Meat of the Matter

Shawarma, a famous Arab dish which is becoming the rage in Mumbai, is now among one of the cheapest dishes available in Mohammed Ali Road, Null Bazaar, Mahim Dargah and many other Muslim areas where night birds stop to have their meal. The meat cooked in Arabic spices is rolled in a plain chapatti or a long-bread. By closing time, the owner of the stall which is smaller than a paan shop takes home away at least Rs 6,000. Mudassir Niyaz an electrical engineer who was working nine-to-five in a multinational company is not working anymore for any company. After he opened a small stall, Alibaba Shawarma, in the Null Bazaar area a year back, he earns in a week what he used to earn in a month.

 The investment to start a Shawarma stall is very low, says Mudassir. An electrical stall which costs Rs 50000 and a crowded space is required to start the business after which every day 10 kg of chicken is placed on a rod which is constantly heated at low temperature. However, it is an evening business and foodies are always standing in a queue to by Shawarma which is available for Rs 20 at every stall near Mohammed Ali Road, Null Bazaar and many other ‘khau gallis’.

Good Cop

The police don’t have a reputation for being very understanding and polite.

 Bollywood is perhaps the reason for this. They portray cops as beings who’d love to throw everyone into jail for the smallest of reasons. This correspondent realised on a recent visit to Bandra police station that the police are, in fact, quite the opposite.

 Two bus ticket-checkers walked into the station with a man aged about 30 years dressed in formals, all of them arguing ferociously. On probing, the police found that the ticket-checkers had caught the man without a ticket when he was two stops away from the one he wanted to get off at. The man on his part claimed that the bus was crowded and that he was going to buy a ticket before he got off.

 The police told him to pay the fine, which was a nominal Rs 75 and forget about the incident. The man protested saying that this was unjust and that he would rather go to jail than pay the fine. The kind police officer asked him to sit down and have a glass of water.

 They told him that if he went to jail, it would show up in his records and that he would have a problem when he next looked for a job. It might have been the water that had a calming effect on the man or it might have been the police officers’ advice that worked. He eventually agreed to pay the fine and an amicable solution was reached.

Karaoke Night

While most people look at karaoke as a platform for half drunk pub goers who awkwardly sing to their favourite songs as their friends cheer them on, there are a few in the city who look at it as an opportunity to display their singing talents.

 These karaoke enthusiasts in the city were in for a huge treat on October 7, as the Karaoke World Championship’s final round was held in Palladium Mall where 27 participants from across the country tried their best to woo the judges. The venue was packed with people till around 1.30am as the winners, who would represent India in Finland, were declared by the end of the event.

 The contestants, who were dressed to the nines, performed to songs ranging from love songs to rock ones and succeeded in keeping the audiences engaged with their singing as well as performance skills. Many of these contestants had a group of friends present in the audience for moral support and to even act as cheerleaders.

 The contestants were judged on their ability not only to sing but crowd interaction, costumes and stage presence. The winner in the male category, Faizan Khurshid from Kolkata, who entered the venue with a huge scarf covering his face, sang English rock band, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The contestant, who was known as ‘the underdog’ in the competition, managed to pull off one of Queen’s toughest songs flawlessly. Khurshid had painted his face red and black, and enacted the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapdosy in a musical style.

 Sharvari Deshpande from Mumbai, winner under the female’s category, sang Christina Aguilera’s ‘Tough Love’. Though the judges criticised her for her bad choice in costume, she managed to woo them with her flawless sur and taal. The two winners also get to enjoy return flights and accommodation in a luxurious chalet for six days while in Finland.

 Other contestants who stood out were two women from Mumbai who performed to American pop star Lady Gaga’s songs. The contestants had gone up to the lengths of keeping their performance in sync with Gaga’s extravagant dressing style, which helped them bag the runner-up position. Another contestant sang Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ impeccably while a male senior citizen kept the audience grooving to ‘Mustang Sally’ by Mack Rice.

 The judges of the event were actor Javed Jaffrey, singer Manasi Scott, music directors Raju Singh and Sulaiman Merchant. A group of four college students who performed to The Beatle’s ‘Hey Jude’, will be accompanying the two winners to Finland to cheer for them whilst enjoying free accommodation and tickets to Finland. Only two groups were competing for these perks at the championship. The sole group competing against the other one at the Karaoke Championship were a group of four girls from Kolkata who sang Jamelia’s hit song ‘Superstar’.

Toilet Graffiti

Female commuters travelling in the first class compartments of harbour line trains have noticed a new trend of ‘toilet graffiti’ type of drawings on the seats and walls of the compartment of late.

 Much to their disgust, several woman commuters have noticed drawings of the female body across seats and walls on which several obscene comments are scribbled along with a phone number. While most female commuters choose to ignore it, these mischievous youths armed with their sketch pens have started getting more creative with their sexual drawings which include graphic details of sexual acts.

 These miscreants manage to get away as they enter the compartments after 10pm when the first class women’s compartment is usually deserted because of which they never get caught red-handed.

Sweet Dreams-1

After fighting deadlines at the workplace, journalists have to fight another natural phenomenon: Sleep. Eyes start closing up and it creeps up without any warning on journos while going home by the last train after putting their respective papers to bed.

 Already bleary-eyed after hours on the computer, they find it difficult to stay awake. Not that it is undesirable. But then it comes with a cost. For, if one were to fall asleep and not get down at the desired destination, one is carried through to Virar, the last station on the Western Railway line.

 Coming back from there is next to impossible and one has to wait till next morning for the first train to start. So, journos who read books to keep sleep at bay would do well to stay awake and not fall prey to sleep, for then it would turn into a nightmare.

Sweet Dreams-2

Women commuters who work in the graveyard shift will always warn you against travelling in the first class compartment of trains after 9pm for the simple reason that it is usually empty and hence, unsafe. Men entering the first class women’s compartment and harassing a woman isn’t unheard of in the city.

 At around 9.30pm on Saturday, a drunk, homeless man entered the women’s compartment of a Panvel-bound train at Sewri station. The two women sitting in the compartment chose to ignore the drunkard instead of telling him to get down at the next station out of fear.

 The homeless man, who reeked of alcohol, stood next to the compartment’s door yelling at no one in particular and started pacing up and down the compartment restlessly to the women’s horror, who by then had put away their mobile phones and were watching the hysterical man, wondering if they should take the risk of confronting him or not.

 The man then held on to the flimsy wire mesh by the compartment’s door and started dangling off the entrance dangerously. However, he didn’t bother alighting the train at the next few stations. Commuters from other compartments gaped at him nervously through the wire mesh, afraid he would eventually fall off the train. That was when a railway police man who was in the next compartment yelled at the drunkard, warning him to get off the train at the next station to which the man hoarsely replied he wouldn’t.

 He was then pulled out of the train by GRP officials at Wadala station who gave him a good thrashing for creating such a scene.

Remembering Gandhi

Like every year, this year’s Gandhi Jayanti brought with it hollow tributes, PR-firm approved obeisance and lots of rose garlands to choke every Gandhi statue in the country.

 One such initiative was at the Arthur Road jail, the hotbed of criminals and perhaps, victims of inefficient lawyers. A city-based Gandhian society decided to organise a pledging ceremony wherein a vow is to be taken to own up to what they are accused of. The premise of the pledge was to seek atonement through Gandhian means. Interestingly, it was called ‘India of My Dreams’. About 120 out of the over 1,900 inmates of the jail were a part of the program.

 This reporter spoke to the spokesperson of the organisation. It was told to him that the inmates were all undertrials. Wouldn’t it have been more fruitful to have included convicts instead? Pat came the reply, “We don’t have it in our hands. The Arthur Road officials gathered these people and told them to be a part of it.” In fact, added the spokesperson, the number was restricted to 120 because that’s the capacity of the hall in the premises.


The latest joke on the Congress on the sms circuit:

Kapil Sibal has decided to ban the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Barfi becaue he says Anurag Basu copied the story of the Congress. A deaf and mute person whose life revolves around a mentally challenged woman who speaks in a strange accent and a Bengali woman who always ends up getting him in trouble!

(Contributed by Zeeshan Shaikh, Kanak Rajadhyaksha, Anuradha Varanasi, Nelson Pereira and Omkar Khandekar. Compiled by Anil Singh.)

Note: Bayside Banter will appear henceforth as a fortnightly column

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