Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thank God!

Atheists (those who don't believe in God) should take a look at this. If this is not a miracle, what is? On the occasion of Diwali, let's join our hands together and thank God for all his blessings and wish that the year ahead is a peaceful one. (This footage has been taken from the website of Times Now news channel)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Mumbai Press Club

Despite being a journalist for many years, for reasons I have not yet been able to ascertain, I have stayed away from the press club. I never applied for a membership nor did I show the slightest inclination to pay it a visit. From whatever I have read in Busybee books (a compilation of the legendary 'Round and About' columns written by one of the best writers / journalists / editors in the world, Mr (late) Behram Contractor), I have always perceived the press club to be this dingy place where all people go there to do is drink, drink and drink. Though reading about it in the Contractor's columns has been fun. I finally broke my forced abstinence when a few days back I paid it a visit. My friend, Prashant from ET has been proudly speaking of his press club membership (with much pomposity if I may add, much like I guess any Bennett & Coleman group reporter since, you know, the club is like their second home due to proximity ;) ) and so we met up at the press club over lunch. I must say I was quite impressed with the press club.

But first things first. I boarded the double-decker bus from Nariman Point and went to VT station. There are many pleasures to be had in Mumbai but few that match the adrenalin pump we get by sitting on the top deck of the double decker bus. That too, when it is empty or almost empty. Empty spaces, either on roads or in public trasnport is a rarity these days in Mumbai so one savours every bit of it when one finds one. And even a 10-minute ride for as small a distance as Nariman Point to Mumbai makes it a joy ride. You pass by three sprawling grounds- of the very few open spaces left in Mumbai- marvel at the magnificent British architecture and heritage precincts of Fountain, pass by the Bhikha Behram well and the neighbouring Fashion Street and land up in the narrow bylane that leads up to VT station. They say double-decker buses are not as profitable as the single decker buses and that is mainly why the fleet of such double-decker buses have been reduced; that's quite sad. There was a time when one of the items on a Mumbai tourist's map was to take a ride on the top deck of a double-decker bus on route#123 from Tardeo to RC Church and back, enjoying the cool breeze and soothing ocean sights along Marine Drive and queen's necklace. I took this route for 3-4 years in high school as my school was on Marine Drive and the ride of pure joy. The double-decker buses are gone, except for a few token routes such as the shuttles between VT and Nariman Point and a few other routes in Mumbai. I wish these icons would be somehow brought back on Mumbai roads.

Anyways, I was soon at the press club. Before there wasn't a board of the press club outside the press club so for a person who had never been there- such as me- it was difficult to make out the entrance. Now there is a board, so it wasn't difficult for me to spot it. But Prashant had already joined me by then so I couldn't have missed it. There is a small press conference room for smaller firms and establishments to brief the media, as soon as we enter the facility. The main club area is quite impressive and very spacious and airy. The restaurant doesn't look like anything what I had imagined; it's quite clean, neat and plush. The bar is well laid out and looks very professional. Expectedly though, there were other ET / TOI journalists around. We chose to have the buffet. The food was well-cooked and I took two helpings. You get a good view of the Azad maidan from the restaurant, so I guess it looks very good in the evenings and also in winter or in rains. I am told you could also sit outside in the open arena and order your food and drinks and enjoy fresh air. Very nice!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are Indian Sportpersons Second-Class Citizens?

The Times of India reports that veteran athlete P.T.Usha was reduced in tears. She was invited to Bhopal for an event but she claims that she was almost completely left to fend for herself in a city she claimed she did not know well. But look what she said.

“I never expected this kind of behaviour, but then things work like this only in our country and that is the reason we are far behind the rest of the world”, she said. 

This aptly describes the state of affairs in Indian sports. Read here if you need more proof of the apathy towards Indian sports and sportsmen. It is no surprise that while nations like China, US, Australia create world-class sportperson across various fields, we Indians get satisfied by a once-in-a-lifetime medal in international competitions or even the Commonwealth Games. But then of course, international athletes are given the infrastructure to hone their skills. As regards us, we seem to be content with being a nation obsessed with cricket. Chak De- a brilliant movie revolving around Hockey and one that ought to have woken up our authorities and sports ministry to the presence of sports other than cricket, could sadly do nothing. Instead, the theme title song Chak De (which literally means Go For It) was later used on several occasions as a victory tune for Indian cricket team! How ironic.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Miss The Monsoon

The month of October is upon us and the monsoon is about to get over. Sad! The dark monsoon clouds that made Mumbai thier home for the past four months or so, are finally on their way out, announcing their departure with full gusto, mostly in the evenings and nights. A lot of lightning to characteristically go along with it.

Alas, we humans are never satisfied. When its summer, we say enough of the heat; we want rains. When it rains, it's too wet we say. When will the rains go, we begin to wonder. We long for summer. Then, when summer is upon us, we get fed-up and wait for the winter to arrive. When winter comes, we shiver and long for the sun to come out. And when the sun finally comes out with gusto, we come back to square one and look up in the sky praying and hoping to get a sight of the monsoon clouds. Such are we. Such is life.

I like monsoon. I like rains. I like getting wet, though not drenched completely. But give me my balcony, a good monsoon shower and iPod and I am on board. Apart from the fact that a good rainfall in catchment areas around Mumbai is good for the city to save us from all those yearly dreaded water cuts, monsoon adds colour to Mumbai. It adds a lot of character and vibrancy to this city. It also inspires Bollywood to make either those underworld movies where dreaded gangsters chase one another through the narrow gullies of Mumbai underbelly under heavy showers or the mushy love stories where the boy mollycoddles with his girl dancing to a rain sequence. But most importantly, it gives a character to Mumbai. No wonder they say, come rain or shine, Mumbai never sleeps.

Here's what I will miss about Mumbai's monsoon...

  • That first shower in June to beat the cruel Mumbai heat. It is such a welcome sight. The temperatures almost instantly goes down a few notches and how we wish it remains there..
  • This used to be a major factor when I was in school and college when heavy rains in the morning lead to the closure of schools and colleges. Now that I am working, it doesn't matter much, but a day here or there off due to heavy rains can be a welcome sight. Especially if your boss sits in Delhi :)
  • If you want to see Mumbai, go to Marine Drive. If you want to see rains in Mumbai, go to Marine Drive. You think the sea is angry as it tosses and turns and throws water at us with gusto. But to the discerning observer, it sure sounds the sea is glad to have us on the other side and play some fun games with us. The waves splash on the promenade and glides all over the wide pavement, all the way to the main road, drenching everyone who dare come in the way. But no one is complaining. It's the ultimate pleasure and the best way to celebrate the Mumbai monsoon. It's very tempting to get off from your BEST bus or car or taxi if it's raining at Marine Drive and just to sit on the promenade and spend some time in solitude with only the sea and waves for company.  Other sea promenades such as Worli are also there for your pleasure, but none clicks like Marine Drive. 
  • Waiting at the railway station when it is pouring outside. As the train enters the station, you couldn't help but notice that the otherwise perennially open doors are closed- something of a rare sight in Indian Railways- and as you try to enter the compartment in a tearing hurry, can't help but get wet from the rain falling over us from the train's roof. 
  • Greenery and Mumbai apparently don't go well with each other, sadly. But whatever little greenery that's left, it sure gets lush and rampant.
  • There are few soothing sounds than than sound of rain falling. 
  • The sea of umbrellas on the streets. Especially near Churchgate station. Umbrellas of all colours, designs, shapes and sizes. 
  • That smell of earth just after a shower. We don't get this smell much in Mumbai, but at some places we still do. 

Meher Mahino, Ava Mahino and Adar Mahino: The holy trinity of Zoroastrian calender

Zoroastrians- or better knows as Parsis and Iranis of India- have a separate calendar. We look at the English calendar of course, but we al...