Category Archives: Bombay

Karma bites

So Mumbai and her green activists are celebrating. Bhide bai’s gachchanti has come through, finally. Think our trees must be breathing easy. It is NOT a petty or vindictive order. Just when a public servant croses their brief and takes on a combative mode against the very citizens s/he has to serve, it is but deserving. Governments come and go, this rule banus have forgotten in the last six years. Can’t blame them. They must’ve felt after 2014, the Bada Jhoot Party is for here to stay. Why would the babu go beyond one’s role, be rude to thf citizens and green activists opposed chopping of trees on Aarey? She wrote such vicious stuff, attacked critics on social media platforms and worse still, sent humongous machines to chop down trees mercilessly at midnight, after the Bombay High Court order. Public servant forgot her basic duty and treated the public like servants. Unsurprising, given her ideology and extreme loyalty to the Big Jhoot Party. Transfer was in offing. But point us, will the Thackeray shift the carshed to another location? Now that is what my feline sense prevents me from believing. I’d love to be proven wrong, but this CM has previous record of settling for land par els.

Damn here, one cannot purchase a 1 BHK, damn, it is barely 1 room we get, while those rule every government, get acres and acres of land parcels, unheard of. Chalo, we should settle of a piddly transfer of a babu, while all agitation is quiet on the forest front. Other agitations are continuing, gladly. These are our only hope, Shaheen Baugh. While, IT trolls of the Big Jhoot Party are slapping themselves hard. Kidhar bhi haat lagao, ungli jal rahi hai, for the two bulldozer men. Thugs they are. That NaMo’s PR team is overactive. Email after email, SMS after SMS, free or what? I’ve reported his email as spam. Then what. Arrey, that Sundarpichai toh gave one tight one na. He shut all windows on the bulldozer duo. Good, now they must be doing havans, consulting babajis. Speaking of whom, that Sad Guru, he is losing his marbles, slowly and steadily. Sheh, still he has followers. Sadly, all these orange toved men and women have quote some followers.

Still badabhai says he will not back down. His ego is bigger than his size. Gawd, quite some size that. Small children are asking why are they doing such wrong? Well, Me thinks Messiah, on Netflix, has made valid point. Like the bulldozer duo, a man with warped, toxic ideas leads jobless, poor people to conflict. The society is pushed into chaos, as the structures collapse. All institutions are diluted, so there is little hope for justice to be delivered. Sounds familiar? This chaos, conflict that the twoonster men have unleashed, helps masses to turn away from our rising bills, inflation, pathetic economy, no justice and killings by the state. Meanwhile, less said the better of our Apex court and their current head. Must add, Saif Ali Khan has become ballsie, he was always, but this time he spoke the truth. There was NO Bharat till 1947. Dudes, he US right. Scores of kingdoms was NOT Bharat, give due credit to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, or like Mahatma Gandhi, his name too will be obliterated from our memories? Never know with current regime.

Forgotten shops

I remember in my school days when a shop by the name of In-Style opened on the junction of Napean Sea & Warden Road in elite South Bombay. The name- In-Style had some revolving door & it was 2 storeyed. I can’t remember anything about that place, coz I was too small to retain too many events, maths, science, things & developments in life-to be on the lower side- to retain in my tiny brain. But i still remember preening my neck from the BEST buses to catch a glimpse of that shop.

As kids i don’t know why, but for some odd reason me & some my types, born in the mide sixties, had fascination for seeing from vehicles life outside. It’s a habit i like doing till today. One learns of the changes in the city life, street life, new horizons, structures, so on & so forth.

Now coming to the shops, same is with the other leading shops. In-Style i guess would store ‘imported’clothes. This is one obsession wt Indians. To purchase & possess everything ‘imported.’ There are admissable reasons. We had a closed economy for nearly half my life. Yes, considering at 42+ i can buy anything in this city, which may cost more sometimes twice or thrice the price, but we get freely sauces, cheeses, chocolates-what a sin to deprive any rightful child of it- soft drinks like fanta, coke. We have a track record of banning things, places, books, in India. i’m NOT funny, I’m serious. hahaha

Earlier imported was truly bought from Hongkong, US of A, (Real United states, not the Ulhasnagar), Bangkok, UK (my Indians always think anything English is most sophisticated. Yess even more than US of A..believe me there are still few Indians who think blue blood is royal).

In today’s days the ‘imported’ is mass goods bought in huge caskets from Bangkok. I’ve seen shop there in Platinum, rasta-asin roads- the wholesale goods shops & markets like Indira mkt. All shops in Bombay like Lokhandwala store BKK goods.

Then the so-called imported goods were sold in In-Style, among the new shops. Then there were Premsons -it’s now revived. It has mass imported & local goods. In fact i heard of Ben10 at this shop few months ago. Didn’t know wot it was…pl i’m cartoon challenged, television challenged (except for films & news), i’m partial tech challenged, NOT at full…I’m defintiely fashion-challenged.

So, Premsons houses BKK goods, clips, fancy stoned studded jewellery, yesss very much chunky. Nothing dainty dahlings..this is India. Bling all over. Then adjacent to Premsons is Amarsons. This Amarsons was a favourite with all my Gujju friends & relatives. I never understood how different was the cloth sold in this sghop from that we bought in Girgaon. Look, print, feel was the same, but cost 10 times more. The rich told me Amarsons Is the place to shop, lower mortals like me would look blankly trying to imagine the ‘difference’that could NOT be felt or seen.

A feew metres down that road is Benzer’s. It was known as luxury shop earlier. Now i don’t know of any human walking in there. See, basically i’m a BAD shopper. Oh! I forgot to add, I’m veryyyy shopping challenged, mall-challenged, close door shopping phobic. So Benzer was another place wc i thought intelligence & common sense challenged people shooped in. I mean you have to step into that place to know wot a turn off any child will feel. Child’s instinct is THE best…

After all these names or around the same time a leading designer store by name of Sheetal came up. The owner some Shah-not worth knowing, his names features in the crime files of this city-signed up wt leading fashion designers of this city. The owner tried to drive out tenants from the shop area, as he wanted all the property. This shah thought-like few other names sakes like him-sumant shah for example, who got Ramesh Kini killed- that money could buy him property & drive out the poor middle-lower middle class tenants. He then hired the services of a leading gangster Arun Gawli to threaten the tenants & bump them off. It didn’t ever happen.

Today NO one hears of that shop, sometimes they advertise, but NOT as much they were all over the media. The designer has got lost obscurely (thank god). They are true professionals who know ‘business’ & are NOT conencted with reality like crime world, gangsters, wc we lower mortals know of & deal with.

Then don’t know why but Mumbaikars, Bombayites ALWAYS take the name of Roopam in the same breath as Sheetal. You may think they are brothers or as names suggest (females) sisters. But no they are not related nor are the owners. That is another interesting fact Roopam is owned by Dhiren Shah. Ya these shahs I tell you, have all the money…huge community, so it’s ok.

Now Roopam has tried to re-invent itself all the while. Kept away from crime world. The former case tried to push out tenants. The Dhiren Shah in fact bailed out Kesari the original Lokmanya Tilak’s house in the building that houses Roopam. Dhiren also tied up with designers, more known & authentic ones. It still is known as the place to buy woollens from in Bombay. Except one needs NO wollies in our part of the tropical world. But when we go to cooler shores this is where we still buy our thermals from.

Aomng the last few is Akbarallys. The one place where we got all goods under one roof. Especially electronic gadgets. This shop is in the old Fort area. Interestingly, outside this famous shops hawkers line up selling duplicates sold inside or smuggled goods. The sex toys are found with these hawkers. so popular wt men folf of every colour & race.

Akbarallys is still popular for electronics, some kind of clothes, furniture & stuff like this. COmpared to all other shops above, it is still thronged by people. It is still taken seriously. But the other shops? Big names but now forgotten. May be everything has a shelf life?

Disappearing talent of Bombay

Come summer time and our childhood days were filled with people who we now realised have stopped frequenting our old areas of Mumbai.

Living in Girgaum has its own advantages besides being centrally located. We would get at our door step services ranging from entertainment, vessels, repairs name it!

Among the utility services, a particular from Gujarat would come with sparkling new steel vessels and porcelain crockery! They’d call to homes “yeh bhaandi (vessels) ye.” The neighbours would call them to their apartments and haggle till the last one rupee. I’d simply gaze into their shiny steel vessels to see my reflection!

The vessels were given in exchange of old clothes. Definitely not torn ones but those which were fairly old and decent. Sometimes I must admit that these sellers would come up with some unique ceramic crockery, which my mother would want to buy and my sister and I would go searching for some clothes which we wanted discarded!

Come Sundays and we all kids would plan our pocket money and play times around the timing of the bhelwalla who would serve us delicious sev puri and bhel. This particular bhaiyaji would call us by our names-how he knew I do not know. But the problem was my father. Invariably we’d have a 15 minute over drawn debate on why I wanted to eat that chat pata stuff. Only because he strongly believed that the bhelwalla perspired a lot and that is why the bhel he served was so tasty! Well this would be a weekly saga. But at the end I don’t know how we children always won. Don’t know when he stopped coming. The same would be reaction to the man who brought corn stuff, chan chor garam.

Among the first communities to disappear were the tribal women who came to repair the grinding stones in our old neighbourhoods. They would shout out “yeh taaki,” They sure were hot and dusky ladies, who wore nine-yard saris without cholis! As a curious kid I was fascinated wanting to strike a conversation with these women whom I thought were bold and sexy. This community specialised in the talent to level the grinding stones which needed to be cut specifically. It has been over two decades that I have stopped hearing their calls.

Summer time also meant time for us kids to share our space for playing with the ladies who dried and pound the papads and masalas. For days they would spread old saris, usually they were old nine-yard saris. We had to evade these drying ingredients, which included the deadly red chillies. We brats of course would throw the ball on the chillies and papads and stealthily flick some drying bits to chew on the raw ingredients. They’d warn us that time for their revenge was just round the corner as they’d pound the chillies and other ingredients threatening to throw it in our faces.

Among the real sharp memory reminders is the knife sharpener who would bring the cycled metal sharpener to the building. The process evokes loud and sharp noises which come close to the tile cutters in modern buildings today.

Among the last but my favourites are the dombari community of acrobats. The whole family would come and entertain the neighbourhood. The children would run through a circle of fire and juggle with a string and stick. The parents of these children would perform tougher tricks like walking on the rope, balancing a torch of fire on their forehead and jumping through a frame of knives. As I kid I craved to perform some of these acrobatic tricks, the rope was my ultimate fascination. The closest I came to was doing cartwheels with ease!

Bombay became Mumbai, but the old world charm has been lost in the name game.

The pain, shame & gloom….

Hi,

these r thoughts that i had written during the Bombay riots in 1992. A lot happened during that time..visions that i still see, events that are vivid. My niece’s wedding was on Dec 6, 1992, when a BJP leader from Pune hugged my late brother-in-law, congratulated his leaders & himself.. Ecstatic that they had pulled down the Babri Masjid, I could feel the chill on my back coz i could envisage the events that would unfold in the next few days. Days? Seems the thread is broken forever..

i will be honest-i had NOT expected the killings to be so random, many & violent…worse still the repercussions  that a good community feeling has ruined our  society worse…Bombay was forcibly converted to Mumbai.

My father, sister & I still proceeded to Bombay the next day we thought of getting on wt our normal lives come what may. We left Pune by train & it was shocking- had to pull down shutters, fm Kalyan people had begun throwing stones at the trains, delays & people rushing wt fear in their eyes when we did reach VT. As we neared Girgaum there was not a soul on the streets..reminded me of the dark window days of Indo-Pak war.

For 2 days we managed to live on few foodies that were at home. I had to try innovative things to fill our stomachs, like crushing garlic into paste mix it wt butter for garlic-butter-paav & other such things…we had to threaten our father who has a habit of going out at unearthly hours like 5.45am! Good time when prowlers target unarmed people in tensed situations, why even police had resorted to all sorts of tactics…meanwhile baba & I would have Indo-Pak war coz his predicament & mine clashed. In addition i have a friend-Altaf, who’s name is a give away. So less said the better..it was tough for his family too that was uprooted from their home in Tardeo..life was not the same for all for few months. Years after normal life was restored, the Shaikhs could not put up their name plate! These are my thoughts…

1.

The air is tensed & the skies rage with hues of fires
Little children, youth & adults are gripped in a mania
Reason, is visibly absent
All perform ‘acts of duty’ with utmost loyalty
For whom? As inexplicable as the acts of violence
Ironic, you see hatred more on faces of those who pulled down the Masjid
Revenge is for those who saw their place of worship crumble

They have sent fear down streets of ‘Bombay’
No bearded man or a burqua lady is being spared
Men are forced to pull down their pants
witnesses ensure there’s no one circumcised!
Majority indulgences in thrills to satisfy their sadism
Scared they will be out numbered soon

Is this the triumph of any religion?
Who are these victorious soldiers?
What medals should be conferred on them for merciless muders?
Children have died, women raped & riots on the streets
Arson, shooting and houses destroyed as clouds of smoke blur the horizon
Sounds of swords, bottles and tube lights ring in the air

Are we the same peace-loving Indians? Is this democracy?

2.

‘This is just the beginning,’ warn the hardened Hindus
The quiet tolerance has disappeared
They smirk devising heinous plans
These frenzied have become the voice of majority
But most civilians are mere mute participating in a vicious game plan
Do they realise they are being used?
A chill is sent down our spines as the commissioner orders shooting a baker’s family
While in the suburbs a politician is cleared of carrying arms & explosives

Blame game has begun whilst a gangster has initiated a new terror chapter
A blanket of fear has covered the faces of common people
Bombayites witness one of their worst nightmare
While our government turns a blind eye to all destruction
Gory visuals leave all benumbed, sadly not shamed
The world watches Bombay change from cosmopolitan to communal

3.

The war continues..Now even the middle class has taken to looting, killing & force
Unfulfilled desires surface, as the rich too grab from the muck
Confusion surrounds the goals & motive for rioting, people look dressed for some haloween
Except no sweets are asked at the door, they break-in to spread terror

Anger, pain, and isolation have embraced the scary souls
Haunting memories make them shiver
Lights are out in mohallas where all whisper in fear
Nameplates are missing from doors & many tip toe towards nearest city exits

The homeless huddle in clusters & cries of children echo the over crowded stations
Platforms have disappeared under sea of humanity, all look in stunned silence
Only heads are visible-caps or burquas many have still retained their lost identity
For many the journey of migration to safety has begun, destination still unknown

4.

Are these crackers heralding a New Year or gunshots & blasts?
Shimmering sparkle have set the streets on fire
The epidemic of religious frenzy has spread wildly
Humanity has been thrown in a whirlpool of pain
Most have been uprooted, is this a war?

The markets are closed & goods vanished
Only ashes remain on the ground
Hunger is the last worry on their minds
Fathers are prevented from going to work,
Police arrest thousands from only one community

Leaders cry for strong action but the administration fails to deliver
Is this the city I was born in?
Everyone seems to have joined hands to claim their share of ‘power’
These are plain chess moves & the reigns in the hands of conspirator
Madness continues as even noble attempts to restore peace seem superficial

The culprits are at bay, but rest live in a world of suspicion, hostility & revenge
All have been used & abused, but the conspirators sleep well
The crack is now evident, they have succeeded in dividing us
All we can now do is plaster & paint,
But we will never be able to hide our shame

5.

My journey on the BEST began being seated on the last row
My serenity was broken suddenly by loud sounds of laughs and loose talks
The hooligans rushed to squeeze next to me What was the excitement?

After many days this travel was possible
The bus was full as my eyes searched for rescue from the taunts & jibes
Ahead sat a lonely man isolated from the rest
His beard was a give away, my saviour was right there!
He like few had still not shed their respect.