Mumbai Diary: Saturday Sossier

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

The changing park-scapeShivaji Park
Shivaji Park — that nursery of Mumbai cricket, that green space, that political battleground, call it what you will, is changing. Not always for the better, though. Another bungalow that rings the periphery of this park has fallen to the builders' bulldozer. These structures that give the area its character, are making way for high-rises. A recent casualty is the space near a popular café. Earlier, we were able to spot high rises behind the immediate ring of bungalows around the park. But now, we notice that the first ring within the periphery is changing. This diarist, a regular at the park for decades, wonders if it's time to capture the iconic frame of the park in what's left of its glory days.

Bombay bookedThe author of Humans of Bombay, Karishma Mehta, flanked by publishers Karan (to her right) and Arjun at Cymroza Art Gallery, Breach Candy on Friday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Bombay was compressed into the second floor of the Cymroza Art Gallery. Props like a dabbawallah's cycle and red post boxes, as well as the city's iconic snacks were on display. This was, after all, the launch of the city's favourite Facebook page in the form of a book — a full cycle for Humans of Bombay that chronicles ordinary lives in the city in pursuit of extraordinary stories. A swish crowd had gathered to cheer its young writer, Karishma Mehta and publishers Karan and Arjun. Clichés on the city like speed, energy, life were overheard which were used almost like codes to begin and end chatter. After some deliberation and a self-effacing declaration of being terrible at it, Mehta took the mic to recall that when she started the page two years ago, she would only write, as the camera was still not something she was good with. Eventually, she did both. Now, the page has over 600,000 followers. A few copies of the book, otherwise available on their website, were sold at the venue. There was also a declaration that R100 from each sale would go towards helping Marathwada's farmers though the organizers hadn't yet zeroed in on which NGO or government body would be the beneficiary.

A different kind of lesson
A still from Best Friends Forever

Recently, this diarist came across city-based director Sandeep Modi's film Best Friends Forever. Much to our delight, this engaging work, produced by School Cinema, has won a national film award. The heartwarming film, which presents the evolving relationship between a mother and a teenage daughter, won the award in the category of Best Film on Family Values. EduMedia, under the aegis of School Cinema, now has won four national film awards and has been showcased in over fifty international film festivals across the world. The film showcases a mother's friendship with her teenage daughter, who as she grows up, begins keeping secrets from her. The film embraces the theme of independence —will the mother be able to cope with her daughter's need for freedom? Given that she has invested her time in caring for her daughter for so long, will she finally be able to embrace her independence? We hope it's films like these that are screened in India's schools.

Rusty is back in the city
Ruskin Bond
This diarist's fangirl-like moments of having met Ruskin Bond a while ago will always be cherished. So, when we learnt that the iconic Indian writer's work and experience will be staged at NCPA, in the form of A Special Bond Part Three, come May 27, we did a virtual jig. All those tales of Rusty's adventures, his trysts with the known and the mysterious, will come to life on stage. From what we hear, the play will begin as the story on Bond, the little boy growing up in India during World War II, his journeys across India and the world, and the tales around it. Being semi-autobiographical, we're hoping this one will leave a mark on not just the little ones but adults too who've been regaled by his storytelling gems.

The science of art, the art of science
Shivaprasad Khened (left) and Pheroza Godrej at the NGMA. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Science is Science and culture is culture and never the twain doth meet… for those who think that they are mutually exclusive, here is a bit of an eyebrow raise for you. Dr Shivaprasad M Khened is director of both, National Science Centre at Mahalaxmi (opposite Famous Studios) and The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) at Kala Ghoda. It is interesting that Science with its exactitude, hard-nosed rep, logic and of course the stereotype of the absent-minded professor, goes along with Art, with its creative, open to interpretation vibe, where there are no correct answers and its creators are as far removed from scientists with their bohemian stereotype. When we met him recently at the NGMA, he was wrapping up a meeting at the Museum, before heading back to the leafy green campus of Science Centre at Mahalaxmi. We asked him how he manages to straddle both worlds to which he smiled and simply said, "by burning the midnight oil."

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