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Mumbai Diary: Sunday Shorts

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

In recognition of DD’s great show
BOOKS written by West Indies cricketers are not as common as their English and Australian counterparts. And when you acquire an old one authored by a West Indian written over 50 years ago, consider it very rare like Cricket Crackers by Learie Constantine – later Sir Learie.

Dattaram Hindlekar and Learie Constantine
Nostalgia: Of Dattaram Hindlekar (left), Learie Constantine (right) wrote that the Indian wicketkeeper on the 1946 tour of England spent most of that summer, when he appeared in practically all matches the touring side played, by rubbing liniment into bruises which covered him almost from head to foot

Constantine played 18 Tests between 1928 and 1939 and was a distinguished lawyer and politician. He fought a good fight to eradicate blatant racial discrimination.

From Lala Amarnath to Vizzy, Constantine’s book has mention of Indian cricketers. A fascinating story is related about Dattaram Hindlekar, India’s wicketkeeper on the 1946 tour of England which was witnessed by Constantine. He wrote: “He appeared in practically all the matches the touring side played, although he was the oldest member of the team, and I happen to know he spent most of that summer, when he was off the field rubbing liniment into bruises which covered him almost from head to foot.

His fieldsmen were sometimes wild and always eager and yet he patiently interposed his body or limbs to prevent overtthrows and extra runs. He made some extraordinary catches during the tour.” Hindlekar didn’t play for India again and ended his career as a four-Test man.

His lifespan was short too. He died at 40.

Bond is back
Writer Ruskin Bond’s novels are evergreen classics. Fans will be delighted that the writer’s latest book, ‘Uncles, Aunts and Elephants’ has hit the bookshelves. Here, I reproduce a memorable poem about elephants — so apt, really, as the city is caught up in Ganeshotsav fervour:     
I know the world’s a crowded place,
And elephants do take up space,
But if it makes a difference, Lord,
I’d gladly share my room and board.
A baby elephant would do ...
But, if he brings his mother too,
There’s Dad’s garage. He wouldn’t mind.
To elephants, he’s more than kind.
But I wonder what my Mum would say
If their aunts and uncles came to stay!
The title of the book reminds one of P G Wodehouse novels, like Eggs, Beans and Crumpets or Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen.

Ruskin BondCollector’s Item: The cover of Ruskin Bond’s latest book

Bumps ahead
One of the side-effects of having a chatty rickshaw driver or a cab driver, is that you get to hear their opinion on the city’s many drawbacks — the traffic, the potholes, pollution and corruption. The other day, when we headed towards Malad in the evening, our rickshaw driver, who was most disturbed by the bumpy ride, told us what he felt about the same.

potholes

“Bambai jaise shehar mein sadkein sheeshe jaisi honi chahiye, magar yahaan dekhiye kya haal hai (A city like Mumbai should have roads like glass, but see what the situation is),” he said. On enquiring about his hometown, he told us that he comes from a small town in Uttar Pradesh, which has roads that can put Mumbai to shame. How could we possibly tell him that in the city of dreams, the roads were everybody’s nightmare.

Nowhere to go
Last Sunday, we warned you about the chaos on the roads, which was bound to happen as Ganesh Chaturthi was just around the corner. And two days ago, we happened to walk right into the middle of it. With the ongoing monorail construction work at Mahadev Palav Marg, it is not the best of roads to walk on, even on regular days. One day, close to 8pm, the road was jam-packed with vehicles and there was hardly any place for pedestrians. When we tried to take the pavement right outside Curry Road station to reach Lower Parel station, a huge crowd from the opposite direction surged forward and we got stuck badly. With people jostling from behind and the crowd in front refusing to give way, it was a situation which could have taken a turn for the worse. Some women started screaming and we were close to doing the same, when a man took charge of the situation and started shouting orders and pushing people to one side to let us through. And this happened when the festival’s celebrations had not even begun in the city. We shudder to think what will happen this week.

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