Archive for December, 2005

Kanchan Ganpat Gawde

Kanchan Ganpat Gawde, a women in her 40s who lives at Tardeo Police Station compound with her four kids and her husband. She sounds just like any other middle-class women living in Mumbai city however it’s her profession that makes her stand out among the others.

Kanchan Ganpat Gawde is Mumbai’s only lady taxi driver.

As part of its Incredible India Campaign to attract foreign tourists, the Union tourism ministry announced on Tuesday that it wants to train lady taxi drivers for Mumbai and Hyderabad. Kanchan Ganpat Gawde, Mumbai

Traffic Snarls

A friend of mine Nick Gray once said about Mumbai –

“You can tell how much development is happening by the number of cement billboards as you enter the city.”

I would add traffic jams to the equation. Here is a typical rush hour traffic snarl I captured on my way home from work.

Traffic Snarl

Women and Mumbai

Yesterday night I went out with a girl friend of mine to one of my favourite hangout pub in Bandra. Even on a Thursday night the place was filled with a decent number of people, mostly office crowd. Now you would be thinking whats so darn great about this, I mean this is a scenario in most metro cities. However I noticed one peculiar thing when I glanced around the small room. Though the present crowd mostly comprised of men, there were also quite a few women around, just by themselves or in small groups.

It reminded of the times when I use to come down to Mumbai for holidays and crib in front of my best friend about the attitude of Mumbaikars or Indians in general, where women could not go down to the pub or a nightclub without being assisted by their male friends or relatives. It was seen more of taboo and would put a question mark on the girl’s character if she ever dared to venture out alone to such places. Afterall decent Indian women, don’t indulge themselves in such activities, it was perceived.

NASA Convention in Town

The 48th Annual convention of the National Association of Students of Architecture is going on in town. Hosted by the Academy of Architecture, it is the largest gathering for students of architecture. Held very year, the convention returned to Bombay City after 8 years. The last time Bombay was the host city was in 1997 when my alma mater Rizvi College of Architecture hosted it at the Andheri Sports Complex.

4000 students of architecture from over 108 colleges around the country are gathered here for a four day event. All of them work extensively on four major trophies before they come to the onvention, and while here compete in other competitions, workshops et al.

Personally having been involved with NASA for over 6 years during my student life, it holds some of the best memories of a lifetime. And thus walking into a NASA convention was a very special moment.

If you have time and are in the Prabhdevi area, stop by tomorrow, the last day and check out the works displayed by the students from all over the nation. Its worth the visit

NASA was formed in 1952 and held its first convention in 1953. It’s American namesake, the space agency, started in 1958. Talk about originality in names.

A ray of hope

Just yesterday I posted the story of one year old Mahesh whose parents want his life terminated medically because he suffers from serious congenital deformities.

But thankfully there seems to b some hope for this young kid and his parents. Dr Santosh Karmarkar from Lilavati Hospital on Thursday offered to operate upon the boy free of cost and also take care of all the post-operative expenses. He believes the Pujaris’ must not give up so easily. “I have carried out 700 surgeries on children suffering from spina bifida and other similar congenital defects. I am sure Mahesh can be treated too. I will perform the surgeries free of cost and the post-operative expenses too will be taken care of. I just need his parents’ consent,” he said.

Last week, having exhausted all their savings, Mahesh

Brand ‘Mumbai’ insearch of an identity

The Maharashtra government, through the Mumbai Festival, has announced a contest as part of which Mumbaikars can send in their designs for the way in which the city’s name should be visually represented.

The organising committee of the Mumbai Festival, headed by industrialist Kamal Morarka, will advertise the contest shortly and instruct people on how to participate. While the contest will be conducted before January 20, the prize will be announced on the eve of the Festival being held from January 16 to 26, 2006.

The person who comes up with the winning concept for this logo, in both English and Marathi, will be awarded Rs 50,000.

The idea behind the initiative is to create a brand identity for Mumbai. The government may even take the exercise further and get an ambassador – a personality who has been ‘Made in Mumbai’.

So come on Mumbaikars,its time to get your creative juices flowing.

Whatever happened to the cricket?

There was a time when one of the things that Mumbai was proudest of was its dominance of Indian cricket. Consider this list: between 1955-56 and 1976-77, Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy on all but two seasons. The Indian team, in those years and later, was dominated by Mumbai batsmen. Hell, there was even something called the “Mumbai School of Batsmanship,” started by Vijay Merchant, carried on by Sunil Gavaskar, and held to be the epitome of Indian batsmanship.

Today, Mumbai’s players no longer fill the Indian cricket team: the current squad to Pakistan has three men from Mumbai, but only one of them, Sachin Tendulkar, has been a regular over the last decade. They’re still one of the top Ranji sides, but they do not dominate any more. Whatever happened to them? Why did cricket decline in Mumbai? Well, my postulation is that Mumbai’s dominance of Indian cricket was affected, in a bittersweet way, by India’s economic development. Let me explain.

Myriad Images at a Mumbai Barber

Hair Cutting - Rs. 20.

It seems like it is time for my quarterly haircut. How do I know this? Well my raven-coloured hair have grown into a uncontrollable mass of cellulose, which in their moist uncombed state are taking the shape of an ecosystem more diverse than the Sunderbans.

Pali Hill, Bandra, for all its amenities, is filled with barbers the likes of which charge large amounts of money. Alas, this is a burden my light wallet cannot take. I am forced, like an economic migrant, to commute to meet my hair hygiene needs.

A glass store front, rimmed with wooden blue welcomes me. Etched in red on the glass are the styles and fashions the ‘Hair Cutting Saloon’ deals in. Barber shops in India come in various avatars viz. the corner nahee [barber] who sets up his unpolished mirror and rickety chair under some tall tree or a puccha [brick] barber establishment that employs several such masters of the trade. Scissors, brushes, stainless steel blades, and circular foldable plastic razors are the versatile tools of their trade. Inside men wait patiently on worn-out rexine sofas, hiding their faces behind a local newspaper or a glossy gossip-spilling film magazine. As I enter the men make space for me, bunching up together almost by reflex and one of them hands me an old issue a film magazine.

Stylised posters of popular Bollywood actors and screen starlets adorn the walls. Barber shops often become tiny Meccas to Indian film culture and the sense of style derived from Bollywood or the local cinema. If a film becomes a ‘super hit’ fans want to emulate their favourite stars’ hairstyle. It is a place for music and entertainment as well. No shop is complete without an old pocket TV in a corner or a grungy loud cassette player or a small portable transistor radio.

This movie should have been banned

Top ten reasons why the movie “Bombay” should have been banned in Bombay:

10. The Hero and Heroine fall in love without first having a fight.

9. The Hero doesn’t sing “mere pyaari behana” to his sister, neither does she get raped nor does she get married off to some goon who ill treats her.

8. The Hero actually asks the Heroine to elope with him instead of confronting her father and finally winning him over.

7. The Hero’s bachelor friends at work do not get to come home and enjoy a meal cooked by the newly wed bride, with one of them ogling at her with evil intentions.

6. Since the Hero and Heroine get married very early in the movie, they should have known that something was going to go wrong and should have taken due care.

When life is more painful than death

Every once in a while, the debate around euthanasia or mercy killing gets revived. The debate gets particularly intense in the light of developments in the medical field or when you hear about critical cases where death seems to be the only logical option.

Doctors at Wadia Hospital in Parel (Mumbai) are faced with an unusual request from a one-year-old’s parents — they want the boy’s life terminated medically.

Mahesh Pujari’s father Sangappa and mother Anusuya have moved a petition with the collector seeking permission to let doctors terminate their child’s life. Modern life science calls it euthanasia. For Sangappa and Anusuya it’s a nightmare they must live.

Mahesh suffers from hydrocephalus — excessive accumulation of water in the head that has retarded the growth of his brain to such an extent that it is impossible for him to comprehend anything. He does not recognise voices, nor does he react to touch. There is a big bulge at the back of his head.

And that is not all, the boy suffers from another congenital defect — Thoracolumbar. In layman’s language, his spinal cord is useless. Which means he cannot even sit up without support, let alone stand or walk. The boy does not have any control over his bladder and this is not going to change as he grows up.

“I cannot see my child in such pain. It kills me when I think he will have to live with this pain all his life. I want an end to his pain…I want his life terminated,” says Anusuya, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Sangappa, who lives with his wife and child in a small room in Juhu, is employed in the construction industry. “I am a small contractor. I have exhausted all my savings in treating Mahesh. I know what a horrific demand we are making…who would want his one-year-old put to death. But I do not have any option. I am told euthanasia is illegal in our country. But isn’t my son’s life more painful than death?” he said.


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