Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

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

Violence of words
Having been in this industry long enough, your diarist knows exactly how it feels when a commissioned piece turns out entirely different from how you had conceived it. On most occasions, editors just run with it, while chopping unsavoury parts and shrinking the planned space.

Saikat Majumdar and Amit Chaudhuri
Saikat Majumdar and Amit Chaudhuri

But with news publications moving to the occasional fiction special issue –here too, we know that the reason is mostly to allow the newsroom to leave early – new niggles are surfacing as well.

Mint Lounge, the weekend magazine of the business paper Mint, came out with a fiction special last week with five short stories. Turns out there were six – Stanford assistant professor Saikat Majumdar’s story was in the plan, but did not feature in the paper.

Majumdar says he was told the story was dropped from its year-end edition after “the legal team advised them so,” due to the “violence of words” contained in it.

Majumdar, who will be in India in January for lit fests in Kolkata and Jaipur, said he will speak about “this issue” during the events. Novelist and critic Amit Chaudhuri has supported Majumdar, saying it is inevitable that literature would have some violence in language. “Violence in language is not a queer sort of category. There are certain features of writing, which are necessarily open-ended, and literature will have to stop if it can’t be shocking or surprising anymore. Violence in language cannot really be a legal ground to withdraw this story. It is deeply worrying.”

Mint’s editor Sukumar Ranganathan said it was a simple editorial call and not much should be read into it. “We commissioned a piece, didn’t like it and didn’t run it,” he told your diarist from his birding holiday in Gujarat. While nobody is using the ‘T’ word yet – and we are all for editors having the right to drop a piece even if commissioned – something tells us this is not the last we will hear about this.

Meet Mumbai’s real Santa’s
Christmas may come once a year, but the Christmas spirit lingers for a while. The Robin Hood Army, known to distribute meals from restaurants to the city’s needy, recently tied up with Shadowfax, a logistics company, to meet their delivery requirements.

The Robin Hood Army will be playing Santa this season
The Robin Hood Army will be playing Santa this season

This weekend, the do-gooders’ army is conducting a clothes donation drive. It’s collection week now, and if you have blankets or warm clothes to donate, check out

Faraz Ansari
Faraz Ansari

Santa indeed takes on many avatars. Faraz Ansari, associate director on some of Karan Johar’s and Amol Gupte’s films, has decided to play Secret Santa for homeless children in the city. The goal: 2,000 meals raised through donors who need to sponsor one meal each worth a hundred bucks.

“I was disgusted by the whole Secret Santa thing on Facebook; a bunch of haves giving to the haves,” says Ansari, who is scripting a film for Tanuja Chandra. One status on Facebook, and some 50 shares later, he has raised 520 meals so far.

Ansari plans to drive around town on January weekends (except the first one) and distribute meals to the homeless, specially the children at traffic signals. NGOs have signed up as well, which will cater to children at the Dongri remand home and ragpickers. “If all goes well,” he says, “this drive could become every month, every.

The cigar baron is back!
Flamboyant cigar company owner Rocky Patel will be in town on January 10 to launch a new cigar label, which this diarist learnt, has been created specially to suit the Indian smoking Joe.

Rocky Patel at Sofitel Mumbai BKC’s Jyran Tandoor and Dining
Rocky Patel at Sofitel Mumbai BKC’s Jyran Tandoor and Dining

More details are under wraps. The label will be out at a soiree over select malts and of course, cigars at a five star in BKC.

This Aussie’s got the rhythm

Pic/Bipin Kokate
Pic/Bipin Kokate

Travelling Australian musician Somerset Barnard was seen strumming a few tunes outside the soon-to-be-shut Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda, which has announced 70 per cent discount until stocks last.

Care of the high and happy
New Year’s Eve is a few hours away, and while it calls for a celebration, too much of the bubbly can turn it into a nightmare for your health. Spreading the message to drink responsibly, and to offer emergency care to inebriated Mumbaikars, Care24, a healthcare start-up, will be setting-up care vans (ambulance-cum-vans).

These vans come equipped with hangover kits to bring you and your loved ones back on feet. While most of these vans will be already stationed outside popular pubs in Bandra and Lower Parel, you can opt for this service by calling Care24’s hotline number 02239967670. The service will be available between 11 pm to 3 am tonight.

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