Mumbai Diary: Friday Dossier

Updated: Mar 15, 2019, 08:52 IST | Team mid-day | Mumbai

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

President Ramnath Kovind honours Seema Mehta at the ceremony
President Ramnath Kovind honours Seema Mehta at the ceremony

To Mumbai's naari
At the recently concluded Nari Shakti Puraskar ceremony in New Delhi, where President Ramnath Kovind conferred the award on 44 women, and public and private institutions working towards women empowerment, several ladies from Mumbai were honoured. Among them are Dr Seema Rao, India's first woman commando trainer, and Seema Mehta, director of the kathak academy, Chhandam Nritya Bharati.

"I dedicate the award to my parents and guru, Pandit Chitresh Das. Post Independence, our classical dance and music forms were revived, but dance is still not considered as important as the study of languages and science for it to be included in school curriculums. This award will help me and other members of the community reach out to educational institutions and students," Mehta told this diarist.

Celebrating Foy's Bombay
"Foy Nissen pursued Bombay," said justice Gautam Patel, during his talk as chief guest at the inauguration of a photo exhibition to celebrate one of the city's finest photographers and heritage custodians. It was an evening that began with a preview of his frames at the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya.

Justice Gautam Patel, chief guest at the inauguration of the exhibition. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Justice Gautam Patel, chief guest at the inauguration of the exhibition. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

This was followed by a talk that was introduced by Kamini Sawhney, curator of the exhibition. Justice Patel's recollection of Nissen's work offered a glimpse into the life of the quiet Dane who loved the metropolis and made it his own. Nissen's lens captured Mumbai when it was Bombay of the 1970s and '80s. He had also played a key role in the early days of its heritage evangelisation. Recalling this contribution, Cyrus Guzder, a leading voice of the city's heritage movement, signed off the session by reminding the audience why it's important to keep his frames as a telling reminder of the times we live in. Pheroza Godrej, Vikas Dilawari, Rafique Baghdadi and several friends of Nissen made it an evening to remember.

Paneer is not a vegetable
That celebrity chef Sarah Todd loves her veggies is well-known and it reflects in her food in multiple ways. Todd has moved away from the gobi aloo she made on a popular TV show years ago, and on to unique dishes like her famous quinoa biryani. Now, we hear, she is stirring up some new recipes.

Sarah Todd
Sarah Todd

This time, exclusively for India's vegetarians. "Mumbai being 60-per cent vegetarian, my main focus is creating a menu that has a variety of interesting dishes that are not based around mushrooms and paneer," Todd wrote on a social media post, referring to a menu she's working on for Lower Parel's Wine Rack. "It has been a challenge, but one I've taken up head on." We will taste and tell.

What a short!
In 2013, Happy Birthday! — a collection of short stories that explore the complex lives of human beings — was released by city-based writer Meghna Pant, and the following year it made it to the longlist of the prestigious Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

Meghna Pant
Meghna Pant

But the roll of honourable mentions for Pant doesn't end there. Yesterday, she announced that the book has now made it to the list of the top 10 memorable and moving short story collections by web-based encyclopedia, Wikipedia. "Considering I was told not to 'waste my time' writing short stories, everything about this book has been magical... So grateful!" Pant wrote. And if this isn't enough motivation for writers to delve into short stories, we don't know what is.

Booked for a prize
It's seen as a sign of aspiration in India if a person is well-versed in English. But as a result of the mindset, regional Indian languages take a backseat. But Parag Initiative, started by Tata Trusts, is aimed at changing this. Its purpose is to make books in different regional languages available to children.

The London Book Fair, 2018
The London Book Fair, 2018

Now, that same effort has been recognised at The London Book Fair, where Parag has been honoured with the Educational Initiative Excellence Award 2019. The awards are held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association, and celebrate publishing success across 17 categories. It's no mean feat, then, to be awarded a prize in the face of stiff competition.

Slim pickings
Siddharth Roy Kapur with wife Vidya Balan
Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur turns up for a screening of Ritesh Batra's upcoming film, looking half his size, with actress-wife Vidya Balan. Pic/Sameer Markande

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