Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier

Updated: Jun 21, 2020, 06:51 IST | Team SMD | Mumbai

The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce.

Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Waiting on the world to change

Even as an ambulance whizzes behind him, reminding us that the worst is still to end, a guitarist gives hope as he performs for a homeless man taking a nap on the streets of Chembur. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Thommo was not a spit personality

Jeff Thomson

If there's one fast bowler who wouldn't have been too affected by the Coronavirus-caused banning of saliva on the ball, it is Jeff Thomson.

For him, bowling like the wind was all that mattered. A friend of his recently told this diarist that Thommo and his mate Len Pascoe were not great believers of shining the ball. "All they wanted was to kill batsmen. With the wind or against it didn't matter."

Thommo was unique because he appeared so angry with a ball in hand. In 1974, he was asked by Sydney-based journalist Phil Wilkins about his preparation for the 1974-75 Ashes and Thommo said (courtesy his book, Thommo): "A bit of football and some gym work, not too much because it puts on muscle and muscle slows you down. Scotch whisky instead of beer."

So what's behind this liquid preference? According to Thommo, one wakes up with the sore head with Scotch and it makes you cranky. And that's how Thommo ensured he was nice and angry to bowl those thunderbolts.

And for those who want to have some idea of how quick Thommo was, he clocked 99.70 mph in a competition at Perth, where his partner in prime Lillee had a timing of 86.39 mph, during the 1979-80 season.

A love story for our times

Ravinder Singh
Ravinder Singh

In the time of lockdowns and quarantines, the idea of love has evolved and found new meaning. Mumbai-based author Richa Shrivastava Mukherjee has joined hands with bestselling writer Ravinder Singh to explore this emotion in digital-only short love stories, published by HarperCollins India. The first story, Love Bytes, was released this week. "This pandemic has robbed us of every single modicum of familiarity and what is normal. Writing is an antidote for anxiety and helplessness and this also seemed like the right time for new experiments. When Ravinder offered me a collaborative opportunity to co-author a few unique love stories, I had to try."

Richa Shrivastava Mukherjee
Richa Shrivastava Mukherjee

This medley of stories captures myriad emotions, from the suffocation we feel during this incarceration, to helplessness, hope and love. "I do hope the camaraderie and understanding Ravinder and I share as friends and writers reflects in them as well. It's our little way of infusing joy into these unnerving times."

Painting for a cause

Painting for a cause

In the past three months, six-year-old Kavir Mody has been using his free time painting. About a month ago, he started making theplas as part of a larger initiative to feed migrants in the city.

This changed him. Kavir's mother Urvashi says, "His birthday is on July 9; the plan is to sell all his paintings to raise funds for an NGO that is helping feed migrants. So far, he has sold 14 paintings."

The OG charity

The OG charity

Recently, this paper wrote about a unique initiative to help the city's migrants by feeding them the ubiquitous Gujarati snack, thepla. Turns out, it has its roots in the relief activities of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission, a Jain charity foundation. Through their COVID-19 initiative, Circle of Love and Care, the NGO volunteers have distributed over 21 lakh fresh, home-cooked meals such as thepla and khichdi to daily wagers in the city.

The OG charity

They have also been feeding porridge, biscuits and rotis to stray animals and birds through the lockdown. "It is the collective passion and commitment of every volunteer that has made our initiative possible in such a short turnaround time. Our mentor, Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai, tells us that there are three ingredients to service: the intent to serve, the power of community spirit and divine help," says trustee Atmarpit Nemiji.

A much-needed apology

A much-needed apology

Salome Chatterjee posted something we don't see very often on Instagram. An apology. The professional artist penned a moving apology to Pakhi Sharma, an actor and a trans woman, also known as Bobby Darling. Chatterjee's apology reads: "It's Pride Month, and I don't think we've apologised yet. Amongst the VAST number of people we owe apologies to, this one is dedicated to Pakhi Sharma. Openly transgender in the Bollywood film and serial industry, Pakhi Sharma missed out on the pro-LGBTQ wave. She came out long before social media taught us to be better people, and we never apologised for the merciless teasing and online and offline bullying..."

A much-needed apology

When asked about why she thought it was important to apologise, the 23-year-old from Kolkata said, "I looked up why June is considered to be Pride month. I learned about the Stonewall riots and how trans women and other queer people led the movement for their liberation. It made me think about how transpeople tend to get mocked in India and Pakhi Sharma's name came to mind. The least we can do is say sorry." It takes a lot of courage to own up to one's mistakes, but it takes even more courage to bear the brunt of queerphobic vitriol and still remain standing.

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