Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Tales

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

Not such a secret society, after all
Sunday saw a “strange” event being organised in the city. The Freemasons’ Lodge in Mumbai opened their doors to the public to mark their Foundation Day.

The beautiful premises in the Freemasons’ Lodge where meetings are held. Pic/Ayan Roy
The beautiful premises in the Freemasons’ Lodge where meetings are held. Pic/Ayan Roy

Long viewed as a secret society, with people “in the know” pointing out the approximate location of the lodge, the Freemasons for the first time gave a tour of the building opposite Sterling Cinema, and held a lecture to help the public gain a better understanding of the fraternity and its history.

Why would a “super secretive cult” try to hold an open house? Well, according to the Masons present there it was to debunk the fact that they are a “super secretive cult”. They are not secretive, having a website and Twitter account, and neither are they a cult, being a registered organisation that allows anybody access to their membership and other details.

This diarist spent some time with the Masons, who hope people would look beyond fiction and paperbacks, which have made Mason-bashing a popular sport, to the reality. As one of them said, “To be popular one needs to add spice, but reality can be very boring.” And while it will require more than a couple of hours of chatting to know the truth, what one came back with was a sense of brotherhood that’s very rare to find in this dog-eat-dog world.

Victorian farewell
Yesterday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India celebrated after the Bombay High Court directed that horse carriages be phased out in Mumbai within a year. This came after campaigning by PETA India, which intervened, along with People for Animals (PFA), in the Public Interest Litigation filed by Animals and Birds Charitable Trust (ABCT).

PETA says that earlier, the Mumbai traffic police had restricted the use of Victorias, but the dozens of challans issued by the traffic police for violations over just a few months revealed the ineffectiveness of the partial ban. Mumbaikars may have just seen the last of the Victorias, now.Animal rights activist Ambika Hiranandani says, “This is a historic judgment.

It will benefit both horsemen and the horses since the court has directed the state governments to rehabilitate both. As NGOs, we will also step up to help as much as we can. In fact, if some horsemen abandon their horses, we can step up.” We too hope the retired horses are treated well, as they deserve to be after a lifetime’s hard work.

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