Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Tales

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

All is bhel in Gulmarg!
Up in heavenly Kashmir, bang in the middle of winter, it’s a common sight to see vendors plying sleds, teaching skiing and renting out sleek snowmobiles along the route of the famous Gulmarg Gondola cable car ride which is situated right next to the uber-luxurious Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa.

Mudasir Ahlone with his bhelpuri stall in upper Gulmarg, some 10,000 ft above sea level. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
Mudasir Ahlone with his bhelpuri stall in upper Gulmarg, some 10,000 ft above sea level. Pic/Ashwin Ferro

But there is one vendor who stands out for sheer uniqueness, and his wares will resonate with every Mumbaikar. Nineteen-year-old Mudasir Ahlone sells, believe it or not, bhelpuri here an astounding 10,000 ft above sea level. Inevitably, he’s pretty proud of what he does.

“I’ve been doing this business for the last one year and since this place is situated so high above sea level, it makes me the world’s highest bhelpuriwala,” the teenager told us yesterday. At R 30 per plate, or R 50 for two plates, it’s quite affordable too. But is it profitable?

“Not always... More often than not, it’s not profitable. I’m going to remain here till season-end and see how it goes, else I’d rather teach skiing and earn my daily bread,” he confesses. “Today, I’ve sold hardly 2-3 plates and it’s almost 3pm already. It turns dark early here, so I’m not expecting any more business either.

But tomorrow will be a better day hopefully as there is some good snowfall expected. On a freezing day, some spicy Mumbai-style bhelpuri makes for a perfect combination. On good days, which are rare, I sell about 25-30 plates which is good enough,” he added. Let’s hope it snows soon, so that India’s highest bhelpuriwallah continues to spice up these chilly slopes.

When green was not a welcome colour
On this day last year, residents of Dombivili experienced an unexpected shower and an even more unexpected outcome. The unseasonal rain caused the ground and all other surfaces to turn a bright, lurid green, said to be the result of some chemical reacting with the rain water.

The poster harking back to the ‘green rain’ incident on this day a year ago. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
The poster harking back to the ‘green rain’ incident on this day a year ago. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) officials had said that some transport company must have spilled a chemical, but the residents wonder how a spill from a truck could cause even their rooftops to become green.

Bearing the scare in mind, the residents of the area have put up a signboard commemorating the incident and deploring what they say is official apathy regarding it.

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