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Mumbai Diary: Tuesday tales

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

A thousand and one words


Plaiting In The Park: It’s not stress, just tress time at Shivaji Park as a boy styles his female friend’s hair. Pic/Shadab Khan

Campaign questions
At the launch of an advertisement campaign called the “Jiyo Parsi campaign” which will now have print advertisements hoping to arrest the decline in numbers of the community, a lot of the post-launch questions centred around Parsis marrying non-Parsis. While the speakers in the South Mumbai hall struggled to bring the audience (which included the press) back on track to ask about the campaign specifically, there were quite a few questions, by the Parsis too, on inter-caste marriage. Some made points about why a Parsi man and a non-Parsi woman’s children are Parsis, but not those of a Parsi woman and a non-Parsi man. While the speakers kept saying this was outside the purview of the press conference, questions were raised about gender discrimination. The session broke for tea, but the questions from within the community itself, most importantly, were a barometer to the anger inside and the need for introspection.          

Loved this one, Sandy
India's Mumbai-based chairman of cricket selectors Sandeep Patil was in the news yesterday when his committee finally decided the composition of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team to Australia for next month’s Test series.

Patil’s career has a strong connection with Australia although he made only a solitary Test tour there. In 1981, Patil was felled by a Len Pascoe delivery in the first Test at Sydney after scoring 65. In the next Test at Adelaide, Patil slammed a wondrous 174 against an Aussie pace attack comprising Dennis Lillee, Rodney Hogg and Pascoe. Talking of pace, we found a funny anecdote in Caught and Told, a book written by Patil with mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello. In the book, former batsman and India coach Anshuman Gaekwad recalled an incident that took place on his tour of Australia in 1977-78:
"I was sent to Australia as a replacement for Surinder Amarnath in 1977-78, my first tour to that country. The day I arrived, our captain Bishen Bedi took
me to the Australian dressing room at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. ‘Have you come here to die,’ one of the officials asked me. I was taken aback and gave him a firm ‘No’. I was asked again. Again, I said ‘No’. Bishen overheard the conversation and intervened. ‘Charlie (Gaekwad’s nickname), you are not understanding his question. He is asking if you have come here today.’ My first test with the Australian accent had just ended disastrously.”

Sanskrit resurgence on film
THE Indian Institutes of Technology are known to be a hotbed of creativity, and perhaps (of course, we may be biased in saying this) our very own IIT-B is at the forefront. So it’s not surprising that the Powai environs of the institute are the venue this evening for a workshop on the design of an “open movie” titled Punyakoti, in Sanskrit, no less. The brainchild of animation enthusiast and filmmaker Ravi Shankar, Punyakoti is an animated version of a famous South Indian folk song, which has been brought out as a comic book and is now to be turned into a full-length animated film. 

With music maestro Ilaiyaraja backing the movie by lending his musical genius to the soundtrack, Shankar plans to crowdsource funding as well as talent for Punyakoti, hence the workshop in IIT-B. As an open project, the assets of the movie will be available for all to see and use at every stage, says Shankar. You can find out more at www.punyakoti.com.

Skirting the issue
So there was a great deal of turmoil in the online world after a survey company took a video of a woman walking around in New York city, and recorded the various catcalls, whistles and comments that she attracted.

A news report later said that the video was edited to show comments being made by only one section of society.

Read what you will into that, but another outfit did something similar in Mumbai the other day — filmed a young woman wearing a skirt and blouse and walking, in various city locations.

And guess what? Nothing happened. Everyone appears pleasantly surprised by the lack of harassment, but frankly, Mumbai is a city in which people are simply too busy to waste time.

This video experiment apart, yes, there is harassment. Yes, women are targeted. And NO, we hope that this video and the (lack of) reaction does not diminish the magnitude of the problem that many women face, every day.

But on the whole, Mumbai is a live-and-let-live city. It always has been and, we hope, always will be. 

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