Mumbai Diary page: Thursday Theme
The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Local trains and overcrowding seem to be meant for each other, although we can’t help asking — until when? Going by the latest numbers, a train compartment is legally assigned to seat 97 commuters and 194 standing capacity.
Some commuters are forced to travel on the other side of the window
Of course, these figures fly out of the window when the train halts for those 18 or so seconds at a station. Speaking of which, passengers sometimes are willing to even perch on the window (as we saw yesterday morning on the Harbour Line) because come what may, the commute cannot be missed!
Stone-age tips on saving gas
There is no escaping television - not even on our city BEST buses. Many buses are fitted with TV screens which show snippets and, of course, advertisements to the captive audience. The service is run by a firm called BEST TV (no prizes for imaginative title, there).
Among other things the service also displays household tips, the kind that are a fixture in women’s magazines. On our bus commute the other day we happened to catch one such tip, displayed periodically in both Hindi and English, which left us perplexed.
Offering advice on saving cooking gas, or LPG, it said that when preparing items that needed a long time to cook, one should use charcoal in order to save on gas. This helpful hint left us stymied, as we are supposed to be moving away from using fossil fuel, and towards clean, green energy. And when it comes to time-consuming cooking, have they forgotten about the good old pressure cooker?
Hear this advice
With the exam season finally coming to an end with most courses results being declared, one 17-year-old student, despite being exceptionally bright, went through an unforgettable ordeal while attending his exams recently.
This teenager, who suffered from complete hearing loss while his SSC examinations were around the corner, managed to score a whopping 97 per cent. While his parents ran from pillar to post to fund his treatment, for which they had already spent more than Rs 2 lakh, citizens were kind enough to donate nearly R 10 lakh for advanced cochlear implants after which he was able to hear clearly.
His parents got all the required permissions from the authorities, so their son would be allowed to wear his hearing aid during his entrance examinations recently, but to his dismay he was told to remove the implants, barely a few minutes before the first exam. The reason was that because the implants were Bluetooth-enabled, they could be used for copying.
The distraught boy then called his parents whose doctor then contacted the exam supervisors. Finally, after some intervention, the 17-year-old was able to answer the exam, wearing his hearing aid. This was an all’s-well-that-ends-well story, but it does highlight the importance of sensitivity when interacting with the disabled.
Being told brusquely that his hearing aid would have to be taken away was a shock to the teenager, and there could be other students and parents who may not be able to manage such a situation towards a positive conclusion. In the move towards a kinder society, authorities need to be open-minded as well as open-hearted.
Liberty cinema sent out clear and welcome signals with its hosting of the Kashish festival, which showcases films relating to the alternative sexuality community. Since the theatre’s owner had earlier talked about turning it into a multi-platform cultural centre, we have a suggestion. If the cinema is called Liberty, it could also have a drama theatre called Equality and perhaps an art space, or a food court, called Fraternity. How’s that?
Mumbai will remember the visit of Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, who spoke at a city college recently. While the leader did not stir up any controversies during his visit, he has invoked the ire of China with his statement yesterday.
Followers with the Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama, during his visit to Mumbai. PIC/AFP
He said, according to reports, that Beijing needs to join the mainstream of global democracy. “I offer my prayers for those who died for freedom, democracy and human rights,” this 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner said in a statement released in Washington on the anniversary of the military crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters.
China’s response was, “The true face of Dalai is known to all.” We wonder where the Mumbai audience, who listened to the Dalai Lama during his four-day visit to the city (from May 30 to June 2) stands.