Mumbai Diary: Monday Dossier

Dec 11, 2017, 06:00 IST | Team mid-day

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

The Christmas tree has been lit
A Lower Parel five-star ushered the impending arrival of Christmas with a grand tree-lighting ceremony that was held over the weekend. The event was held in the ninth-floor lobby, decked up in festive lights to add to the excitement.

The Christmas tree at St Regis
The Christmas tree at St Regis

Carol singers, too, gave the occasion a note of authenticity, as did a freshly-baked gingerbread house. Plus, there was an endless supply of eggnogs, champagne and mulled wine, adding to the Christmas cheer in more ways than one.

The art world's deafening message is to keep quiet
While a silent protest outside The Met Breuer by Jaishri Abichandani created quite a stir in The Big Apple, closer home, the city of dreams seemed to be, well, sleeping. If you have been following our pages, you'd know that a major exhibition of works by the late Raghubir Singh, who is hyperbolically described as a pioneer and stalwart of Indian photography, is ongoing at this museum of contemporary art. Last week, NYC-based artist and former Mumbai-gal Abichandani staged a silent protest outside along with a few others. The group held up signs that read “Me Too”, while Abichandani had one that read, “I survived Raghubir Singh. #MeToo.” In an interview with an international website, Abichandani briefly discussed Singh's sexual misconduct during a professional trip the two had made to India. Post this protest, when we looked at the late photographer's Wikipedia page, we found an entry on the alleged assault.

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Not a peep from the ever-so-observant and even more eloquent gallery-trotting folks here, unless one counts an interesting exchange of comments on social media. A certain American gent, who now makes photographic works from his studio in Rajasthan, called the protest “a publicity stunt” on a Facebook post shared by a young filmmaker in support of Abichandani. He even went on to suggest that Singh didn't have a chance to defend himself.

Then, there was a critic of repute, only too well-known for his directness, who went on to engage in a smug fit of words with the filmmaker. All this came to a startling halt when Abichandani called out these men for their misogyny, which led our critic to clarify himself. That he believes in and defends Abichandani's story and protest. That he is sorry about the manner in which he put his views across, which had more to do with The Met's stand on the matter. You may not find these posts online anymore, but, truth be told, the younger initiates into India's art world are not keen to tolerate this kind of entitlement.

Now, the art activist and feminist is no stranger to Mumbai and New Delhi, having shown at two tier I galleries in both cities. But, perhaps there is a conflict of interest among the members of the art frat, such that they are making sure that the can of worms is tight-shut? We hoped that the protest would spur on more Me Toos in India, yet the art world seems to have cared two hoots about it. Silence is not always golden, is it?

Dedicated to De
Recently, prolific writer and journalist Salil Tripathi penned a heartfelt poem about how women should dream big and do what they believe in without listening to others. He ended it with a motivational thought: be yourself and achieve the world.

Salil Tripathi and Shobhaa De
Salil Tripathi and Shobhaa De

Interestingly, Tripathi has dedicated this poem to Shobhaa De  whose journey and spirited attitude has inspired the UK-based contributing editor. The poem also resonates with De's latest title, Seventy… And To Hell With It! and she may just read it at the book's launch slated this week. A touching gesture, isn't it?

Liverpool star is having a ball
Former Liverpool footballer Vladimir Šmicer is having a ball in Mumbai. The Czech international is in the city for a fan-based initiative that his ex-club has organised, and we got word that he was strolling by Colaba's backlanes without being recognised by any of the clueless locals.

Vladimir Smice

He also did lunch at Tasse de Thé, a new eatery in Fort, where we hear that a football replica made entirely out of tea caught his fancy. All in all, when it comes to his trip to the country, it seems that he is getting a definite kick out of it (no pun intended).

Why should humans have all the fun?
Here's news that would get the tails of our furry friends wagging if only they read this paper. Mumbai will host Pet Fed, the city's first pet festival, on December 16 and 17. The event will include programmes like The Security Dog Show and Obedience Display, apart from one called Pet's Got Talent.

Not just that, there is even a fashion show lined up where cool cats and hot dogs will strut their stuff on the ramp. The fest will be held at the MMRDA grounds in BKC and the organisers, who will also televise the event, have a host of cash prizes on offer, all of which sounds like the purr-fect plan for a slightly different weekend.

No mean feet
Zakir Hussain

Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain seems a bit taken aback as he finds percussionist Sivamani prostrate before him, while musicians Louiz Banks and Shankar Mahadevan look on with folded hands during a tribute concert for Banks held at King's Circle over the weekend. Pic/Satej Shinde

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