Archive for the ‘Events and Happenings’ Category

I Style! – Going Places, Well-Equipped!

Landmark is having their annual sale! Of course you knew that if you are a book-lover in this city. But did you know that they don’t just have their regular (great!) books on sale but also a load of cool stuff as well? Check out what I picked up for the princely sum of Rs.199. That’s the lovely Dipali who showed me the bag and agreed to model it for I Style! as well.

Lets go places wide

EcoFrendz is a brand that has retailed bags from Landmark before but I’ve never seen some of these designs on display before. The bag I bought is khaki coloured cloth with a black cloth strap. Now normally, I’d pass off this stuff as being too stereotypical social worker stuff. But look at what’s on the side. It says ‘Let’s go places’ and it even has a real compass hanging down the side! I can see myself carrying this with jeans, salwar-kameezes as well as a skirt!

Lets go places zoom

Now I’m a sucker for toys like that, it’s kitschy, it’s cool without being flamboyant. How’s that for I Style!?!

The Wall Project: BMC Plays Tom Sawyer & Everyone Wins!

It has been nearly a week now since The Wall Project and I’m so happy to say that it was a stupendous, tremendous, awesome success! I was thrilled to have been part of the event. The photographs are still surfacing on Facebook, people tagging each other and comparing notes.

Having put out an ‘official’ call on Twitter, I know I really should have been at the venue by the stipulated 8a.m. but I plead a swine flu scare which made me stay in bed with the sniffles till afternoon. Thankfully for me, my dear Aditya shook me out of my hypochondriacal stupor with a,

You really don’t know what you’re missing! Take care of yourself and I hope you feel better soon.

Hain! Such things could not be endured so like a flash we were out of bed and chugging our way to Mahim station. Since I got there only half-way through the day, I missed picking out one of the early spots close to the station entrance. Still, I’d like to think that the quality of the paintings improve as you move from Mahim to Matunga. Heh, ‘my’ wall and those of my friends are nearly at the end, right next to Matunga Road station! ;-)

FIrst day collage

Moksh planted...err, painted...trees. Simple, detailed and lovely.

Moksh planted...err, painted...trees. Simple, detailed and lovely.

The BMC had provided paints, brushes and thoughtfully, a tanker full of water to splash up. On Day 1, I even managed to get a lift from them from the station, all the way down to my wall. Aditya, Rehab, Spitphyre and Vagrant Seeker had been already and created their colourful collage, replete with Twitter ids. They also very thoughtfully helped me start up my first wall project and left me to fill in the end details.

On the BMC truck

Left to right: BMC guy, @wanderblah, @ideasmithy, @Spitphyre, @Adityab, BMC guy

Since the BMC came around to wrap up by around 5:30pm, I’m afraid it turned out to be a rather rushed job. The results can be seen on a pinky-pink wall with green swirly things and bleeding red eyes, almost opposite to the J&J building. I was gunning for a psychedelic design but I’m afraid it ended up being more kiddy crayoney.

Pink psychedelia

Pink Psychedelia: My efforts at the end of Day 1

I also managed to carefully white-wash the wall on its immediate left, layering on the paint evenly. When the BMC guys took away my paints, I vowed to get back early the next day and start on the white wall.

Whitewash

If you're wondering why there's white in my hair, it's my swine-flu protection pushed up to double up as headband!

Rather unfortunately the next day too, my sleepy somnambulistic side surfaced and I ended up getting there only around noon (Aditya, stop laughing! You also turned up at exactly the same time!). To my grimacing-frowny dismay, the whitewashed wall had been taken over by a family. What’s more, my carefully even-toned whitewash was being covered meticulously by layer over layer of blue-black. Ah well, I cut my losses and decided to look for another wall further up.

Happily I bumped into Shawn, Wanderblah, Jayant, Spitphyre, Aniceto and Jai at the end of the road. The corner after the tree seemed to become ‘ours’ as we set up our mini-studio there, piling up our backpacks onto the carriers of the taxis close by and painting the adjacent walls. We were joined in the middle of the day by Ashwin, Princila and Sayan. Princila took up the brush to paint a little something right under my painting. She says it’s a man being splashed with paint but I personally think it looks like a guy running away from the spotlight…which inspired me to spray an ‘AnonyMouse’ next to it.

I never imagined painting a wall could be so much fun and I realize in retrospect that it was only because it was such a community event. None of my art classes or solo ventures have been as thrilling as the weekend I spent with these amazing guys. We poked fun at each other’s artwork, we photographed together and each other in weird poses (and continue to leave silly comments on each other’s FB albums), we shared paints and brushes, we mixed up our ideas and added to each other’s work. It was such a lovely, brilliant day!

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Top l-r: Jai, Spitphyre, Adityab, Wanderblah. Bottom: Ideasmith, Shawn

We also received our 10 seconds of fame when Aparna brought in an interview on UTVi (aired yesterday and to be repeated on the weekend; youtube video to be linked shortly). Their anchor was very prettily (and somewhat unsuitably) dressed in a lavender formal shirt, wherein she borrowed my paint-streaked apron (already smuggled out of mum’s kitchen). That’s the one that you see on her in the video. :D

Interviewed by UTVi

With @Spitphyre, being interviewed on UTVi for a TechTree segment.

There was a spot of unpleasantness when we tussled for the plastic stool and spray paint cans with our neighbors, one of whom left after uttering a diabolical statement that the paintings may not be around the next day.

But the ickiest part of the day wasn’t the mean neighbors or the blue-paint which turned out to be a shitty brown. It was the attack of the Twitter vandals. If you’ve been around on the Twitterverse, you’ll know who I’m talking about. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I invited the leader of that gang to visit the wall and join us in the project, earlier in the day. Of course I had no way of knowing that his version of contributing to The Wall Project would be to spray-paint his own name on other people’s good work, mess around with some really fantastic paintings, take stupid dirty photos of the wall and finally to add insult to injury, tweet that,

We’re done desecrating the wall project.

I’m embarrassed to say that I know this man. Most of the tweeple who were around that day have unfollowed the vandals in question. The leader of that gang has since initiated a ‘clean-up’ effort and accordingly tweeted pictures of his effort. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m left with a the thought that,

That’s just uncool. Only for losers, dude.

‘Nuff said.

The highlight of our day was the Twitter wall that we painted in our far corner. One panel was painstakingly painted shiny blue (we couldn’t get the pale sky blue of Twitter) long after everyone else had packed up. And then we recreated a Twitter timeline with actual tweets from the gang that was there. I’m so proud of us for this one guys, you all rock!

Wall Twitter - All

Though the Project spanned only two days, people are still talking about it. There’s newpapers, the TV interview and loads and loads of photographs circulating on Facebook and discussions still happening. Yes, the BMC may have pulled a Tom Sawyer on us but what the hell, it was fun, wasn’t it (aching bones notwithstanding)?!

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Hidden Tiger, Crouching @adityab

Hidden Tiger, Crouching @adityab

Painting @krist0ph3r's face. Don't miss his expression!

Painting @krist0ph3r's face. Don't miss his expression!

DangerMouse on the divider

DangerMouse on the divider

Aniceto with Jai. Aditya in the background making big eyes.

Aniceto with Jai. Aditya in the background making big eyes.

And here are the results of the brilliant efforts of the wonderful people I was with.

Reena

Spitphyre's fairytale

Shawn

Shawn's SCREAM

Wanderblah and Jhayu doing their crazy thing!

Wanderblah and Jhayu doing their crazy thing!

@adityab's Space Wars

@adityab's Space Wars

And here’s my piece de resistance (I hope that was used in the right context *gulp*) – my own wall!!! **DRUM ROLL**

Here’s the chess board representing order and structure, being ripped apart by a hand (whose model was a street kid called Sultan). A conversation with Sultan resulted in the painting of a crown and then a king who looked like a queen. Hence that’s the Red Queen looking very happy over the breakdown of order.

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It's a honour, a high honour you see, to have tea with the Red Queen and me! - Alice in Wonderland

And finally, the resultant chaos, also known as the hungama inside my head or as you know it – theideasmithy.com. TADA!!! Incidently I stand accused of using up half of BMC’s paint supplies on one wall. I’ve also been diagnosed by the God of Gas as suffering from a disorder that makes me scared of blank spaces in art. Ah, mea culpa. See for yourself –

Me and my wall 2

You can also see Princila's paint-splash guy on the lower panel. AnonyMouse is yet to be added.

Incidentally I rode down to Tulsi Pipe Road the next night because I just couldn’t resist taking one more look. While all the other paintings in our corner were intact and looking quite brilliant in the night, I was most dismayed to find that Setto’s imaginative pink piggy in a suit had been splashed with a dab of red paint running down from the pig’s nose. Agitated, I spoke to him and told him about it. I was quite unprepared to hear him chuckle and say that he wished he had been there when it was done, he’d have shot a video. I asked him how he could possibly feel that way, I felt so bad when I saw it vandalized. Very wisely and oh so cooly he replied,

Hmmm… its graffiti. You know the fact someone did that makes me happy, coz that was what the party needed. Something unorganized…chaotic…the whole scene was too much like a ‘slumming’ party. Whoever did that is adding another layer to the image..and whoever follows him is doing so too.

Aniceto

Hmm, I wonder who the inspiration for the piggy face was...

Hmm, that’s food for thought. That is what street art is about I guess. And that’s what this city is about. Layers over layers. Colour and cheating, fights and fun, friends and vandals, silliness and talent. It’s just Mumbai.

Some other posts about the Wall Project:

Jhayu – “On Dirty Walls, Sundays and Stained Fingers”

Punk Polka Dots – “When India Takes 2 Steps Forward..”

Aditya (on Facebook Notes) – “Food, Drink, Writing And The Wall Project”

Deepa – “The Wall Project August 15, 2009”

*All the photographs in this piece have been taken by Wanderblah, Jhayu, Spitphyre and Aditya.

The Wall Project Aug 15 2009

A glimpse of the The Wall Project Aug 15 2009

From The Wall Project Aug 15 2009

The Wall Project – Tulsi Pipe Road

Pop culture meets city pride. What better way to get citizens invested in beautification than to get them involved in it too? Here’s presenting THE WALL PROJECT that invites Mumbaikers to express themselves in colour on the city’s walls. The Project has been undertaken at several other locations before. This Independence day (15th and 16th of August, actually), the project asks people to paint the wall running along Tulsi Pipe Road from Mahim to Dadar.

This sounds like a damn fine idea to me. Thus far, street art in Mumbai has been restricted to badly painted promotions for local businesses or gruesome posters of B- and C-grade flicks. There is the occasional defacing with a local gang or two hoping to steal some glory for themselves by spray-painting obscene words on school walls and building compounds. But I have full faith in Mumbai. We are after all, the commercial capital, the center of the world’s largest film industry and home to the story of the Slumdog Millionaire. We are nothing else if not dreamers and productive ones at that. What else does one need for art?

Photographers – this is should also be a good opportunity for some fantastic cityscapes.

Okay and I also have to say this. I haven’t visited this location recently but I’m guessing this is the wall running along the station since it is the only continuous stretch of wall along that road. From what I remember, the sidewalk isn’t exactly clean and neither is the wall, having been used as it has, as a public toilet for far too long. But I’m not going to let that deter me and I hope you won’t either. Come dressed in old clothes and sensible shoes and nose-clips if necessary. Beautification isn’t always pretty work. And art is often messy. But it should be fun!

So here’s a call to everyone who’s in the city – pick up a brush and a pot of paint or two and meet me at Tulsi Pipe road on 15th August. Let’s paint this town red (and blue and yellow and green and magenta and lilac and black and…you get the picture :-D ).

And here are the details as I received them:

ABOUT
The Wall Project, a humble project that started out with a few enthusiastic people, is growing to be a bigger, better project. It was an initiative to add visual elements of colour, form and texture to a space, to make the area more alive and generate a feeling among people who pass by it daily.

This process allows one to be more observant about the spaces we use and move within and how we can use various art forms in the public sphere to generate an interest in the minds of our daily human lives. The Wall Project in its own way tries to start a conversation, with no political or religious attachments.

THE GREAT WALL OF MUMBAI

The Wall Project along with the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai is initiating painting sessions on the Tulsi Pipe Road, stretching from Mahim to Dadar running along the Western Railway line in Mumbai. The first phase starts on the 15th -16th August 2009, 0800 HRS onwards.

CANVAS
– look for an arrow indicating the start point on the Walls of Tulsi Pipe Road, (closer to Mahim(West) Railway station) And we could begin painting in that direction.
– it would be nice to come prepared with a thought about what you would like to paint and how much wall space you will require.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE
– its open to all. show up on 15th/16th August, 08:00am – 08:00pm and paint your style.
– if you are apprehensive about painting all by yourself then you could assist people who are painting.
– you could come as a group (friends, family etc) with hopefully a constructive idea and paint it.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND
* no adverts, no religious writings on the wall, hopefully no political slogans, no foul language.

* there is a limited amount of paint supplies on location, so early birds…

* being a weekend/national holiday some paint/hardware shops may be shut or close shop early, so you would want to check on what you require in advance.

** clean up around you once your wall is complete

All further updates will be on THE WALL PROJECT group on FACEBOOK.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to write in at – info@thewallproject.com

Hope to c u there.

The Wall Project Team
www.thewallproject.com

The Bandra-Worli Sealink Opening

The much awaited Bandra-Worli sealink opened yesterday. In the unlikely case that you don’t know what I’m talking about (in which case, what are you doing reading this post?), this is a bridge built across one of the bays between the islands that comprise Mumbai. It connects Bandra reclamation to Worli seaface and has been predicted as the solution to easing up the daily traffic snarls from the western suburbs to town.

The view from the Bandra Reclamation road

The sealink has been a long time in the making, having faced some setbacks and delays as well. It has been a part of the grand plan for Mumbai for so long that it has almost made a mark in local lingo by now (Yeah, I’ll get a promotion by the time that damn sealink gets made, maybe then I’ll be able to afford a car too!).

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Most Mumbaikers have seen its grow, inch by agonizing inch on the horizon, from each direction. Just last year, I looked out at the impressive seaview from the window of a friend whose Mahim flat faces the then under-construction sealink and said,

Whatever is taking them that long??!! There’s just another inch to go!

After much fanfare, the sealink was inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi last morning and thrown open to the general public at 7 a.m. There will be a Rs.50 toll to traverse the sealink but that becomes functional only as of next Monday. So for the next few days, you can expect most Mumbaikers to derive full paisa vasool rides, riding Mumbai’s first ever sealink.

Quite fortunately (for me) I had an appointment in town that same morning. Fortunate I say because I (like many suburbanites) detest the painful commute into town, even less by road. What a stroke of luck to have a reason to go into town on the very day the sealink was inaugurated!

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So I nagged dad into turning off into Bandra reclamation, shushing his incessant doomsday prophesies that the sealink would only add to commute time and what was so great about that damn bridge anyway, it’s taken long enough to come up and blocked Mumbai’s strained resources as it is.

In a few minutes, I was ready to jump out of the car and dive for cover as we ran smack-dab into the middle of the kind of traffic that makes road-rage seem like a pardonable offense, not punishable by law. I think every Western suburbanite must have been on that road to Worli today, whether or not they wanted to go to town!!!

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I actually saw a few cars take U-turns and head back out, presumably to get to their destinations, the old-fashioned Mumbai way.

But as we inched forward and the high beams of the sealink came into view, my spirits surged and even my father ceased his complaining and grudgingly took out his own phone to take a picture.

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We passed an impressive-looking toll-naka. Oh okay, I know there’s nothing impressive about a toll-naka, I’ve seen the one at Mankhurd and what about that huge one leading out to Mumbai-Pune expressway that I passed, not three days ago?

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It still was a momentous occasion, for we were on the brink of breaking new ground. As we passed, I’m rather afraid to say that the insofar well-laned traffic just sort of melded into itself and became one sea of cars going helter-skelter. The road curves a bit before it touches the sealink and the lanes just sort of get lost in each other. The authorities are just going to have to do something about that if they don’t want to face choke-ups every morning just before the Bandra end of the sealink.

Very near the sea, I saw a flock of crows flying around frantically and wondered aloud,

Why are there so many birds around? What are they so agitated about?

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Dad said that perhaps there was an colony of nests in that place which had so far been pretty secluded and undisturbed. Displacement was a sobering thought to start the trip on, but well needs must.

Once we actually got closer and closer to the sealink, I could feel the anticipation electric in the air. Cars slowing down, audible gasps, people zooming their camera lenses and phones, excitement was rife.

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I can’t even begin to describe what the journey was like. I am sure, in a short few days I’ll become as accustomed to it as the regular train and road commute. But today, this first trip was special. It was the realization of the great Mumbai dream. We were riding over water. All my hitherto unvoiced fears that the bridge would give way were blown away in the cool breeze. The bridge is rock-solid (not at all like Lakshman Jhula, ma, you can stop worrying, it won’t sway in the wind) and it would otherwise feel just like riding on a concrete road, except there’s the sea on both sides.

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What an odd feeling to turn to one’s left and see Mumbai, the city, the familiar buildings and roads on the horizon but on the wrong side and from so far away!

I saw a media van pass in the opposite direction on the clear Worli-to-Bandra lane, with a journalist standing out of one of the windows holding a mike, and a cameraman standing out of the opposite side shooting her. It was a funny sight and I’m only sorry I didn’t have a chance to shoot it.

The image below shows the proud and cheering workers who were lined up to watch the first few travellers on the sealink. What a moment of glory it would have been for them!

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The couple in the Qualis next to mine were carrying balloons and traversed the entire length of the sealink with their balloons held aloft and flying out of the windows. Viva, the spirit of Mumbai!

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We touched terra firma again at the Worli seaface end. I’m rather afraid this means the end of those long, wonderful soujourns ending in masala milk and sandwich. With the incoming and outbound traffic to the sealink, the seaface is bound to become thoroughfare and lose the charm it has.

We’re losing a few lovely spots and the traffic problem may not really be solved. But the experience of riding over the sea is something every Mumbaiker should have. This link has been far too long in coming. In the larger picture, perhaps easier access will level out some of the differences of Mumbai’s very own caste system?

I can’t tell just yet. My head is still spinning with the adrenalin rush of yesterday morning. I really feel like I’ve been part of a grand day in Mumbai’s history, almost like the fall of the Berlin wall. It is a big thing for this city and as a Mumbaiker, I feel really proud.

The Storyteller’s Back!

Idea Smith told the story last year but this year, as Lord Jeffrey Archer returned for the Landmark Jeffrey Archer tour a second time, you’ll need to settle for my patchy version of it. As I am sure anyone but me can imagine, it is impossible to take in an event when you’re in the thick of organizing it. I tried very hard, I promise you, but between running around for stock, flowers, and signing pens, the two hours that he was in the store just passed me by.

Lord Archer entered about fifteen minutes past seven, by which time the book section at Landmark, Infiniti Mall was completely packed. There might have been a moment or two when I doubted if as many would turn up as last year. But I needn’t have worried. All of Archer’s fans were there – some new ones too.  They came to be charmed, to be  entertained… and no one went home disappointed.

The Landmark Jeffrey Archer Tour at Infiniti Mall, Mumbai

Jeffrey Archer at Landmark Infiniti Mall

While it’s been a while since I last read Archer (the last one I read was Twelve Red Herrings in 1994), I don’t doubt that the books are engaging – going by the stories he told at the store. He told stories of joining the Samajwadi Party and being Transport Minister, but my favourite was the one where his American publishers , Simon and Schuster, tried everything in the proverbial book to get him into the top 15 of the NYT bestseller list.

It was 15 minutes of a lovely, animated saga of how they flew him on the Concorde, put him up at the Waldorf Astoria, and got him two minutes on the Good Morning America show. Despite being instructed to mention the title as often as he could, he spent all of it describing the Concorde. After many botched attempts, success in the American mainstream came when Johnny Carson, while introducing Lord Archer, told his 53 million-wide audience,

Kane and Abel is one of the best books I have ever read. I stayed up all night turning page after page and I would recommend that each of you buy a copy.

A week later, Kane and Abel was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and stayed there for 6 weeks.

Jeffrey Archer tells the Kane and Abel story

Jeffrey Archer tells the Kane and Abel story

The thing about being backstage at these events is that you catch the authors/artists as they actually are, egoistic, eccentric, or not at all. But whatever Lord Archer’s personal faults be, there is no doubting that he’s truly happy that so many people show up to see him. He doesn’t leave till every last book is signed, no matter if it takes two hours and that he’s pushing seventy. He always has a smile for you and your camera, no matter how many flash bulbs have gone off in his face. And that makes everything okay as far as I am concerned.

You can still catch him at Landmark, Pune, Moledina Road on the 17th of May. The last event is at Landmark Bangalore, Forum Mall, Jaya Nagar on the 18th of May. Both events start at 7:00 p.m.

A Landmark Love Story

The Landmark bookstore opens its doors on 23rd January 2009. Landmark has been shut these past three months after a fire broke out in Infinity Mall where it is housed, causing much damage to merchandise and fittings. Mercifully no human casualties except of course for avid Landmarkers who’ve missed the store sorely all this while that it has been undergoing renovation.

I’m irrationally excited over this. Come Friday and I’m making no plans, except to trek back to my favorite bookspot and just savour the feeling of being able to walk around in its interiors again. Is this an indication of the shallow, consumerist lifestyle I lead, that I miss a shop so much? Let me tell you just what Landmark means to me. (more…)

BlogCamp Mumbai: Traditional & Social Media, Knowledge-Power Systems, Identity & Anonymity

I’m just back from BlogCamp. It was held at the Microsoft office in Kalina and sponsored by Ibibo.com.

Going by last year’s BlogCamp-part-of-Barcamp, I figured it would be a series of important sounding sessions about SEO and monetization and techie tips. Such a pleasant surprise it was for my techno-greeky (Technology is Greek, Greek, Greek to me!) self to find myself sitting in on conversations about traditional media versus new media, personal blogging, live coverage during the terror attacks and sharing social media with our families!

I thoroughly enjoyed Thakkar‘s humorous talk tracing his early blogging experiences right down to what his relatives thought he did for a living. Techies do have a sense of humour (I stand corrected!) and some of them, like this one are bloody brilliant! (more…)

Mumbai Limps Back To Life

I traveled into town today, in the aftermath of the terror that Mumbai has lived in the past week. The reason was a Tweet-up/Peace walk/gathering at Colaba Causeway. Honestly? I stand in deep respect of the police force, the fire-fighters and the NSG who delivered us from the terror. And I’m going to wear white tomorrow to symbolize our mourning as well as a plea for peace. Yes, I will also light a candle and thank every police-person I see for the bravery of their comrades. But mostly I went out today for myself. To reassure myself that I still could. I needed to. If as a Mumbaiker, this city’s spirit resides in me, then I speak for the city when I say I’m battered, I’m crawling, I am gasping for breath.

Traffic was light as it has been since Wednesday night, even for a Sunday afternoon/evening. Even so, the journey took us a half and hour either way. We passed shops that were open, people out for a stroll with their families, cars driving down…but there was an air of barely concealed tension. I had my camera out for the better part of the journey and I know I drew some curious (and not necessarily friendly) glances from the other cars. In case you’re wondering what an atmosphere of terror looks like, come to Mumbai right now.

The photos I took today of Mumbai in post-terror trauma….

Here’s the media jumping onto the sympathy-brand visibility bandwagon, over the Western Express flyover. DNA asks…

Spirit of Mumbai
FOR HOW LONG?

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Reality Show: Terror Mumbai

I got home at around 10pm on Wednesday night. The television was blaring its usual cacophony of detergent operas and soppy suds. Then a relative called to tell us that ‘something big was happening’. We flipped through the channels in quick succession, passing a panel discussion on the consistency of chewing gum (or something that seemed to stretch on similarly), an 80s potboiler complete with gyrating Govinda hips and a tear-jerker selling the benefits of pension plans.

Then we landed on the news channel band. And there it stayed and hasn’t moved since.
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