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Sweet gifts

>> If only candidates who stood for the State assembly elections recently had taken a leaf out of a few of the RWITC members’ book of tricks.

Because whereas booze and money were the sweeteners they used to woo their electorate, we’re told, chocolates, shawls and beauty products are what’s being offered to sway the vote during Tuesday’s RWITC committee elections, we learn.


Vivek Jain with Cyrus Poonawala

As readers know, there are only 10 candidates vying for nine seats this year. So the result hinges on which panel gets the majority and hence gets to choose the Chairman of the Club.

“For many years, candidates had stopped pampering members with gifts. However, this time the camp led by Khushroo Dhunjibhoy seems to have pulled out all the stops in the gifts department,” says a source, adding, “Mr Dhunjibhoy himself has sent lady members shawls from Christina, in addition to which his ‘group of five’ has collectively sent a box of chocolates.”


Khushroo Dhunjibhoy and Jaydev Mody

This trend of sweetening the pie was started by Jaydev Mody a few years ago, according to an insider, when he had sent a large box of Ferrero Rochers to members. This was followed by his close ally Ram Shroff sending members beauty products from his company Charak!

As for the camp led by former Chairman Vivek Jain, we hear it has taken the view that it’s not gifts but it is the personal rapport with members that will win the day for them.

“But whether this comes from a sense of moral high ground or innate parsimoniousness isn’t clear,” says a member.

And from the ‘kingmaker’ who is rumoured to hold the key to the election, thanks to his heavyweight credentials — Cyrus Poonawala — we received a non-committal response on whom he’s backing: “Unfortunately, I have been too preoccupied with the World Zoroastrian Conference, which I am chairing, to take an active interest in this year’s elections,” he said.

Hmmm. All eyes on the RWITC tomorrow!

Edgy, urban multimedia occurrence 
>> Saturday night saw us hotfooting our way to Mehboob Studios for the first edition of Johnnie Walker — The Journey, an edgy, multimedia performance art occurrence that brought together performances by The Alan Parsons Live Project and Ouroboros — The Handspring Puppet Company, a screening of Shane Carruth’s trippy film Upstream Color, a conversation between multi–disciplinary artist Mukul Deora and film and theatre producer John Hart (Revolutionary Road and Boys Don’t Cry) amongst other offerings.


Dev Benegal and Atul Kasbekar

The cavernous halls of the iconic studio and its outside spaces reflected this cutting-edge, avant garde initiative, with pop-up performances, Sufi music concerts and snaking queues for food and drink and the presence of many urban copyboys getting their gritty weekend cultural fix.


Priya Dutt, Nagesh Kukunoor and Sapna Bhavnani

We spotted leading members of the city’s intelligentsia like Kiran Rao, Dev Benegal, Atul Kasbekar, Sapna Bhavnani, Priya Dutt , Ashutosh Phatak and Nagesh Kukunoor delighting in the phantasmagorical proceedings.

Nice!

The Beanbagwallahs
>> My kingdom for a beanbag. This column had commented about Mumbai’s ubiquitous Banksy-like beanbag marketing campaign a year ago.

Mumbaikars had long been intrigued by the appearance of that familiar graffiti ‘Beanbag 26407383’ scrawled on every available surface of public utility like walls, pipes, bus stations and trees! Many had even wondered if the beanbag legend actually sold beanbags or was just a code name for something more sinister! Well, now thanks to BombayJules, (a delightful blog written on the city by an expat in Mumbai )that urban myth has been deconstructed.


An ad for bean bags. Pic/BombayJules

“There are actually three ‘Mr Beanbags’ — Farooq Ansari, his son Wahib Ansari ... and their partner Sahil Shetty,” writes BombayJules in a recent post. “Between them, they run Beanbagwala and Dolphin Beanbags (to give the businesses their full names). YES, it really is a business selling BEANBAGS!” and this revelation is accompanied by photographs of three perfectly respectable and pleasantly stylish young men. “This is a business that has been going on for 30 years,” writes the BombayJules, “And I am guessing that their marketing concept works pretty well.” 

Fire!
What does one do when one can see a fire raging in another building from one’s bedroom window? Does one rush across to help? Does one sprint across to report on the story? Does one watch it with a prayer on one’s lips and ever increasing sense of dread as the hours pass by?

All these thoughts occurred to me, as I watched the Mont Blanc building alight on Friday evening. I was seized by panic even as I was besieged with questions on appropriate behavioral response.

My first instinct to rush across to help was set aside when I was informed that the area had been cordoned off and that the police and fire department were already overstretched trying to keep law and order.

Helping in a fire was a specialised service. What guarantee was there that I would not be a hindrance?

The thought of trying to report on the fire even as it was raging and there were lives in danger was also struck down as too cynical and opportunistic.

So, finally, I just sat staring at the flames, praying and checking on updates through TV and social media.

At 10 pm, when the fire was finally put out, neighbours informed me that all residents had been accounted for and saved.

What a tragedy then to learn that seven lost their lives.

I think back on those two hours when I just watched, and wonder if I ought to have behaved differently. 

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