Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

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

Waiting for the dabbas
'Drivers at the wheel will find/Something that looks one of a kind/ A wrapped up statue in the middle of a green/It certainly makes one very odd scene.

The sculpture; Valay Shende (right) works on the dabbas at his studio. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi; Poonam Bathija
The sculpture; Valay Shende  works on the dabbas at his studio. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi; Poonam Bathija

That's a little rhyme to describe Mumbai sculptor Valay Shende's half-finished work, which is arousing curiosity. All wrapped up, the sculpture stands in the midst of a Haji Ali traffic island. Shende says the wrapping is to protect it from the corrosive sea breeze. The sculpture, which is Shende's tribute to the dabbawalla was originally installed at Crawford Market two years ago. It was removed overnight because of permission problems. Sitting in his Andheri studio for nearly two years, "it has now moved to a better location, with more opportunity to grab eyeballs," says Shende.

"I am working on the dabbas and as soon as they are finished, they will be put along with my work. The dabbawalla may be trite, or hackneyed," he says, "but I believe in art that can talk to people. People should not look at the work and struggle to understand what it is, I like the medium to be the lingo of the people," he adds. More power to Mumbai's lunch lifeline, we say.

Mrs Thackeray has second thoughts
Bagging front row at fashion weeks is affirmation of power, style and clout. Which is why when Rashmi Thackeray, wife to a politician who is at the centre of most political discussions currently, moved from row one to two at a show at the ongoing Lakmé Fashion Week, more than a head turned. Godrej India Culture Lab's Parmesh Shahani was collaborating with the event to explore intersections between fashion and activism.

Rashmi Thackeray (centre) at the fashion week. Pic/Shadab Khan
Rashmi Thackeray (centre) at the fashion week. Pic/Shadab Khan

SNEHA, a well-known NGO that works with communities in Dharavi, was playing collaborator to tweak the neighbourhood's image from slummy to a hotbed of resourcefulness and innovation. Rashmi, seated beside veteran cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar's wife Manali, requested to move to second row. After the brief fashion presentation, she rose only to be told there's a panel discussion to follow. After fiddling with her phone and embellished box clutch, she settled down again, only to make a quick and quiet exit between two questions.

SoBo all set to get a new haveli
City restaurateurs Parth Dalal and Sarthak Oza, together with corporate catering giant Marzy Parakh, are ready to launch their new restaurant, and this one is with a cause. Located at Charni Road, the restaurant called The Bombay Havelli will include chefs and service staff with physical disabilities. A significant part of the profits will also be ploughed back towards the upliftment of those with physical disabilities. Now, that's a worthy cause for dining out.

Quiet flows the Thane Creek
We come bearing good news on World Wetlands Day. Thane Creek, which was recently declared a flamingo sanctuary, could soon join the list of 26 Ramsar sites — designated so because they meet the criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance — in India.

This is in addition to six other proposed sites in Maharashtra, a state that, until now, has not made it to the list. Thane Creek hosts over 40,000 flamingos every year along with many other species of migratory birds. If approved, the Ramsar label will help ensure sustainable utilisation of the wetlands and their conversation. We're keeping our fingers crossed for this one.

For Budget's sake
On a day when the budget had us sifting through stories and reports of fiscal deficits, surcharges, and capital gains, we found solace in a Twitter account. @HasParlAdjYet was started as an account offering live updates on happenings within Parliament. On Budget Day, they decided to live tweet the whole session. In simple, concise tweets, they broke down each announcement using appropriate hashtags — #LaughsAndClaps accompanied the 'Max donation a political party can receive is 2000 from any one source' tweet.

Arun Jaitley. Pic/PTI
Arun Jaitley. Pic/PTI

To break the monotony, there were GIFs, quizzes, and fun facts. There was even a poem at the end: 'Fin Min gave ten commandments/ For his budget in compartments/ It came in swift announcements/ We missed a few things, so seek atonements.' Now, only if Twitter was used more frequently for making sense of complex subjects.

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