Tag Archives: Mumbai

Last Days in Assam

Peculiar things happened with me as I made preparations for leaving Sibsagar on my transfer back to Mumbai.

A few days prior to my planned departure, the weather became very hot and humid as it becomes there during summer days. But on the day of my journey to airport at Dibrugarh, it began to rain and rained so much that it became a deluge. Without any respite, the rain was falling in solid sheets. Visibility became very poor. My flight was canceled on the scheduled day despite the fact that our luggage was boarded and boarding passes were issued. Such a thing never happened to me in my three years sojourn in Assam. My flight never got canceled and I made it to airport even on the days of ULFA bandh. It seemed that there were some scores remaining unsettled, as if I owed something to others and others to me, as if someone was waiting for me to see me and fulfill the unfulfilled desires. My colleagues advised me to stay put at some hotel for next day journey but I returned back. Luckily, one of my colleagues brought back the key of the house which I had surrendered that very day. I changed my flight altogether for next day.

Next day flight again arrived one hour late and I began to have doubts again. At last it took off for Guwahati on its way to Kolkata. On my adjacent seats-I was on window seat-were sitting two very pretty young girls who incidentally happened to belong to same place I was coming from and their parents worked in same company as I. They were going to Chennai, but worried about missing their connecting flight from Kolkata to Chennai due to delay in this flight. It turned out that they were having non-refundable tickets of different airlines. If everything went on time from Kolkata not only would they miss the flight but also lose the money. I tried to help them and luckily at Kolkata when they were waiting for luggage, inquiry at help counter of the airlines revealed that the flight as usual was delayed for an hour.

But I made to Kolkata with no hurry as my connecting flight to Mumbai was late in the evening with enough time remaining. Flight to Mumbai also was delayed and reached at midnight. My real nightmare started when I hired a taxi from outside. There is a great racket going on at Mumbai airport. Some taxi driver and accompanying person will board the taxi with you and take a just outside the airport where number of taxis are waiting. He will charge money from you as they pretend it be prepaid taxi and will ask you to shift to some waiting taxi and will give the driver very vague instructions about the destination and give him some share. After traveling about half the distance, the driver will ask for the spot where the passenger will drop but he will give the name of place nearby. As you will protest that I have to go to where I have to, he will say that the fellow who transferred you in my cab told me to drop you elsewhere and for going further he will again demand some more money. Really, Mumbai is going to dogs, it will go bust. It is the city whose cycle of decline has really well started. It has become a old vamp. Name any kind of maladies-physical as well as mental- you will find them in Mumbai.


Best of luck for this dying city. My lungs choked on pollution as I sucked so many pollutants in two hours as I have done in Assam in 3 years.

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Some places renamed in India during last 5 year

India has been on the name changing spree. During last 5 years names of many places, roads and monuments have been changed on the basis of the present names being reminder of colonial era or names being derogatory and names of some places being after some Moghul king who was not positively inclined towards the original inhabitants. Another argument for changing names was to replace those alien names with our own local heroes. Here is a list of some changed names during last 5 years in chronological order.

November 2014

Bangalore became Bangaluru. In all, the names of 12 places in Karnataka changed to reflect original Kannada pronunciation. Mysore became Mysuru and Mangalore became Mangaluru.

August 2015

Aurangzeb road in Delhi became APJ Abdul Kalam road.

October 2015

Rajahmundry was renamed Rajamahendravaram in the honour of 11th century king

April 2016

Gurgaon became Gurugram after Guru Dronacharya of Kauravas of Mahabharata fame. Mewat renamed to Nuh.

May 2016

Bangalore city railway station renamed KrantiviraSangoliRayanna, 19th century freedom fighter.

September 2016

Race Course road in Delhi renamed Lok Kalyan Marg, giving 7 RCR a new address.

January 2017

Ganda village in Fatehabad district of Haryana renamed AjitNagar after a petition to PM by teenager Harpreet Kaur Malkat. Kinnar village changed to Gaibi Nagar. Both previous names had derogatory shades.

July 2017

Odisha’sWheeler island, home to a missile testing range was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Island.

September 2017

Kandla port in Gujarat was renamed Deendayal Port to mark the centenary year of JanaSangha co-founder.

February 2018

Chor Basai in Rajasthan lost Chor. Nachania in Bihar became Kashipur.

July 2018

Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station named after British governor was renamed Prabhadevi.

August 2018

Miyon Ka Bara” village in BarmerRajasthan got new name Mahesh Nagar as residents alleged that due to Muslim sounding name it was hard to get marriage proposals.

August 2018

Mughalsarai junction founded in 1860 and one of the busiest junctions in country renamed as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction.

July 2018

West Bengal assembly passed a resolution to change the state’s name to Bangla. Mamata Banerjee didi found that due to alphabetical pecking order, her bureaucrats were called last at central meetings. With changed name “Bangla” pecking order will be on top almost.

The process continues unabated. Next on the anvil are the names of trains based on the great personalities which belonged to the originating stations.

Mallet Ferry Wharf 

Mallet Ferry Wharf! I visited the place. It is a ferry terminus and fish trawlers unloading port in Mumbai. You are welcomed by a stench of fishes as you approach the area. Hundreds of fish traders stand up and fish is conveyed to top from boats by ropes and mesh nets. There are mounds of sea fish of every kind. All places are full of fish. There are porters towing it away on the carts. Water drips from the baskets carrying the fish. Trucks are filled by the fish. Every boat has a flag and they are bobbing up and down in the waters. “Bombay duck” which is a fish dries on the ropes in the boats. This fish does not have bones and very delicate to handle when cooking if you are not breaking it into pieces. The hanging fish looks like buntings.

There were fisherwomen, very fat and strong. The boats which have emptied their catch were parked to one side. The fishermen on them were preparing the food: lentils, rice and fresh fish. Crows pecked at the fish filled in the basket waiting to be put into the trucks. These seemed to have become bored by eating and eating in plenty. Seaguls caught the flaoting dead fish thrown out of the boats.

On the right side is the ferry wharf from where ferries ply to Mora Bunder in Uran and Alibaug, and to Elephanta caves. Ferry journey is very convenient as it takes very less time in comparison to the road journey which entails crossing whole of Mumbai and then to mainland of Konkan. These people usually work as Stevedores in the Mumbai port. During British time, they constituted the major workforce employed for manual jobs. People wait there on the benches. There are shops selling refreshments in the waiting area. Buses from Mumbai ferry the people here. 

 

A Visit to Rose Garden Chandigarh

A lot has been written about this garden. The garden is situated in the sector 16 of city beautiful Chandigarh. We used to live in small village adjacent to Chandigarh and crossed the garden while going to attend our college and Panjab university on bicycle. We have visited the garden a number of time.

Then I went away from my city for job and lived for 35 years out in the places like Dehradun, Sivasagar and Silchar in Assam and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Each city has its own personality which is comprised of monuments, its people and gardens and parks and civic amenities. Chandigarh is a new city built after partition of the country and Punjab lost its old capital of Lahore.

The rose garden is a aesthetic quality place in the city. Nicely maintained and ever adding the beautiful varieties of roses. The best time to visit is during February and March when flowers are in full bloom. There is a fare during the month of February to celebrate the beauty of the most written about and admired flower: the rose.

You can visit it any time. It is always there to offer you something. Even a leisurely walk through the zigzag paths inside, sitting on the lawns and enjoying the fountains.

I visited the garden again to renew my contact with it and recall the old memories. It is very cold weather. There was a hazy fog. Roses were not in full bloom due to frost. But there were plenty of them. The number of visitors has increased due to awareness and visitors are coming from all over India and abroad. Thousands of pictures are taken everyday on mobiles and uploaded to internet.

I also took several pictures. Some of them are shown below.

IMG_20150112_162718_HDR IMG_20150112_163701_HDR IMG_20150112_163707_HDR IMG_20150112_160018_HDR IMG_20150112_160045_HDR IMG_20150112_160346_HDR IMG_20150112_160509 IMG_20150112_160612_HDR

My Peregrinations

I have returned back to the place where we were born, grew up, went to school in our own village of Manimajra, then to college and university in Chandigarh. Graduation and post graduation became possible because of the proximity of Chandigarh. Had this not been the case, there was no chance of my getting higher education in science. Even at that time, some 60 years back, our village was the largest of villages around Chandigarh. There were agricultural lands all around the village. The fields were irrigated with the water from Ghaggar river which flowed nearby emanating from Shivalik hills. There are two very large temples of Godess Mansa Devi where people from all over the nearby places flocked during the annual fares. There are many historical Gurudwaras in the area. One is inside the village is called Mata Raj Kaur Gurudwara after the pious lady who left her husband Guru Ram Rai after she felt the her husband has tweaked some lines from Guru Granth Sahib during recital. Ram Rai established himself with his disciples and properties around Dehradun. Another famous Gurudwara is on the periphery of Panchkula and is called Nadda Sahib. Here tenth Guru Gobind Singh stayed during his journey from Paonta Sahib to Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. The person who played the host was known as Naddu and after his name is the name of the place and Gurudwara. There is another Gurudwara called Bawli (step well) sahib located in the village Dhakauli. With the education which I acquired, I found a job in ONGC: India’s leading E&P petroleum company. Since it’s operations extend all over India, it provided me a chance to work in different places like Dehradun, Silchar jutting with Bangladesh and located in South Assam, Sibsagar in upper Assam which was once the capital of mighty Ahom kings which gave the place the name Assam and Mumbai the city maximum and economic capital of India. Assam the North Eastern state of India possesses unparalleled natural beauty. Since the industrialisation has not spread in that area, the region I dun polluted. When you fly over the area, you find tea gardens, Areca nut tress, bamboo groves running over miles and miles. There are rivers like Brahamaputra and Barak rivers which provide the best fish. Whatever vegetables are available are grown on the river beds and grown naturally and are thus purely organic. This provided me the opportunity to watch these diverse cultures and people from close quarters and try to understand their cultures in different points of time. Whereas the Assam took the mind to older quaint times with minimal pollution, natural beauty and innocent people, there was Mumbai which was so fast paced, situated on Arabian Sea with beautiful beaches, coconut palm trees, pav bhaji and bada pav and it’s incessant rains which never stopped in the monsoons. I for the first time came to learn that not only paper document are parcelled but eatables like food from hotels and coconut cream etc is also parcelled for home delivery. Mumbai has developed a peculiar practical language which is the result of mixing of languages from all over India which migrant people to Mumbai has carried along with them. A lot has changed here and it should not be any surprise. Change in Mumbai is minimal now as it has become saturated. Here a complete change in demography also seemed to have taken place. There has been influx of people from states around it and also UP and Bihar. Crime which was almost unheard of is now very rampant. This is due to the high aspirations, comfortable lifestyle and sky rocketing prices of living spaces, everyone wants to become rich overnight.

Inauguration of Monorail in Mumbai

Mumbai has become so much populated that existing transport system is under immense pressure. City housing is too costly and majority of its work force live in the outside towns on off the main island. So they have to travel long journies each day to come to the city. Local trains do the major job and at the peak hours each rake is groaning under the passengers four to five times the sitting capacity. It is the tough steel all the time.

Now monorail has started functioning between Wadala and Chembur and is proposed to be up to South Mumbai. First leg commenced on 2nd Jan 2014.

 

Mumbai people were all excited. Over 20000 enjoyed the ride. There were long lines on the counters for tickets. Being Sunday also added to the crowds.

Aiming for an entry into the Limca Book of Records, singer Abhishek Chopra has been the first person to be on every new infrastructural project launched in the city recently, be it the Milan flyover, the Eastern freeway, the Worli sea link etc.

He was at the Wadala depot by 5 am and the first one to buy a ticket. “I want to be a witness to every new step in the city. ”

From the Chembur end, it was veterinarian Dr Swali S G, 78, whose clientele includes the Ambanis’ dogs, who bagged the first ticket. “If I don’t do such things now, when else will I do them?” he said, proudly displaying his ticket. However, the coveted position of Monorail’s first commute is under dispute, with several passengers claiming they were first.

B Merwan and Co: Closure of an legendary Cafe

The iconic Irani Cafe is going to shut its shutters after treating the customers to Brun Maska, Mawa Cake, Custard and Omelettes for a century. It is one of famous Irani bakeries which were popular in Mumbai.
The cafe is situated in Grant Road and is popularly known as Merwan. It was set up in March 1914 by Boman Merwan Nasra. It is the third generation of Iranis now in running. Cousins Sarosh and Bomi were running it. They have said quits.
And unlike in the case of other old-time city restaurants that shut due to dwindling business, drawing customers has never been a problem for Merwan. Located right outside the eastern side of the railway station, the café still has long-time customers ambling in for their daily fix of mawa cakes and brun pao, from as early as 5.30am. It also operates a provision store on the premises.
The hectic schedule and the stress of running the place, coupled with the fact that the next generation cannot take over the business, though, has made the Irani family decide to shut shop. Fourth generation are all daughters content with their families. They are not even living in India.
The cafe is so famous that there is rush even at 5.30 in the morning. The owners are in the cafe at 3.0 am in the morning. Regular customers which included taxi drivers, students and office goers are dismayed at the closure.
The cafe is so popular that even today, whenever anyone is in the (Grant Road) area, or visiting Mumbai, people tell him ‘Merwan se cake leke aao’,” says city historian Deepak Rao. “It is an iconic place.”
The cafe has chairs made of Czechoslovakian wood, marble topped tables and signboard with the familiar lettering that are as old as the café.

The homegrown website has a very beautiful entry on this cafe with photographs in the closing off days.

Tarla Dalal: First Master Chef of India passes away

India is a potpourri of diverse cultures. People from different places outside the sub-continent had been migrating to India since ages. It is generally thought that most of the migrants whether entering for commercial purposes, in search of greener pastures for their cattle which was the case of Aryans, or for grabbing and establishing their hold came generally through the Western corridor. This was not the only way people entered India. Parsees came by boats and ships first to Gujarat and then spread to other parts of India especially Mumbai. Ahoms entered India in the North East. Arabs arrived in Southern India in Dhows long back.

Each arrival of the alien people brought with it the different cuisines like Mughalai, Parsee and others. Earlier when the people did not mingle with each other, these cuisines existed in the pure form. But soon people in this field began experimenting with mixing out of curiosity or substitution of ingredients not available at the new place and this fusion of different cuisine elements resulted in different kind of cuisines.

Tarla Dalal was a noted food writer and wrote over more than 100 cookery books. She is credited with bringing together many diverse cuisines from different parts of India and abroad. Her TV programs were very popular because of her way of teaching like a mother to her daughters and in a light manner. At the time that she wrote her books, she was the only source. She kept the flavours alive, the tradition alive. And her recipes still work.

She began cookery classes in 1966 in South Mumbai where she had migrated in 1960 from Pune after her marriage with Naveen Dalal. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. She was India’s first master chef. She was the trend setter in the field of spreading the cooking knowledge and made it simple way. Thousands of girls must have kept her cookery books as ready reckoner in their kitchen.

Born in Pune in 1936 and was 77 years old.

Now she has passed away after a brief illness at the age of 77. Posted on her Facebook page by her team is a message: Dear All,

We would like to thank all of you for your support and affection through the years of Mrs. Tarla Dalal’s career. She is no more with us as she expired in the early hours of this morning. We thank her for all the happiness that her talent has given to us and our families…

With all our love,
Tarla Dalal’s Team

Monsoon in Mumbai

Indian continent experiences a number of weathers. Even there are vast differences in the weather along the length and breadth of India. Unlike Europe, the weather changes are rapid and during the year one can experience biting cold and searing heat at one place. This is particularly true in the Northern plains.

The weather along the sea coast remains humid and moderate. During summers, the humidity and heat becomes unbearable.  In Bombay, everyone prays the rain gods for being benign and lash the city with rains to cool the heat and bring succor to people, animals and trees. The hot summer months climax to monsoons in the end of June.  First place which comes to mind is the otherwise serene Marine Drive. marinedrive

It is the favorite of tourists all round the year particularly in the evening with lights like necklace in the Malabar hill. It is beset by the sound and fury of a monsoon high tide. Tides beat against tetrapods and embankment in beautiful patterns. Then there is picturesque Gateway of India looking hazy in the mist of water and boats standing near the Gateway with rain beating the sea water.

gateway

If you are an outsider, then you will be intimidated by the rains and rains can harass. The rains usually are accompanied by strong winds which throw your umbrella heltor skeltor. If you happen to be at a railway station, you will see the sea of umbrellas jostling each other. Clothes are drenched with water.

Worli Seaface faces straight across the Arabian Sea, with no land between it and Oman. Rows of bungalows and expensive apartments overlook the sea. In the late afternoons, this is a place for daydreamers. The sun is coming down and the day looks as if it is just beginning, as people take their evening walks and rendezvous with friends. There are amusement rides for children, streetside eateries for teenagers, and benches for seniors. During the monsoon the most coveted seat is the one right next to the statue of the Common Man the creation of famous cartoonist R K Laxman.

Haji Ali is the popular dargah constructed in memory of the Muslim saint Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. The dargah is connected to land by a narrow causeway. Even in the day, the path is submerged in the water during high tide. So in the rains, the journey becomes a project to be attempted with care.

hajiali

The Mumbai monsoon is an experience, but monsoon weather is often unpredictable. What begins as a mild rain may suddenly turn into a heavy downpour. Then it is no longer safe to be near the sea. The tide is strong enough to pull a person into the sea and away from the shore. During the worst weather, a hot, sweet cutting chai and crunchy, salty, home-made bhajias complete the monsoon experience. They are best enjoyed in one’s own home.

During last few years, however, due to building activities, the drainage system has come under a severe pressure. There is flooding, water logging and train disruptions due to submerging of tracks. Life for poor becomes very difficult. With a large population living in the shanties along the train tracks, there are hardly any civic amenities. In fact, during 2005 monsoons, flooded the city, paralyzing it and warning the greedy builders to stop poaching the natural networks of sea drainage.

mumbai_deluge

We were living in a place called Panvel when the 2005 flood strike the Mumbai and Panvel. Panvel is on the way to Pune and Goa from Mumbai. It is in the Konkan region and every year experiences strong rains. Near by Panvel is a dam which overflowed and its gates were opened causing a flash flood in Panvel and near by areas. We are witness to the harrowing experience people underwent. The experience is described in Floods in Panvel.

In Mumbai

We again visited Mumbai, the city where we lived for more than 20 years during my posting there in ONGC. We lived in Panvel, a town falling on the Mumbai-Pune highway about 50 kilometers from Mumbai. We left the place on my transfer to Dehradun. Our children grew and got educated while we were there. As everyone knows no city in India is like Mumbai. It is always active, seldom goes to sleep, people seem to be in a great hurry and belong to every strata from billionaires to beggars. There is never any fear in the night like North Indian cities. In fact, more night bus services operate in the night time than in the day time.

South Mumbai is the real city built by British. From Dadar towards South Mumbai is the old and beautiful city. It flaunts all its wealthiness and majestic building and highrises. Old time buildings still display all the glory.

From Victoria Terminus Station, renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, we went towards Gateway of India in a cab. On the way, we passed on the D.N.Road, Flora Fountain aka Hutatma Chowk. There are book sellers in their makeshift stalls and piles of second hand books in the triangular space near Fountain.

A short distance ahead is Kala Ghoda and Prince of Wales Museum which now has been renamed after Shivaji the great Maratha king. After that one can see the Police Headquarters. Just after that is Gateway of India.  The structure was erected to commemorate the landing of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder, when they visited India in 1911.

These days the ground in front is cordoned off. This has been done to tighten the safety as terrorist attacks especially on the Taj Mahal hotel opposite have taken place and shattered the peace in the area in the past.

People take pictures in front of the structure. There are always big crowds. There is a ferry landing and pleasure ferries are available here to have a visit in the Arabian sea and from there see the majestic sky line and buildings of Bombay and Colaba. Boats are also available for famous Elephants caves located on the island.

Nearby is the Colaba market where one can buy all the fancy items. Foreigners are seen in plenty here. The famous Leopold Cafe is also located here. It was here in this small eatery the terrorists killed many innocent people in Mumbai attacks.

We took a taxi to Marine Drive and reached the Nariman Point End. From the esplanade, one can see the Arabian sea in its glory. The Sun set is very beautiful .A strong breeze blows. There are people sitting on the boundary and on the tetrapods. With the setting in of the evening whole area lits up. There are lights on the opposite side in the area called hanging gardens.

We sat there till evening. Took a taxi back and reached Victoria Station again and caught the train to Vashi back.