Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

Nov 16, 2017, 08:00 IST | Team mid-day

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

40 museum minds get together
India and the World, the landmark exhibition at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya opened to much applause last week and, while we are yet to catch our breath after having made the extensive tour, we have more news. From today to Saturday, 40 museum directors will be in the city as part of a global meeting that the museum has undertaken.

The international group of world museum directors, also known as Bizot Group, will be here to view the exhibition and discuss some of the most pressing issues of the museum world. Some of the prominent museums that are part of the group are the MOMA, the Smithsonian, Tate, British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A,) the Louvre, the Hermitage, and the Van Gogh Museum.

"From an Indian museum's perspective, we are happy to note that these international directors will be visiting us. It is a historic moment for us," says CSMVS director, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who was the first Asian museum director to become part of the group. And, what's a visit to the city without a dekho of its heritage? A tour around Mumbai and a trip to elephanta are also on the itinerary, we are told.

Taking Irani cafes to Taiwan
"There is no greater sadness than the collective Alzheimer's of a callous populace that does not recognise its own treasures - that cannot cry at the corruption of its ancient rivers, or the demise of a simple cup of Irani chai," said artist and novelist Gautam Benegal in his keynote address at a symposium hosted by Taiwan's National Ilan University recently.

One of his paintings from the Irani Cafe series
One of his paintings from the Irani Cafe series

In his interaction with some of the most influential artists and scholars of the island nation, Benegal emphasised on the need for using creative talents to resist forces of globalisation that threaten local cultures. The talk was based on the history of Zoroastrians in Mumbai, the evolution of Irani cafes in the city and their dwindling numbers today - all against the backdrop of his paintings from the Irani Cafe series, which he refers to as mnemonics.

Gautam Benegal with university students
Gautam Benegal with university students

During his week-long visit, Benegal also held classes for language and drama students of the university, and introduced them to Nehru's seminal work, The Discovery of India, and the iconic series, Bharat ek Khoj. "Have recommended both to the library here," he said.

When poets read poets
What's the best way of releasing a book that carries translated works of six noted poets? Have them read by poets themselves. Such was the launch of Six Bangla Poets by Chandak Chattarji, who translated poems by Nirendranath Chakraborty, Jibanananda Das, Sankha Ghosh, Arun Mitra,Shakti Chattopadhyay and Samar Sen, opening up the different phases of the last century of Bengali poetry to the non-Bengali reader. The poems were read by Jeet Thayil, Karthika Naïr, Jane Bhandari, Ranjit Hoskote, Mustansir Dalvi, Menka Shivdasani and Chattarji's daughter Sampurna, a poet, novelist and translator herself. A real treat for those who love the verse.

Browse, don't talk in a bookstore
It felt like an oasis of calm in the middle of a chaotic evening. Last weekend, this diarist was on a flying visit to Paperback, the indie bookstore inside Prithvi Theatre. Silence prevailed inside even as a buzzing ecosystem continued outside since the theatre was hosting its popular annual festival. A patron was browsing through the shelves, when his cellphone rang. Barely did the middle-aged man answer the call, when a hoodie-totting boy emerged from behind the counter and approached him. He politely requested him to continue his conversation outside the bookstore. A bit taken aback, the gent obliged. It was only then that we noticed [this despite our many visits] that the space has a no-mobile phone sign installed inside. Now, if only every bookstore and reading room was this serious about its rules, Mumbai would be a lot quieter.

Fun with trolls
Trust cool-as-cucumber Milind Soman to take on trolls in his own cool way. The model and fitness promoter has been at the centre of a Twitter storm, where he has been trolled for dating a woman 30 years his junior. Keeping us updated of his Norwegian holiday with girlfriend Ankita Konwar, he tweeted a picture with the Scandinavian mythical creature saying, "Ankita & me with a #troll with very very big ears and a very very long nose..." Who's laughing now?

Cakewalk for Deepika's fan
Deepika Padukone was in for a sweet surprise after she wrapped up promotions at a Bandra studio yesterday, when a fan managed to dodge the security and get in with a cake to celebrate the actor completing 10 years in the industry. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

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