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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Cooking on the road is not allowed in Mumbai

Hawkers in India are discouraged from cooking on the streets in Mumbai and there are regular inspections by police to ward them off. But they are back, after a day of rest, to do their business in an illegal way. And it is for us that they are willing to take the risk of being whisked off again and again. But then we are always looking for an easy way out. Today, for example, during my morning errands to the market and the bank, I thought of making radish-brinjal vegetable as soon as I would reach home. As I crossed the street to enter my lane, I saw this hawker selling Vada Samber, and I was tempted to patronize him. The fragrance of the fried Vada is very tempting. My cooking plans got postponed. I turned a blind eye to the unhygenic envirnoments surrounding this hawker, so strong was the fragrance of the fried Vadas. The pocket that was made for planting flowers, on the side of the road, was used by this hawker as a mini kitchen, where he had this huge frying pan. He had prepared the batter at home and he served the hot, freshly fried Vadas to his clients. While I waited for him to fry the Vadas, I decided to click few pictures. The hawker got panicky and hesitantly asked me the motives behind my clicking the pictures. He requested me not to make trouble for him by exposing his illegal business and even refused to charge me for the Vada Sambar that I had bought from his stall. I refused to take the free meal and asked him to relax, I was in no mood to report him. How much easier it must be for the policeman to turn a blind eye to such illegal food stalls, if the hawkers are in the habit of providing free meals to every person, who they fear, can put them out of business?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Staying Alive...and healthy....

Staying healthy is the choice that I make. If I show irresponsibility towards my eating habits, it inconveniences me in the long run. I have decided to take charge of my life. For when I am sick, it is only me who suffers… pain and in paying for doctors and medicines…… ..Just little care, and I am able to save that money for a luxurious holiday to some fancy resort. I can lay back on the easy chair and ask somebody to press the point on my foot..and all that I do is to drink my cool drink and enjoy a book near a seaside enjoying the gentle breeze…. But when I am at home, burried within the four walls of my room, I press the points on my hand and I feel quite well. My friend has given me a plastic messager which has narrow point on one end and flat rounded surface on other end (it looks like a hammer) and this is a good instrument for pressing the points in the hand. When I press a point and if it pains, it means that there is some problem there...when I had kidney stones, the centre of my palm would pain, whenever I would press that point. I spend lot of time on a computer, But still, I can keep myself healthy by just self-message.....the windows sometimes take too long to open the page, during these spell a few minutes of these exercises really improve my concentration, creativity and the clarity of my while I am munching on some dry fruit by my side, it is a good idea to do self message..... After all it's my life so why give the chance to others to rule my life?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


The memory of Kalagoda fiesta lingers The show comes to an end. The Panel discussion and Coffee meetings With workshops at different stands I loved the gallery and pavement shows Concerts, film, theatre, and performing dance The lively festival with heritage walks. Oh! There were too many events, And so little, limited time It was all over in a passing glance But Me I want to sit on a Black Horse To gallop with a silence band…….. Puff! Puff! Puff! Me Quite tired! All good things, like always Have come to an end…

Monday, 11 February 2008

The last day of the KGAF

was the day, when there were too many interesting events happening everywhere, and if I had some magic powers, I would have loved to attend them all. But unfortunately, I had to tick off many events to be able to attend a few of them. I attended only those which I could fit into my limited capacity of endurance. Sigh! There were many films showing at different venues. I was most interested in watching the film that was specially made for KGAF by celebrities like Anu Tandon, Brinda Miller, Soni Razdan, Sangita Jindal, Bandana Tiwari, Ayaz menon and Tony Singh. These were the set of short film with a common theme of the state of affairs in India after sixty years. It was amusing to watch the ‘Never Ending Story’ where people continued to watch the serial “Saas Bhi Kabbi Bahu Thi” even after sixty years. Also, I liked the one in which the world is ruled by Bollywood. There will be Hollywood stars dancing and acting in Indian film and all the Hollywood film plagiarize Bollywood stories. Later I headed towards David Sassoon Library Garden to spend the rest of the evening watching some interesting events that included discussion on ‘Graphic Story Telling’ and ‘Poetry Slam’. The theme at ‘Poetry Slam’ was ‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’ All the participants were very talented and it must have been very difficult for the judges to score them. Towards the end of the show, I got my (own) two-minutes-fame, when I got to read my children’s story about cloud and wind called ‘Badli and Windy’. I had created this story during work-shop on ‘Writing for Children’ and it had some how reached the finals.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Workshop at Muse Boutique....

Muse Boutique was the venue for the workshop on ‘Getting Published’. Tucked away in the narrow by-lane behind Rhythm House, I reached there after inquiring about its location from several paanwallahs. In the interior, surrounded by books, artifacts and a pleasant ambience, I learnt the secrets of ‘The Ten Commandments of Publishing World, the role of a literary agents and the fine prints of a book contract’. While Anita Roy spoke about publishing in a real world, we had Vikram Chauhan enlightening us on publishing a book in a virtual world. Vikram Chauhan hosts a site called ‘If I Were A’ where everybody has the right to express themselves by publishing their book. Currently, book publishing is a long and difficult process. So 'If I Were A' has made book publishing instant, easy and free! It is a site where you can post content of your blog which you feel is book worthy or your manuscript on 'If I Were A' and watch it instantly take the shape of a book! It is a good medium to get noticed by different publishers and knock off those long walks to different publishers for release of your work. This is the place where the only thing that matters is that you can express yourself by publishing your own book! Late evening at David Sassoon Garden, surrounded by cool breeze of winter winds, I enjoyed an evening of multi-lingual poetry about Mumbai, that were recited by some well-known and published poets.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Richie Rich, Poorly Poor!

On a more serious note, while the kids at KGAF are having a wonderful time, painting, drawing and attending all the workshops on Clay modeling, Calligraphy and other art activities, there are other kids that I see in a local train, on my way towards the venue, which are not so fortunate. I see this child, barely seven year old, making a living out of selling the crumbled roses to the passengers in the train. I ask him, ‘Don’t you want to study? Do you wish to go to school?’ and he growls at me as though I am speaking some gibberish words. At another station, I see this 10 year old, who has been brutally abused (there are deep knife-cuts on his face and neck and his one finger is missing), I see him crying with pain as he walk slowly down the aisle, begging for alms. Are they aware that they, too, could enjoy those activities and that, those art and craft activities are free for all, rich and poor. On the streets of Kala Ghoda, I see group of kids performing those street shows of walking on a tight rope accompanied by the group of musician kids, and yet another pair of street kids, who ask for water from a street-side-stall but they are being chased away. ‘Surf Excel’ sponsors of the children's activities, promise to remove the stain off the clothes, but the children with real stain of poverty and dirty clothes are not inside the ring.

Recitals at NGMA are superb!

Today, 7th February, my friend tells me not to come to KGAF because there is a taxi strike and the fear of riots haunts me once more. The taxis are protesting against the damage that was done to their taxis during the riots and they are demanding a police protection. However, it ended quickly, and I decide to meet my friends at NGMA Auditorium for 5pm performance. We reach there at 5pm, only to be told that the show has been cancelled. But fortunately, there is a next show, ‘Alyque Padamsee, Gary Richardson and The Mad Horses’, to begin at 6pm and we decide to attend that one. This is the best show that I have ever watched in years! It is a bouquet of five recitals, and five different Shakespearean plays performed by talented stage artists like Alyque Padamsee, Shazehn Padamsee, Gaurav Chopra, Aparna Tilak, Madhuri Bathia, Cyndy Khozol and Gary Richardson. The show starts with a ‘Tantric’ music, and we, in the audience, are asked to close our eyes and experience the rhythm of the 'Shloks recitals' at the beat of tabla and sitar. This is followed by interactive play, whereby the audience has to decide the ending of a play. The one and half hours tick by quickly, as we are engrossed in their powerful expressions, from one recital to another, and we are immersed into their make-believe world, smiling with them, and mouthing their lines. Later in the evening, after a brief stop at the Sassoon Library Garden, (my favorite venue to chill out), we head toward Khyber, a cozy restaurant across the street. Over the spoonful of meals, my writer-friends and I, exchange notes on theatre, drama and speech for the younger kids.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Photography workshop was good.......

After being assured that it was safe to go to South Mumbai, I went to KGAF at 4pm, just in time to attend the second session of photography workshop by David D’Souza at BNHS. I had not attended the first session, because it was clashing with my other workshop. But on a recap, I was able to catch up with what I had missed. It was quite an interesting workshop with David’s animated postures that kept us in splits. He spoke about the creativity that was important in the photography and our lack of it, was mainly due to our fear. A creative person reflects the environment. We don’t ‘take’ photographs, we ‘make’ them and we can develop the spontaneity by training our eye-muscle to coordinate with our finger and instinct and produce a good photograph. Initially, during the first session, he had given the assignment to the participants, of going around the city and taking some shots. At this second session, we saw the pictures that some of them had clicked and we discussed the flaws and plus points of each photograph. All the pictures were discussed in great details and it was quite informative. I edited this picture that I had clicked the previous day. and Later, during the evening, I headed towards the David Sassoon Library Garden, where the discussion on ‘Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender writing in India’ was in its last segment. I missed this discussion, but I was able to attend the next two sessions, ‘The War of the Words: Science Fiction and Fantasy’ which was moderated by Devanshu Datta and ‘Getting Published: All sides of the Story’ which the moderated by Sriram, who was sitting for Urvashi. Urvasi Butalia, who was to moderate this discussion, was not able to reach Mumbai because of bad weather, but she took part in this discussion on a phone call (that’s the technology for us) We had Kavita Banot, a literary agent, discussing about her role in the writer’s world and how it will help writers in the publishing world, but Urvasi, in her phone conversation said, that she did not like to deal with literary agents because of their pushy nature. There were more discussions on payments, pricing of the book and the rights of the author. Since the literary program was running late, the last two programs ‘Open Mike’ and ‘Open Screen’ had to be chopped off. Unfortunately! Sigh!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Damn! Absent again! Sorry KGAF!

I hope I am missed at KGAF because I did not go there today. No, not missed by those friends who are there at the festival, Nah! they hardly care, tsk! tsk! tsk! All my friends are busy in organizing those events or they are attending different events and they have told me quite frankly (with a pointed first finger) that I could communicate with them only after the festival. Presently, they have no time for me, not even a two minutes chat! Sigh! But those sweet and friendly kids must be missing me, whose pictures I clicked during my first two days, or those handicraft stalls, which will have one less shopper and those art galleries which will have one less admirer. Today, I saw the terrible news on TV of people getting arrested, showing temper tantrums and boxing each other and I am afraid of riots. Normally I am quite brave (I can hold a live cockroach in my closed fist and let it scrawl) but these riots in Mumbai have left me biting my nails. I had decided to go to the KGAF everyday but now,after watching this news, I have changed my mind, because I live in Bandra and going to South Mumbai by train or taxi is a risk I am not willing to take. What if, I take a train, which normally takes twenty five minutes to reach Churchgate, and some of those rioters enter the ladies compartment and force me to speak Marathi? Not that I don’t know to speak Marathi, I have learnt it at school, but I haven’t been practicing my Marathi for quite sometime now. I have even taught my Maharastrian maid to speak English, (silly me, I have lost the opportunity to learn the language from my maid, too). The vegetable and fruit sellers usually speaks Bhojpuri and I have learnt few words in their language, just few words like “No, Go away, I don’t want!” and that much Bhojpuri language is enough for communicating with a Bhojpuri vegetable venders. Taxis and auto drivers speak Hindi and I have learnt all the numbers from one to hundred, so it is easy communicating with them, when I give them my change. I am English speaking person, but I know to say “Yes” and “No” in all four languages (although I sometimes do falter on those words and interchange it's use, but then, that is an another story) and now with the mushrooming of malls, there is really no need to speak any language at all. Just read, pick and pay. And, I love living in Mumbai. I have lived here all my life. The embassies of different countries have repeatedly offered me their country’s Visa but I have refused them all. Oh My Gawd! I cannot even dream of living anywhere else in the world! I think it is important for me to re-learn Marathi. I could even start dressing in a traditional nine-yard-saree. Those checkered, bright green, cotton sarees really look good.( They should make nine-yard-saree a compulsory dress code in colleges) And I also like that big, beaded nose-ring, but, where do they shop for those accessories? I have neither seen those nine yard sarees nor those assessories at any shop in Bandra. But why? (It makes no sense selling those tight, low waist jeans, that tease the passer-by with their branded inner-wear) I also like that small, round, netted bun, they look great and shine on those oily heads. It could make a fashion statement! I am sure that they, at beauty salons, will start practicing those hair styles too. They need to earn their bread and butter too. Should I shed off my unnecessary fear? Brrr! Not until I master the Marathi language. I don’t think I am ready to take that risk. It is best to stay at home till I find a suitable Marathi-speaking tutor or rather, wait for this uprising to fade away. Tomorrow, I will watch the TV again and check whether those rioters have cooled down and have gone back to sleep. Then. I hope, I shall boldly venture out again to participate in some more events at KGAF.

Monday, 4 February 2008

During my first two days of KGAF,

I attended two workshops, Kavita Roa"s "An Introduction to Freelance Journalism" and "Once Upon a Time - Writing for Children", by Jane Bhandari and Marilyn Noronha and both were very informative and useful to me. But, there was a gap of two hours between the two workshop, and there was enough time to have lunch and move around, exploring the other events that were taking place around different avenues. Although I am clumsy at making new friends, I was able to link up with few friends who were willing to walk with me at my slow pace. We had lunch at famous ‘Samovar’ and then decided to explore. The walk between the two venues of my workshop, at K.Dubash Marg, (Rampart row) was converted into a street bazaar with stalls of handicraft and food, lining down the two sides of this street. There were NGO stalls vending various articles like handicraft, antiques, paintings and different accessories. In the middle of this street was an amphitheatre, which had some interesting shows, throughout the day. There were different programs organized at this theatre that included shows such as folk dance of Tibet, Miracle dance contest, Capoeria, Samvrate-Manipuri Dance Ballet, Nitryamandal Dance Ensemble and Chana chai Nukkad Natak. ‘Muse fashion show’, was the only program that I was able to squeeze in between my two workshops. But yes. I did watch the street show that was being performed by one family that included mom, dad and lots of children. One group of children played dholak and other musical instruments, while one child walked on a tight rope, and the girl lifted heavy brick that was hung from her plait. (So much for the child labor! UGH!) I couldn’t bear to watch this show and seeing the child abused. There were more events in the evening at David Sasson Library Garden, but I didn’t want to push myself too hard, so while my friends went off to enjoy the rest of the evening, I retreated back to my comfy cocoon.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

I am fascinated by Pavement Art Gallery

Visual art is one of the high point of KGAF. On the pavement just outside the Jahangir Art Gallery is the Pavement Gallery where there is display of different kinds of art that includes paintings, graffiti, and wearable art by various artists. There are paintings and posters displayed all along the path on the payments outside the Gallery. I can see different artists sitting there, doodling, caricaturing or live-painting the picture of the passing pedestrian. One particular art that draws my attention is ‘De-Addiction’ that is installed by ‘Art Quest’. In this exhibition there are live-size models of paper Mache that exhibit different form of addiction such as drinking, smoking, drugs and gambling. The couch potatoes and shopper’s delight is also quite interesting with their bright colors and their social message of addiction and bad vices, which are very boldly displayed, and draws in a huge crowd of art lovers.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Kala Godha Arts Festival starts with a Bang!

Today, South Mumbai was dressed with laughter. Everybody was busy, too busy, running from one end of the street to another, the organizers were busy arranging the events and programs, participants were busy shuttling from one room to another to attend workshops and salespersons were busy putting up their stall that will display different handicraft and food stuff for sale for next ten days.. The people who were really relaxed and decided to start enjoying from day one were the children and their grandparents. The easiest way to involve adults in any festival is to invite their children. Any activity that brings a smile to the child’s face will automatically bring a smile to their parents and grandparents. The colors and ambiences of the festival were child friendly. The parking island opposite Jahangir Art Gallery was converted into children’s theme park where they enjoyed various activities and learnt many things in the various workshops……..

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