Mumbai Diary: Sunday shorts

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

68 and dancing
ONE of India’s most celebrated contemporary dancers, Astad Deboo, turns 68 tomorrow, and with that he completes a 40-year-long journey. His most recent performance was a solo held at the Terra Madre at La Mama Umbria International, a non-profit cultural centre and artist residency in Spoleto Province of Perugia, Italy. Here he performed as part of the Spoleto Festival.


But on his special day, Deboo intends to stop whirling for a holiday on a yacht in Geneva, Switzerland. “My friend, Igor Oumansky is hosting a dinner. My photographer and friend Amit Kumar and a few others have been invited. You know, 68 is just a number,” he said to us over the phone from Italy. The birthday boy has a wish, of course, and that is to find support from Indian organisers. “I’d like to see more platforms for dance in India, especially Mumbai,” he said, quickly adding, “but that hasn’t deterred me from marching ahead.” Coming up in August is the Korean Production of Hamlet called Hamlet_Avtaar, directed by Hyoung Taek Limb, where Deboo plays Hamlet’s father’s spirit. Shows are expected in Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Song from Dharavi
A three-member hip hop band, South Dandies Swaraj is set to release its debut album called Namma Kacheri (‘our feast’ in Tamil).


It will carry a mix of English, Hindi and Tamil songs composed by Ranjit Shankar, Suresh Agalian Bose and Rahul Prasad. “There’s more to hip-hop than Yo Yo Honey Singh, slang, smoke and dope,” laughs Bose aka Sean. Having rapped for the last six years about street life, slumlords and corruption, the three, address child labour, education and prostitution this time. Catch the trailer of their first song, Kaccheri Viber street party on YouTube until they wait for a censor clearance for the remaining tracks. “We sing about social concerns, and one number touches on the LTTE,” says Shankar, who has a day job in the load control management department of the international airport. The Dandies, who got a taste of commercial success when they rapped for Quick Gun Murugun and composed a single for a soft drink brand, believe, no matter who you are and where from, you can always find a reason to celebrate.

Cheers to ‘Rowdy’ Mallett
JULY is a month of cricketers’ birthdays. Earlier this week, former India captains Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar celebrated their birthdays. Today is Sanjay Manjrekar’s 50th and tomorrow, yet another occasional columnist of this newspaper celebrates a landmark birthday.


Ashley Mallett, the former Australia off-spinner, who enjoyed grand success on his 1969-70 Test tour to this country, turns 70 tomorrow. Mallett, who became a writer and spin coach after hanging his cricket boots, had rightly predicted that Harbhajan Singh would trouble the Australians on their 2001 tour here where Harbhajan came to be known as Turbanator to Australians for his 32 wickets in three Tests. Talking about nicknames, Adelaide-based Mallett, was called ‘Rowdy.’ Not because he was the wild one, but due to his quiet nature. He has not lost his sense of humour and loves telling the story about how the Australians, while welcoming the safety of a beer-filled room at the Brabourne Stadium as the India vs Australia 1969 Test, was interrupted by a riot. When manager Bill Jacobs informed the team that the crowd was baying for skipper Bill Lawry, Doug Walters eased the tension-filled room with the words: “Give them Lawry and let’s get on with the drinking.”

Check-in with chai
Finally, tourists get a taste of aamchi Mumbai with the domestic airport hosting a chaiwala on a kitschy bicycle near the boarding gate.

CHAIWALA CALLING: Look out for these colourful additions at CSIA
CHAIWALA CALLING: Look out for these colourful additions at CSIA

Spread across Terminals 1A, 1B and 1C, carts like his are part of the month-long Mumbai Food Festival that’s on at the airport. Kothimbir wadi, sabudana wada, solkadi and cutting chai give competition to usually banal airport eats. For those craving a headier bite, there's vodka pani puri.

Puppy love for Seth
Suhel Seth

When you are a Twitterati, even the hunt for a pet, unfolds on, well, Twitter. This diarist noticed that ad-man, actor and lobbyist Suhel Seth asked fellow denizens from the world of Internet where he could find a pup in Delhi to adopt. Seth says that he has been a dog lover all his life and never “ever been without a dog”. Now, he says, he is looking for a pup as Google, his black Labrador, is getting on in age. “So, the old man will also have a young friend,” says Seth over email, which we have to tell you he is very prompt at. Even if he’s in New York. And, if you want to make the gift, here’s some help: Seth has a soft spot for Beagles and Labradors.

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