Mumbai Diary: Wednesday Dossier

Updated: May 20, 2020, 07:35 IST | Team mid-day | Mumbai

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

Looking for hope

A child peeps through a torn autorickshaw cover at Andheri's Bail Bazar Road on Tuesday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Cover for all

Cover for all

Masks have defined 2020. And Mask D'Art, an endeavour by fundraising initiative Art for Concern, aims to work with them with a difference. They have sent masks made by city-based self-help group Seva Charitable Trust to artists around the country including Manu Parekh, Madhvi Parekh, Jogen Chowdhury, Paresh Maity and Jayasri Burman.

These masks will be painted on and then made available for sale on their website. "The proceeds will go towards relief work and protective care," said Neomy Khatau, who is helming the campaign.

Remembering Pauline, the Indophile

Remembering Pauline, the Indophile

Pauline R Rohatgi, a leading authority on the work of British artists in India, passed away in Mumbai yesterday. The octogenarian and Altamount Road resident was educated at London's Courtauld Institute, graduating with a BA (Hons) in History of Art. Then, she worked at the India Office Library, presently part of the British Library (BL), for 17 years in the Prints and Drawings Department. "There, she had access to the oldest and most beautiful watercolours by the English. She contributed to this subject that was totally unnoticed until her work with art historian Pheroza Godrej was highlighted. She was the gentlest, most elegant and graceful lady I've ever met. She loved India and was truly an Indophile," neighbour Manju Mehra reminisced. When city chronicler late Foy Nissen, who also lived in the same building, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia, Rohatgi ensured that he was taken care of.

Rohatgi had suffered multiple strokes that deteriorated her health. "I lost a good friend and a mentor," Godrej told this diarist. The two met in 1985 and since then, worked on publications such as Scenic Splendours: India through the Printed Image (British Library, London, 1989); India: A Pageant of Prints (1989), Under the Indian Sun: British Landscape Artists (1995) and From Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives (1997) by Marg Publications, India.

Godrej recalls her time with Rohatgi, "I had decided to do a launch of three portfolios of the Alkazi Foundation and was looking for someone to launch them. I got to know Pauline was in India. And so, the launch took place at Cymroza Art Gallery. I found her focus on the early Company school of painting to be very interesting and her husband joked, 'Why don't you become her research assistant?' I enquired, 'Well, what are you researching on?' Then, she told me about the catalogue she was working on with the BL. It was real research with her — that, too, in the days of no computers. She was diligent and thorough. She has left behind an amazing legacy."

A toast to Bombay English

Pic/Ayesha Broacha
Pic/Ayesha Broacha

For those who remember 1980s and early '90s Bombay, Hinglish was this fascinating potpourri, a kind of masala-fied lingo that was gradually becoming part of mainstream talk, at parties and cafés alike. Twenty-four years ago on May 19, Rage Productions' I'm Not Bajirao, directed and adapted by Rahul daCunha, was the first celebration of Hinglish on the English stage.

It ran for 375 shows across a decade. Bombaywallahs lapped it up as Boman Irani and Sudhir Joshi stole the show with their brilliant performances as the Parsi Dhunjisha Batliwala and the Maharashtrian Madhukar Kulkarni who would meet every day on a park bench in Dadar's Five Gardens. "It ushered in the concept of Hinglish Theatre. We opened on May 19 at NCPA. And today, as we wait the lifting of the lockdown, I wonder when the theatres will open and we can fill seats, and the curtains will part gain," recalled daCunha, egging playwrights and directors to be patient, and write as much as they can in this time.

Game on

Game on

Hunger Games fans have been waiting for the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, centred around President Coriolanus Snow, since Mockingjay was published in 2010. Scholastic India will be launching the prequel tomorrow via Zoom accompanied by a trivia hosted by publisher Shantanu Duttagupta.

"Although we'll have space for about 12 people on Zoom, the session will be projected on our social media, too. The world could do with a new Hunger Games book right now," Duttagupta told this diarist.

Beating the lockdown blues

Beating the lockdown blues

A lot of musicians have been offering online classes and the most recent entry to this club is Indian Ocean's percussionist Tuheen Chakravorty. "I had been planning to take online tabla classes ever since the lockdown started, but kept sitting on it.

Thanks to my friend and band mate Himanshu Joshi's constant egging, I'm going to finally start it. Anyone who has a tabla can join the one-on-one sessions. I haven't made any syllabus. Instead, I will interact with students and work on their weak areas; if they want to pick up something specific, I'm open to teaching that," he said. Drop an email at tablatuheen@gmail.com to sign up.

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