Mumbai diary: Saturday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Waiting in the wings
Karan Deol, readying for his debut, stands aside as a young fan requests a selfie with his father Sunny Deol at a Juhu hotel on Friday. Pic/Satej Shinde
The makhan of wisdom
Our city is known to celebrate Janmashtami extravagantly, but here's an example of a conscious celebration. At Bandra's MMK College, the students and faculty of the NSS and BFM department created a Book Handi — a pyramid of books — symbolising how, as principal Dr CA Kishore Peshori told this diarist, "The ladder of success is made with the bricks of knowledge."
About 4 feet tall, it took professors Sushant Damodare, Harsha Hardasani, Sheetal Chaddha and Vishal Tomar four days to execute along with students. The books were sourced from the college library and the mannequin was made out of newspapers. As Hardasani concluded, "This taught students that collaboration, teamwork and honest efforts lead to great accomplishments."
Will Smriti Irani take this question?
Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani made a pit stop in Mumbai on Thursday to attend Sustainable Fashion Day at the ongoing IMG Reliance Lakmé Fashion Week. She launched Project SU.RE or Sustainable Resolution in collaboration with the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India. Signatories to the resolution include top fashion and retail brands such as Future Group, Raymond, House of Anita Dongre, Westside and Levi's. The giants, we are told, have committed to achieve by 2025, sustainable business practices. This means sourcing raw material that has a positive influence on the environment; reviewing the impact their product manufacture and processes have on the surroundings, etc.
Smriti Irani. Pic/Bipin Kokate
This is ambitious, and much needed. We would have told this to the minister in person had she agreed to the interview this paper was approached for by the organisers. Her team, we were told, suddenly declined the interaction. We were looking forward to discuss her time at the ministry, the SU.RE initiative in particular, and what has emerged from the weavers' census that the ministry had undertaken. But, in addition to the questions fed to us by the publicists, we were hoping to discuss the schism between intent and result.
In 2016, the ministry launched a helpline for weavers to register complaints directly to the minister. In 2017, it organised Textile India, where top fashion designers collaborated with weaver clusters across India including Varanasi, in an attempt to drive rural employment. Earlier this year, when this paper's journalists travelled across UP for election coverage, we found ourselves in Mubarakpur of Azamgarh district. The 15,000 weavers there carry forward a legacy of fine silk weaving that dates back to the 14th century. Their craft is rare, praised even by Ibn Batuta in his travelogues, and in fact, superior to Benarasi. The weaver numbers are dwindling, and they'd rather that their children get to school and bag other jobs. A fixed monthly rate of R75 per power loom that they once paid looks to change with the Yogi Adityanath government introducing a power reform, with the installation of meters to compute power consumption.
A 158-shop commercial complex where the weavers would have hawked their craft was ready when we visited in May this year, but locked, waiting to be inaugurated for two years.
On Thursday, at Soham Dave, Padmaja & Maku's LFW show, Irani wore a handloom black-gold saree that the media hailed as the right choice. How about an appearance in a Mubarakpur saree some time, Ms Irani? At the SU.RE launch, Irani said to the audience, "We are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi, who asked us to be the change you wish to see in the world. The sustainability resolution being adopted today is reflective of that very thought of the Mahatma."
Will Irani be the change she wishes to see?
A taste of Bandra
If you're getting really tired of fast food and want to give homegrown brands a shot, a two-day market in the city is the place to be. Crispy - A Mumbai Foodie Market is hosting a platform for homegrown products comprising sauces, jams, honey, baked goods, pet products, soaps and drinks.
And there will be workshops, too. The first edition of the event will be held this weekend at Bandra's Pioneer Hall.
Talking about the venue and the idea of the market, Ronak Rajani, founder of Mumbai Foodie, told this diarist, "The location is a central one and also great for crowd control. We plan on organising three more editions this year. And although we have about 70 to 80 per cent FnB brands present this week, in the future, we hope to make it more balanced."
Truth from the Valley
In 2008, while journalist Gowhar Geelani was walking along the embankment of River Rhine in Bonn, a civilian uprising erupted in Kashmir. Thousands of miles away from his homeland, trying to make sense of the ground reality was difficult. Then, in 2010, another uprising occurred and Geelani was convinced about writing from Kashmir to tell people's real stories. This evening, the Srinagar resident will be releasing Kashmir: Rage and Reason (Rupa Publications) at Asiatic Library's Durbar Hall.
Speaking more about his debut book, Geelani said, "The Kashmir story has been usually told by foreign travellers or defined from the statist narratives of Pakistan and India, and Goebbelsian media propaganda. The book is an attempt to narrate the story from the Kashmiri perspective." And on the current discourse around the region, he adds that talk is unilateral, one-sided, propagandist and, again, Goebbelsian in nature. "The local side is unheard and the Kashmiri is caged, facing an information blockade of unprecedented proportions. The state is taking control of the narrative and not allowing the Kashmiri side to know and define its story," he said.
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