Mumbai Diary: Tuesday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce.
Drawing on hope
Migrants walk along the Eastern Express Highway in Sion past a drawing on the road that expresses solidarity in the fight against the Coronavirus outbreak. Pic/Ashish Raje
The Coronavirus claimed a leading light in Marathi theatre last Sunday night, when noted playwright and Sahitya Akademi Award winner, Ratnakar Matkari succumbed to the disease at the age of 81. He was a prolific writer who scripted 33 plays and 18 books of short stories among other literary work. He was active even in his old age, and city-based theatre personality Dolly Thakore recalled how he had asked her to direct a play he had written in 2013.
"It was called 1 Safdarjung, the first English play that he had written. The plot was about the Emergency, and we had staged it at the Mumbai Press Club. The cast included Shernaz Patel, Denzel Smith, Jim Sarbh and Dilnaz Irani, among others. I was very close to the man. He was a gentle person who was also modest, unlike a lot of theatre directors who throw their weight around," remembered Thakore, while speaking with this diarist. She also spoke about how Matkari's entire family — wife Pratibha, daughter Supriya and son Ganesh — were also involved in theatre and how she and Pratibha had worked on a play together as well, apart from doing a lot of work for charity. "It is a great loss because not only was he a doer who wrote prolifically, but also a nice human being," Thakore said.
Keep an ear out
With summer here, it's breeding season for most birds in Mumbai's skies, which is why they are even more vocal during this time. That's one of the reasons why people in the city have been hearing a number of bird calls during the lockdown. And the authorities at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) have now put together a series on Facebook where naturalists including Yogesh Patel and photographer Madhuri Deshmukh have decoded the different bird calls that citizens are likely to hear.
It helps you identify a purple rumped sunbird and greater coucal among others. Shardul Bajikar of SGNP told this diarist, "We wanted people sitting in their houses to relate to birds. Birds have different calls at different times in the year. So, the way a magpie robin sounds in summer will not be the same some months down the line."
Cooking it up, from A to Z
It's one of the most essential ingredients in all forms of cooking, but how much do we really know about the humble common salt? Also, did you know that potatoes and chillies — which are staples in Indian curries — don't have Indian origins at all? These are some of the subjects that food historian Kurush Dalal deals with in a series called #Knowyouringredients that he launched on his Instagram page. In it, he sheds light on the history, social impact and literature that surrounds different food items, which he has listed from A to Z.
"Among other things, I talk about the basis behind common lines in movies like 'maine aapka namak khaya hai' and how the word banana comes from the Arabic term 'banan', meaning fingertips, despite its Indian origins," Dalal told this diarist, adding, "I started this series since I thought it was an interesting way of talking about food. The idea was also to interact with people; it's amazing how I have learnt so much from listeners who tuned in. They have told me about the connection that some ingredients have with certain festivals, for instance. It's fascinating to be part of such exchanges."
Musician TM Krishna has been running the COVID 19 Artists Fund through his Sumanasa Foundation since early April, and recently took to social media to announce that they have raised '43.7 lakh to support 1,346 artistes.
Not only that, they have also created an interesting route to update donors by setting up an interactive website. Besides names of the supported artistes, you can also see their geographical location on a map and the art form they pursue, apart from their gender. Log on to sumanasafoundation.org if you're keen to contribute to the ongoing fund.
A Nobel take on the situation
Being a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, it's important to hear what Kailash Satyarthi has to say about how we must tackle the pandemic in a humane way. He was recently part of a webinar organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation, an organisation that promotes socio-cultural welfare, where he discussed his work and the lockdown in a conversation with National Award-winning poet Yatindra Mishra.
Satyarthi talked about how we need karuna, or empathy, to combat Corona "since it makes you courageous and builds fortitude to fight social evils". He added, "This situation may continue for the next four to five years. It is the government's first priority to save lives. Humanity needs to be saved from this crisis, globally. The most deprived and marginalised must be kept in mind."
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