Archive for February, 2008

"Khabardaar, Marathila hath laval tar…"

This is what Bal Thackeray has to say to BMC through his newspaper – Samna editorial section. Read More Here.

“Khabardaar, Marathila hath laval tar…” roars Bal Thackeray in his editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna today.

Thackeray warns all Sena corporators to be very particular about speaking in Marathi and said he would not be lenient with people who do not.

“We will not tolerate any language other than Marathi in the BMC,” said Thackeray.

His statement comes a week after Congress corporator and leader of the Opposition in the BMC, Rajhans Singh’s proposal.

‘If you are a lion, we are tigers’

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The Dabba Roster

I remain a Mumbai train loyalist. Not only is the Mumbai Metropolitan Railway, the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B in Mumbai, it also gives you a slice of what I think of as ‘the real Mumbai life’. Frantic students cramming in seat-huddles tell you that the board examinations are around the corner. A bling-ey group chatters away about the wedding they’re off to in the matrimony season. Office-goers – peons, sales executives, doctors, journalists run shoulders (okay, bodies) in the nau-dabbon-ki-jalad-lowkulll.

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And speaking of dabbas, how about the other dabbas? The ones carrying piping hot nourishment, lovingly made by mothers and wives and cooks across the city and delivered Just In Time for lunch to their hungry patrons? To the uninitiated, the dabbawallas are a network of deliverymen who carry lunchboxes from homes to offices and back using a never-fail above-world-class system of colour coding. An Ivy League US b-school used them as a case study and the concept has picked up much visibility since then.
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US Consulate Still Stuck in the Stone Age

Applications will be accepted by carrier pigeons only. All fees to be paid in jowar, bajra, rice, barley, daal or cowdung cakes only.

The above is my own byline. It stems from utter frustration. I will be travelling home to Bombay in a week or so and one of the “compulsory” tasks I need to do this time around is get my H1-B stamped again on my passport.

And even before I venture to the consulate, the frustration at the whole exercise is in the red zone. I know that the US Consulate outsources its whole administrative and logistical process to some company, and many would say that its the company to blame for the processes. But I would put the US Consulate.

Just outsourcing a service does not make ” the end justifies the means” . To make the appointment for my visa application I need to pay a fee. And this fee can only be paid in person at an HDFC bank. Why in heaven’s sake can one not pay this online via a credit card? Who thought up this stupid rule? When the whole world is going plastic online and there are weeks when I never do cash transactions here in the US, I find it baffling. Someone has to think this out.

A person sitting in the US needs to make an appointment. But the fees for that need to be paid in person at a bank in India, prior to even making the appointment. Yes my sister will do it and that’s not a problem. But what of people who cannot get someone to do it for them? And the reason of online fraud cannot be used for not allowing credit card payments.

They take the entire application online including the passport details etc but cannot assure of a simple credit card transaction. Screw that ! Hopefully for all practical reasons this may be my last need to get an H1-B, so I will end it at that. If someone at VFS or the US Consulate reads this, please dont penalize me. I am just voicing my concerns as a citizen :)

An axe to grind, an axe to fall

Raj Thackeray has just been arrested and is being driven to Vikroli for the court hearing. Now what? Let’s see. This titbit has enjoyed much more publicity in the past week in Mumbai than the falling temperatures, the art festival and all such mundane things as national news.
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Identity Crisis and The Sena

This is a follow up to my post about Bombay as a City State. And also a follow up to all the posts here about Scum Sena.

Aroon Tikekar writes a wonderful commentary on the Identity crisis facing the “marathi manoos” in Bombay.

There was a time when Parsi businessmen and industrialists from Mumbai preferred to employ the ‘Marathi manoos’ in their offices, for he was hard-working, sincere and honest. He had respect for scholarship, was kind to subordinates and obedient to employers.

His work ethics earned him esteem from those around him. To be Marathi was like an additional qualification in Mumbai and white collar jobs were waiting for migrants from the hinterland of Maharashtra.

Then Mumbai became the dreamland for all Indians and its commercial success created a wide gap between the success and failure, wealth and poverty. Politicians always have a field day in such situations and so was the case in Mumbai. Extreme successes bred disrespect for law; extreme failures gave birth to discontent. This combined to increase social tensions.

The reaction of the diehard Marathi Mumbaikars to all what was thus happening in the city was one of anger and dissatisfaction, for they had not anticipated a challenge to their future. They had shed blood for the inclusion of Mumbai in Maharashtra as the state capital after the reorganisation of the bilingual state of Bombay in 1960.

But their dreams turned sour after the initial euphoria of the creation of Samyukta Maharashtra was over. The continuous influx of people from every nook and corner of the country, made them uneasy and they felt that their hold on the city was being threatened with every wave of migration.

This is proved by how quickly Marathi Mumbaikars unite even at the slightest suggestion of Mumbai being separated from Maharashtra.

Read the entire article here.

MNS and the "outsiders"

On Sunday, violence erupted in Mumbai (not again…). Taxi-drivers, paan-wallas and ‘outsiders’ (read UPites and Biharis) were the target of assault by frenzied MNS supporters. In an is-it-related-or-not incident, Amitabh Bachchan’s house was attacked the next day, spurred by resentment towards his move to set up a girls’ school in Uttar Pradesh rather than Maharashtra.

I was at home on Horror Monday (Can we call it that? – We’d probably have to name at least one day each month for the sundry episodes of communal clashes that errupt so frequently in this so-called cosmopolitan metropolis). The news channels had a field day running and re-running the clips of a taxi-driver being dragged out of his car and beaten to pulp and soundbytes with the public expressing their outrage at this breach of peace.
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Melee at the mela

I’ve spent the entire weekend at Kala Ghoda!! I’ve been a regular visitor to the festival these years and thus far my KGAF experience has been limited to perusing the sidewalk outside Jehangir Art Gallery and ooh-ing and aah-ing about the artwork. This year I’m super-excited this time round because of my increased participation. Like last year, I’m writing for the Kala Ghoda Gazette and for the first time I’m actually participating in the events. You can see my more detailed account of the events here.

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The Festival is in its 10th year of existance. In the past years I’ve seen a gradual decline with the one rather regrettable year where all I remember of it was a row of food stalls (though my first experience of Kheer Kodom from Sweet Bengal did leave sweet memories). However it looks like the Black Horse has given itself a good shake since last year was an improvement. And this year is positively mind-boggling!
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A ride on the black horse

Did you ever think of performing poetry? Or SMS as an art form? Did you ever think that Bollywood was Mumbai’s only claim to culture? It’s time for you to meet the black horse then.

Welcome to the Kala Ghoda Art Festival – an eclectic extravaganza of art, music, poetry, theatre, film and writing expression. The KGAF is an annual event and yes, the 2008 edition starts tomorrow!

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