Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Actor Kartik Aryan cracks a joke at the paparazzi as he seems to ask them to stay quiet about his whereabouts when he is spotted at the international airport on Saturday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
For Mengoubi, With Love
Only earlier this week, this diarist happened to visit writer and theatre critic Shanta Gokhale. As is our wont, we happened to ask her about her next project after her recently-released memoir, One Foot On The Ground: A Life Told Through The Body (Speaking Tiger). Modesty being second nature to Gokhale, it took some nudging before we learned that her play, Mengoubi: The Fair One, first performed last December, has also been published.
The slim 80-page book, by Dhauli Books, revisits the life of civil rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, popularly known as Mengoubi (Iron Lady) and the conflict between her political vision and desire to enjoy a private life. "If the first act was about a woman who was almost inhuman in her determination and endurance, the second was about the same woman in her vulnerable, extremely human form," writes Gokhale in the introduction.
A sweet surprise
Recently, this diarist was at Lower Parel's new restaurant Ishaara, when co-founder Prashant Issar recommended that we save room for the flourless chocolate brownie. Turns out, it's no ordinary dessert. The recipe was handed to Issar by late chef and restaurateur Rose Gray of the iconic River Café Restaurant in Hammersmith, West London. It's where British chef Jamie Oliver worked as sous chef.
"While creating the menu, we wanted a chocolate dessert that brought out the pure expression of chocolate. This is when I remembered an instance when I was the general manager at Chutney Mary in London. Rose Gray used to frequent my restaurant. I remember raving to Gray about the chocolate nemesis at River Cafe. The next day I got a box from her with the dessert and a recipe of the same. I misplaced the recipe, but I found it online and now, we have it at Ishaara."
Jerusalem comes to Mumbai
Maharashtra higher education minister, Vinod Tawde, recently met Consul General of Israel in Mumbai, Yaakov Finklestein, to discuss a unique event in the city. This diarist found out that if all goes well, Days of Jerusalem, a cultural festival, will be held on the Mumbai University premises between January and February 2020.
Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde with Finklestein
Talking about this exchange of cultural heritage, Finklestein says, "We're very happy that the Municipality of Jerusalem has chosen Mumbai to be the first city in Asia to hold this festival. It's an opportunity to expose Jerusalem's unique culture to the people of India. We invite Mumbaikars to have a taste of Jerusalem that you never knew before."
Can Jofra strike in Norman's land?
Barbadian-born England bowler Jofra Archer is set for a Lord's Test debut in London next week where the hosts will strive to get back in the Ashes series after a thumping loss in the opening Test at Birmingham. The blue England Test cap will provide much inspiration but Jofra can also gain motivation from something that happened to fellow West Indian-born fast bowler—Norman Cowans—36 years ago.
Cowans made his debut in the first Test of the 1982-83 Ashes at Perth where he went wicketless. After claiming just one victim in the next Test at Brisbane, Cowans got dropped for the Adelaide Test. But he was brought back for the Melbourne contest, before which England were two-down in the series.
Following his 2-69 in the first innings, Cowans bowled like the wind to claim 6-77 which helped England win by three runs. Yes, the thrilling Test ended England's way, thanks to Ian Botham breaking the stubborn tenth wicket stand of Allan Border and Jeff Thomson, but it was Cowans who really set it up and the Ashes series was alive again. Those who have seen Cowans's 1982 exploits at cricket's coliseum in Melbourne will hope Jofra can do the same next week at the spiritual home of cricket which used to be Cowans's home ground during his time with Middlesex.
Losing out on an art haven
Cona Foundation, founded and funded by artists Shreyas Karle and Hemali Bhuta, is on the verge of losing its six-year-old premises in Borivli, and therefore of having to close down its print studio. Printmakers and artists could work there under the guidance of Shashi Kumar. Ironically, Cona was awarded a grant from the NY-based Foundation for Arts Initiative, but has been unable to access the funds because of a delay in the processing of its FCRA.
"This would be a sad loss for the Indian art scene and for the city of Mumbai," says writer Aveek Sen, one of the studio's mentors. "The loss of a physical space becomes a matter for urgent concern."
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