Mumbai Diary: Thursday theme

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

A Boost Into The New Year
A little girl gets a ‘lift’ from her pals at Arnala Beach. Here’s hoping 2015 sees people similarly lending one another a hand, sharing sorrows and multiplying joys. Pics/Uday Devrukhkar

‘I want to be there, too.’
‘I want to be there, too.’

‘Should I…?’
‘Should I…?’

Up she goes!
Up she goes!

All the friends are together...
All the friends are together...

Ladies aren’t gentlemen
That headline comes from the book Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, the title of a book by one of our favourite authors, PG Wodehouse (we coincidentally wrote about him on this page just the other day). And incongruous as it may sound, one recent experience seems to suggest just that.

Although it’s crowded as all heck. Representational pic
Although it’s crowded as all heck. Representational pic

We noticed an elderly woman waiting with the men on a platform at Dadar station. This is unusual, because women prefer to travel in compartments reserved for them, although there are fewer of these as compared to the general compartments. Of course, they are called general, not gentlemen’s, compartments, but you get the drift.

But the woman at Dadar said that she prefers the general compartment, as she finds men more courteous to her than those of her own gender. “In the ladies’ compartment, even young girls forget middle-aged women won’t be kind enough to give their seat to an oldie like me. In the general compartment, things are far better as I’m often helped while boarding as well as alighting.”

Maybe it’s time senior citizens got a compartment reserved for themselves. Or just time for a sea change in our manners! It would cost us very little, but we hardly ever see people give their seats to an older person or a pregnant woman. In a dog-eat-dog world, Mumbai is ahead of the race but there is no reason we can’t stay ahead while being kind, too. Let’s turn over a new leaf in the new year.

Think pink as the year begins
Why not start 2015 on a happy note by going pink? We’re talking about the annual visit of the flamingoes to our mudflats and wetland areas. Wild Nest is organising a Flamingo Watching Tour on January 4 at the Sewri jetty, 7am onwards.

Incidentally, pink is the colour of kindness. Representational pic
Incidentally, pink is the colour of kindness. Representational pic

The tour, which is estimated to last around two to three hours, costs Rs 300 per head (free for children below 5). You can call 99670 56674 or 99309 85602, email nitya@wildnest.in or check out the website wildnest.in/day-tours/flamingo-watching-tour-sewri-jetty-mumbai/ for more details.

A week later is the Bombay Natural History Society’s Flamingo Watch at the Sewri mudflats, where you can also spot other migratory birds such as the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, and Eurasian Curlew. Charges: Rs 100 for members, Rs 150 for others. Registration: On the spot. Contact: Hornbill House 22871202/22821811 or bnhs.programmes@gmail.com.

P, Q and BEST
One is used to the routine call of the BEST bus conductors “Pudhe chala (go ahead)”, “Ticket, ticket” etc. And an oft-heard request from them is “Chillar dya (give change)”, with passengers treated to a similar amount of “Chillar nahi (I don’t have change)”.

A little politeness goes a long way. Representational pic
A little politeness goes a long way. Representational pic

A passenger who does give the correct fare in small change should, therefore, be treated like royalty, but unfortunately it’s a BEST bus in which all bones get equal treatment. However, we had a pleasant surprise recently when we heard the conductor say “Thank you” to a passenger.

We turned around and discovered that he was thanking everyone who was giving him the precious small change. Now, that’s what we call exemplary good manners! The bumpy bus ride just became that much nicer because of that middle-aged man in khaki.

Keeping us in the loo-p
This press release from the government’s Press Information Bureau had us a little alarmed. It says, “The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will launch a Nationwide Real Time Monitoring of use of toilets from January 2015.

The Monitoring System will be unveiled to give a big push to Swachh Bharat Mission, which aims at attaining a 100% Open Defecation Free India by 2019. People across the country will be mobilised to check and verify the use of toilets in the rural areas through Mobile Phones, Tablets or I-Pads and upload the same in case of any discrepancy on the Ministry’s Website in tune with online Citizen Monitoring.

Earlier, the monitoring was done only about the construction of toilets, but now the actual use of toilets will be ascertained on a sustained basis.” We wonder what exactly this means, and our imaginations are conjuring up images of spy-vs-spy scenarios involving toilets.

Underlining the fact that this is not an easy task, the release adds: “Around 2 dozen additional staff including two Joint Secretaries, 4 Directors and their subordinate staff will soon be appointed for effective implementation and monitoring of Swachh Bharat goals.

An Expert Committee will also be set up to examine the Innovative Technologies for toilets and solid and liquid waste management. A National Telephonic helpline will also be installed for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation.” Constipated? Call it in!

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