Archive for the ‘On The Streets’ Category

The Morning After*

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!

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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.

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* A story about loneliness and companionship, about the weather and workaholism, about life in the city we call home.

Fiction: The Park*

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.

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* A story about neighbors and companionship in Mumbai.

Mumbai Ka King Kaun? Deewar Pe Dekho!

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

After some exciting (and turbulent) experiences last year, here comes the baap of all community events – Mumbai ka King Kaun? (MKKK)

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.

FAQs

– 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/
/home.php?#!event.php?eid=122507234436149&ref=ts

– 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
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112649048778893&ref=mf

– 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
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9822921861& v=app_2344061033&ref=ts#!/event.php?eid=122220381145094&ref=mf

– BOARD GAMES BASH: Picnic at the Park

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time:4:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:
Nilgiri Park, Bandra
Street:
Across From Coffee Bean, Linking Road
link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=119724104734785&ref=mf

– 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
link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105707762808175&ref=mf

– Ideas for the City – Post it Note Surprise

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Bandra Bandstand Entrance
link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127820343897029&ref=mf

– Write Letters, Sometimes

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Carter Road Amphitheatre
Link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127018740644109&ref=mf

– THE SUPER HERO SQUAD: bring out your cycles and dress up like a
super hero

Type: Trips – Roadtrip

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: starting from tulsi pipe road
Link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124802124206187&ref=mf

– Mad Fake Tea Party

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: Mumbai, Carter Road (Chess Tables Opp CCD)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124360884257969&ref=mf

– 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)
Link
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=128030557209812&ref=mf

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.
LINK: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=122507234436149&index=1#!/group.php?gid=9822921861&ref=ts

if any question email us at – info@thewallproject.com

Retail Therapy

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.

From Ashes

This is for Dee, the editor I’d like to have, who quite literally showed me the way.

~O~O~O~O~O~

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.

Mumbai Metaphors

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.

I Style! – Spell Tail With A Tee

This is Kenneth Lobo. Apart from the fact that he organizes a really cool event or two each week (Movies! Poetry! Music!) as a part of The Bombay Elektrik Projekt, he looks just like a regular guy.

The Bombay Elektrik Projekt dude

The Bombay Elektrik Projekt dude

Ah, but appearances can be deceptive. Does this look like the face of a man who waltzes off to Ladakh on a whim? And breaks a toe while making tea? Ah, again. What’s he hiding? Turn around Ken, and let’s look at your back instead. (more…)

I Style! – Painter Girl

When the weather is dreary and my mood matches it, bright colours are the first thing I turn to, to cheer me up. Mumbai is normally sunny (barring those dull monsoon months) but the last few days have been a weird canvas of colourless insipidity. You can’t get too bright on a day like this.

I met Reena a.k.a. Spitphyre in a writers’ discussion and told her she was quite lovely. Of course, that day she was dressed like the pretty girl that she is. But her sense of colour blew me away during the Wall Project. Move over street artists, bright walls and graffitiers, Reena’s outfit puts everyone to shame.

Even on that already bright day, amidst a street awash with colour, Reena’s yellow tie-dye dungarees teamed with a postbox red tee-shirt were what stood out. If you’re thinking it was just a matter of tossing together some randomly colourful outfits, do check out her footwear – sexy, strappy flat sandals in the same shade of red.

Yellow and red painter girl

Yellow and red painter girl

Reena doesn’t have a loud voice or an imposing outline; she doesn’t have to! Her outfit itself was one brilliant exclamation point and she so made it work! Check out the matching sunglasses (in a Posh Beckham shows a smile pose).

Reena dungarees 4

As I keep saying, it isn’t just the colour or the fit, it’s cattitude that makes I Style! work. Here she is in a ‘don’t I look preggie’ pose. That’s on account of the red (matching again!) wallet tucked into the kangaroo style pocket in the front.

That's my fat wallet, not tummy, you dummy!

That's my fat wallet, not tummy, you dummy!

Finally, here’s the lady doing a Bangles number on the sidewalk. Need any more proof that she’s I Style!s latest star?

Walking like an Egyptian

Walking like an Egyptian

The Wall Project: Boycott Aladin, Canvas, Gair & London Dreams For Boorish Publicity Actions

About two months back, I wrote about the exciting experience of being part of The Wall Project in Mumbai. A BMC initiative, a number of citizens turned out to beautify and place their own mark on the wall running along Tulsi Pipe Road, between Mahim and Matunga Road.

Yesterday, we commenced on Phase II of the drive, this time taking the street art concept to Lower Parel, opposite Phoenix Mills and simultaneously pulling off the cause of education-through-art with The Alphabet Project at the Mahim end of the same road. I was waiting to collate all the photographs that are still appearing across the net, to write the post about it.

Then earlier this evening, we discovered that a different sort of vandalism had happened. Movie posters of Aladin, Canvas and Gair have turned up, pasted over the paintings, less than 24 hours later. I’m rusty on the legalities of these movie advertisements that appear all over the city. All I can say is that Wall Project was a BMC initiative and certainly not meant to be a backdrop for the marketing of Bollywood.

Posters

As outrage spreads across Twitter, even as I write, Ritesh Deshmukh and Sujoy Ghosh have been notified and have both issued apologies. But an apology I say, is not enough. It is enough of effort getting past the apathy of citizens to drive forward something like The Wall Project. Asking people to come out of their houses on a Sunday and spend a searingly hot day painting a rough wall for free is not an easy task. So much for the so-called indifference of this city, the numbers of people that turned out are testimony to the fact that Mumbaikers do indeed care. But after such an episode, would a citizen want to take the initiative?

My guess is that this will boil down to #wallproject becoming a popular Twitter topic for a few days; there will be a few media mentions about the outrage of social media users after a citizen drive and a clean-up PR effort with apologies by the people in the limelight. At some level, I expect some poor poster-paster will get yelled at or even lose his job. Is the onus of this to be laid on him? No, I say, the onus of this must be borne by the people who well understand the power of advertising and publicity, the people with the moolah, the people who have the most to gain from publicity, of any sort. Blaming the poster company or the person who put up the posters is not enough; the responsibility lies with the people who gain from the effort of the publicity. I say turn that idea around and make sure that the negative publicity hurts right where it should. Every person who stands to gain from the movies’ good collections holds responsibility for the end result and hence must bear the consequences of such an action.

See the before and after pictures courtesy @wanderblah

Aladin

ALADIN

Canvas

CANVAS

Gair

GAIR

London Dreams

LONDON DREAMS

If this is our city and its state is our concern, we have the right to stay outraged. I say, boycott the movies Aladin, Canvas, Gair and London Dreams, whose posters vandalize a community drive. Commissioning those posters not only hurts the sentiments of those whose painted walls have been covered, it cocks-a-snook at the Mumbaiker while saying,

To hell with your sensibilities. Advertising my movie is more important. I don’t care if a citizen effort that managed to raise such civic consciousness so successfully, is scuttled.

If you participated in The Wall Project or know someone who did, add value to that effort by passing this message on. If you are a blogger or a Twitter user, re-tweet this, blog about it, link to other posts about this. If you are reading this at all, you probably have access to the internet and a mobile phone. Use them to pass on the message. Spread the outrage, it needs to be felt.

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!?!

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