Mumbai Diary: Wednesday Whispers

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

Silver screen to spirituality
You would normally not associate the glam (and often, alas, sham) of the film industry to be associated with anything spiritual, but film and theatre personality Smita Jayakar has recently released a book that affords a glimpse of deeper aspects of life.

The cover of the book
The cover of the book

As she says on her website, newleaftrust.com, her quest for a deeper understanding of peace and happiness in life led her to experiment with her natural therapy techniques and practices. Some of her discoveries are embodied in the book, Before Tomorrow, which was released in the city recently.

Her theory is that spirituality does not need to be separate from our daily life, and one can continue to do everything that one normally does, while at the same time moving on to a higher plane of consciousness at a spiritual level. Sounds like the best of both worlds!

Thoughts and theatre
India's national shame rape and sexual molestation needs concerted action and awareness. There have been a series of drives of late, and one of the more hard-hitting has been a US Consulate project called See Something? Say Something! ACTing against Gender Based Violence (4S).

A street play generating awareness. Representational pic
A street play generating awareness. Representational pic

This is a theatre project taking place in four places, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Jammu. What is important and different is that it targets public attitudes towards women’s entitlement to violence-free lives. There is a community performance at Dharavi this evening, and it is about breaking down the hierarchy between actors and audiences to generate discussion.

The performance in Hindi will be by the Pandies’ theatre group, and will be held between 7.30pm and 9pm today. Those intrigued or interested can visit the Transit Camp Area, Beat # 2, behind Dharavi Police Station, for theatre with a thought-provoking message.

Tongues tickled, tummies are fine
It was no surprise to us, but it’s still worth mentioning that pav-bhaji passed a germ test, by a writer from the UK newspaper The Guardian, no less.

Hot and tasty, Mumbai’s street food turns out to be safe too
Hot and tasty, Mumbai’s street food turns out to be safe too

The writer decided to take a sample from pav bhaji at a stall “next to a busy road, exposed to the constant screaming of horns and gusts of dusty wind, with a busy railway station to the right and a bus depot to the left, from which every 10 minutes a new bus blew exhaust all over the pan of pav-bhaji and vada-pav being cooked and stored in the open facing a public toilet”.

A sight many of us would have seen at least once, and though the description is off-putting, it turns out that the pav-bhaji from the stall, when examined in a laboratory, conformed to regulatory limits and was safe for consumption.

There are those who will swear that it’s the dirt which makes street food tasty, and some also vouchsafe that because you can see the preparation process right in front of you it is more hygienic than the hidden kitchens of more upscale eateries.

Be that as it may, the lab found that coliform, E coli, salmonella, shigella, Staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas were all absent, and said yeast and mould levels were within acceptable limits, according to the story. Mumbaikars merely blinked, and went on chomping.

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