A kaleidoscope of men, matters &  moments that make the madness & magic of Mumbai

Numbers Game

In Maharashtra, any farmer who wants to prove his claim over land needs revenue documents known as Form No 7 and Form No 12. In Marathi, it is popularly called Saat-Bara, the Marathi words for seven and 12 respectively. The term “Saat-Bara” is regularly used in political and social circles. Sometimes it means keys to power and sometimes it denotes character or secrets of the person or institute. The swearing-in ceremony of Ajit Pawar triggered the use of the same term for his re-induction into the Cabinet.

Ajit Pawar is well known for his abilities to hold the key to power.  He symbolizes political  power in Maharashtra, whether or not he is in the Cabinet. Incidentally, he took oath on December 7, which is also written as 7/12.  This was automatically translated into Saat-Bara and Pawar was showered with praise by his fans who said that he holds the Saat-Bara of power in the State.

Bhai ho to Aisa

“Rizwan Khan aur Ahmed Raza dono merey bhai jaisey hain. Agar unko police ne arrest kia toh hum unke liye lawyer karenege aur fight karenge. Lekin, tum zara unka bhi naam apne paper mein likh do. Main akela stage par nahin tha August 11 ko. Yeh log bhi mere saath the.” (Rizwan Khan and Ahmed Raza are like my brothers. If the police arrest them, we will hire lawyers to fight their cases. But, please mention their names too in your news reports. I was not the only one on the dais on August 11. They too were with me).

This is what Saeed Noorie of Raza Academy told this correspondent a day after the riots at Azad Maidan took place. Noorie further added that it was the duo’s idea to organise a protest on August 11 and it was the duo who had booked the ground too.

While Noorie is well-known in media circles, Rizwan Khan, a scrap dealer from Kurla, and Ahmed Raza, a 26-year-old preacher from Kurla, are relatively unknown. Hence, Noorie was afraid of being singled out for punishment and keen to name the two.

It is said that most of the 13 organisers of the rally who were on the dais at Azad Maidan on August 11, including Saeed Noorie, have their godfathers in State politics. However, Rizwan Khan and Ahmed Raza don’t have any such support. Finally, the axe did fall on Ahmed Raza, who was arrested by the Crime Branch on December 3.

Toffee Time

When a bunch of reporters entered the office of Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, they were greeted with a bowl of what seemed like chocolates wrapped in glossy papers pushed towards them by the host. “We have made a few interesting chocolates,” she said, as she urged the reporters to eat them. As the reporters politely took one each, they resisted devouring the sweetmeat to keep the topic focused on their stories. It was a only a few days after the Cuffe Parade fire and the reporters wanted to follow up on BMC’s plan of action. Everyone of them had come with their arsenal of questions loaded and didn’t want any cocoa-impediment.

Mhaiskar, with her characteristic composure, answered each question but not without punctuating every second reply with, “I see you still haven’t opened your chocolate”. Finally, as the reporters came to the end of their questionnaire, this correspondent opened his wrapper. The ‘chocolate’ was, in fact, BMC’s initiative towards diabetes awareness made for World Diabetes Day that was on November 14.

The wrapper opens to a little note curled cylindrically that reads, ‘Are you craving chocolate? It’s time to check your blood sugar.’ Mhaiskar offered some more with a, “Give it to who you feel needs it,” pleased with the appropriate amusement shown.

Cross-border Errorism

With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi going into overdrive with his numerous publicity campaigns, it seems that Indian National Congress doesn’t want to be left far behind. Keeping up with the trend of making ludicrous comments, the party’s Gujarat website prominently hosts a banner that claims that more than 1 crore people “have joined hands” with the Congress. Having lost two successive elections in the past, Congress has now resorted to wooing an electorate that was perhaps overlooked by many.

If one goes to the website of the Pakistan-based newspaper ‘Jang’, the first banner advertisement flanking the top is that of Congress’ election campaign in Gujarat. Clicking on it redirects one to the party’s Gujarat website.

Whether it is a mistake by the advertisers or intentionally carried out by the party’s PR department, one cannot say. Meanwhile, with the pay-per-click models adopted by most websites, it can’t be denied that Congress government has to pay up to the Pakistan newspaper every time there’s a unique visitor.

Sworn to Secrecy

On Thursday evening, the news that Ajit Pawar would be sworn in the next morning was leaked to the media, taking even senior leaders by surprise.

“Only three Pawars of our party know this,” was an apt reaction of a senior leader.  NCP State unit president Madukarrao Pichad rejected the possibility of any swearing-in and asked journalists, “How can a swearing-in take place without my letter to the Chief Minister?” He even went on saying that NCP ministers and leaders had a meeting on Friday morning. But journalists were surprised to see Pichad sitting in third row of Darbar Hall the next morning.

Even the Chief Secretary’s office was confused as there was no message about whether Pawar would take oath as DCM or simply a minister. As a matter of caution, they kept the swearing-in formats of both categories ready and at the last moment they were informed that Pawar would be DCM. The ceremony of swearing in was kept as a low key affair and it was finished in only five minutes. Generally, the Governor does not change his schedule. He was scheduled to be in Pune on Friday and Saturday. But for this five-minute ceremony, he had to change his programme.

Simple Joys

A mentally challenged young man was riding down the street on a bike, or so he believed. His father, who was sitting on the bike right behind him, was the one actually riding the bike, but the young fellow believed he was riding the bike because his hands were on the handle bars too, along with his father’s. So unadulterated was his happiness, that he smiled at everyone they passed and gleefully waved at a few people too. Joy of such a kind is infectious, everyone that he waved at, happily waved back too.

Tall Tales

Reporters tend to get noticed for the stories they work on, but this reporter did not get noticed for her work but her height. Standing at 5 feet 8 inches, on a busy street in Worli at around 6 pm on Tuesday, this reporter was trying to hail a cab in vain when a mother and her six-year-old son stopped in their tracks to stare at the tall girl.

Much to the reporter’s chagrin, the mother pointed at her and told her son, “Yeh dekho beta, itni lambi ladki!” (“Look at her son, such a tall girl!”). She then encouraged her awe- struck son to stand behind the woman’s legs to compare his height with the “tall creature”. When the reporter had enough and threw an annoyed look at the mother, she sheepishly grinned and said, “Oh,sorry. Actually, aap bohut lambi hain na, isiliye main apne bete ko dikha rahi thi.” (You are very tall, that’s why I pointed you out to my son.”)

Full Circle

85-year-old retired IAS officer, P C Singhi, who spent 24 years fighting for justice on his wife Leela’s behalf, finally fulfilled her dying wish when the High Court held Dr Praful Desai, a world renowned cancer surgeon, guilty of medical negligence. For more than two decades, Singhi relentlessly pursued the case after his wife died because of cancer in 1989 as Bombay Hospital doctors could not operate upon her after opening the stomach.

While talking to FPJ, Singhi said his granddaughter recently secured her MBBS degree from KEM Hospital. When she was only a schoolgirl, she had promised that she would be an honest doctor. The young doctor is now studying in Madras Medical College specializing in ophthalmology. Singhi, now a proud grandfather, said looking at his 22-year-old granddaughter he feels like his dreams are finally being fulfilled.


Geography teacher: India mein sabse zyada baraf kahan girti hai?

Student: Whisky ke glass mein.

Contributed by Pramod Chunchuwar, Zeeshan Shaikh, Omkar Khandekar, Kanak Rajadhyaksha and Anuradha Varanasi.

Compiled by Anil Singh.

(For all the latest News, Mumbai, Entertainment, Cricket, Business and Featured News updates, visit Free Press Journal. Also, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and do like our Facebook page for continuous updates on the go)

Free Press Journal