Mumbai Diary: Sunday shorts

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

A washed-out romance
A self-proclaimed pluvophile, rains always make me happy the smell of the freshly brewed coffee mixed with the petrichor, a mellow cloud-capped sun, a smudged skyline, the nip in the air.

And coming from Kolkata, a city known for waterlogged streets and traffic snarls, I have learnt to love the side effects as well. But, having relocated to the city just two years ago, and working in an office situated in Colaba, the Mumbai monsoon till last year was the most romantic thing about the city. What better way to unwind than spending a lazy night wave-watching at Marine Drive!

However, the recent rains have changed things. After having walked through almost waist-deep water for an hour, there is no denying the fact that my 33-year-old love affair with the rains has suffered a major blow. The kind of total collapse of public transport system that the city saw is unthinkable, even in Kolkata.

The public transport system of the financial capital of India just got washed away in a mere few hours of heavy rain, which, considering the city’s annual rainfall pattern was not abnormal. Mumbai is known for the spirit of its people in the face of such disasters.

But, coming from a different city (especially a city known for taking out morchas at the drop of the hat), it makes me wonder why the people of this city never come out and protest this? Potholed roads, submerged railway tracks, and a total eclipse of public mode of transports...it is the same story every year. Nothing changes. Is it the politicians or the chalta hai attitude of the people to blame for this dismal condition?

Now for some tough, wet cricket
News of the Dr H D Kanga Cricket League being given back its traditional monsoon flavour, thanks to die-hard club cricket campaigner Dilip Vengsarkar’s return as Mumbai Cricket Association vice-president, has spread far and wide.

A fielder takes a catch at a Young Friends vs Shivaji Park Gymkhana Kanga League fixture at Shivaji Park in 2012. File pic
A fielder takes a catch at a Young Friends vs Shivaji Park Gymkhana Kanga League fixture at Shivaji Park in 2012. File pic

One club cricketer-turned-umpire, now spreading the gospel of good umpiring in America, telephoned Sunday Shorts the other day to say how delighted he was that the 67-year-old tournament would kick off in August. “I read the high scores when the tournament was played in drier conditions over the last two years and I felt I was no longer part of Mumbai cricket.

To read the tall scores and batsmen getting hundreds in the ‘new’ Kanga League made me sick. I played at a time when even to score 20 runs was a huge task. Thankfully, that format is put away and now we can enjoy the real Kanga League,” he said.

The initiation of the new format a few years ago begged the question: ‘Why fix it when it isn’t broken?’ Well, there is no doubt that the Kanga League had lost its sheen and something needed to be done to make it more meaningful for city cricketers. In our opinion, people who helped in the ideation of the ‘new’ Kanga League need not be ridiculed.

And while many in the cricketing fraternity will welcome the monsoon thrust, the current MCA bosses must ensure it is run efficiently and teams do not fall short when it comes to fielding 11 players. And of course, we all want to see club loyalty. What better example than Vengsarkar himself, who played the Kanga League only for Dadar Union Sporting Club till the early 1990s after making his debut for the Matunga institution in the early 1970s.

Genuinely fake, that is
Recently, a clutch of Mumbai tourists returned from Turkey (quite the it-destination for Indians right now, given the surge in numbers visiting the nation). Incidentally, the Turks are quite amused at seeing the significant number of Indians in their country of late.

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey. You can spot a Mumbaikar somewhere in one of those balloons
Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey. You can spot a Mumbaikar somewhere in one of those balloons

They often ask you, “Where are you from?” And when you say, Mumbai, some of the salesmen break into a little dance, “Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan….” they sing. So much for the globalisation of Bollywood. This one though is about those Mumbai tourists who were talking about spurious goods being sold in the city.

Fake labels and ‘first imitations, second imitations’ or whatever that you get on the streets of Mumbai. One lady who had just returned from Turkey was telling another, “In Mumbai, there are so many salesmen trying to pass off imitations as real labels.

It is time we learn from Turkey. Near one bazaar, I saw a small shop selling supposedly high end watches, like Omega and others. But there was a sign near it saying, ‘genuine fake watches!’” That’s a new one, Mumbai. Care to imitate?

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