Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Tales

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

Big B pitches for Mumbai
Our city’s race to be in the Unesco World Heritage Sites list just got an unexpected boost from none other than formerly angry young man Amitabh Bachchan, now more famous for his baritone voice. The Big B has impressed with his height, acting, dancing, his impeccable hosting of Kaun Banega Crorepati… and now his penmanship is yet another thing to marvel at.

Amitabh sure loves this city
Amitabh sure loves this city

Bachchan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to “enhance” Mumbai’s nomination for listing as a Unesco World Heritage Site, saying, “This nomination dossier ... entitled ‘Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble, Mumbai’ needs to be officially endorsed by your Government as India’s official entry for Unesco World Heritage Site for the year 2015.”

The letter is printed on Bachchan’s official notepaper, with the salutation “Respected Narendra Moji ji” and of course his unmistakable signature handwritten, in elegant violet-blue ink.

“As a concerned citizen of this country and a loving Mumbaikar, I have offered my services to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis during his recent conclave ‘Mumbai Next’,” the letter goes on to say, concluding by asking the PM to give the issue his “compassionate consideration”. We hope the thespian’s words ring home, and bring it home.

Is it open season?
Finally, we think. After a week of uncertainty, a notice at the Taraporevala Aquarium near Charni Road station, opposite Chowpatty, tells us today is the day. The Chief Minister is to inaugurate the aquarium in the morning, and it will open to the public at noon.

A notice stating that the aquarium opens to the public in the afternoon
A notice stating that the aquarium opens to the public in the afternoon

Earlier reports had people milling outside the Aquarium gates yesterday itself, and the watchmen had quite a time turning them away, explaining that there was still some work pending. Hope it is fin (pun intended) ished by today and Mumbai’s public gets its much awaited new aquarium. And hope things go swimmingly with it!

What’s up, commuters?
Whatsapp may be a source of unwarranted interactions for some users, but transport minister Diwakar Raote has been using it to connect with commuters very effectively. The Sena leader has published his mobile number and asked people to send him texts and pictures to highlight transport issues.

Diwakar Raote wants to know commuters’ problems. Pic/Shadab Khan
Diwakar Raote wants to know commuters’ problems. Pic/Shadab Khan

Raote replies to the aggrieved people, and gets their complaints diverted to the officials concerned. He also makes sure that the complainant is given the mobile number of officers dealing with the issue. He doesn’t forget to ask for reports of action taken as well.

On the wrong side (of life)
If you ask any four-wheeler driver what is the biggest menace on the road, they will almost inevitably point to two-wheeler riders, specially motorcyclists. (It’s a different story that bikers generally hate everyone else on the road, including other bikers and of course pedestrians.)

The biker is making his leanings clear. Pic/Chirag Waghela
The biker is making his leanings clear. Pic/Chirag Waghela

Best known for wild weaving in and out of traffic, as well as jumping red lights and apparently not knowing that their bikes come equipped with brakes, motorcyclists also have a peculiar - and inexplicable - characteristic which leads to many a snafu on the road.

This is their seemingly universal penchant for riding on the extreme left of the road, overtaking vehicles from the left, and somehow expecting that the left-hand lane will take them free and clear to their destination faster than any other. Perhaps it makes sense to them, but it does not for us, as the left-hand side of the road is not a fast lane to begin with, and moreover there are always vehicles pulling over to stop on that side.

Be that as it may, we spotted a biker at the Dindoshi flyover the other day who seems to be serious in espousing this leftist philosophy. He actually has the words “Left Hand Drive” painted on the mudguard. Reminds us of the olde days when imported cars such as the Volkswagen Beetle had these words painted on the back.

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