Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier

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

Sweat, blood and Vasant Ranjane
A cricketing chat between this diarist and Nari Contractor over ginger tea, coffee and chicken sandwiches at the Bombay Gymkhana earlier this week revolved around a bygone era — a time when cricketers couldn’t afford to own the best equipment.

Flipping through an old issue of Sport and Pastime magazine, the former India cricket captain spotted a photograph of his teammate Vasant Ranjane. “Very good fast bowler, but, he had no guidance,” he exclaimed before going on to relate an incident from the match in which Contractor was knocked down by Barbados’ Charlie Griffith at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown on India’s 1961-62 tour of the West Indies.

“At lunch on the first day, I saw Vasant sitting in one corner of the dressing room,” recalled Contractor. “I asked him if he was okay and while he tried to assure me he was fine, I noticed his socks… they were full of blood. The nails of his boots were hurting his feet. “Change your shoes,” I said, but then I realised, he would have changed them if he had another pair.”

Those times, tough times!

Comedy of errors
There’s an episode in Seinfeld when, Seinfeld dials a number and on connecting with the wrong person, he wants to know if he has dialled the wrong number or, was it that the number given to him was wrong in the first place.

Dr Suleman Merchant and Dr Avinash Supe of Parel’s KEM Hospital
Dr Suleman Merchant and Dr Avinash Supe of Parel’s KEM Hospital

This diarist had a similar moment earlier this week when she called Dr Avinash Supe, dean of Parel’s KEM Hospital. The man who took the call courteously said that it wasn’t Dr Supe’s number. We tried the number again. To our embarrassment, the same man answered the call. Instead of being miffed at time wasted, he told us that Dr Supe’s number ended with the digit ‘1’ instead of the ‘2’ we had dialled.

And, prey, who was this patient man, we asked. “I am the dean of Sion hospital,” said Dr Suleman Merchant. It seems the confusion has long dogged health reporters in the city. Well, now there’s a ready reference.

Say cheese

Pic/Vedant Mane

Doting parents Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra cajole their son Viaan to greet shutterbugs outside their Juhu residence. Kundra Junior celebrated his fourth birthday on Saturday.

Indie acts go global
India’s indie names are making waves internationally, and it’s high time. Online music magazine and founders of the Magnetic Fields Festival, Wild City, is taking four Indian acts — gypsy jazz and folk cabaret act Peter Cat Recording Company, audio-visual act BLOT!, electronica producers _RHL and Lifafa — to the UK to play at Alchemy 2016 on May 29, a festival of southasian arts, which is being headlined by Zakir Hussain.

Indie band BLOT!
Indie band BLOT!

“We’re thrilled to be invited. While they all offer quite unqiue sounds, we think they will open up a fresh side of contemporary Indian culture that isn’t often experienced abroad,” say Sarah and Munbir Chawla, founders of Wild City. Great going, guys.

Worth its weight in gold
If you had to judge a book by its cover, then Michelin starred Chef Vikas Khanna’s culinary extravaganza in words, Utsav, will have to be it. To start off with, a special edition of the book, to be auctioned by the Smile Foundation on June 3, will weigh 21 kg.

(Left) Suvigya Sharma with chef Vikas Khanna
(Left) Suvigya Sharma with chef Vikas Khanna

We hear that artist Suvigya Sharma, who specialises in refined Tanjore paintings, is creating the cover, in 24kt gold, styled in the manner of Indian miniatures. The cover will alone weigh 5 kg, and bear a handpainted portrait of Khanna, on a boat with villagers as fellow-travellers.

This special edition (priced at Rs 25 lakh at the auction) is expected to go for as much as R45 lakh (other collectibles in the auction are cricket bats belonging to Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar). And, if you make this book your precious, how will you take it home? Sharma has thought of that, too.

A specially crafted 10 kg Burma teak chest waits to hold it. “I rank this among my best works,” says Sharma, who has been travelling with Khanna for one year to research the book.

A real stunt woman
Culture Machine’s Blush Originals series will release Geeta, a 14-minute film by Joyna Mukherjee, on May 25. It features, as the director puts it, “an inspiring woman who fought all odds to escape marital rape, society pressure and create an identity of her own.”

Director Joyna Mukherjee and A still from the filmDirector Joyna Mukherjee and A still from the film

That woman is Geeta Tandon, Bollywood’s beloved stuntswoman. “Last month, I came across her interview online and I knew I wanted to tell her story in a video format. I wrote to her and she agreed,” says Mukherjee.

“A mother of two, Geeta is responsible for making films look nice, with the risk she is willing to take.” So, the next time you spot a Bollywood damsel speeding a car into a fire or riding a bike, you know who is behind the wheels.

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