthiness lasts only as long as the event they are associated with, however. So it was with interest that we received an event invite recently, which was neither paper nor cyber just extraordinary.

Those readers who were consumed by the Rubik’s Cube frenzy of the Eighties will remember the charm of the brightly-coloured, twisty 3D cubes. This one, in pastel, is equally absorbing and we had a bit of fun jumbling up the words and passing it around to see who could put it together again.

Safety question at Thane station?
We were alarmed to hear recently about an incident that has set us wondering about safety levels at our major train stations. In the first-class ladies’ compartment in a Khopoli-bound fast train late one evening, an elderly man and his son, Thane-bound, suddenly got into the compartment at Dadar.

Several people pointed out that it was a ladies’ compartment, but the younger man declared that his father was a cancer patient, and thus they had the right to get into any compartment. “Even the government can’t stop us!” he said, and his arguments became increasingly angry. Finally he alighted at the next station (Kurla) and went to the adjoining general compartment while his father remained in the ladies’.

Unfortunately, it did not end there. One of the women commuters, who had protested against the men’s entry, alighted at Thane station. As she went towards the stairs on platform 5, the cancer patient’s son came up abruptly, bumped against her and molested her. She immediately challenged him but he claimed that it was an accident.

The woman, who is a regular commuter, told us that she screamed for the police but no-one turned up. “People were just looking at the tamasha,” she said. “The man kept shouting ‘cancer patient, cancer patient’ and he was getting a lot of sympathy.”

He also claimed that she was making a false accusation. “I felt I had no chance of being believed or getting justice,” she said. “Also, the father was genuinely a cancer patient and the mother was pleading with me to let it be as they were getting delayed. So I decided not to file a complaint. Next time anything like this occurs, I won’t bother asking for help.

I’ll just punch the fellow somehow. Maybe then the police will arrive,” she concluded bitterly. We sympathise with her but surely this is not the future that women commuters have to look forward to?

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