Mumbai Diary: Sunday Shorts

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

A thousand and one words
Bandra Masjid
On cloud nine: Fat, moisture-laden clouds dot the skyline at Bandra Masjid. Mumbai saw an enormous downpour last week. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar

This happens only in Delhi
This diarist loves Mumbai so much that Delhi was never a long-term option despite a cozy job up there in the capital. But last week something happened that made us wonder why Delhi is the way it is. It so happened that the reason for half of Delhi talking about an email was not that someone saved the world or someone solved the Riemann Hypothesis, it was because author Arundhati Roy wrote an introduction to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s book Annihilation of Caste. Roy’s essay was titled The Doctor and the Saint.

Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy

The email, written by Ananya Vajpeyi, a scholar on Dr Ambedkar, and someone who is writing her own book on the great man, travelled all over Delhi’s porous inboxes, with journalists, bureaucrats, academics and politicians tittering away, in some kind of mass schadenfreude. Vajpeyi essentially told author Akshay Pathak to not allow Roy’s introduction in print. Vajpeyi, on her part, makes more than a few arguments to prevent Roy’s words being printed in the book. She mentions several times in the email that this conversation is private. Yet, the email got sent to other people in publishing, and eventually reached several journalists. Would this happen in Mumbai? We don’t know. What do you think?

Club class cartoon
The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) a little staid normally, is bringing a touch of fun and the zany to racing experience...

The club’s website has a cartoon which advertises its ongoing Mumbai racing season. The catchline, which aims to lure newbies to the racecourse and demystify racing reads: ‘If you never go, you will never know’.

The illustration on the homepage of the Royal Western India Turf Club’s website,
The illustration on the homepage of the Royal Western India Turf Club’s website, which reads, ‘If you never go, you will never know.’

This catchline which was also used in the Mumbai season shows a definite shift in RWITC’a strategy. The club has obviously moved away from its dependence on a crusty, old punter base, to trying to get novices to come to the races. All its programmes and promotion indicate that the club is making efforts to get more people into the racecourse (both Mumbai and Pune) by offering activities that add that little extra to the racing experience. We particularly like the cartoon that goes with the catchline and works as a banner at the top of the club’s web page. Like they say for everything these days, nice. 

Jacques and the SA stalk
This newspaper’s friend in Port Elizabeth, South Africa — testicular cancer conqueror — Dave Callaghan turned back the clock on Facebook the other day after compatriot Jacques Kallis announced his retirement from international cricket.

After the 1994-95 South African season, then 30-year-old Callaghan headed to England to live up to his club commitments.

Dave Callaghan
Dave Callaghan

While in England, he received a call from then South Africa cricket boss Ali Bacher who told him that his country’s board had decided not to renew his contract. Only four one-day failures ago, Callaghan had scored a massive unbeaten 169 in a one-day international against New Zealand at Centurion. Bacher added that the board decided to invest in younger players which included Kallis. The bosses obviously had the World Cup to be held in the sub-continent the following year. Callaghan is in a better mood now though. He wrote: “You set the bar... South Africa’s superstar.” Of course, Callaghan earned a recall in 2000 when match fixing-tainted Hansie Cronje was replaced by Shaun Pollock as captain. But that lasted only two games.

Sorry madam, no change

The Andheri station of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) Metro is peppered with eateries. One is Baker Street, which sells cakes, pastries, puffs and all things baked. Strangely, when we bought a puff, which was priced at Rs 25, for the first time, the server charged us Rs 30, saying the price board  was excluding VAT charges. When we bought the same puff the next day, another server said the total bill was Rs 28. But, conveniently charged us Rs 30, saying, “Sorry madam, no change.”

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