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Mumbai Diary: Wednesday Whispers

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

Vigilance wise
With the plethora of special days raining down on us, “osteoporosis day’ then, “world peace day’ then, `world green day’ and so many others, people have got used to different days being marked for some or the other reason. Little do we know though that right now, the State is observing what is called as `Vigilance Awareness Week’.

The Week runs from October 27 to November 1. Recently, the Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, stated as his message for Vigilance Awareness Week, “Corruption has affected every citizen in one way or the other.” It asked that government staff leverage technology to stamp out this great scourge.

“There is a unanimous view that corruption is a major issue in India which has affected every citizen in one way or the other. It has prevented the benefits of socio-economic development from reaching the poor and reinforced inequities”, the Governor said.

With even the Governor joining the stamp-out-corruption winds blowing in the country, cynics may scoff and sceptics may sniff, but we think this is a sentiment that should resonate everywhere and the splendid Raj Bhavan is as good a place as any.

Names that kick up a storm
Women named Nilofar must be seething at the name of the next tropical storm that is set to hit the Gujarat coast in a couple of days. Spouses of Nilofars, of course, will be laughing all the way to the joke bank as their better halves will not be able to even frown without having the hurricane reference rubbed in.

A NASA image of cyclone Nilofar. Pic/AFP
A NASA image of cyclone Nilofar. Pic/AFP

But in case you were wondering which sadist decided to name cyclones and other storms, we must tell you that it’s an entire panel. Yes, it takes a committee and this one is made up of representatives from all the countries in the region.

The US started naming storms since the 1950s, and the North Indian Ocean (in which India is included) started naming them after the 1999 Orissa cyclone. Each country in the region submitted 10 names - except India, which only joined the name game in 2004, with the first cyclone named Onil by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The IMD says help identify individual cyclones, and avoids confusion especially when storms occur close to one another, as has happened with Hudhud and Nilofar, for example. Hudhud, the Arabic name of the hoopoe bird, was named by Oman, and Nilofar has been named by Pakistan.

As the eight countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand) take turns alphabetically to name storms (regardless of where they hit), the next one should be named by Sri Lanka. The last time Sri Lanka named a cyclone, Mahasen, it brought down a storm of sorts on its own head, as nationalists argued that Mahasen was the name of a king who had brought peace and prosperity to the island.

The name was then changed to Viyaru. If enough Nilofars protest, the World Meteorological Organisation can even change the name retrospectively and erase it from the list for ever. But then, it’s just a storm in a teacup, isn’t it?

Perchance to dream
At first we were alarmed at seeing this reclining figure, but when we went nearer we realised he was only sleeping. We know of those who snatch 40 winks in 40 minutes of a train journey, and those who get their eight hours in instalments - sometimes on road and rail, sometimes sneaked during an extended lunch break.

The city may never sleep but its citizens definitely have to. Pic/Amit Kamath
The city may never sleep but its citizens definitely have to. Pic/Amit Kamath

Then, in the perennially crowded city that is our home, where to sleep is another question. Chauffeurs can be seen reclining in their employers’ cars while they wait for the journey back home, and we have often captured the common man dozing in uncommon places such as boundary walls and bus stops.

And then there is this gentleman in Dahisar, who has chosen not one but two parked cars, which apparently make a fairly convenient albeit temporary bed.

Cracker of a happy ending
Diwali is traumatic for animals, because of the ear-splitting firecrackers which can scare the daylights out of even humans. For pets, who don’t know why these sounds are rending the air around them, it is a few days of fear and misery.

The dog and owner happily reunited. Pic/Shirish Vaktania
The dog and owner happily reunited. Pic/Shirish Vaktania

For one-year-old Khandoba, a doggie resident of Vasai west, the fireworks were bad enough to make him run away in search of safety. Owner Nanda Mahadik had tried everything posters, pamphlets, social media messages to trace the canine, and eventually an autorickshaw driver, Harsh Patil, found him.

Patil, also a Vasai west resident, had seen one of the posters, and identified the dog. He picked him up, called Mahadik, and the two were reunited on Monday. Now that’s a really nice Diwali gift for Mahadik. And we hope Khandoba gets a reprieve next year!

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