The Modi Show
Public figures in India don’t just acquire celebrity status. They become demi-gods, who are loved, followed and worshipped. And India has not had any politician with that kind of fan following until lately. And so, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to address an election rally in Mumbai on Saturday, not only locals, but people from as far as Gujarat came to listen to him speak. The Mahalaxmi racecourse grounds were coloured saffron on Saturday with Modi supporters manifesting their support through flags, caps, sashes, chants and slogans. The general as well as the VIP seats were full despite the sweltering heat and people waited patiently for three hours to listen to their leader speak. Until Modi came, several other BJP leaders took their turn at giving long, passionate speeches in Marathi and the crowd started becoming restless. It was only RPI chief Ramdas Athavale’s speech that they enjoyed since he interspersed it with poems like:
Modini hatat ghetla safai sathi jhadu,
Amhi milun Congress-NCP la baher kadhu
State BJP leader Devendra Fadanvis got the loudest applause when he said that Shivaji maharaj was nobody’s private property.
The elderly sat discussing politics throughout the long wait, while the youngsters were busy taking selfies on their phones. But it was the children who got bored in the deal and resorted to little games to pass time.
One such group of children started repeating everything the politicians said and gave the public a lisped version of Modi’s Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas… One kid even started chanting, Modiji aage badho, hum tumhare sath hain on the tune of Twinkle, twinkle little star, much to the merriment of the others.
Mother’s love can often be seen in the lunch boxes of school children. However, the amount of food that one finds in dustbins near various schools around lunchtime suggests that the kids are hooked to junk food.
For the last few days however, one thing that this reporter has been witnessing in Sion’s Sindhi Colony, which is full of schools, has established the fact that love never goes to waste. While Mumbai’s platforms and sidewalks are filled with destitutes who often go without even a morsel of food through the day, one such homeless man who’s made his nest near a popular school in Sion has been relishing homecooked meals for at least a week now.
Everyday, as this reporter starts for work, a group of students who are returning from school in the late afternoon make a stop by the corner where the septuagenarian makes his bed and serve their food to him on the plate that the destitute promptly lays out in waiting for the students.
Although the motivation behind this might not be so much as the compassion the students bear for the hungry old man but the fear they bear of their mothers who want to see their lunch boxes empty when they return, this reporter felt a sense of satisfaction after playing witness to this act, since the love with which the mothers had packed their lunches had at the least not gone to waste.
Pay And Use
Nobody ever wants to talk about toilets and hygiene matters related thereof — we prefer to let Vidya Balan do the talking on television. So going where we are very squeamish to go, but must, this diarist must, in passing, describe her travails on a recent outing to a Churchgate restaurant.
Friends were visiting and what better way to spend time than to journey into town with them and get some lunch before heading off to the ‘Books By The Kilo’ sale going on at Sunderbai Hall? So the journey proceeded without incident until, by the end, this diarist realised, she had to go. Unfortunately, a Sulabh Shauchalaya had just passed by and she was not sure if she should use the opportunity to check it out. Then it was time to find a parking spot and this diarist was silently, frantically bemoaning the lack of public restrooms in this fantastic, 21st century megapolis. The closest her brain could register would necessitate a walk to Churchgate railway station. Too far away. Until she realised, all she had to do was quietly proceed to the said restaurant, utter the hospitality equivalent of Open Sesame — Party of Five — and presto — there would certainly be a restroom with uncertain hygiene lurking in there, somewhere. Which is exactly what happened. Thank heavens for small mercies, unclean though they may be sometimes. And what an inhospitable city, that will not provide reasonably clean restrooms (by which we mean running water, forget the soap, we’ll bring our own) at strategic points in the heart of town. What unimaginable torments do tourists suffer, one shudders to think. At this point, we’ll take the bare necessities of life, bullet trains certainly don’t have to go anywhere urgently.
Apart from a serious staff crunch and endless paperwork, Mumbai’s police stations seem to suffer from another problem — smelly washrooms. The stink spreads to at least the next two rooms.
Even swanky buildings such as that of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) headquarters in Worli seem to be struggling in this department. On the third floor of the building sits Additional Commissioner of Police for ACB Mumbai, Vishwas Nangre Patil. A few metres away from his cabin is the visitors’ room and opposite it is a washroom for women that always stinks. So, visitors are forced to put up with the bad odour.
While the ACB might be doing a great job in cleaning the government sector of corruption, it is evidently finding sanitation to be a tough job.
Music to his Ears
After a hard day’s work, what can be more relaxing than lying down on the parapet at Marine Drive with the cool breeze soothing your face. But don’t lose yourself in the relaxation or you’ll realize that you have lost something else as well.
This diarist was at Nariman Point when a man on the parapet woke up from deep slumber and was frantically looking for something in his bag, which he was using as a pillow. It turned out that he fell asleep listening to music on his cell phone but woke up to find the earphones in his ears but his cell phone missing from the bag.
He gave his number to this diarist, requesting her to dial it but the cell phone had already been switched off.
1) What is the similarity between Rabdi (Devi) Paneer (Selvam)?
Both assumed power after their masters had milked the common man!
2) Munnabhai to jail warden: Saab, apun ko Bapu dikh rela hai. Dhoti mein.
Warden: Abbe yeda, woh to Asaram Bapu hai!
3) Oct 3, Dussera: Fafda, jalebi
Oct 6, Bakri Eid: Fefda, kaleji
Contributed by Tanvi Deshpande, Arun Venkat, Geeta Bhagat, Sindhu J Mansukhani and Iram Siddique.
Compiled by Anil Singh.
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The Azad Hawker’s Union was celebrating after the Supreme Court restrained the state government from taking action against hawkers and the Lok Sabha passed the Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Bill, 2012.
Thousands of hawkers from all over the city had converged at Azad Maidan. There wasn’t even space for an ant to move. People were seen sitting on the edge of garbage bins, on the branches of the trees. The union leaders were on the dais. A speaker invited the hawkers on the dais to greet and congratulate the leaders.
All hell broke loose and people started pouring on to the stage. Alarmed, the speaker requested them not to climb the stage. “Upar mat aayiye, neeche hi rahiye nahi toh stage gir jaayega (Don’t crowd the stage, it may collapse).’’ His warning was ignored and the stage began creaking. Afraid, he shouted, “Please, neeche utar jaaye, stage kabhi bhi toot sakta hai. (Please get off, the stage can crash any moment.)” But on realising that no one was in a mood to listen to warnings, he got off the stage himself.
–Sujit Umadi, October 7, 2013