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Showing posts from March, 2006

Lata Mangeshkar & The South Bombay Rip Van Winkles

Lata's Neighbourhood Of Rip Van Winkles(Pix: Mumbai Mirror)

Didn't expect Lata Mangeshkar to stand by her attack on the new Pedder Rd flyover. The denial that followed was almost inevitable. Particularly since the heat got a little unbearable. And she was being pilloried for stalling development et al.

Yes, the whole city of Bombay is polarised over whether we should have a flyover here or not. This is the part of Bombay, south, where influential people live. So, you can't have flyovers sailing over their balconies so to speak. Particularly when one of the Bombayites sipping a cup of tea in the evening in one of those balconies might be singer Lata Mangeshkar.

But a Lata Mangeskhar and her ilk can hardly be expected to welcome a flyover that whizzes past their drawing rooms, with open arms. Their protests are understandable. What is not understandable is how all of south Bombay, where all of the city's most influential and richest people reside didn't see this coming…

Journalism, Anyone ?

Media..well, let me think (Pic Courtesy: Akanksha)


She was sitting on the first row. With an intense, intelligent gaze. And quiet most of the time. The classroom was like any other. Actually, perhaps better. At least brighter and airier. Large trees outside provided a protective cover. Not quite from traffic noise though. The road I turned off earlier went on to join the northern tip of Bombay’s Marine Drive. The desks were nicer too. Not beat-up, wooden ones. Like in my time. With all sorts of names and initials etched, testimony to many a belaboured hour.

Her question came at the end of the session. “Do you journalists really feel for what you do ?” I was stumped. Did I read a little more than perhaps her question really meant. Or not? Several days later, I am still not sure. “Can you explain that ?” I asked. “Hmm, for example, you talk about saving paper and all that and yet print so many newspapers.” I got the feeling the example was watered down. Her look said something else.

This w…

Frustration City !

Looks Nice By Night (Pix Vivek Sawant)


A few weeks ago, this writer had the good fortune of being part of a workshop on Bombay..the idea was to bring together people from different `walks of life'. To talk about solutions to improve life in the city. The gathering was called Mumbai Generative Dialogue. No, it was not hosted at the Taj Crystal North or some such opulent address.

It happened at the venerable St Xavier's College in south Bombay. And there is something nice about walking into the Xavier's grand Gothic stone buildings. A stroll across the grand quadrangle surrounded by open cloisters and then onto the section which houses the canteen, open on all four sides. Beyond is another exposed patch with lots of trees, their leaves swaying in the breeze. It was a quiet Saturday morning.

The interesting thing here that it was not about speeches or statements. It was about dividing a group of people into two sets, making them sit down with each other and debate issues. It wa…

Rang De Syriana..If Only..

Clooney takes a walk in Tehran..


You wonder how a movie like Syriana is openly exhibited and discussed in the US and then you know what the concept of freedom of expression really means. At least relatively.

Contrast that to our own Rang De Basanti which was not cleared by the Censor Board whose job it is to, but a full meeting of the Defence Minister of India and the chiefs of staff. Both films have one common strain. They tackle sensitive defence issues.

The chiefs of the forces claimed they had only passed on their views because they were asked to. Wonder why ? Why did they even sit in for a screening if they really meant that. So, if nothing else, rest assured that the most significant defence threat to India at this point is Aamir Khan.

Syriana makes you think. Much has been written about it and reviewed. There are folks in America who have written on it. And then some back home. Some of us here are wondering about the somewhat direct portrayal of Pakistani youth as suicide bombers.…

Mr FM, You Don't Need IT To Catch These Tax Dodgers

I don't know what's worse. Is it breaking the law by not paying duties and taxes or assuming that you can get away with absolutely anything in this country.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) impounded actor Sushmita Sen's sports utility vehicle or SUV two weeks ago. The reports say its a Toyota. I think its a Toyota Lexus specifically. The SUV's import papers show that it was manufactured in December 1998. Its value, accordingly, was shown as Rs 6 lakh. And a duty of Rs 9 lakh was apparently paid. Turns out the SUV rolled out in December 2003 and is apparently worth (with duties) around Rs 50 lakh.

The Lexus was brought into the country under the Transfer of Residence rules. Where any Indian resident or non-resident Indian having resided overseas for more than 2 years and owned the car for more than six months can bring home a car without paying customs duties. After all, he may have purchased the vehicle for his personal use. The condition is that the vehi…

Nuclear Fuel For Sure, Nuclear Power, Not So Sure

Can I Take This Back To My Ranch (Pic Courtesy Business Standard/K Sudheer)

Kudankulam is an hour's drive north east of Kanyakumari at the southern most tip of India. The air is strikingly clean and the sky a cool blue. The morning sun beats down with a radiance you are unlikely to witness elsewhere. And not too far from all this pristine beauty, the waves lash the shore with considerable vigour.

The sea appears like a riot of brilliant colours..from light green to blue. Or is it your imagination ? We are, indeed, close to the confluence of three oceans, the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Down south in Kanyakumari, hawkers sell little plastic packets with three different colours of sand, to represent this. Seems fine in theory, but somehow difficult to believe. Obviously you never really see it anywhere.

Apart from the scenic beauty, Kudankulam is the site for a 2,000 MW nuclear power plant, India's largest and one of the world's biggest as well. The plant …