Mumbai Diary: Sunday shorts

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

At the Kumbh of all literature festivals
Last week, this diarist was at the 2015 Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace, and realised what a sea of people can look like. And when bibliophiles, authors and the arty types are packed into such a small space, drama cannot be far behind, can it?

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje poses beside a Mini Cooper during the 2015 Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace last week
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje poses beside a Mini Cooper during the 2015 Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace last week

The festival had barely begun and festival producer, Sanjoy Roy, was on stage as part of the keynote address. In his speech, he mispronounced the word ‘volition’ as ‘voilition’, well, thrice. At the third instance, the lady sitting next to us whispered exasperatedly to the man beside her, “It is ‘vo-li-tion’ — why does he keep saying ‘voi-li-tion’!”

People outside the session were having a better time. The crowds had a clear favourite when it came to beverages — the Green Chilli Tea. No queue at Diggi Palace was longer than the one for this curious concoction of spicy tea with ground green chillies, a dash of cinnamon and tea masala.

Out of the list of celebrities and authors at the festival, it seemed schoolchildren favoured Shabana Azmi the most. At three different instances, this diarist overheard teenaged schoolkids whisper excitedly about the veteran actor being at the festival. Once, even though Azmi did not have a session that day, we overheard a girl gushing about Azmi: “I swear she was like this close to me! She even brushed past me! I could have stretched my hand and touched
Shabana Azmi!”

The knives are out
It’s sort of ingrained in our minds to not carry sharp objects, including knives, while boarding a flight. But somehow, the same hasn’t registered when it comes to the Metro. So, a couple of days ago, we baked a cake at home intending to take it to office for our colleagues.

Does the Metro take safety seriously?

To make it easier, we dropped a knife in our bag, so we’re not hunting for one to cut it. As usual, we put our bags on the X-ray machine at the Metro security to and fro, but nobody stopped or questioned us about the knife.

Either we looked too innocent to be eventually responsible for any anti-social activity, or the security guy didn’t pay much attention to the screen. We’re assuming it was the latter. A cause for worry, we say. Are we really safe in the Metro?

That was Azza, 30 years ago
IN world cricket, February 1 is not looked back with a sense of pride. And for good reason. It was the day when, in 1981, Greg Chappell ordered younger brother Trevor to bowl that infamous underarm delivery to Brian McKechnie to prevent New Zealand from beating Australia in the third final of the World Series Cup triangular series, which also involved India.

Mohammad Azharuddin
Mohammad Azharuddin with Sportsweek’s Sportsman of the Year Trophy for 1985. Pic courtesy/Gopal Shetty/Sportsweek

However, some Indian cricket fans will remember February 1 as a day of youthful celebration as Mohammed Azharuddin completed his historic third century in as many Tests during his debut series (against England) in the winter of 1984-85.

Celebrated commentator Harsha Bhogle summed up the achievement at Kanpur splendidly in the Hyderabadi cricketer’s biography published by Penguin: “On the second morning, he got a single to third man and then the moment came.

Luckily for him, Foster (Neil) bowled one on the middle and leg stump. The ball came as the dessert for an amazing meal. He tucked his wrists down, like he must have done thousands of times before, and ran two to square leg. And though he didn’t realise it then, that shot on February 1, 1985, was to change the life of an idealistic middle-class boy forever.” Wonder whether the batsman himself remembers this 30th anniversary of a historic, unprecedented run of centuries. If you happened to bump into dashing Azza, let him know.

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