Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Tales

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

Memorable message
AMID the plethora of breast cancer awareness drives, campaigns and messages that start in October and often continue beyond, we sat up and took notice of a campaign with a difference which has been carried out by a cancer care specialist based in Bangalore.

The ads, which run as billboards and banner ads on the company’s website, feature transgender women (also known as hijras) emphasising the importance of getting regular checkups to prevent breast cancer. The transgender women’s statements are powerful.

“I was born without breasts. But I don’t intend to die without them.” “It took me two surgeries to get my breasts. I don’t want another one to lose them.” And “A message to those blessed with breasts. From someone who wasn’t as fortunate.” Those who have seen the ads are, to use a colloquialism, blown away by them. The alternative sexuality community in Mumbai has hailed the ads, which have gone around on social media to general acclaim.

We, too, are impressed with the campaign, which sends out the key message while at the same time propagates a subtext by using transgender women in a place where they have not been seen before. The viewer is forced to take in the idea that hijras are just like us. And we hope this goes towards their greater acceptance in a society which is conditioned to shun them.

Willingdon Wise
We have said this before, but wise words need to be repeated and so we say it again, Cabbies are often an accurate barometer to the way the city thinks. Their experience behind the wheel, the numerous passengers and their knowledge of the city, make them quite the expert when it comes to opinions about Mumbai.

So, we could not help laughing, when a lady said that she hailed a cab to take her to the posh Willingdon Club at Haji Ali. Thinking that the cabbie would not know the way to the club, the woman explained, “it is a club opposite the racecourse, next to Tardeo RTO...” the cabbie cut her off, “Yes, yes, I know, woh Willingdon club hai. Woh Parsi baboo ka club, sab Parsi udhar jaate hain.”

The Willingdon Club. Even the cabbies have an opinion on it!
The Willingdon Club. Even the cabbies have an opinion on it!

(I know it is Willingdon, a club for Parsis, all Parsis go there). Wonder what the tony Willingdon committee had to say. Incidentally, this happened on the evening the club was marking a club night and the lawns had never looked prettier, music played, birds trilled and for a while, you could forget you were in Mumbai.

Insure and ensure
Television ads may be fun to watch, but we need to take their claims with a pinch of salt, not to mention lime juice. A recent commercial for a health insurance company pokes fun at a woman who drinks hot water with lime juice and honey in the mornings.

The implication is that this alone is not enough by way of health insurance, and she should fork out a wad of cash to buy paper insurance. We would like to tell the ad team that people drink hot water with lime and honey not as insurance, but as a means of staying healthy. Confusion between health tips and health insurance here, we think.

Squeeze me, please!
Travelling in a crowded local train has its high points, though the lows generally outnumber them. Regular spats over elbows and toes are seen, especially in general compartments or the ladies’ second-class.

But in the first-class compartment, it is the realm of the lower decibels. You do hear the occasional quarrel, voices raised, but specially in the ladies’ compartment it does not reach the fishwife level on the decibel meter. First-class tiffs are spiffy, as it were.

We witnessed one polite but tense exchange the other evening, in a fast Kalyan local when the ladies first-class compartment was unusually crowded. A woman sitting next to the window was squeezed in when another passenger sat next to her. Everyone moved and shuffled, “adjusting” for the new passenger.

But it wasn’t enough. The newcomer asked the woman near the window to move further on, repeated the request and added a “Please” as if that would succeed in creating the requisite space. The exasperated woman told her, quietly but firmly: “There really is no space. Saying the same thing twice and saying Please does not make the impossible possible!”

The Superstar returns
After 40 years, Raell Padamsee’s Ace Productions brought back Alyque Padamsee’s legendary production, Jesus Christ Superstar, which opened with five shows last weekend at Bandra’s St Andrews auditorium. In the audience were Suneeta Rao, Zarine Khan, Sabira Merchant, Shazahn Padamsee and Sharon Prabhakar.

It was a mix of emotions, said those who attended, a roller-coaster ride of laughing in splits to being moved to tears. A performance by Judas was described as ‘rocking’. Theatre is excited about this resurrection.

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