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Now, another charity challenge

It’s obviously the season for innovative charity bets and challenges. Following on the heels of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, word comes in that cricketer Yuvraj Singh and photographer/ celeb manager Atul Kasbekar have ended up with an intriguing charity wager on Twitter.

As a prelude to the start of the English Premier League, Yuvi, a Manchester United fan, and Kasbekar, an ardent Arsenal devotee, have started a unique charity bet: each has pledged a lakh towards the other’s charity if the other’s team ends up higher in the league at the end of the season.

Anand Mahindra
Anand Mahindra

So, if Arsenal finishes above Manchester Utd, Yuvraj pays a lakh to ‘Nanhi Kali’, a pioneer in girl child education, and if it’s the other way round, then Kasbekar writes a cheque to ‘YouWeCan’, the NGO set up by the cricketer to focus on early cancer detection.

Yuvraj Singh Atul Kasbekar
Yuvraj Singh and Atul Kasbekar

And if this isn’t all, industrialist Anand Mahindra, intrigued by this initiative, has upped the ante with a wager all his own on the micro-blogging site by pledging an equal amount to both charities regardless of the result. Nice!

Sensible Sonakshi
Yes, like the rest of the world, we have watched as various celebs and ordinary folk have doused buckets of ice cubes on their heads and then challenged others to raise awareness and money for ALS. And as far as we are concerned, the prize for the most intelligent response ought to go to Bill Gates, who constructed a special, self-designed contraption to fulfil the task to the best of his ability.

Bill Gates Sonakshi Sinha
Bill Gates and Sonakshi Sinha

But, the prize for most ‘sensible response’ belongs to none other than India’s Sonakshi Sinha. Her dare clip opens with the strapping actress delightfully confessing that ‘no one nominated her for the ice bucket dare’ (akin to being in social Siberia in these hyper-connected days); but, nevertheless, she declares her willingness to go through with the dare.

Following which, she proceeds to pour exactly a single ice-cube over her head with the words “STOP WASTING WATER!” and, of course, promising to donate to the worthy cause herself.

Sensible girl!

Celebrating in style
“A wonderful surprise by students and staff of Whistling Woods for me today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” gushed Whistling Woods’ popular president Meghna Puri yesterday, on the occasion of her birthday.

Whistling Woods students celebrating Meghna’s birthday
Whistling Woods students celebrating Meghna’s birthday

The reason for this exuberance was the fact that her doting students had festooned the film school’s famous atrium foyer with a series of photographs commemorating her special day, making no secret of their love for her. “I am overwhelmed and honoured to have such a lovely bunch of people who care so much about me.”

Meghna Puri
Meghna Puri

Meanwhile, the institute, which had been directed to vacate the campus on the 5.5 acres of land by July 31 this year, has won interim relief from the Bombay High Court. Perhaps that added to the sense of celebration.

House arrest and arresting house
Following the arrest of Neeraj Singhal, the vice-chairman of Bhushan Steel, in connection with the Syndicate Bank bribery scandal, those in the know have been wondering what would become of the palatial bungalow that had been constructed for his family on land owned by no less than former Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

Housed in the backyard of Patel’s own lavish C K House at Worli, the bungalow, which was constructed according to Singhal’s specs, was to be bought by the Singhals from Patel as their Mumbai residence later this year. “No expense has been spared in making it possibly the most opulent mansion in Mumbai,” said a real estate maven.

For the uninitiated, the Delhi-based Singhals, who ran Bhushan Steel, had incurred unserviced debts running into hundreds of thousands of crores, which a slew of banks were suing to recover. The bungalow would have been just one more in the line of their flashy toys that included jets, limousines and residences across the world.

What would become of the Singhal’s dream home, now that creditors and the law were at their door? Incidentally, this turn of events has, once again, given rise to rumours that the locality adjoining the famous Samudra Mahal is considered unlucky.

“For many years, there’s been a long-standing rumour that, when the area was being developed, workers had perished due to negligence and necessary pujas hadn’t been completed. Madhuli, which is in the same area, had been the residence of Harshad Mehta and Rajan Pillai, both of whom suffered setbacks in their lifetimes.

With the Singhal episode, these rumours have gained more credence amongst Mumbai’s superstitious.

Sh@% happens
We have been huge fans of the ‘Humans of New York’ photoblog, created by former bond-trader Brandon Stanton in November 2010, which has become something of worldwide phenomena.

Non Humans of Mumbai photoblog
Non Humans of Mumbai photoblog

For the uninitiated, the site has Stanton walking around New York, taking candid pictures of people he encounters, and then adding a delightfully whimsical and yet soulful micro-interview with them. Till date, the site has over 6,000 of his portraits and has received over nine million likes on Facebook, spawned a best-selling book and countless imitations.

Brandon Standon talking to a New Yorker
Brandon Standon talking to a New Yorker

With the latter, we have been less impressed. Most people who’ve done versions of Humans featuring their own city have not managed to get the sensitivity or subtlety of Stanton’s soulful encounters; the imitations are a pale copy of the original idea.

Which is why we were delighted to see the ‘Non Humans of Mumbai’ photoblog, a section of which we reproduce here. Witty, imaginative and soulful, it features an imaginary commentary from a symposium of pigeons on a Mumbai roof; a worthy spoof on the original. Here is the caption the site has posted for this picture of gathered birds:

“So what's happening here?”
“We’re conducting our weekly meeting.”
“What’s on the agenda?”
“Morning shit. Post morning shit shit. Shit on new Mercedes. Look for food. Post food shit. Get stuck in a house. Petrified shit. Bang into the window while trying to get out. Panicky shit. Get out. Shit.”

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