Archive for January, 2008

The City and State of Bombay

I came across a very interesting paragraph in an article about Gujarat and Gujaratis.

Many people forget — or do not realise — that until 1960 the state of Gujarat did not exist. Till then, Gujarat was part of the old Bombay state. And few Gujaratis regarded this as offensive or unfair. In many ways, Bombay was the capital of Gujarat in that era and the city was built on the efforts of Gujaratis and Parsis. It was the Maharashtrians who objected to being lumped with Gujaratis and when the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat (including the old state of Saurashtra) were created on May 1, 1960, it was in response to Maharashtrian demands for their own state. (When the Shiv Sena was launched in 1967, its first targets included Gujaratis — the anti-Muslim platform took a decade to emerge.)

I have always known that till 1960 we were the erstwhile Bombay State, formed somewhat on the boundaries of the Bombay Presidency from the times the British ruled us.

If indeed we had remained Bombay state, we would have been one of the largest states in the country and definitely the most powerful economically, commercially and politically. Instead we are now at a point where it would be better off if Bombay was made a city-state like New Delhi so that we dont get lumped with the rest of Maharashtra.

Wot say ? Should that become the goal of all Bombayites or Mumbaikers? How about May 01, 2010, exactly 50 years after the dissolution of the State of Bombay, we have a new City and State of Bombay.

Sunrise over the Mumbai skyline

sunrise-over-mumbai.JPG

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A bibliophile’s guide to Mumbai

It’s January and time for all of Mumbai’s iconic events. After the Mumbai Marathon and the Mumbai Festival comes the Strand Book sale. Book-lovers across the city have looked forward to this annual event far before the gleaming interiors of the other bookstores came into being.

strand.jpg

While on this, here’s something that was written sometime back but will still be of interest to anyone who’s kicked about the Strand Book sale.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

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Bharat Ratna: Are You Kidding Me ?

Yesterday I read this article on DNA India and it nearly made me fall off my chair laughing. This is the gist…

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said on Monday he would reject Bharat Ratna even if the award was ever offered to him.

My first reaction was….WTF !! Who in their sanest minds would even dream of giving the nation’s highest civilian awards to a politician who spent all his life promoting grassroots regionalism and created a political monster otherwise called the Shiv Sena.

Let’s take a stock check. Thackeray gave rise to Shiv Sena which has over the years become a quasi-militant right wing regionalistic party that tries to keep the interests of the “Marathi Manoos” or “sons of the soil” at heart. Idealistic lofty goals. However in a city like Bombay, its completely misplaced. Bal Thackeray has to his credit….

  • The riots of 1992 and 1993.
  • Further corruption of the government when in power
  • Cultural “nazi-ism” that would push Bombay back three centuries.
  • A band of thugs as his followers who believe in arson, crime and killing as the only way to get heard.

Frankly, I think he and the Shiv Sena are the worst thing that has happened to the “Marathi Manoos”.

I think Thackeray himself realized how stupid he would sound, because in the same article he goes

Of course, this is bound to generate questions as to who is going to give me. But nevertheless I am clear that I will never accept it”.

It is obvious that this is a publicity stunt and an attempt to get some press coverage for the Toothless Tiger. he has been out of the news for a while now and along with his surprising statement supporting Pawar, he is slowly coming back into the limelite with the political season coming on.

Thackeray, don’t worry. No one ever thought of giving you one. And I will personally deport anyone who has such naughty bad thoughts !

Stock Market Fuels the Jokes Market

The world over, financial markets are crashing. Some say its a correction. Others see it as a cascading effect of the US economy slowdown as it ever so slowly creeks towards recession.

The Bombay Stock Exchange suffered its largest one day loss ever this Monday January 21. Suitably named, Black Monday has brought about jitters in the Indian financial sector and economy. And of course also brought about a slew of jokes, mostly forwarded through SMS.

In the middle of a turmoil, the stock markets have become the butt of jokes being circulated across media such as the web and mobile phones.

“Bankrupt allowed to return to their native place without ticket, (Railway Minister) Lalu Prasad,” goes one rude SMS joke.

Other ‘jokes’ border on being stupid, “Good time to invest in stocks of Rupa Frontline, VIP underwear, Jockey briefs etc. ‘Sab ki chaddi uter gayi’ (everyone has lost their briefs). So, everyone will buy a new one.” [link]

If you got any more of your own, please add to the comments below.

Mumbai Marathon this weekend

Mumbaikars are always in a hurry and are constantly running for something. Weather it is catch the 8.40am local or the BEST, to reach the office on time, to catch a rick, or simply just to escape the peak hour traffic jam and reach home early. This weekend the city will run but this time it will be for a cause. With all the daily running, Marathon seems like a cakewalk. It’s the Marathon Weekend.

Yes around 30,000 runners, including 40 of the world’s 100 top athletes, will be participating in the fifth Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, on Sunday. Thousands of Mumbai residents will line the over 20-km-long route from CST to Bandra Reclamation to see these super shuttles run.

The stars of the tinsel town, the biggies of the business world and also the highly sophisticated, prim and proper socialites will also be sighted running a pace or two. And I suppose that will be just enough for the media coverage. But can’t deny the fact that their brief presence will surely motivate the other runners.

Last year, the marathon raised almost Rs80 million for various charities involving 150 NGOs. This year, the organizers hope to raise almost Rs100 million. The Mumbai Marathon, which is the richest marathon in Asia and also features among the top ten marathons in the world, has emerged as the single largest charity event in India.
This year, the prize money has been raised by $10,000 to $240,000.

The Mumbai marathon includes five categories: the full marathon (42.195 km), the half marathon (21.097 km), the dream run (six-km), the senior citizens run (4.3-km), and the wheelchair event (2.5-km).
Did you know that our city has some professional marathon runners? Well I never had a clue so until I came across this website; click here to read his blog. I also read somewhere that there are some very senior citizen runners (90+ yrs old) too. The city never ceases to amaze me and this is one of the reason I love this city.

The dream runners will include celebrities like John Abraham, Vivek Oberoi, Rahul Bose and Suchitra Krishnamurthy (all Bollywood actors) and Revathy Menon, Madhavan, Khushboo and Rohini (from the celluloid world of the south).

So Are you ready to run ?

PS: Don’t forget your running your shoes :D

Toto, I don’t think we are in Mumbai anymore!

As all my friends move into matrimony and kid-bearing and generally ‘settling down’, they acquire the other trappings of yuppies – investments! One of my friends thinks that real estate is the best option. So I accompanied her on a ‘window-shopping’ spree, scouting the city for the perfect place of land that she could call her own.

We ended up at Vasai Road. Yes, it has a station of its own on the Western line. What’s more, with the number of overhead bridges with twists and turns and forks, I thought we might have landed up in some future version of Mumbai without the crowds.

maze-of-bridges.jpg

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Window shopping

In a city that loves designers, it is always good to go back to the philosophy of raste ka maal saste mein! Take a trip down the street with me while I poke into the tinsel of GlamourTown.

Roti (food), kapda (clothing) aur makan (shelter)…so the dictat goes. Roti (and also naan, idli, dosa, pizza, pasta and pita) is available in an appetizing variety while the glitz and glamour of teeny-weeny kapdas dazzle us. But what of makan? Oh well….life is always something short of perfect. For now, we settle for ramming our fresh fruit purchases in with the bling-thing that we call an LBD (Little Bright Dress!)
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Mandhani

This is one common piece of storage you are likely to find in almost every working class home in Mumbai. In Marathi it is called Mandhani (Correct me if I am wrong). Be it a Maharashtrian home, Gujarati home or a Marwari home you will find this shelf in every kitchen. It is made up of thin sheets of steel and is hung on nails which are drilled into the wall. These shelves are used to store/display steel and aluminum utensils, sort of a kitchens central focus During Diwali the entire shelf is removed washed, and the utensils are scrubbed to shine and displayed on these shelves. Sadly with the fad of modular kitchens, many homes are now disowning this piece of furniture.

Mumbai and its Immigrants

Over the centuries, human population is in flux and people move from the hinterland to urban megapolii. Nowhere in India is it more prominent than in Bombay. As much as the Shiv Sena would like to claim that Bombay is all about the “Marathi Manoos”…knowing the Shiv Sena, I would say it is “despite” the MM.

There is no larger melting pot than Mumbai and Biharis rub shoulders on the local trains with Gujjubhais. South Indians (or as we love to call them all….Madrasis)jostle with Punjabis for the same square inch of pavement, to walk, to work and what not.

Migrants over centuries built this city, and that is the crux of this nice article by Bachi Karkaria in the TOI.

More than any other metropolis, Mumbai is native-neutral, whatever the Shiv Sena may like to project. Migration is a continuous-process industry here, and the city would be non-existent without migrants. This is exactly the opposite of the pattern in Chennai and Kolkata, places firmly rooted in their mono-chauvinism.

……Yet, contrary to Jug Suraiya’s premise, this does not make for a disparate anonymity where you can get away with murder or molestation. Quite the opposite. You learn to adapt, and live in the togetherness of strangers. In fact, communal angularities have full rein in the company of your own kind. Outside it, it is imperative that you emery them down. This is why the Goan makes good outside Goa;, the Bengali does better outside the stifling cultural terrorism of Kolkata; the Punjabi is so much quieter outside Delhi. As a Parsi, I could have claimed Mumbai as my patrimony, but I was a migrant too from the communal outpost of Kolkata, and the first thing that struck me was that the resident of the baugs and colonies was almost a different species from the Parsis back home.

Continue reading the entire article here.

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