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Changing streets

Living in old Bombay, i keep track of ‘real’ people, happenings & more important the topographical changes that take place around. With these changes we see physical, socio-economic & political changes. Example is now the urban renewal projects -suddenly we see old premises pulled down. Once what would be a quaint old house is being replaced by sprawling sky scraper.

As if the spiralling tall building is not sufficient, with it come changes in the kirana shops, poor around & hawkers are replaced by new faces & more fashion oriented shops. Rather plainly put more expensive shops that compel to part with large sums of money.

Years ago the first smell of change came when a hideous tall building called Pancharatna came up enar our house. My aaji’s simple logic was that building will always have problems cause it is obstructing the wind direction. Well in today’s times it is one of the most jinxed building. Irritating loud, farty smelling Gujju diamond merchants & traders rule from squeaky places. The first six floors are nearly illegal coz they have made unimaginable structural changes. There are thefts, killings, IT raids name it and all crime seems to happen there. More over it looks like a tall cheap chawl!

Adjacent to it was the old Roxy theatre. I would go frequently to Marathwada after the earthquake in 1993. After one of my trips i had to go to click a snap to the Election Commission’s unit enar Central Plaza cinema in Girgaum. I decided to take walk around. Suddenly i saw there was no Roxy!

I began calling out for help. Tears had filled my eyes & i enquired around what happened to the building, as if i lost a child. People or workers were amused to see my state and asked why i was so affected. Why?? I lived in that area. Conspiracies of taking over potential buildings have always taken place. But this was the theatre which i could rightfully call my own. The others were Royal Opera House which actually had boxes meant for viewing musical operas built in British raj. Now some maharaja has taken over & left for the building to simply crumble! There was Majestic cinema & other such theatres.

Change on the street also meant our old bhaiyajis have vanished. The shop that sold fugen gum! Remember the sweet chewing gum that was smooth & one could blow HUGE bubbles! Then the imly, awala wala more so all the sandwichwalas have disappeared. They would grill sandwiches on coal grill…well they all simply vanished.

The street side scenes too have changed. Kiranawalas have been replaced by dress material & Bnagkok returned dresswalas. The footpaths have become higher uff, much higher. Its cumbersome to climb them. Old trees droop or have fallen. Newer faces, many people migrated far away from these areas. Change on the streets are not mean, but very evident & obvious… they are far hard hitting.

Cool breeze

I bought my first air-condition 2 years ago. Yes! Now I had thought that all my summery heat problems would be solved.

I know at the age of 38 it is tad late to have bought an A/C. For numerous reasons it was delayed. Firstly my father was clear since our childhood, NEVER get dependent on any ‘thing.’ We should be brave enough to face all extremities.

So even when we went out on holidays we did NOT wear thermal-Coz firstly we couldn’t afford, more so it would create dependency!

This attitude dominated our thoughts. Then the famous worry-AC will increase the electricity bills! So from few hundreds it will run into 1000s. This was always spoken of, so whenever any Maharashtrian would want to buy microwave, it was made loud n clear, veejecha billvadhel! Your electricity bill will rise. Now these are the same people who have quietly stacked their homes with all hi-tech gadgets…
So later as we grew up we kids grown into adults too resisted buying ‘unwanted’ gadgets & electronic items that create dependency. Now fridge too does that except that it helps you to preserve your food. So it is allowed, fans too create dependency, but it does NOT increase your bills, plus zero maintenance.
Interestingly what a person once thought will create dependency becomes a necessity in some period of time! So first new music systems were put in place, home theatre, personal computer, mobile phones, cordless phones & the list goes on….Now when all these self-improvements were happening my best female friend anne told me its time I bought an AC, which I could get on instalment, wt zero% interest.
So urs truly went & bought it. Now the simple me thought this AC would solve all my summer heat problems! I mentioned that before right? Ok true to my track record it took 2-3 days for the installation to take place, electric connections too were made, the demo guy came & rattle something to my parents & rest was left to me.
Now I do NOT like reading catalogues or ‘How to do’ material. Its never problem free, as easy as it looks & the final product just does not look the way they show it in the picture. Also, even if it is all as per printed format in real life, you fucking mess it! More so I’m a strong believer of trial & error method, this a-way u improve every time on what has been done before, by you, or anyone.
The first night I switched on the AC, whoa! Miracle…cool air..i though I was going to have the coolest & deepest sleep in my life! Quite short-lived this romantic thought was considering the immense drama that followed.

Firstly being a journalist who had covered a 6 part series on power crisis in my city-Bombay- Mumbai for many others-plus the state Maharashtra wc was facing load shedding, I thought it wise to keep my ac device in energy-saving mode. Initially i timed it for 4 hours only which ensured the temp won’t cross 24 degrees.

Now all of this on the first day was pretty complicated but was convinced it was a MUST. My deep hereafter sleep was more like a side splitting comedy film. Well, urs truly was firstly disturbed by the constant sound of ac. I’m used to sounds of birds, water pumps at odd times like 4-5.00 am, may be vessel falling in a kitchen in one of the homes behind, parrots, sparrows (loads of them, they haven’t left our abode) & those hideous crows! Plus sound of the winds…sorry NO space for the grrrhhhh of an air condition…

Then the energy saving mechanism obviously switches on & off the automatically. So it went on & off after every few 30 or some time minutes…so I was pre-occupied wt sounds, then when it would go off, I’d panic that the ac has been switched off. I’d wake up & check fidget in the dark & switch on the light to figure out the rmote, device & variations. I timed it to some few hours…wc kept getting skewed everytime id fidget…so I wondered what the problem was. This episode of trial & error continued for 4 days & then enlightenment dawned on me.

I began timing my cold air to 1-2 hours only. I would cool the room, switch on the fan at high speed once its over an hour i open the windows & tuck in bed tight…So the room & air is cool, i still hear the horrendous crow & cooing parrots. Plus most imp, I now get peaceful sleep…except that in the winter that lasted long till March this year, i didn’t on the AC at all! This summer though the outside temps has compelled me to leave the ac on for 2 hours.


Well…its boredom that propels me to write often. Dunno…but this year I seem to get more bored than before, then to top it I have a boss who breathes news 24×7 & then says this is a shit field/profession!

I know I’m capable of being a police officer, gardener, cook, may b something like writing reports besides but it won’t be the same as journalism. I’m passionate about it, luv it & live on it. I strongly believe, “Nothing turns me on more than good stories,” I will also add food..but that apart.

I know there are times like now when I’m bored, feel I’ve got less than what I deserve, wc is a FACT, etc etc…I also know this field has changed drastically as times have changed. The emphasis is more on looks rather than news gathering or disseminating or even journalistic/reporting skills. Today, visual pleasure rules & the yippies too are clear that since they lack the basic skills they can make up in the looks department, then life is simpler for these hip journalists & their bosses…NOTHING is expected, yet the work can get done.

In these times I often wonder what am I doing here? Even after 17 years in this field all journalistic norms & rules apply to me, my stories, I still have to prove & there are scores who get away with murder. It makes me wonder have I chosen the right field? Am I in the correct profession? I eally don’t know I go thru’ these phases every 8-10 years. Sometime in late 1999, no actually early 2000 I didn’t work for like 4 months, splurged my savings (yes!) puhleez didn’t do any introspection…fed up of it, I think our culture & philo makes us see faults ONLY in ourselves & often there are extra, external circumstances that are beyond one’s control….

But I’m passionate ONLY abt news…I breathe on it or live on it…dunno know if anyone can understand my predicament….yeah I also have to thk all those arse hole lovers (who I had during my career) because whom I began to love my profession even more gawd I’m glad I NEVER chose them above my profession!

In such circumstances one really wants to do NOTHING…believe me even someone like me who’s considered married to news, journalism goes thru’ it…sometimes u get bogged down man…Then comes a story that lifts ur spirit…straight like a knight in shining armour on a white horse, except that the story rejuvenates me…its inexplicable…but what depresses me is some really good seniors who are part n parcel of this field really despise it & who otherwise would make a difference to this field, actually plan to quit it!

These are also the seniors who breathe on news; they think news 24×7, unlike the young ones who easily switch off once they’re out of the office. This bit of news then is even more demoralising & depressing…we need more good, people with passion for this field than those see it as a place for passing time & getting quick fame & money.

Noisy season

Its that time of the year when the noisy festival season of Mumbai has begun!

To begin wt its Gokulashthami…the Dahi handi stuff. Loud drums & bells, some disco music & loads of shouts. It is physically challenging I know. But as our society’s aspirations increase multi-fold on daily basis, it is no wonder that the usual 3 or 5 tier pyramid is getting taller by the day. Well the prize money too has risen 10 times over. With the whole package deal of Dahi handi comes the loud music & noise.

In between these festivals is the famous Shiv jayanti and whole lot of other jayantis. Then comes my favourite festival, as I do think Lord Ganesha symbolises for all good things in life. However not the followers, who think they have to display their personal devotion, emotions & feelings. The drums, bells, noise gets louder, shouts pierce one’s ears and the atmosphere is more wilder than a carnival. More so people under the name of religion, devotion and love for Ganesha get dead drunk! But we get offended when Karunanidhi says Lord Ram was a drunkard. Why are we so touchy when the truth is right in our face?

Oh talking about drinking, I think only the Hindu religion permits drinking. Well there is a full fledged ‘gatari pornima!’ Ya that day one can see most no of dead drunks zooming in their vehicles or staggering around the city.

More so I never understand this whole formula of playing loud deafening music which will wake even the dead! Do they think their devotion is purer than the polluted waters of the river Ganges? I really dunno. More so I fail to understand as I said the ‘formula.’

Let me explain, first like at some unearthly hour (excuse me on a holiday 7.00am is as unearthly as 5.00am on working day!), so at 7.00am we are rendered with Sugam sangeeet and Bhaav geet of the renowned Lata & Asha fame.

Residents or rather the devout Ganesh bhakts in my neighbouring lane strongly believe they should begin with “Uthi uthi govinda”…then go on to playing “Jay jay Maharashtra maza”…rendering patriotic songs for the Motherland and for some absurd reason their devotion & patriotism takes an unexpected ‘disco’ turn!

Out of the blue the latest top charts are doled out like Maggi hot’n’sweet ketchup! Believe me my walls rock, ears get blocked and all I want to do is run away from my house, which otherwise is a decently serene place.

Then yes did I forgot to mention that to bring or bade farewell to Lord Ganesha loud firecrackers are essential? Well sutli & laxmi bombs along with the malas. Gosh! There is a small break in the noise levels for not even a fortnight, thanks to Pitru paksh. For not other reason except this I love Hinduism. It keeps people sober man! No, not even shravan.

The noisiest festivals are Navratri & Diwali. Navratri for the dandiya raas & Diwali for the darn fire crackers. There is stiff competition to partake in both at the most unearthly hours. Why people want to consciously & purposefully ‘disturb’ normal mortals like me I really don’t know. The loud disco music, beating drums & those authentic dehati versions of saxophones, deafen mortals like me. And then ofcourse the icing on the cake is New Year’s eve. No one should risk their lives & or succumb to rash driving as it happens every new year’s eve.

I do have a grouse when people publicly display their devotion which is a personal emotion. I have NO problems to couples cuddling coz im fm Mumbai & I do know how many live in match-boxes, some people’s kitchens are converted into bedrooms at night. But dancing or rather gyrating obscenely to lewd Hindi or Marathi songs for religious functions I do think it’s a tad too much.