Indiblogger hosted a blogger’s meet yesterday at Hotel Sea Princess, Juhu. It was touted as the biggest such event and I think that’s a fair claim. The event actually began a half hour late, at 2:30p.m., by which time the hall was almost completely packed.
Registrations were done online by logging into the Indiblogger site. A display screen at the front of the room picked it up and kept a running tally on who had just walked in, a live feed of tweets tagged #indimum and those that mentioned the event. This feature was a really plus for a blogger meet since it allowed people to connect across the room and ‘interrupt’ or get into discussions just the way they would be able to online. It really kept the conversation, quite literally, running and the mood upbeat.
The first familiar faces I spotted were Arcopol, Chhavi, Mahafreed, Sahil, Payal, Teatattler and Netra. This event had all the hallmarks of a ‘typical’ bloggers meet with old friends catching up, people meeting offline for the first time, new connections being made and URLs/Twitter IDs being exchanged. The past meets have all been more like parties with people making random introductions and conversations. For an event of this magnitude, the Indiblogger team started with a loose agenda, which really worked.
The event kicked off with a ‘few words’ from the organizers and the sponsors. The HP session may actually have been quite interesting but the presentation was really boring and scheduled as it was, right at the beginning, I’m not sure they received much attention. BigRock’s presentation was much better, light and peppered with internet jokes and just enough information to keep listening parties interested in coming back for more.
The next item on the agenda was introductions (of the audience) which took the better part of two hours considering how many people were there. This may have run into boredom but the team worked it well by announcing a contest for the most interesting introduction. So introductions would happen, there would be gasps of recognition (and waving) from various places in the audience and live-tweeting. I spotted Kalyan across the room and a short while later, another person introduced himself by the same name and very similar profile. Normally I’d have had to keep quiet and wait till the end of a long session to connect up, by which time I may have forgotten or even lost interest. But I instantly tweeted him, which came up on screen and he replied. We got into a conversation about another member in the audience who suddenly saw his name pop up on the timeline and joined in too. Fun ?
I had a lovely surprise when I entered the room to find my Punekar friend Poonam, whose visit I had not known of. Later, during the introductions, I was deeply thrilled to hear a sweet-faced lady across the room introduce herself as the writer of Toerag. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and down in my seat and yelling, “Here, here!! Remember me?!” Sangeeta and I have been readers of each other’s blogs for years now, right from back in the day when one visited every single link on the blogroll every day to check if there were new posts. In this day and age of instant updates, feed-readers and link-sharing, those seem like hallmarks of a bygone era. There’s a distinct pleasure in connecting with someone who remembers you from the days of yore.
One of the last introductions was a lady who claimed to have failed her 10th board, run away to Italy, fallen in love with one of the masters, left him to backpack and having run out of interesting things to do, began blogging. She ended by saying, “And I’m a storyteller.” She was the unanimous winner of the most interesting introduction. ?
The chai break that followed was really livened up by a cute little game organized by the team. Every member in the audience was given a chart to hang on their back, equipped with pens and asked to go around ‘leaving comments’ on other people’s charts. A simple enough idea but tremendously useful in bridging the gap between wanting to talk to someone and making the actual connection. I spoke and was spoken to by so many people, that I’d really have lost track if I didn’t have their twitter handles or URLs on my chart.
The post-break session began with an impromptu quiz (hosted by a truly beautiful lady from BigRock) and prizes being handed out. This lead into a discussion moderated by celebrity participant, Gul Panag. I really have to give it to the lady for being way more than a pretty face. Managing a group of 200-odd people, all with opinions jostling to be heard and ensuring that people stuck to the point, stayed interested and didn’t get into fights – that’s no mean feat and the lady accomplished it with aplomb. We discussed self-censorship, comparisons with traditional media, authenticity of content, new trends, social activism online and citizen journalism. The discussion was carefully kept short enough so it didn’t peter into wasteful arguments.
The last thing on the menu was a select preview of the movie Soch Lo. I’m rather afraid I didn’t understand a thing and it didn’t enthuse me enough to want to watch the full movie whenever it is available. ‘Nuff said.
This is an account of the events as they happened but it doesn’t capture the essence of the fun and energy that marked the full day. So I’m posting some of my tweets, as they were live updates of things that happened (and because Twitter archiving still sucks).
• Indiblogger meet under way. Intros on. #indimum
• Bangalore accents are to Indian women what French accents are to Westerners. Ooh, yummy! #indimum
• Gadzooks! My crush-ey tweet just popped up on screen at Indiblogger meet. Eep.
• Pleasant rush of memories happening. Why did the blogger meets stop? #indimum
• HP talk at #indimum. Fairly interesting talk but blah ppt. Form does matter. Content is invisible if audience loses interest.
• BigRock does 140char intro. Agenda says ‘vision mission blah blah’. :-) Am listening already. #indimum
• Celebrity spotting at #indimum! @Netra just walked in!
• found an envelope under seat saying Collect prize from prettiest girl at reception. Heh, nice. #indimum
• Intros of audience happening at #indimum. Next to me, @arcopolc taking notes.
• Amrish blogs abt mumbai since it is his life. Life, leverage and limits. Cute. #indimum
• Honest admissions at #indimum Ppl blog to up Google rank, earn on ads, bcos friends do it, bcos its the new geek thing to do. :)
• @finelychopped Hey, that sounds like you! #indimum
• Keema from Mizoram ‘as in Chicken Keema’ Lol, I like! #indimum
• Really good to see ppl blogging abt whatever comes to mind, stories, pictures etc. Tired of hearing of SEO, Tech etc. #indimum
• Heh, an Arsenal fan intro’d self as that and ended with ‘BOO you!’ to two ManU fans. #indimum
• IT IS TOO COLD HERE! #indimum
• Yay! @Sahilk plays knight in plastic armour & loans me his windcheater. #indimum
• Heard an intro from toerag.blogspot. Iv read her for yrs! Wish id caught her twitter id. #indimum
• SunshineMom is now Freaked-out Mom. #indimum
• Hardik Shah at #indimum wonders why everyone staring at him. :-) @hardik, eh?
• Passing charts with strings and sketchpens. Everyone loves new stationery. Intros getting missed unfortunately. #indimum
• Next item on #indimum agenda: SWITCH OFF THE AC!
• Hot baldie alert at #Indimum. Men should not be allowed hair above the eyebrows.
• #indimum Screen refreshed after 15min. Bcos @gulpanag walked in? Her name still hasnt come up.
• Okay now we get to play with the new stationary. #indimum
• Hot girl in great haircut conducting pop quiz at #indimum
• This quiz in damn tough, ya #mahafreedstyle. #indimum
• All the guys rush to front of room. #indimum
• Ageism at #indimum. Am sulking in the left side. Grmph.
• @gulpanag speaking abt why UGC scores over mass media. #indimum
• RT @rati7 And d guy just wont shut up..
• Do bloggers self-moderate? I think the democracy of blogging does that already. #indimum
• @shrikant Stop hitting on the pretty lady, Neanderthal! :)
• Are we back on censorship?! #indimum
• If ur content is wrong/offensive/misleading, ull lose readership. Why are we still discussing censorship? #indimum
• ‘Good ppl are not visible & visible ones not credible’. Does that mean bloggers are incredible? #indimum
• @mahafreed says we are her eyes, her twitter timeline, bloggers. FTW! #INDIMUM
• The Banglore boys leaving! :-( #indimum
• Now @gulpanag gets background score! #indimum
• @_alps and I giggling
• Soch liya, kuch nahin samjha. #indimum
• Much fun was had at #indimum. Old-style blogger hookups (face to DP/handle) in newer settings (live tweeting, posh hotel, freebies, contest)
• @abhinav_hee_haw Ah. Just the live timeline was a party in itself. #indimum
• #indimum made me fall off compulsive-tweeter bandwagon after going clean for weeks! Someone asked if I was the talkative one on the hashtag!
• @sahilk is funner in real life than on email. #justsaying
My congratulations and thanks to the Indiblogger team for pulling off a complex and really fantastic event. My only suggestion would be to consider proving WiFi access next time to ensure even more live coverage during the event. I’m looking forward to more from you guys!
Other coverage of the event (will be updated-drop in a link if you find something not featured here):
Firoze Shakir: Flickr
I started this as a Tiny Tale. But Anish Vyavahare added a chapter to it making it a collaborative effort and a bigger story. That got up featured on Protagonize’s editor’s weekly picks. I’ve just added the third chapter. You can read just my two pieces independently or read the three-in-collaboration here. Comments awaited!
His eyes open and he stares for a long minute. He’s surprised by his own surprise. It’s the same room that he has woken up in for the past four years, the bubbles on the corner of wall and ceiling as familiar to him as the plumbing woes that create them. His eyes flutter to his left foot, the direction, a book once told him, is where we look when we’re remembering the past. Then to the right, the direction of the future plans. He gives up and gets up, ignoring the protesting knots in his back.
And at once he realizes. He hasn’t been woken by the sunlight, most unwelcome to owners of east-facing bedroom windows. It’s the sound that has woken him up. Clattering on the tin parapet that the people below insisted on putting up last December. It’s raining.
He steps up to the window and waits for his eyes to adjust to the waking world. A few seconds pass before he realizes that it’s coming down so fast and heavy that the gray around is not his sleepiness but water, sheer water.
For the briefest second, he begins a smile, thinking the earliest conscious thought that occurs to a Mumbaiker during heavy rain. NO SCHOOL! But the smile stops before it reaches his cheek corners and he realizes there’s an investor meeting later in the day and an early morning chat with the boss to prepare. How’s he going to get to work in this downpour? He’d better carry an extra set of formal clothes, one part of his brain is already whizzing. And his hands reach for the side-drawer, groping in the musty darkness for the plastic shield for his mobilephone, lest he forget to carry it later. Survival first is the metropolitan mantra.
He should probably leave early to provide for any delays. There’ll be plenty – traffic jams, pedestrian snarls, late trains, buses negotiating puddles. As he leaves the room, his fingers brush the switch panel, turning on the light, turning off the fan and the mosquito repellent plug-in. Mid-automation, he swirls around. Even through the downpour, he can tell, the window opposite is shut. Funny. He could have sworn, it was open last night. Maybe she got up when it started raining and shut it. Maybe it was always shut. Maybe…
The doorbell rings and he rushes out of the room, all thoughts fleeing instantly. The monsoon is here and so is Monday.
* A story about loneliness and companionship, about the weather and workaholism, about life in the city we call home.
A park separates them.
If it can be called a park, that is. A grassy patch chequered with muddy patches, that turn into puddles in the monsoon. The dogs like it anyhow. They keep him awake at night with their barking. Nobody seems to care at 2 in the a.m.
One such night is filled with little vapours of heat rising from under his neck each time he shifts, on the pillow. He sits up and puts his feet down on the floor. The ground is cool and the thought of sleeping there occurs to him. But he turns it aside. He’ll only wake up with aching muscles. A sudden buzzing in his ear reminds him of the reason he woke up. Getting up is surprisingly easy. He supposes he didn’t really fall asleep earlier. So he crosses the room to draw the mosquito net across the window. Small relief, that, the mosquitoes still get in mysteriously. He curses the puddles, the lazy gardener responsible for the park’s upkeep, the real estate agents for whom it’s a reason to hike up the flat’s prices.
His head hurts. The EMI is due in three days. He could put it on his credit card but then what will he shop with for the rest of the month? The incentive. One windfall that’ll take care of all his problems. But he’s having trouble even keeping up with so little sleep. And the worry keeps him awake nights. Not for the first time he wonders how different his life might have been if he hadn’t bought this flat.
A thin rivulet of sweat runs down the side of his forehead. In the heat, it is almost a relief to feel something cold. The ice of his impotence.
A sudden gust blows across his cheek and he slides back the mosquito net and leans out to catch it. It’s gone. Great, a grand welcome to more mosquitoes. But he doesn’t pull back. He’s past caring now.
When he finally looks up, hand on the window to slide it back into place, he stops. The city is never completely dark. The lights on the billboards, the neon sign flashing the name of the mall next door (another reason the real estate rates are so high) all contribute to little stray beams. Like leftovers thrown to the dogs, even the park is aglow in an imitation of moonlight. The dogs are scampering.
And he realizes that he looked up because of the sound. He squints into the darkness for the source. All around the park, ghostly black shapes tower, the other buildings that share the park. It’s like a crossword or a reverse of one. More black but a few white (and yellow) squares here and there. He looks at the familiar visions of other late-nighters. A fan is going in one while flickering images of a TV from another throw out strange reflections on the facing building. And in the building exactly opposite, a blue-white window frames a dark silhouette.
He can’t see much else around it. And because they’re exactly level, there’s no sight of the walls and shadows that fall on them. He doesn’t know anything about the flat or its occupant. They face each other, separated by the park.
He feels the need to avert his eyes immediately. It feels like the figure opposite is aware of him, knows he’s been watching. When he looks up, the figure hasn’t moved. So he stares back, defiantly. But the same uncomfortable feeling overcomes him. He turns away and sits down on his bed. But once he’s sitting, he can’t see the window. So he stands up again.
His stomach flutters and little beads of sweat form on his forehead, this time a different temperature. It’s a curious, forgotten feeling, this knowing that someone else is awake at the same time. It feels companionable.
The dogs start whining again and he grimaces. He feels like he could strangle the barking ones. If he only dared. Suddenly a shout rings out and he hears what sounds like splashing water. The figure across is holding up something that looks like a plastic mug. He starts laughing. It’s effective, he thinks. The dogs vanish almost instantly.
The black shape has the left arm placed on the hip, or perhaps on the windowsill. The other arm is crooked at an angle and seems to be saying hi to him. But it isn’t moving so he concludes that it is resting on a screen. Then, impulsively, he lifts up his hand and mirrors the pose.
The figure shifts almost immediately and turns to its left. In that flash, he can see it’s a woman or perhaps a girl. Her nose is sharp and ends in an equally defined chin. She turns again. Then she lifts up her right arm and reclaims her pose. It’s like she’s saying hi back.
When he returns to bed, the clock shows that it’s seven minutes since he got up. He turns around again. The figure has gone but the light is still on. The dogs won’t come back tonight, he thinks. He lies down and shuts his eyes. In a few minutes he’s fast asleep.
* A story about neighbors and companionship in Mumbai.
Next Sapling distribution drive is happening on 6’th June 2010 in the following cities :
Venue: Lalbagh, Glass house.
Time: 10:30 AM
Joel Fernandes – 9008905774
Venue: Isha Project Green Hands, No. 5 Moolachathiram, Perumal Kovil St, MMC Post, Chennai 51
Time: 10:00 AM
Rajasekar – 9840727371, Magesh – 9940305209
Venue: Rose Garden, (Inside Lodhi Gardens), Delhi
Time: 8:00 AM
Garima – 9810807082
9 AM – Opp Barista, Shivaji Park
11.00 am – Vile Parle (e), Opp Parleshwar Temple
12.00 pm – Vile Parle (w) HDFC Bank, SV Rd.
1.30 pm – Near Shoppers Stop, Andheri (w)
3.00 pm – Inorbit Mall, Malad (w)
5.00 pm – Near IC church , IC Colony, Borivali(w)
Contact : Ranjeet – 9322131415 , Satish – 9833443545
9.30 AM – Gateway of India
10.30 AM – Eros Theatre
Contact: Priyanka Dalal – 9004350022
– Nerul – Tentatively Partek hill
– Vashi – Tentatively Sector 10
– Panvel – Tentative
Contact : Shailaja – 9819076469
7:30 AM – Kalyani Nagar ( Jogger’s Park)
8:45 AM – University campus/ University Circle
9:30 AM – F.C Road
10:30 AM – Law college Road
Contact: Libu – 9881460654, Pradaxina – 9881093149
Date : 5th June
Venue: Old MIDC Area,
Time : 10.30 am
Dinesh – 9890774748
You can sign up at http://thesaplingproject.com
Sapling Project Poster : http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2774/4146532432_0d4c4b96bc_o.jpg
Flickr (photos) : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/thesaplingproject/
Twitter : @saplingproject
Facebook Group : http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=190098221995
It would be great if you can support us by spreading the word on The Sapling Project initiative through your community, Facebook/Orkut/Twitter group.
Hopefully online users would be inspired enough to join the initiative.
A very quick update on yesterday’s street festival. It would have been nice if it had been a day-long fest and each of the events staggered a bit.
I started out with a detailed itinerary, knowing even then the futility of trying to cover all the events. Kya karen, they were all so appealing! I started with the Wall Project, because it was the first event and yes, also because it enjoys a special place in my heart. :-)
AmZ met me in Bandra and we spent a pleasant (if not fruitless) half-hour driving up and down Tulsi Pipe Road trying to find the others. The event details had only said that the project was open for painting on the blank walls left over from the earlier events. But maybe because of the heat and also since it was a less monitored event, the crowd clustered around a tree-shaded patch close to Mahim.
I daresay some people may have painted over earlier paintings. But I’m just going to take a note from a friend’s diary and say that street art is about layers over layers.
I had a run in with the shopkeeper of the only hardware shop open on that stretch. I know it was hot but that wasn’t my fault and besides no one should be crabby about doing extra business. Grrrrr, horrible man!
So I found myself dressed to paint in denim overalls and bright pink rubber gloves but with no paints, no brushes and no wall. Mercifully for me, Manan and his friends invited me to join them in their part of colour splashing. Here are the results.
Since they’d already started their panel, I didn’t join them but I was graciously given both the border panels to splash about with. On the right, I created a warli painting. After all these years of sketching and fabric-painting, this is the first time I’ve actually created this wall art on a real wall. Much fun it was.
E Vestigio was there all along, heckling us and snapping pics. (I do hope she’ll put up a post with them soon!) In retaliation, I incorporated her into the warli painting along with the others who were painting the wall. Can you guess which one she is? The fun bit about an event like this is the camaraderie and silliness that goes hand-in-hand with actually executing the project.
The panel on the left actually had a few pictures of gods and the pavement-dwellers asked us to not touch those. In cognizance of this, a group had left the top half empty and was in the process of creating a Pink Floyd album cover on the bottom. But the top looked rather stark. So I tempered the parts around the pictures with blue paint and created a kolam, which is fairly appropriate next to a picture of the Gods, I think. :-)
Friends and familiar faces I spotted were Neil Dantas, Shadez and Leztah. The mad (o’ wot?) Sapna Bhavnani screamed out “IDEEEEEEEAAAAAAAA!” as she flew past in an Elvis Presley wig, as a part of the Superheroes on bicycles event. A few panels down, Ranjeet, Neeraj and their gang put up their green and peaceful messages to the world.
The Superheroes on bicycles briefly sailed past us and stopped to ogle our walls and let themselves be ogled at. Much funness. Mumbaikers need to be taught to stare. :-)
By the time we packed up it was close to 8. So we made our way to Carter Road to catch the Mad Fake Tea Party. It was too dark by then and the party that had presumably been on for a few hours, was winding down. Still we got a few glimpses of funkily dressed people and the remaining postcards on the table.
All in all, we really only did one event completely but as Manan puts it,
What a wonderful, satisfying way to spend a Sunday!
Street Festival: Mumbai Ka King Kaun? – Wall Project, Sticker Wall, Board Games Bash, Pitto, Post-it Surprise, Letters, SuperHero Squad, Mad Fake Tea Party, Homemade Videos
This event has been taking shape quite recently and is not owned by any one person or group. That’s why this post comes so late but I’m hoping it’s still time enough for whoever catches it today.
MKKK is a series of different community events happening across the city (okay, Mahim and Dadar). Since the originating idea was street art, wall-painting is still on at the blank walls of Tulsi Pipe Road in Mahim. Only this time, make sure to carry your own materials.
At other places, there are board games meets, street games, a cycling trip, funky writing events, a tea-party and some films. I’ve been receiving messages from different groups on the various activities that are happening today. So I’m going to be skipping around the locations, dabbling in a little of each and maybe snapping up some colourful images of the city having fun. Come join me!
These are the details of the initiative and each event as I received them:
The Wall Project- 3 Mumbai ka King Kaun
Remember this is not a mela or carnival with lots of people. This is all about you as an individual along with your friends and city people coming out in the open public space and doing good and yet crazy creative things. We all are here to participate so don’t wait to know who’s the organiser, committee members, event guys, or wall project guys. Simply come out and do what you feel like or attend the events and become part of them.
– How do i participate in events?
By just being there. Whichever events you like, just show up. Join the
gang and have fun. There is no registration,no fees, forms, no stamps required.
– How do i know about the events?
Go to the Mumbai ka king kaun and check its wall posts. All the events
are listed there. Here is the link http://www.facebook.com/
– I don’t know anyone in these events
Thats why you should come. All the events are open for all.
you don’t need any pre permission, gate pass, or influence letter. Just
come and participate.
– Can i go to multiple events and how?
you can go to multiple events. More you attend, more fun.
You will have to take your vehicle or public transport to reach the
venue. How long this event will go on? Time mentioned on the individual events pages.
– Can i help? Can i bring in my friends family.
Yes please. By participating and being part of event as per theme and
adding ideas, surprises. All size and age groups r welcome. Bring your
family, friends etc.
HERE ARE LIST OF ALL FINAL EVENTS
– THE GREAT WALL OF MUMBAI -3
Type: Music/Arts – Exhibit
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 4:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: at TULSI PIPE ROAD, mahim
– STICKER WALL
Start Time: Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 5:30pm
End Time: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 11:30pm
Location: Carter’s Blue (the shawrma place)
Street: opposite Carter road Cafe coffee day, Bandra(W)
City/Town: Mumbai, India
– BOARD GAMES BASH: Picnic at the Park
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time:4:00pm – 8:00pm
Nilgiri Park, Bandra
Across From Coffee Bean, Linking Road
– Pitto – Seven Stones (Lagori)
Type: Sports – Sporting Event
Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: Near Gurunanak Park, Off Turner road, Bandra west
– Ideas for the City – Post it Note Surprise
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Bandra Bandstand Entrance
– Write Letters, Sometimes
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Carter Road Amphitheatre
– THE SUPER HERO SQUAD: bring out your cycles and dress up like a
Type: Trips – Roadtrip
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: starting from tulsi pipe road
– Mad Fake Tea Party
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: Mumbai, Carter Road (Chess Tables Opp CCD)
– Street Festival of Homemade Videos
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: On the big painted wall outside Gonsalvez House (bandra Bazaar Road)
NOTE: DO’s & DON”Ts
1) this is not a competition event/ mela/ challenge/ or reality show. It is only for us to realize our public spaces and use them respectfully, sensitively.
2) Please don’t indulge in political, religious, advertising, commercial, or promotional ideas.
Wall project or BMC will not be responsible or support any such initiative.
3) No banners, No hoardings, No leaflets, promotional material or sale.
4) Don’t create obstacles for the city in terms of noise, traffic etc. If you feel a crowd building around you best is to leave the place.
5) This is not a protest for any thing going wrong around us. This is purely an initiative to get the city people to come together and know each other and get involved in ideas to make the city space better or at least use it responsibly while having fun.
6) the event ideas belong to individuals and groups & and no Illegal activities will be entertained nor will it be the responsibility of the Wall Project/BMC
7) This event is a part of The Wall Project with BMC, along with many other similar small public events on the same day. For other events stay tuned on wall project facebook group.
if any question email us at – email@example.com
Mumbai’s Best Vada Pav @ I.C Colony, Borivali
I met and congratulated Nitin Patil, the man behind the yummy vada pav in our colony :)
Update: Nitin Patil, IC Colony’s Vada Pav guy has won the 1st prize, Its a nice feeling to know that I’ve been eating the best vada pav in Bombay all my life :)
Nitin Patil thanking fans for the SMS votes.
Their motto is “There is no love greater than the love of eating”
3 Things you must have at this iconic place 1. Chicken or Mutton Berry Pulao, 2. Rogers Raspberry 3. Caramel Custard.
Where : Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate, Mumbai
Note: Its open only 12-4 pm & no credit cards :)
What : The 3rd Sapling Project Drive
When : June 6th 2010.
What to expect : More cities, more participants, more saplings .
What are we doing different this time : T’shirts, Celebrities, Coordinators in each area, Improved website.
Looking for to your participation and support.
Watch this space more venue and event details.
Today, I accompanied E Vestigio across the city. When I say across, I mean literally across. In the space of 6 hours, I’ve passed dug-up roads, flyovers, under-rail subways, main roads, a highway, bylanes and market roads. I’ve been inside a mall, foodcourt, chain store branches, thronged a bazaar, hunted down an inner-lane shop and bargained with roadside vendors. We started at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon East and worked our way south-westward ending at Santacruz station market.
Now ostensibly, today’s trip was her agenda, with routes, destinations and shopping lists laid out in careful detail. So how is it that I find I’m now in possession of three new handbags, two pairs of sandals, a ring, a bangle, an almost tee-shirt (returned for reasons we won’t get into now) and three packs of to-fry cheese fingers?
Let’s see, there was Inc.5 with whom my only experience so far has been these delightful creatures. If I hoped for a repeat of that, I was rather lured away by E’s more sensible and stable choices. I rather regret not picking up the omelette-yellow sandals.
Then there was the mannequin wearing a tee-shirt depicting ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ display signs, the kind you see on toilet doors in malls. Of course I had to check it out. I saw a really cool racer-back with a print of ghungroo-clad feet. Voila! It fit! It was only after I paid and looked at the bill, did I realize that I’d been charged about a third more than what was on the price tag. The salesgirl sniffed and stated pointedly that the price tag showed the material cost while any print was extra. E came to my rescue (or perhaps kept me from throwing a shopper-tantrum and screaming my head off). The tee was returned and we left. Oh well, the print wasn’t that great and anyway I can paint it on myself. Huh.
We lunched in the foodcourt, the largest, most varied one I’ve ever seen and it prompted me to exclaim,
The only other place I’ve seen such a food court is in Heathrow airport!!
Oberoi Mall has successfully pulled off what none of its earlier counterparts in the areas could. It combines the cool of the western suburbs’ InOrbit while also catering to the more ethno-diverse population in the eastern suburbs. Town be damned, Mumbai’s disposable income is never more visible than in the suburban malls. There is a certain new-money loudness in these places. There is also a refreshing lack of world-weary cynicism. E gushed and gushed about the food court before capturing our mood with,
Such simple things make us joyful, no?
Yes, indeed. We remember shopping centers, neighborhood kiranas and restaurant food. Malls, food courts and glitzy stores are still a big, very big deal in our lives.
As we were leaving, I just had to check out Rhysetta. Esbeda introduced me to colourful-but-classy bags; it was good to find another brand that offered the same. I was intrigued by a bright yellow bag with a black handle. The sunshine colour seems to have been my theme today. E very pointedly said,
If you wear them all together, you’ll be a dirty fellow.
…which of course meant I had to take the green instead. It’s neon green, not a dull/sensible colour by any stretch but I’m still rather in lustful desire with that yellow bag. Maybe I’ll trip back tomorrow to do an exchange. (Forgive me E, you’re just going to wear sunglasses when you see me next!!)
There was a black sequined bag I almost bought except that its strap looked more like a fracture-cast bandage on my arm than the mock-bracelet it was supposed to be. Undeterred, I stopped at another bag shop while E walked into the FabIndia. None of my shortlisted choices met with her approval though, so I walked out purchaseless. FabIndia, on the other hand, never failing to please, put me in possession of two bags. One is blue raw silk with buttis print and metal kadas for handles. The other is a black silk with buttis and looks like an open envelope. How could I *not* buy those?! Money is to be made so it can be spent on such wonderful things (okay, after the basic necessities).
The bazaars outside stations are throwbacks to creditcardless student days of raste-ka-maal-saste-mein bargains. My loss of the yellow sandals still smarted so instead we made up by buying two pairs of gladiators, one black-with-metal riveting dominatrix and the other brown-with-bronze buckles sensible chic. E’s superb bargaining ensured these two cost me less than the price of that one yellow pair.
And when all of this was done, I had burned off enough of calories and water-atoms to be ravenous. So I picked up the cheese sticks for dinner.
Yes, it all makes sense in retrospect. Try telling that to my wallet, though.
E thanked me at the end of the day for accompanying her on her errands. I said, “No, thank you. I had so much fun!!” Now I think she should thank me again. You see, when I shop on my own, I usually know what I want and how, where and for how much I want to buy it.
But malls, display windows and charming streetside sellers aren’t designed for people like that. They are focused, diabolical strategies to target unsuspecting people who haven’t really been intending to buy anything at all!! A good friend isn’t someone who puts up with bad roads, horrible weather and crowded stores with you. All of that is part of the thrill of shopping. A good friend is the one who is willing to take that final risk of putting herself in the eye of the marketer’s fire. It’s really like being on a diet and agreeing to walk through the diary products section of the store with your friend who wants to get to green veggies on the other side!
But this is all said in jest. At the end of the day, my toes hurt, my scalp feels itchy from all the dust and my face muscles feel like they’re sagging along with my limbs. But I’ve had an uncommonly long chat with a good friend, laughing, discussing serious stuff, being silly, grumbling about men, work, life and such, bitching about prices, brands, styles and other people. E Vestigio, poppet, thank you, love.
I feel good. Retail therapy? Maybe it does work after all.
Took some snaps from the Taxi after meeting up with Ben and his colleague from The Christian Science Monitor & my friend Ranjeet at the Stadium Restaurant in Churchgate.
They played Holi before they got to work .
Art Deco Buildings on DN Road.
The Majestic Victoria Terminus now CST.
Somewhere among the Mosque is Suleman Usman Mithaiwala.
Work in Progress @ Labaug
ITC Grand Maratha
For more pics and Larger images check out my Flickr Page.
This is for Dee, the editor I’d like to have, who quite literally showed me the way.
Where do stories come from? she wondered. Her editor had told her that her writing had a quality of finesse in it. But, he said, the spark was missing. She wanted to protest, it had been such an effort to get to here after all. But anticipating just that, he had moved his hand in a wiping gesture, as if trying to clear away a fog around her.
“It’s that madness, that raw energy that used to make one want to read. Bring that back. It’s you. Unleash it in your writing.”
She brooded over it for a long time, all through the book-browsing date and the high tea that followed. Then she decided to take a walk. Taking long walks and watching people and noting down what one saw seemed to be the right things for a writer to do. The sea had always held appeal. But somehow, the effort of crossing the road, dodging bratty rich kids in their oversized cars only to scrounge a garbage pile of people on the other side, for seating space…wasn’t an appealing thought at all.
The city is no place for an artist, she told herself. How was one supposed to be inspired by this relentless struggle? It didn’t even have the elements of drama like a war or a revolution or an uprising, a famine or a flood. It was just everyday, niggling grievances. Who would want to read about those? Who would want to write about those, she retorted inside her head. Then she shook herself. Arguing with oneself is the first step into insanity and she’d be damned if she was going to live up to that pathetic stereotype of a writer-gone-crazy before she was even published.
The girl hopped off the last bogey, the one that she had just managed to jump into as the train pulled out of the station. In one hand she clutched a little notepad and a magenta pen, her chosen colour for the day. She did have one thought that should be captured before it vanished into that abyss of forgotten inspiration. One hand holding down the page, she expertly popped off its lid with her mouth and twirled it around to cap its end with practiced efficiency. Rapidly she wove a messy magenta web over the ideas that had caused her to almost miss her train.
I stood on the opposite side of the road that runs along the seaface. It was the wrong side, not the one that had the seating parapet along its entire length but the junction of the seaface road and the arterial conduit to the station terminus.
I stood under the tree that has survived attempts to build bigger and more buildings, broader roads and wider pedestrian walks. The same gnarled tree that stands on the side of the road like a senior citizen with memories of a slower, more human-paced city but no energy to brave the pace of today.
The sky was just turning that indefinable shade of evening like the colour of the last dregs of black tea in a chipped white saucer. Sepia, the colour of nostalgia, that one extra element that changes the picture of a dirty, overcrowded metropolis to the magical visage of home.
A rare wind was blowing all around me. February in the city picks you up as gently and playfully as the waves and takes you to the edge of the shore of winter. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a swimming pool, only it was filled with moving, insistent air around me instead of water.
When she looked up, she was standing at the threshold of light, surrounded by darkness. The very edge of a station, flowing slowly into light at the other end. A rusty carriage sat on incomplete tracks, a long discarded project of the metropolitan train network and peered at her through unpainted metal bars. On the other side, across the tracks and the other well-lit platform, high over their roofs rose the skeletal inner beams of discarded mills. Like a will being contested over the rotting body of a dead person, the future of the land they stood on was being dueled over, with no thought to the buildings that still were.
Places have memories, don’t they? Memories of lives that have passed, of habits that were housed under these roofs, hidden behind these walls. The paan-stains, the half-buried cigarette butts, sneaky but woeful reminders of escapes, of stolen glee. And then the finality of ashes that came from burning who knows what? Paper? Cloth? Oil? Human beings? There were stories that led to the ashes but there was no way to trace them back. This place had its endings but not all it was in ashes. Everything else was memories that could be traced by anyone who cared to listen, to pick up those strands and imagine where they led. They were stories to be told.
She looked down at her book again, an abrupt swooshing action. The white pages even with their magenta words glared back at her in defiance. Those words meant nothing and in her mind’s eye, she imagined the magenta whorls and lines slide off the pages. Blood, the only thing that would stick. Hold a pen to a nerve and write, he had said. So she turned a page and begun,
Something was burning.