Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce.
Hanging by a thread
Shopkeepers in Dharavi await customers ahead of Rakshabandhan that falls on August 3. Pic/Suresh Karkera
To shop, or not?
Oh! A cute top. Should I buy it? Is it worth the money? Will the delivery be contactless? Do they follow safety measures? If endless questions have made online shopping a stressful affair in the new normal, this diarist has some interesting data to indulge you with. KPMG's latest report that's titled Time to open my wallet or not? reveals some insightful consumer perspectives on spending patterns in the pandemic where 2,376 respondents across Tier-1, 2 and 3 cities, between May and June, have shared their verdict.
While 22 per cent consumers in Tier-2 cities and 30 per cent in Tier-3 feel their spending will either increase or remain the same, 49 per cent respondents may increase their expenses up to R5,000. What is also interesting is that 68 per cent of them have prioritised safety precautions coupled with discounts and promotions, to make purchases. And 85 per cent prefer contactless modes of payment over cash. Seems like the retailers have a lot to do to win customers back.
When music is the healer
The music industry is constantly thinking out of the box these days to overcome the pandemic.
But premier indie act Aswe--keepsearching has turned the tables with their new EP, IIII. Instead of launching the musical offering, they have launched a campaign called #foryourmind, with the EP as just an ancillary part of it. They have got a host of indie acts on board, including Aditi Ramesh, Raghav Meattle, Bloodywood and Hanita Bhambri.
The idea is for these musicians to donate 100 per cent of profits from music and merchandise to four NGOs for the next 15 days. Aswekeepsearching frontman Uddipan Sarmah shared.
"We are not doctors that we can support people with mental health issues. But we were sure that we want to support the cause while releasing the EP. So, it's a bit more than a charity campaign, because we are also giving people a product in the form of music and merchandise." Nice move.
Say hello to the lockdown tutors
Four months into the lockdown, 22-year-old engineer Akanksha Priyaraj, who works in Mumbai and teaches underprivileged kids, realised her house help's daughter needed support with her lessons. "After I started teaching her, some of her friends sought help. I reached out to a few friends but four of us struggled to handle five kids daily. Since there was a demand, my brother, Aman, and I created an Instagram page on July 11 to reach out to those willing to tutor kids for 30 minutes every day," Priyaraj, who's currently in Delhi, told this diarist about the initiative, Ayukta.
Within 48 hours, they were flooded with volunteering requests. Ayukta currently has over 50 volunteers from across the world tutoring 30 kids from Delhi, NCR, Mumbai and other cities via WhatsApp calls. The goal is to reach out to more children who need help. If you would like to pitch in, drop them a line @ayukta._ on Instagram.
Shot in the arm for textual heritage
Here is a software engineer who's nurtured a soft spot for rare texts. Singapore-based Chetan Pandey set up the eGangotri Digital Preservation Trust, and over the past eight years, he has been able to digitise more than 17,000 books, including 5,000 manuscripts from Jammu's Maharaja Ranbir Singh's library.
While these texts are available in the public domain for free, Pandey, who foots the expenses, felt that public support is needed to realise the goal of digitising the textual heritage of the Subcontinent. "I've always felt that there are many rare manuscripts and books that hold answers to our everyday struggles, but aren't available easily. We started the fundraiser to continue making the texts accessible to all for free," Pandey shared. Log on to ketto.org to lend your support.
Poetry from around the world
Yumna Hari Singh Jawa and Rochelle Potkar
Starting today, until Sunday, celebrated poets, including Booker Prize, Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi awardees, will unite for the first-ever online global poetry festival. Conceptualised by The Art Mantram Trust, The Glass House Festival has been initiated to support artistes around the world who have been rendered unemployed due to the pandemic.
Curated by Yumna Hari Singh Jawa along with Rochelle Potkar and Prateeti Punja Ballal, it includes readings, performances, panel discussions and workshops. Summing up the spirit of the event, Mumbai's Potkar said, "It taught me, as a co-curator, the behind-the-algorithms of an ambitious online festival. Poetry brings on the contagion of solace with 105 poets from across the globe."
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