Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Sound of silence
With air and noise pollution levels down, the Common Man at a Sion signal has nothing but the virus to fear. Pic/Ashish Raje
Time to speak up
The lockdown has once again put several women's issues like domestic abuse, personal freedom and financial security in focus. To open up conversations around the same in the context of the lockdown, Penguin Random House India has started a weekly Facebook live series called #SpeakUp, hosted by journalist Pragya Tiwari. It will have speakers like Kavita Krishnan, Puja Mehra, Samra Zafar and Shiromi Pinto. Highlighting the fact that one of the greatest inequalities in India is along the lines of gender, Tiwari said, "The series will bring to the fore voices of women and issues the world is confronted with through their lens."
Mumbai: For better or verse
Writers and poets across the world have been responding to the current state of affairs in myriad ways. Like his colleagues, Murzban F Shroff, author of Breathless in Bombay, too, decided to look at the way his city is changing, which he encapsulated in a poem. "It is on the Coronavirus, and also reflects my love for the city and captures its now desolate state," Shroff said, sharing his poem with us.
Living Life Capsized
I walk out into my capsized city
emptied of traffic, emptied of life, and I see
dogs lounging belly-up and cats tread fearlessly
and I see layers of bird-poo on the top of cars
whose owners might have once fought over parking spots
I walk out into my capsized city and I see
a family of four within their 11ft x 14ft shanty
I see the bleakness on their faces, the torpor in their limbs
I see this because their door is open and there is no window
and there is a kerosene stove aflame on which something is cooking
and that is the only sign of life, really,
in that prison of unforeseen circumstances
I walk out into my capsized city, a lone explorer of sorts
and I see the reproachful half-faces of street-cleaners
as they plunge their gloved hands into large eco-friendly litterbins
and drag out empty boxes of chocolates, cereals, cookies, porridge…
Someone has eaten, and eaten well!
I walk out into my abandoned city and I feel abandoned myself
The doctor's clinic is locked, the stores are shuttered
The temple bells are silent, the deity glowers in the dark
there is no one left to do the invocation, no one left
to clank the bells, then make some request
I walk out into my abandoned city and I have never felt safer
The earthmovers have fallen silent
The half-built structures sit like shell-shocked sentinels
The plots on which they stand have come to resemble graveyards
despite what the brochures say, what they once promised
I circle my capsized city, warily, softly, respectfully
just to remind myself of all that existed here
all that once traded in the name of good fortune
and is now in hiding, now in exile
a museum of squandered opportunities.
Look who's got wings to fly
Kunal Kamra is talking about flying again, on Twitter. But this time, when all airlines in the country are grounded to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, Kamra's flight ban has come to an end. "From what I understand, the flying ban that was imposed on January 28 should have ended on April 28," he told this diarist. He continues to find humour in the situation, as he has before, and added, "My three-month airline ban has been lifted; now waiting for the airlines to fly."
All for India
In order to keep the country entertained during these trying times and raise money for the PM CARES fund, YouTube will host a day-long digital event in association with over 100 creators, musicians, actors and comedians, who will live-stream performances from their homes today. Singer Benny Dayal, who will be part of the show, said, "It will be a special concert as it brings together hundreds of artistes to rally behind those who are making sure that we are safe. The phrase 'one nation' speaks a lot. It's a toned-down version of the concerts that we are used to, but it's fun."
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