Mumbai Diary: Friday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce.
As high as a kite
A white aircraft makes for a contrasting image with kites in the Bandra skyline on Thursday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Causing a flutter in Navi Mumbai
Navi Mumbai had a rather unique visitor earlier this week. The Red Helen species of butterflies was sighted for the first time ever in the satellite city. Dr V Shubhalaxmi, co-founder of iNaturewatch Foundation, told this diarist that she had spotted the winged beauty with her team when they had gone to Khargar for plantation work recently. She said that the butterfly is a local migrant that flies from a higher altitude to a lower one during the monsoon. It's native to the Sahyadris, and is common in places like Matheran. Shubhalaxmi said, "It descends to a lower level when the rain gets heavy, and though I have spotted it at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park before, this is the first recording of it in Navi Mumbai. It has the same width as the Blue Mormon, the state butterfly of Maharashtra, and we were all very excited when we spotted it. But I don't think I will see it in Navi Mumbai anytime soon again."
Calling only original musicians
If you're a musician who has all the leisure in the world during the lockdown to compose a song, now is the time to do it. A contest has been launched for singer-songwriters, where the only criterion is that the entry has to be an original composition. Vijay Basrur, founder of streaming platform OK Listen that is organising the contest, told this diarist, "There is no complex recording gear needed and we are ensuring that there is no bias towards any language or genre."
He added that the competition is a collaborative effort with Ahmedabad-based studio Compass Box. So, apply if you're a musician and already have a tune in your kitty. And if you don't, start composing one for a chance to win.
Taking a different line on China
Singer Baba Sehgal keeps to his tradition of commenting on current affairs through his music with yet another upcoming song, Ek tha China aur uske apps. Due to be launched this week, the song takes on the recent ban of Chinese apps including TikTok in India. "At the heart of it, it is a patriotic song. I have included some information about the unrest between the two countries, but also made it funny in parts. It is my way of spreading awareness among youngsters since many don't understand why TikTok and other apps were banned," he told this diarist. As for the style, Sehgal intersperses his trademark rap with melody. "I have worked on a Latin beat. Think Kishore Kumar from the days of Ek hasina thi, ek deewana tha," he said.
The birth of Bombay
Come July 6, and The Asiatic Society's online lecture series, Urbs Prima in Indis: The Making of Bombay, will give history nuts a chance to understand how India's commercial capital was built. It will cover 50-plus sites through key themes of architecture, iconography, shipping and the sea, railways and its iconic stations as well as financial institutions. "From the political messaging of sculptures on architecture to the stories behind Victorian and Neo-Gothic buildings, the role of the Naval Dockyard in imperial global naval warfare and how the city thrived in 1857 when the rest of the country was burning, the tour of the city will showcase five different types of architecture," R Venkatesh, organising member of the Society's research team, told this diarist. Check out their Instagram page (@asiaticsocietymumbai) if you'd like to soak in this session.
Dalit art matters
As the world grapples with a pandemic and speaks against systemic racism, the voices of marginalised Dalits in our own country are drowned out. "The Indian Constitution states equal rights for all its citizens, yet its translation into practice has been challenging. Our webinar on July 4, titled Subaltern Narratives and Dalit Creative Engagement, will highlight the role of the arts and the first voice of rights-holder communities," moderator Dr Amareswar Galla, director of International Centre for Inclusive Cultural Leadership, Anant National University, told this diarist.
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