Mumbai Diary: Saturday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Wings of hope
A young girl who won't miss her walk goes past a graffiti on Pedder Road on Friday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Hornbill comes home
The 137-year-old Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is moving with the times. Their quarterly members-only in-house publication, Hornbill, will now be available online for everyone to read. "It consists of wildlife stories, observations and beautiful photographs clicked in nature. Since most of us are restricted to the indoors these days, we thought why not bring the beauty of nature to the people on their desktop and phones. Hence, we have uploaded past issues [2017 to March 2019]. It is a small attempt by BNHS to reach out to all the nature lovers out there," Divyashree Rai, public relations officer, BNHS, said.
Feast for all
Distributions for the Eid feast take place outside Haji Ali Juice Centre
Although chef Vikas Khanna is in New York, he feels like he's running 20 Michelin-star restaurants in India at the moment. This is because yesterday he organised an Eid feast for over 1.30 lakh people in Mumbai, in collaboration with the Haji Ali dargah, Mahim dargah, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and over 20 brands. "I feel every festival is a symbol of unity and gratitude. Every year, I try to observe one roza, at least.
This month has been difficult, so we felt it was time to put a smile on people's faces. We used the power of social media to reach out to people for help and they were very forthcoming." The dry rations, along with fruits, vegetables and utensils, among other things donated by various brands were assembled at Haji Ali. "Our team started the distribution after the collection was blessed at the dargah," said Khanna, who is running multiple such initiatives across India to deliver meals and ration to those who need it.
Animated reality check
Mumbai-based animation filmmaker Debjyoti Saha has been running a series titled Korona since the time COVID-19 hit the country. His latest animated film is a haunting portrayal of the migrant crises pitted against the privileged in our society. Talking about the series, Saha told this diarist, "Korona in Bengali [my mother tongue] translates to 'don't do'.
So this series is about things you shouldn't do including garlanding health workers while depriving them of basic protection. I have wanted to address the migrant crises in the country since they began through my work. However, public memory is short and even though the film is being viewed on social media, people will forget the issues soon."
Poetry in your inbox
Unlike other theatre personalities, Sudhanva Deshpande has preferred to stay away from the video medium in the lockdown. Instead, he has turned to his collection of poetry. And every day, he reads one new poem, records it and sends it to those who have subscribed to his WhatsApp broadcast. Spanning Hindi, Urdu and English; so far, he's read over 55 poems, which are now available along with inspired artwork by Virkein Dhar on a podcasting platform, too. "I have been thinking about reading poetry in a sustained way. I wanted to also offer something during the lockdown. I chose the audio format so the focus remains on the words. Also, the act of sending it out to their inboxes was not just intimate, but also served the purpose of being easily retrievable. It's just spontaneous poetry, and I don't repeat the poets," he shared.
As the country grapples with the COVID crisis, a campaign by Goli Vada Pav in partnership with Give India is raising funds and distributing vada pav to those in need, including migrant workers leaving the city on special trains. They have raised over R20 lakh and distributed over one lakh vada pavs. "COVID-19 has thrown a lot of challenges at us. While businesses are facing tough winds, daily wage earners are the worst hit. Thus, my wife Asha, and I had begun reaching out to people in our network to help us donate vada pav to the needy. We also intend to distribute them on Shramik Trains that are leaving with migrant workers who want to go home," Venkatesh Iyer, founder CEO, Goli Vada Pav, told this diarist.
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