Mumbai Diary: Saturday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
There's Relief in the air
Tom Hanks played a FedEx employee whose plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean, in the movie Cast Away. We are glad this carrier with food and medicines had a safe touchdown in Mumbai on Friday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Open a window
Leaping Windows is a corner café-cum-reader haven in Versova that patrons would keep returning to for its warm vibe and collection of comics at the in-house library. But like everyone else in the F&B business, owners Usta and Bidisha Shome are feeling the pinch in the absence of that loyal clientele. They have thus started a crowdfunding campaign to cover the salaries of their employees. Utsa told this diarist, "A business of our kind doesn't have a contingency fund of more than a month and we started this fundraiser to make sure that our staff, who are part of our family, get paid." Log on to 30bbbarfuel.in to keep this neighbourhood gem afloat.
School of thought
The trying times that we are living in have taken their toll on all sections of the society, including schools, especially the not-for-profit standalone ones, like the Kandivli-based Akshara High School. The institution, which calls itself an inclusive neighbourhood school, boasts of an arts-based curriculum, hands-on learning and heavily subsidised fees for those from the middle and lower-income groups. However, closure for nearly three months has meant a sudden drop in donations and pending fees. To ensure that its 250 students have a school to come back to, they have started an online fundraiser. "Akshara is a place where students learn science through baking, mathematics in the playground, and lessons beyond textbooks. But the parents of most kids in our school have faced pay-cuts or job losses. With donations thinning, we are struggling to keep the school running, and hence, we decided to start the fundraiser," said founder Mridula Chakraborty. To help the school out, log on to www.ketto.org.
An online tribute to Kaifi saab
In January last year, actor Shabana Azmi, lyricist Javed Akhtar, director Feroze Abbas Khan, and musicians Shankar Mahadevan and Ustad Zakir Hussain had joined hands to organise Raag Shayari, a grand performance meant to pay tribute to poet Kaifi Azmi on his birth centenary. It interpreted Azmi's greatness in different ways, with Mahadevan singing some of his poems, and Akhtar reciting some others in Urdu while Hussain played the tabla to add music to the verses.
That same show was broadcast digitally yesterday on the occasion of the noted poet's death anniversary, and Hussain said, "Shabana ji and Javed saab had put together Raag Shayari, and it was under their guidance and thanks to brilliant composing by Shankar Mahadevan that we were able to put together a fitting and reverential tribute to Kaifi saab, the legend. It was a special privilege to me to be part of this performance."
Silence of the arts
Isolation often creates fodder for the artistic mind, and auction house Christie's recently released a list of 10 master painters who created masterpieces themed on solitude. Frida Kahlo, who's included in the list, once said, for instance, "I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best." VS Gaitonde the only Indian to feature was also of the opinion, "Everything starts from silence. The silence of the canvas. The silence of the painting knife. The painter starts by absorbing all these silences."
Adieu to the old banyan tree
There was one unexpected casualty in the heavy unseasonal rains that lashed Pune recently. An old, beautiful banyan tree that stood witness to the frenetic hustle and bustle of men and mounts at Pune's iconic racecourse was uprooted. An open shed and some part of the seating area was damaged. Two small television sets were also smashed. Surendra Sanas, chairman, Pune Turf Clubhouse committee, said it was unfortunate to lose a precious tree that stood as a sentinel for so many years. The other damage, Sanas said, is not as alarming. "We are waiting for the insurance formalities to be completed after which restoration with the aid of a few workers staying within the premises will start," he said.
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