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Mumbai diary: Sunday Shorts

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

An ode to those heroes
Our in-house book scavenger brought along another gem to the office the other day — The Encyclopedia of the Indian Diaspora edited by Brij V Lal, published eight years ago by Editions Didier Millet in association with the National University of Singapore. The sports section of the 416-page book somehow caught our attention first and then, the bit on the West Indies, whose cricket team is in India at the moment.


Inshan Ali at a West Indies v Australia test match in 1972-73. File Photo

The struggles endured by Indian-origin players are projected: “In Guyana, there were tournaments solely for Indian teams. Indian players thus faced a double jeopardy there over many years — they were segregated by the white elite, but the black population were also suspicious and so, towards the end of the colonial and into the early post-colonial period, even high-quality players struggled to gain selection.” Players such as Sonny Ramadhin, Rohan Kanhai and Alvin Kallicharran before Shivnarine Chanderpaul ended up as absolute greats, but the book mentions spinner Inshan Ali, “who for many reasons (including his ethnic origins), probably played fewer games for the West Indies than he might have done had he arrived earlier.”

For the record, chinaman bowler Ali played a dozen Tests for the West Indies between 1971 and 1977 and claimed 34 wickets.

His limited Test opportunities could also be put down to former captain and current chief of selectors Clive Lloyd’s emphasis on pace. Ali died of throat cancer in 1995 at the age of 45.

Wah Taj!
Mumbai went to Agra recently, where mallakhamb practitioners paraded their skills with the Taj in the background.


Mallakhamb champs brought a Mumbai flavour to Agra 

Dadar’s Shree Samartha Vyayam Mandir, presented a mallakhamb demonstration at a cultural programme called ‘Jashna-E-Taj’ organised by Rotary Club of Agra, Tourism Guild of Agra and Agra Vikas Manch. Three-time national mallakhamb champion Shantanu Lohar and aerial acrobat Manik Paul, performed under the guidance of well-known coach Uday Deshpande. The élan of Agra with a Mumbai flavour. Wah! Let’s toast to this cultural cocktail.

To some, only feeling is believing
Have you ever wondered how those without eyesight survive in our city? They may not be able to see the sun but they do sweat or feel the heat. The only difference being that they don’t seem to crib. Or perhaps they lack the avenues to do so. 

The visually challenged manage to keep up with the fast pace of life in Mumbai. file photo

Although their white-and-red sticks set them apart from the crowd, they don’t wobble as suggested in our movies. In fact, they seem to be more sure of the roads and their surroundings than the rest of us. Be it on the footpath (being law-abiding citizens, they always stick to the side of the road, for safety reasons of course) or at railway platforms, they measure and take each step carefully.

What’s more intriguing is how our visually-challenged citizens learn to keep up with the fast-paced life of Mumbai without compromising on their aspirations. We may be ignorant about Braille but when you see a blind man dial a number on his cellphone and talk to someone, you can’t help but smile. It hits you that they are just like any other Mumbaikar — they, too, are strugglers and thrivers.

Turf stuff
Each milestone needs to be marked and celebrated in some way. So we do not know whether  horse trainer Narendra Lagad is throwing a party (if he is, where’s our invite?) but the Royal Western India Turf club (RWITC) has just released its e-magazine, Hoofprint, according to which Lagad has reached the coveted milestone of 1,000 wins on November 28.


A winner is led in with horse trainer Narendra Lagad (third from right) 

With over 30 years of experience as a trainer, among his first wins was Grand Gesture, a 14-year-old gelding owned by P D Batra and ridden by Aslam Khader. With ‘Spear of Trium’, owned by Pooja Shah, Ravi Ghai and ridden by Bhawani Singh, winning the Sunday race, Lagad touched the important milestone of 1,000 wins. Nice, we say.

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