Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Tales

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

When the phone line went dead
Out for a quick snack during a busy work day, we spotted this (once) beautiful PCO box lying abandoned and dirty. The state of this box reminded us of the day we forgot our cellphone at home.

In a state bordering on actor Dilip Kumar’s “Ae Bhai Koi Hai” scene in Mashaal, we couldn’t find a single PCO booth in a crowded marketplace near a railway station, and almost everyone refused to let us make a call from their cellphone (finally one construction labourer did).

While the city has gladly abandoned its public telephones, we wonder, in a case of emergency, what would we do without them?

Seeing red at Nehru Centre
Maven is the catchy acronym of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, part of the Mars Scout programme of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US. Launched in November last year, the mission is to explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.

Scientists will use Maven data to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

You can take a peek at the Maven journey at the Nehru Planetarium’s Special Space Science Lecture on “MAVEN Solving Mars’ Climate Mystery”, on Friday, December 5, from 5pm to 6pm. The lecture is being given by Dr Jaydeep Mukherjee, Director, NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium, Florida, USA, at the Hall of Culture, Discovery of India Building, Nehru Centre, Worli.

In search of leftovers
The ugly truth about our city is that along with the well-fed and the semi-fed, it also houses those who have to scavenge for even the bare minimum of nourishment. Yes, there are people who subsist on leftovers, whether given away by the slightly more well-off, or just dumped to be picked over in the midst of rubbish.

Give it to the cat, instead. Pic/Suresh KK
Give it to the cat, instead. Pic/Suresh KK

It’s a cruel world but all it takes to make our little corner of it a bit better, is a little thought. Before throwing away something that someone else can consume, think about where you are placing it. At least keeping it in a reasonably clean place will give an illusion of dignity to the person picking it up.

When it comes to animals, they have their own way of gleaning tasty tidbits, fallen or spilled. This cat, for instance, knows that empty milk crates often contain remnants of spilled milk from the odd packet that may have broken open. Cautiously, she is checking out the stacked crates, poised to make the leap to a possible milky treat.

Age no bar!
Truly do they say, “Others call it rugby; we call it Dadar station!” During rush hour, any given train on any given platform at Dadar discharges a sea of humanity rather, a swelling tide of it a majority of which makes its way towards the overhead bridge (fondly known as the FOB), either to exit or to switch platforms.

Age almost never comes in the way of industry in Mumbai. Pic/Shakti Shetty
Age almost never comes in the way of industry in Mumbai. Pic/Shakti Shetty

Those crossing the tracks to get away from this crush may end up in a worse situation, so we shall overlook them. Coming back to the ascending crowd on the FOB stairs, there’s hardly enough space to move, so shrinking one’s contours while moving is standard practice. During the ascent where we resemble penguins, accidentally hitting or being hit by an adjoining heel is standard practice too.

What isn’t, is an old man with a heavy box on his head climbing the stairs just behind you. In the midst of everyone crawling as fast as they can, he will grumble: “Buddhe maafik chalta hai (He walks like an old man).” And we can’t even stop to laugh at the irony. Like life, we just have to keep moving.

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