Showing posts from 2014

The Daily Battle

Trepidation as the train approaches. Spot jog to calm your nerves. Wear backpack in front, kevlar like to protect your ribs. Finally, moment of truth. Engage your core, stance like a boxer, elbows and fists ready to strike and charge. Play eye of the tiger in your head. And charge like an army making the final push. Once inside, duel with your comrades from a few seconds ago for temporary ownership of space for your arse. Defeat the weak soldier and grab space enough for half your ass. The Fourth seat. Battle is won. Shoulder bruised. But ass rested. Sleep heavy on your eyes, sleep. Sleep as the battle continues to be waged, at every station, as weak soldiers continue to fall. Charging, tumbling rumbling and fumbling. But you sleep until she announces the name of your station in Marathi, Hindi and English. Yawn and stand up. But don't relax, the evening has the same battle in store. The fight for some space for your arse.

The Rail Yard

There seemed to have been a sliver of hope when the last train pulled into the platform. But apart from a few drunk passengers and an old Marwadi merchant, nobody seemed to have got off from the train. The lights of the train went off and the ghost train moved out of the platform to be deposited in the yard that lay a few hundred meters away to the south. The RPF Havaldar finally called it a day and dozed off with his rifle on his helpdesk. The food stalls had long shut down and the autorickshaw drivers outside slept off, crouched on the seat meant for three-passengers-only( four if you paid extra). The slightest hope was extinguished as the rumble of the train became distant.

Manjula, 38, mother of three stood looking at the taillight of the train as it made its journey back to the yard. She felt disappointed, dejected, standing under the whirring fan of platform number 1. It had been a bad week. Every evening since May, young girls were appearing outside the station. Inexperienced …

The Superman of King's Circle - King Uncle

I generally walk to places. I choose the bus over autos or taxis but even that involves walking to the bus stop. It’s not that I can’t afford taxis but I simply prefer walking. It is a great way to know a neighbourhood, and that's why to encourage this, we at Breakfree started Walks across Bombay this year. But, walking in Bombay isn’t easy, crossing the road, even at signals is difficult and each time I find myself jaywalking even when the figure on the signal has gone green.

As a child, I was taught Z for Zerba crossing. I didn’t know what that was, never having seen the white stripes painted on the road. Those were meant for pedestrians to walk on to cross over to the other side, when the signal went red. In the suburbs, the concept of a Zebra crossing never existed. I first saw them on a visit to Churchgate, though not many motorists bothered to stick to the boundary line and encroached upon it. Almost as if this would boost their chances of gaining a few precious seconds on …

A Malwani Sojourn in Dadar

Malwan, for the uninitiated is the southern coastal region of Maharashtra. Covering districts of Ratnagiri and Sindudurg, it is famous for its sun kissed, palm lined virgin beaches, the Alphonso and other varieties of Mango and of course the Malwani cuisine. People from Malwan speak a unique dialect also known Malwani which is a combination of Konkani and Marathi. The soil of Malwan is rich in iron and therefore red, the houses are made of red bricks and the sloping roofs are lined with red tiles. The staple food items include Rice and Fish preparations but Chicken (Kombdi) and Mutton preparations are also eaten quite frequently.  [youtube=] But my introduction to Malwani was through the television. Numerous Marathi actors hail from this region and their plays, films and songs have an element of this roots. Vastraharan by Machindra Kambli is a masterpiece. It showcases the plight of a few Malvani actors trying to enact the Vastraharan scene f…

Chai Time in Fort

There are several times when a cutting chai isn't enough at four thirty, the lunch has long been processed and a hunger pang begins to set in. Over the past few years, at this hour, I have found myself hungry, low on cash and standing on the streets of South Bombay. This has led me to find some of the best budget places that offer a sumptuous evening time meal along with some good chai. If you are around, irrespective of whether hungry or not, you should visit these small places that hardly find a mention on the internet but serve authentic stuff. Also, I often end up taking most of my friends to these places if I am catching up, so ditch the 'Bucks and drop by here.

1. Café Bharat, Opp Churchgate Station

Tucked away in a small corner, next to a mini supermarket on Indian Merchant Chambers road Cafe Bharat is a bustling place, complete with a mezzanine floor. Generally overshadowed by the nearby Satkar and even fancier places all around, it goes unnoticed. The food served is …

The Mystery of the Missing Marble Canopy of Queen Victoria

The year was 1872 when the statue of Queen Victoria was revealed. As per a report that appeared in the Illustrated London News, 8 June, His Highness the Guicowar of Baroda (Maharaj Khanderao Gaikwad?) presented a statue of Queen Victoria to the Victoria Gardens and was unveiled by the Governor of Bombay (Philip Wodehouse). The Victoria and Albert Museum (Now Bhau Daji Lad Museum) was to be its intended home but later it was considered to be too exquisite to be kept indoors. It was later moved to the northern end of Esplanade Road (Mahatma Gandhi road now) and was site of reverence for the locals. 

However, in 1965 this statue along with statues of other foreign sovereigns and administrators were removed from public sites and kept indoors, mostly within government buildings. This statue however was moved back to the gardens of Bhau Daji Lad Museum, its initial home. 

In 1968, under the The Bombay Queen Victoria Statue Site (And Adjoining Land utilization for construction of Satellite …

Palolem on a Personal Note

The first time I read about Palolem was in an article written by Frederick Noronha in a travel book brought out by the Outlook group back in '08. It seemed fascinating, I asked my mother who hails from Goa if she had heard of it, she told me that she hadn't. It seemed puzzling to me, so I asked her if she had heard about Cancona. And that seemed to work, she recalled her time spent at her Aunt's house in Cancona when she was quite young. She spoke very fondly of her aunt, who wasn't related to her but was a neighbour while they lived in Mahim. But as it is with most neighbours, she was as good as a close relative. Years passed and she eventually moved to Ulhasnagar and from there to Cancona where she ran a small eatery. Mom fished out two photos of her, one taken at her home while the other taken at Mallikarjun Temple. Rajani Naik, a plump, jolly looking woman smiled at me. She had a exuberant smile and I wondered if I would ever meet her. 
Last year, in November just…