Mumbai Diary: Sunday Shorts

Aug 17, 2014, 06:23 IST | Clayton Murzello, Hemal Ashar, Phorum Dalal and Deepali Dhingra

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

On high alert, always
While entering the Starbucks, which is in the premise of Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Colaba, the two security guards at the entrance were quite strict about checking the bags and ensuring every visitor walked through the metal detector. “Itna kya security, coffee peene hi to jaa rahein hai (why so much security, we are just going for a cup of coffee),” a teenager told one of the personnel.

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Terrorists attacked the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in 2008

“High alert hai, kabhi bhi attack ho sakta hai. Ek baar hua hai toh vapas nahi hoga aisa maan ke toh kaam nahi kar sakte na (just because the hotel has been attacked by terrorists once, does not mean it cannot be under threat again. One cannot work like that.” We applaud the attitude of the guards.

When they needed Compton, the footballer to get Merchant out
Looks like India’s winless stretch at the Oval will continue after winning its last Test at the London venue way back in 1971.

Considering the woeful showing in the 2011 and the ongoing Oval Test, we are forced to reminisce about the time when there were some Indian batting heroes at the Oval.Mumbai’s Vijay Merchant was a batting performer in August 1946 when he batted five and a quarter hours for his 128 (that’s huge because nowadays India can’t match this time in two innings put together).

Vijay Merchant
Vijay Merchant batting against England during the Third Test at The Oval, London on August 19, 1946

England got their well-set opponent in probably the only way they could — a run out and that too with established footballer Denis Compton kicking the ball from mid-on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Merchant had set out for a run, but partner Vinoo Mankad sent him back. Wisden of 1947 reported: “This was a sad finish to a remarkable display of skilled concentration.” And yes, Pataudi Sr’s side did not lose. Oh, for a Merchant in this Indian team!

Mumbai on the move
Those who think that the frenetic pace of this city, turns Mumbaikars into couch potatoes, need to do a re-think. This Independence Day weekend saw the city in terrific activity mode. There were a number of cycle races on Friday, with the two-wheeled tribe careening madly at corners. Race marshalls on mo’bikes helped keep the traffic clear for the cyclists.

Illustration/Amit Bandre

This is all very well, but the next time, one can only hope that the marshalls sheathe their heads with helmets as some of them were very fast. Then of course, it was not wheels but heels for runners who took part in the city’s first ever ultrathon, where participants ran for 12 hours (5 am to 5 pm) starting off from Shivaji Park, looping at Sea Face and doing the same circuit for 12 hours. Then of course, factor in the huge number of people who had left the city on walking and hiking trails and you had Mumbai on the move. As the city gears up for another work week (groan, moan) one hopes all that cardiovascular exertion has not left you looking like this.

One for the ladies
Travelling in the Metro on Independence Day certainly had its advantages. A portion of the last coach of every Metro train is now reserved for ladies. With incidents of miscreants passing lewd comments increasing in the past few days, it is certainly better to be safe than sorry. As if confirming our doubts, we noticed a group of unruly young men being escorted out of the Versova Metro station by the security guards. “Pee ke aaye hain (They are drunk),” the female security guard informed us. That, just made us doubly glad for the newly-reserved ladies coach.

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