Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Writer's Bloc Festival - Readings at Prithvi,Jan 9th-21st.

RAGE Productions (Rahul da Cunha, Rajit Kapur and Shernaz Patel) is organising Writer's Bloc, a festival of plays written by new writers, to be staged at Prithvi (Jan 9th-21st) and NCPA (Jan 23rd-Feb 4th). The festival is a culmination of a year-long process, in conjuction with the Royal Court Theatre London, of conducting workshops for new playwrights to help them complete a full-length play.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

8 Dec : Nandita Da Cunha's "The Magic of Maya"

In case you are in Mumbai around that time,
please make it to the launch of the book by

Nandita Da Cunha's (01 BM batch XLRI ),

'The Magic of Maya'

Friday, December 8th,
Crossword Bookstore,
Kemps Corner at 7 pm

Anil Dharker will launch the book, followed by a dramatic presentation of excerpts by Raell Padamsee's ACE Productions

The book has received some positive reviews so far. See:

and is already available at bookstores from this week onwards...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

29 Nov : Book Readers club, mumbai -Cha Bar, Oxford, Churchgate

Book Readers Club

Meeting at Cha Bar- Oxford Book Store

Book for discussion : Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi

Time and date : 29th November 2006, 1900 hrs (7:00 pm)

Brief :
Written in first person, it's a novel about emotion, about existential angst and trauma.

'Tonight', writes Jay, the narrator of Hanif Kureishi's novella, 'my predominant emotion is of fear of the future'. Jay is about to leave his partner Susan, and their two children. Not that he has told her he's going; he intends simply to pack his bag and slink away in the morning, to find some floorspace in his friend Victor's pad in a 'fashionable, bohemian part of town' and to start anew. As he waits for dawn and a new life Jay reflects over his past life and loves and why 'it is the human condition that we are ultimately isolated, and will die alone.'

Intimacy takes us into the landscape of male angst and put-uponness. Its an interesting view to debate and displays our own rationalisations and moral fibre.

The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is back

hit http://www.mumbaimarathon.indiatimes.com

c'mon boys & girls - lets run / walk 21 km....!!!

do cascade within your respective companies ....!!!

8 Dec : FICCI FLO Presents a Legal Seminar on "KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS"



Dear MS. PAIS,

The FICCI Ladies Organization ( FLO, Bombay Chapter) is planning to organize
a "Legal Seminar" on the 8th of December 2006.

We think our women's wing can create a unique opportunity to bring together
resources for women in need of help. Women today women are facing an
increasing risk of domestic violence, physical abuse, and mental abuse and
are helpless, as well as unaware, of where to seek help. We, at FLO want to
create a platform where we can arm them with information , by introducing
them to legal professionals who are experts in their respective fields and
who can help them in return. It is aimed to take a step towards educating
the "Women" in knowing their legal rights!

The details of the seminar as follows

Event : Women's Rights

Topic : Know your rights/ Empowering

Venue : YB Chavan Hall

Date : December 8th 2006

Time : 10.30 am to 5.00 pm

Sponsors : Times Of India

Participants : Women across age group social

Logistics : 3 Capsules - 10.30 am
to 1.00 pm

v Civil : Suggested Ms Manjula Rao/ Shobha

v Corporate : Suggested Mr Suhas Tuljapurkar / Ms Zia

v Criminal : Confirmed Mr Satish Manashinde

The session will be followed by lunch and then a panel discussion.

Panel Discussion : 2.00 pm- 3.30 pm

v Moderator : Suggested Ms Bacchhi Karkaria

v Corporate : Suggested Ms Anu Agha / Ms Lalita Gupte

v Films : Suggested Ms Shabana Azmi

v Lawyer : Suggested Ms Zia Modi / Ms Shobha

Ms Gonsalves

v Police : Suggested Ms Meera Borwankar /Mr
Javed Ahmed

v Social Worker : Suggested Ms Flavia Agnes

v Politics : Suggested Ms Renuka Chowdhary

We plan to release a small booklet on "Legal Rights" compiled our own FLO
member who is an Advocate at The Supreme Court of India, and would welcome

I look forward from hearing from you kindly send your confirmations in the
enclosed Reply form along with the registration fees to Ms. Shweta Kapasi,
FICCI Ladies Organisation Bombay Chapter Tel: D- 2661762 / 24968000
Fax-24966631/32 Email: skap...@ficci.com at your
earliest convenience.

We look forward to having you and your friends participate in this event.

I look forward to your participation.

With best regards


Chapter Chairperson
FLO Bombay Chapter

25 Nov : Caferati read meet

If you are a member of Ryze you may give your RSVP here-


You may also give your RSVP here on Google board.

The details are as follow-

Bombay November Read Meet
Date- Nov. 25th 2006,
Time- 4.30 pm To 8.30 pm.
Venue- Committee Room, Ground floor, Administrative Building,
SNDT Women's University, Nathibhai Thackersy Road (Just ahead of USIS),
New Marine Lines.
Bombay, Mh, India

If you wish to read anything at the read meet, mail me the piece in advance
so I can make it a part of programme. Every reader gets 10 mins. So make
sure that what you intend to read fits into that time frame.
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday :)


Monday, October 16, 2006

book club meeting in Churchgate-Cha Bar,Oxford Book Store, 20th October 6:30pm

Readers Club will start a meeting in Town at Cha Bar at Oxford Book Store, Churchgate.

First meeting of the readers club in town will be on friday 20th October at 6:30 pm. author Altaf Tyrewala will also be present. We will discuss his first Book "No God in SIght".

Alo meet to decide on which book to read for the meeting next month.

Everyone is invited to attend.

monica kohli

Moving to Egypt

Hey Faithful readers,

I know I haven't posted for awhile. Been busy with a major relocation exercise. Yes, we are Moving to Egypt

I will continue maintaining my whazzupmumbai event groups : whazzupmumbai@yahoogroups.com and whazzupmumbai@yahoogroups.com

But this particular blog will now turn into an event listing, since I won't be around to review events. So stay tuned. I will review some retaurants that I have been dying to praise, since I've had a phenomenal month of eating out experiences. But that will be once I get the time.

Until then you can stay updated on what I'm doing, by visiting my new blog Whazzup Egypt !!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Baiscope Entertainments -Workshop on Indian Animation Industry

Having attended Baiscope Entertainment's previous workshop with Anurag Kashyap we were quite gung ho about the animation workshop that they had invited us to.

The speakers were scheduled to be Geetanjali Rao winner of 3 awards at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and Siddharth Jain Head of the Animation Division at Adlabs Films Ltd

Geetanjali spoke about her experience with Animation since the last 10+ years. How animation was intially shot on 35mm cameras & each frame had to be drawn painstakingly. She also went into a lot of technical details which were very interesting, especially to the aspiring animators in the audience. Readers would recognise her work from the Hutch MMS animated ads

She has produced, directed & animated the film Printed Rainbow which won 3 awards at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival Kodak Discovery for best short film, OFAJ Very Young Critics Award and Petite Rail d'Or Award for best short film.

The animated short film is about an old woman who lives alone with her cat who is transported into new worlds when she looks at the covers of the matchboxes that she has painstakingly collected.

Siddharth Jain spoke about the Business Aspect of Animated Films. With Hanuman making a sizeable ROI, a lot of people are now interested in the Animation genre, but unfortunately not all of them can produce a good quality film. Plus for big producers, there are no previous trend lines to observe before taking a decision on whether to invest capital in an Animated Movie.

Adlabs is currently in the process of making an animated movie with Rajnikant as the main character. Hopefully this will be a success & this will give fillip to the fledgling animation film industry in India

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blogspot blocked by ISP's in India ????

I was trying to check on my blogs since Friday morning, but somehow I wasn't getting through. Initially thought it was a temporary glitch, but by Saturday morning there was no improvement. Was travelling that day & the next and today whole day, I still couldn't connect. I had written to the powers that be at the blogspot help on saturday itself, but have still not got a response from them.

Spoke to a couple of friends who said that they weren't facing any problems, so I thought it was a wierd bug in MY system. Turns out the bug is a bee in some ministry's bonnet, who has ordered that blogspot, geocities & typepad be blocked by ISP's.
Some of the ISP's that have blocked blogger are at this location

A group of Indian Bloggers who have all been hit by this blockade are grouping together & looking for solutions here

Bypassing the ban

For sites blocked by domain names

  • Using google translate, e.g., if the blog is "blogyouwanttoread.blogspot.com", then use


For Blogspot

Using proxy server for any blocked site

One way to visit a blocked site is through another site, generally called a proxy site. Some such sites and the info on how to use them are given below.

In this specfic case go to site: www.boreproxy.com

On that page below the link for favourites you will find an edit box. Put the shortcut of the site you want to access in this edit box eg. http://xyz.blogspot.com

Press Enter and voila! you have access:)

Use www.hidemyass.com and then type in the site you wish to access.

Use http://www.shysurfer.com. It allows you to not just surf, but also make posts.

Got all this neat info on the Bloggers group & http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Bypassing_The_Ban

First time I have had to use a proxy server to access what I write. Makes me feel like I'm some kind of dirty criminal or terrorist disloyal to my country.

Much as I love my country, the politicians are slowly making it difficult for us to keep doing so.

First they take 1/3 of our salary in taxes & then they don't give us basic infrastructure (case in points floods 2 weeks back) non-adequate security (bomb blasts last week) and now they take away my stress release mechanism & window to the world (blogspot being banned this week) what are they gonna do to me next week ? Throw me in Jail ?

Neha has sone a much better job of blogging about this

I'm just tired, sleepy & cranky, so I shall sign off here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Important Contact Numbers

Western Railway Enquiry 131, (022) 2306 1763

Mumbai Helpline (022) 2200 5388

Cooper Hospital (022) 2620 7254
Bhabha Hospital - Bandra (022) 2642 2775
Hinduja Hospital (022) 2445 1515
Leelavati Hospital (022) 2643 8281
Nanavati Hospital (022)
Raheja Hospital (022) 2446 7569
Sion Hospital (022) 2407 6380 / 2444 9161

To send messages on TV News Channels :

SMS "Mumbai" to 2622 followed by your message
Or call (0120)4341 895

Headlines Today
HT Message your name to 2424

SMS message to 6388

Times Now
SMS YOU Message at 8888

For Blood donation, logon to http://www.indianblooddonors.com

Bombs in Bombay

As most of you would know by now. 7 bomb blasts have hapenned on the Local trains on the Western line between 6:00 & 6:30 pm.

Quite a few dead and injured being reported.

To add to the confusion, phone lines have been jammed and its quite difficult to get through to people by calling them or sms. Some internet lines are working. I hope mine holds on for awhile.

As of now,
Central & Harbour Lines running
Long Distance Trains Halted
Western Line stalled. Might not start again till tomorrow.
Special BEST buses are supposed to have been deployed to ferry commuters from Churchgate to Andheri.

38 casualties at Hinduja Hospital.
Some at Cooper Hospital, KEM Hospital & Sion Hospital.

Will let u know the numbers to call for information as I get to know them

Monday, July 10, 2006

World Cup Finals at Fame Adlabs

Citibank invited some of its account holders to view the Finals on the big screen at Fame Andheri.

Coupons for a free beer, pepsi & popcorn were also included in the offer. Since a couple of friends had also been invited, we thought it would be a good idea to watch the match together at the theatre. Added bonus, no snack supply/post party cleaning up operations for me.

But never again will we watch a match in a theatre. The acoustics kept failing. Picture quality was quite pathetic. (something about transmitting an analog signal onto a digital screen or some techy stuff like that) At half time the snack stands had serpentine queues since 4 screens were screening the match.

At one time (early matches) the offer was supposedly unlimited beer. But after a few drunken brawls between opposing fans, management of the theatre demoted it to a single beer.

Not an experience we would voluntarily repeat.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

PEN@Prithvi: Deciphering the City

In May last year, PEN tried to re-invent itself. They moved to new premises (from ground floor to second floor), inducted new executive committee members : Literary organiser and activist Aspi Mistry, writer Sampurna Chattarji, architect Savio Lobo and journalist Ronita Torcota.

At that time, PEN secretary Ranjit Hoskote said that, "the PEN committee went through a lot of introspection and has now inducted four new members in the executive committee. This, the PEN feels will save the literary body from going through a phase of inertia that it underwent in the last nine months."

Unfortunately this did not work out as planned. PEN went through another phase of inertia. They then felt that maybe South Mumbai was too far away for most of their target audience & so 3 months back they started PEN @ Prithvi. The first meeting in May garnered a large audience, but at todays meeting there were just 23 of us. Including Ranjit, Sampurna and the 3 panelists.

The Invitation from Sampurna said :
A panel discussion with Naresh Fernandes, writer and editor, Altaf Tyrewala, novelist, and Nishtha Jain, filmmaker, talking about ways of understanding the city/urbanscape through their own methodologies of making.
Date: Saturday, 8 July 2006
Time: 6.30 pm onwards
Place: Prithvi House, 1st floor (opposite Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu, Bombay)

Most Mumbaiyyas would recognise Naresh's name as the editor of Time Out, Mumbai but not as many would know that, he is also the co-editor with Jerry Pinto of Bombay Meri Jaan, an anthology of writing about India's largest city. In 1996, he was among the authors of Murder of the Mills, a citizens' report on industrial sickness in Mumbai's textile industry, and in 1993 he was among the contributors to When Bombay Burned, a collection of reportage and commentary on the Mumbai riots.

Naresh started the discussion with a few incidents from his youth, linked them to his experience as a Wall Street Journalist in New York. He dwelled on how other than the Rajabai Tower & The Gateway of India there was no other monument that could be identified with Bombay (he did admit that VT was too large to fit on the cover page)
The setting was informal (shoes off & seating on chaadars) so his chatty informal style went perfectly well with it. He was interesting & amusing to listen to.

Altaf Tyrewala is the author of No God in Sight (Penguin, 2005). Time Out, Mumbai readers would also recognise him from his column 'Tyred & Tested'

Altaf read out a short piece on his relationship and feelings towards Bombay, which will be printed in a future issue of Time Out, Mumbai Essentially it was about how the city keeps calling him back and how he feels moored to Bombay. He also read out one of the short stories from his new book. Seems like that too will be in monologues like the previous one.

I have a soft corner for Altaf, since the time I met him at a Juhu Book Club Meeting and he remembered my name from a piece of fiction I had written for the Caferati Flash Fiction Contest and he had judged. Read about that episode here.

If reading his book was a pleasure, listening to him read from it, was an experience that actually transported us into the mind of his protagonist.

Nishta Jain's 2005 film, City of Photos explores neighborhood photo studios, unearthing the imaginary buried under gritty physical realities. Currently she is shooting a film about the city of Mumbai as seen, experienced and imagined by migrants to the city, including herself. Her other films are Call it Slut (2006) and Shadows Out of Time (2002).

From this point the quality degenerated. Nishta kept rambling, mostly off topic, highly prejudiced against muslims. (for eg : describing her City of Photos where one of the backgrounds at the studios for pictures was the crashing of the twin towers she said "I thought only the muslims wanted to take their pictures in front of that background, rejoicing and all that, but even others were taking their pictures with it") All this while when Altaf was seated right next to her. Its not wrong to have an opinion, but you also need to be sensitive to the feelings of people around you. Wonder how someone so prejudiced and closed to new ideas & concepts can be a documentary film maker. She went on & on & on in a monologue highly punctuated with "You know's" (minimum of twice in each & every sentence)

This started a verbal free-for-all by some attendees between whenever she stopped to catch her breath and her actually catching it. A lot of pseudo intellectual crap was bandied about by those who wanted their voice heard. (eg: 1 woman - "Suketu came home and read to us one of the stories from his book, of the birds fling in the taxi in Worli"- no one gave her any "bhav" so at this point she added- "from Maximum City you know") A few members did come up with a few good points, but they were overshadowed by those with verbal diarhoea. Naresh & Altaf wisely distanced themselves mentally from these attempts at verbal one-up(wo)manship.

Ranjit wisely called an end to the chaos (albeit an hour too late). Sampurna announced the relaunch of "PENumbra" the magazine. Most of us rushed away to salvage the rest of our Saturday evening.

I did enjoy the first 2 speakers, after that it was a waste of time. Nothing about the city was deciphered. There were some large cribs against other cities. some talk about villages being feudalistic & cities being capitalistic. In villages you survive but in cities like Mumbai you live & other such high sounding notions & inane conversation topics. None of which would benefit anyone in the crowd nor would be remembered by any.

Most memorable incident of the evening ? Altaf completed his reading, looked around at the audience for reactions & once Nishta started to ramble, he gave a quick questioning look at his wife (I didn't catch her name), she gave him an approving look & a nod & only then did he smile a relaxed smile. Authors are human too. . .

PEN - Indian chapter of International association of Poets, Playwrights, editors, Essayists & Novelists. They hold regular readings and workshops. You can be an Associate member or a full member. No qualifications to be an Associate Member. One has to have 2 published works for full membership.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dastangoi - The Lost Art of Story Telling

Mahmood Farooqui (right) and Danish Husain performed the dastangoi at the NCPA last Friday.

I initially read about "Dastangoi" in Time Out Mumbai, my source of knowledge for events in Mumbai. Then Dan Hussain posted an invite on the Caferati message board.

Exchanged a couple of mails with Dan in which he told me I didn't need to understand the language to enjoy the performance. I was a bit sceptical, but thought why not attend ? The performance at NCPA was free, so could leave at the interval if I could not make sense of it. Plus inlaws were in town & they love theatre and understand a fair amount of Urdu.

So the 6 of us bundled ourselves into the car at 4:15 to reach NCPA by 6:30.

The next 2 hours were completely spellbinding. As most people who know me would tell you, my knowledge of Hindi is recently acquired & I can barely manage the colloquial stuff, so I was wondering if I would be able to understand any of the proceedings. Inspite of Dan's assurances, my doubts persisted till Mahmood began to weave his tapestries.

Dastangoi is very difficult to describe. It needs to be experienced. But let me try to give you an idea of what to expect. Its a cross between a theatre performance & a poetry reading. The words are wonderfully descriptive and conjure visions in your head. The perfomers are seated but use expressions, gestures, tone of voice & myriad other techniques to transport you into a realm of fantasy consisting partly of "tilisms" (alternate worlds), aiyyaars, sorcerers & magicians.

"Dastangos were those who told ‘dastans’ (stories). Recounting tales of Amir Hamza, the Prophet Mohammed’s uncle, they told narratives of his battles with infidels, sorcerers and other pretenders to divinity.” says Farooqui.

"In the dastani worldview, good and bad are evenly matched, infinitely. When an evil sorcerer dies, a new one rises to replace him. When someone on the righteous side is killed, another one is quickly found to replace him. Hamza is the lead character, he is the Lord of the age."

"Dastangoyee is about four things: Razm — warfare, Bazm — assembly of singing, dancing and seducing, Tilism — magical effect or artefact created by the sorcerer, and Aiyyari — chicanery, trickery, disguise. The aiyyars, the tricksters, are employed by both sides."

If you would like to read more about the subject, do read
Mahmood's interview with Mumbai Mirror
Mahmood's interview with Mumbai Mirror
Mahmood's interview with Tehelka

If you would like to watch a performance, you are in luck. If you already caught the NCPA perfomance, then consider this the next couple of episodes.

Dastangoi: A Presentation of the Lost Form of Storytelling
(A Part of Katha Collage II)


The Sea of Eloquence – An Evening of Dastan-e-Amir Hamza
July 1 & 2, 2006 at 9:00 pm, Prithvi Theatre, Juhu, Mumbai

Tickets available at Prithvi on the day of performance itself.

The oral narration of Dastan-e-Amir Hamza was a popular past time in most parts of Central, Western and South Asia and North Africa since medieval times. Originally composed in Persian, the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza describes the battles of Amir Hamza, the Prophet Muhammad's Uncle, against infidels, sorcerers and other pretenders to divinity.

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza was singularly successful in entertaining a whole range of people, from the commoners at chauks and nukkads to the elites in their palaces; it was performed at the steps of the Jama Masjid where Dastangos gathered. While their neglect as literature is inexcusable, they have been wholly obliterated from the canon of performing arts. As anecdotes of Mir Baqar Ali, the last known Dastango of Delhi, testify, their performances required an exceptional command over rhetoric, delivery, mimicry, ventriloquism and spontaneous composition.

The present performance of Dastangoi builds upon some recent shows that were enthusiastically received in the Capital. The performance consisted of portions of the best-known daftar, or chapter, of the 46 volume Dastan-e-Amir Hamza, the Tilism Hoshruba, the 'Enchantment that Steals away the Senses', which is itself in seven volumes.

The performances have come about as a result of a collaboration between S.R. Faruqi, the foremost living authority on these Dastans and the only person to possess a full set of all the 46 volumes, and the performers. Faced with neglect and systematic devaluation we now have very scanty evidence for the way in which these Dastans were compiled and performed. Even basic things such as movements, gesticulation, stage setting are wholly unknown. The current performance is therefore merely an exploration of an Art form which, astonishingly in a culture where poetry was regarded as the supreme art, was considered by some to be of a higher order than poetry itself. Dastangos were supposed to be a repository not just of language, common speech as well as literary, but also of social mores, craftsmanship, and all other forms of knowledge.

The Dastangos of old performed in an oral culture where memory, sound and directness were much prized. As modern actors we neither have skills to memorize whole daftars, nor the inventiveness to do spontaneous and extempore improvisations which are the hallmark of oral performances.

Mahmood Farooqui
New Delhi

Mahmood Farooqui is a self-trained actor and performer whose most recent foray into acting consisted of a role in Mahesh Dattani's English film, Mango Soufflé. Initiated into theatre as a schoolboy, and as stage manager, by Mohan Maharishi, former director of the National School of Drama, he directed several plays at school and college, and prepared for the final entrance workshop of the NSD, before founding his own amateur theatre group called Dastak Theatre. After completing his M Phil in Indian History from Cambridge University, Mahmood went to Mumbai and performed in IPTA's Aakhri Shama and the Company Theatre's Hindustani presentation of Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead. Earlier this year, he was given a Fellowship by Sarai, CSDS to work on the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza.

Danish Husain has done theatre with the best names in the country - Habib Tanvir, M.S. Sathyu, Barry John, Rajinder Nath, Sabina Mehta Jaitley, Aziz Quraishi, et al in a wide variety of roles. His latest assignments include a play called Raja by Rabindra Nath Tagore and a movie, Losing Gemma, by Granada Productions for a British TV Channel called ITV. He also performed at Bonn Theatre Festival in May 2006 as part of Habib Tanvir's Agra Bazaar troupe. Besides being an accomplished actor Danish is a poet and a writer, whose work has been published across a cross-section of media, including Tehelka and other journals. He is a member of few collaborative blogs and a writer's group called Wriyaz supported by the British Council. Danish holds a Master's degree in economics from the Delhi School of Economics and an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi.

Get to know the performers at
Mahmood Farooqui's Blog
Dan's poems & his Discontents
Dan's Proseonama

Time Out Mumbai is finally online

After waiting and waiting for the Mumbai edition of Time Out to come online, they finally did so.

Check them out at http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Some Must Visit Blogs of fellow travellers

As you know by now,
I'm one of the finalists for the travel contest.

Still waiting anxiously for the results, in the meanwhile I browsed some blogs of my fellow Contestants and each one of them has some really interesting work posted. Either travel descriptions or breathtaking photographs.

So here go some links to their blogs, in no particular order.

# I've been a fan of Akshay's work since a long time. I've linked to his photo features on my Whazzupmumbai blog very often.

# Harshad runs his own trekking company & has covered a lot of Shivaji's forts around Bombay and Pune. I don't understand most of the technical specs of cameras that he talks about, but his photographs are BRILLIANT. Some of his pictures of butterflies (if you have ever tried to photograph even one, you will know how difficult it is) are going to be published in books written by naturalists Isaac Kehimkar & Krushnamegh Kunte
Browse through Harshads blogs :
Through His ViewFinder
Trek blogs of his various outings in the Sahyadris and Himalayas, along with photographs

# Sahil's picture on the site, doesn't do him justice. He hardly uses any words on his Blog : Myopic Endeavour preferring his pictures to do the talking. He's a really interesting person & so much fun to talk to.

# Mridula has been travelling & blogging about her travels since over a year. On her blog, she says "For me travel is a form of escape, from my daily routine" I think she has put so eloquently, what we all feel. She is a consistent trekker and her blog has lots of stories, tips & pictures which tell the tale. Wish I could have met her, but that will have to wait till I take a trip to Delhi.

# Altaf has a different take on life ...the way he sees it. He's currently in Kaintholi on a Global Xchange program & living like a local so he has some really interesting stories to tell.

# Sheetal blogs on Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax where she blogs about the happenings in the twin cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad. My Ex-City

# Divya blogs at Chronicus Skepticus Currently a Visual Merchandiser, who's also been a copywriter, a visualiser (at the same time), a web-designer, an editor, and a (garment) production manager.

# Rahul is the poetic soul among the finalists. Do visit his blog to read some of his original works of fiction.

# Apurv is the current editor of PaGaLGuY.com, a highly popular website most MBA aspirants would be aware of. Read his take on things at What Blog Men!

Gautam & Simona do not have blogs that I know of.

It was fun meeting 8 of the other contestants. (2 from Delhi & 1 came in later that evening) There were some excellent & passionate photographers amongst the group and when Harshad, Sahil, Akshay & Gautham spoke about lenses it was a foreign language to the rest of us. But we did share a lot of interesting stories about unusual places to travel, great photo ops, where & what to eat & a lot of other stuff like that. Most of us met each other for the first time, but we all had fun because of the kindred fellowship of travellers.

We ended with a fun lunch at Kobe's on Hill Road

Now all fingers crossed for the results. May the best man/woman win.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ok Tata Bye Bye

Hi Everyone,

I'm so excited.

I've been shortlisted for a travel contest. Which involves travelling
& Blogging. Hardly ever been selected for anything earlier :)

Check out the contest and my profile on

(Yes they have spelt my name wrong in the link, trying to get them to correct it)

The final selection is next week. I'm not sure how they will do it.
But have a vague feeling that they may do so based on popularity of
the contestant & ability to draw viewers.

Requesting you to please view my profile & drop me a comment, even if
its just to say "All the best, Kim" or "Don't think u should go" But
please comment.

Hope there's a lot of you looking for something to do on a slow Friday

Please, please, pretty please. :)

http://kimelody.blogspot.com - the XL Blog

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scholarship for females with 85% in science stream in HSC

Loreal is offerring 2 lakh scholarships for female students in the science stream who have secured 85% in PCM or PCB.

It is only open to students who have completed their HSC this year from either Pune or Bombay. (Bombay is their head office. Pune is their factory location)

Look up http://www.foryoungwomeninscience.com/ for more details.

All details haven't been updated. Last year they were offering scholarships only to Mumbai students, this year it has been extended to Pune too.

Look up the website for more details on how to apply

-----Original Message-----
From: For Young Women in Science (India) [mailto:fywis@in.loreal.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 10:41 AM
To: 'Karishma Pais'
Subject: RE: Scholarship

The L'OREAL INDIA FOR YOUNG WOMEN IN SCIENCE SCHOLARHSHIP was started in 2003 for young women from the city of Mumbai. This year, we have extended it to Mumbai and Pune and have increased the number of scholarships offered from 3 to 5.

We at L'Oreal believe in doing things consistently over the years. Also, our india head office is in Mumbai whilst our factory is in Pune. This initiative is part of our corporate social responsibility and we have limited it to only two cities as we have a strong base here.

All the very best!

Monday, June 05, 2006

PVR in Bombay/Mumbai at Juhu sucks big time

Where do I start with how terrible the Bombay version of PVR is ?

Maybe sequentially is best.

Ticket booking :
A little counter at the side of Dynamix mall on a one way street with no parking.
If you decide to use the parking of the mall before buying your ticket in advance, be prepared to shell out 30 bucks for waiting in line for 10 minutes to park your car and another 20 minutes to get it back. 1Rs per minute that you wait.
Advance booking rating : -10

Parking :
As mentioned above, it takes approximately 30 minutes for parking if you have visited the cinema for advance booking. During the shows, be prepared to wait 45 minutes to park your car and 1 hour to get it back unless you are prepared to miss the final 10 minutes of your movie, come rushing down and collect your car before the rest of the crowd comes out.
There is just one entry/exit point and 3 valets struggle to keep up. This when only 2 of PVR's 5 screens have been opened for viewing.
Don't even think of parking on the road. The area around is home to some high profile neighbours like Mr. Bacchan himself and Mr. Dev Anand which ensures police patrols on a regular basis and the possibility of bumping into a mamu looking for his daily bonus is very high. 30Rs parking or minimum 100Rs bonus - you decide.
Parkng Rating : -10

The theatre is located on the 3rd Floor of the mall with entry through the mall itself. To put it in perspective, the mall is solely a Shoppers Stop outlet.
The elevator is difficult to locate as it is hidden behind huge barriers of display material of Shoppers Stop. Even if you do locate the elevator, it only goes upto the 2nd floor (basement, ground, 1st & 2nd).
The escalators as in any mall makes you complete half a circambulation before you can take the next level up.
The elevators and escalators are stopped at 9pm. So if you plan to catch a show later than that, be prepared to walk up 3 flights of stairs and a walk around and around half a kilometre of shuttered window displays. If that wasn't bad enough, imagine doing the same while helping your parents and grandparents on this yatra.
Entry Rating : -10

Time Management :
The show we picked was the 10.30pm show of Fanaa. Its a given in multiplexes, that the theatre doors are opened a minimum of 5 minutes before the printed show timing. Most multiplexes give you around 10 minutes. So logically you would arrive at least 15 minutes before the show is supposed to start. If you have been forewarned, then you would come at lesat 45 minutes earlier to be able to park your car.
At 10:30, there were no signs of the doors opening. 10:40 and you can still hear the muffled sounds of something playing inside the hall. 10:45 a couple of people from the previous show start coming out. At 10:50 they want to shut the doors to clean up the hall. But the 500 people who have been STANDING outside since at least 10:15, are in no mood to wait any longer, so they just start barging inside.
Time Management Rating : -30 (for each extra minute)

Facilities Management :
As mentioned above, the hall doors were forcibly opened by irate customers who had been standing outside for more than 15 minutes after the time the show was supposed to start.
Essentially you have 500 people waiting in a space which has seating for about 45 and no air conditioning running. There is standing space, but the air was getting staler by the second.
Once inside the hall too, the air conditioning was turned off. For the first 20 minutes it was cooler than outside, where we had been standing for 45 minutes, but it soon became quite stuffy inside too and the movie in true Yash Chopra style meandered for 3 whole hours (with interval)
Facilities Management Rating : -20

Snack Bar / Candybar :

Have you ever had the popcorn at PVR in Delhi ? The best in the country. PVR in Bombay ? Don't even go with zero expectations. The popcorn is soggy not crunchy. The caramel flavoured version has an extremely watery caramel. This isn't a "Bombay's humidity" problem. If Cinemax, Imax, Fame Andheri, Fame Malad and Fun Republic all within a 5 km radius can give good crunchy popcorn, then why not PVR ?
The samosas just look huge, the filling ? Lets just say I've had better food in hostels.
The burgers - terrible. The chicken burger patty only feels like potatoes patty so be ready for a carb overdose.
If you need napkins, you need to ask specifically for them.
Chilled water - not available - only room temperature.
Most snacks are served cold. You need to specifically instruct them to heat up food if you want it at a decent temperature. Then be prepared to wait another 10 minutes while the sole microwave struggles to keep pace.
Snack Bar / Candybar Rating : -30 (nothing is edible)

Washrooms :
Only 3 stalls in the ladies loo. So although they are slightly wider than most other cinema loos, be prepared for a long wait for your turn. ALso be prepard to miss part of the movie. Cleanliness can be judged by the people to loo ratio. Now you can get an extremely vague idea as to what people in slums have to adjust with in their common loos.
Washrooms Rating : -10

Exit :
No matter which show you attend, be prepared to climb down 3 levels of stairs, since there is no other exit option. Even to get inside the main mall is not possible once you get in the Exit stairwell.
Exit Rating : -10

Overall Rating : -130

PVR definitely needs to do some drastic revamping if they want their customers to come back and are even considering opening the next 3 screens. (4th Floor) PVR Priya, Saket, Anupam and the other one in Gurgaon used to be my favorite movie multiplexes. But Mumbai ? Me, I'm not going back even if they give me a free ticket to visit.

If inspite of this post you still want visit,
Dummies guide to watch a movie at PVR Bombay :
Go early - at least an hour earlier. You can then pick up your tickets at the same time. Park in relatively less time.
Eat at Brio downstairs before you go up.
Use the washrooms on the groundfloor next to Crossword.
Choose an early show & go up before the escalators and elevator stops working.
Unfortunately you have no option but to climb down. Unless you carry a crutch and ask them to let you out from the entry door, then take the escalator to the second floor and the lift t the ground floor.
Leave 10 minutes before the climax so you don't get stuck in the return crowd at parking.
No parking woes if you use autos.

Disclaimer :
All images used in this post are for illustration purposes only. PVR has not sanctioned or approved of this post. The views expressed are those of the author alone.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Eternal Gandhi Exhibition

At a time when Gandhiji's ideas seem to have become relegated to tomes of history textbooks, the Eternal Gandhi multimedia exhibition helps to bring his ideas back into focus in a medium that makes it easy for todays kids to relate to & understand.

The exhibits explore Gandhiji's philosophies, the books that moulded him, his ashram stays and other thoughts through computer generated designs and interactive installations. It is an attempt to explore and convey how Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became the "Mahatma".

Conceptualised and directed by Ranjit Makkuni and his team at Sacred World Research Laboratory, the exhibition first displayed in Delhi, moved to Bombay a couple of months ago. For awhile it was exhibited at the Cowasji Jehangir Hall

But since the last month it has been displayed at the CSMVS. You still can catch it until the end of this month.

The Birla Trust has helped undertake part of the fiscal responsibility.

What you can expect to see :

Raghupati Xylophone : The notes are pre-arranged to play Gandhiji's favourite bhajan. You don't need to be a musician to play it.

Laser India Harp - allows the visitor to trigger music by touching the laser beams.

Pillar of Castelessness - Embodies "United we stand & Divided we fall" by lighting up when all around the pillar hold hands and turning dark when they let go.

Stambha - 11 rotating discs. Each triggers a visual clip of Gandhiji's principles of Satyagraha.

A wooden replica of Sabarmati Ashram

Each Pillar when touched starts an audio visual presentation of Ashram Life.

A Mural of Raja Harischandra's Story

A fibre optic Jail Cell to mimic the one Gandhi was imprisoned at, which has his Jail journal beamed across the cell floor.

The Charaka is everywhere.
As a motif, as a theme, as a background, as an exhibit....

And an extremely life-like wax figure of Gandhiji which could have you thinking its a real person sitting there. (The webbed toes gave it away)

....among other exhibits.

The exhibition is best summed up by a kid I overheard at the exhibition "Mommy, mommy ! This is so much fun !!!"

To be relevant and speak to today's generation of kids, you need to involve them in the discovery process by stimulating not just their minds but by appealing to their visual and auditory senses too. Since the experience also combines a tactile dimension, it succeeds on all counts. The exhibition is equally appealing to adults too, it shows that we CAN make Indian Museums a better leisure experience.

Little known Facts about Mumbai

Mumbai originally was a cluster of 7 islands - Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman's Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel & Matunga-Sion. It took 60 years to merge the 7 islands of Bombay into one landmass between 1784 & 1845.
The reclamations from the sea continue even today and India's most prosperous business district - Nariman Point - was reclaimed from the sea as recently as 1971.

Statistically :
Mumbai's per capita income is almost 3 times the National Average.
Mumbaikars have a literacy rate which is nearly 20% higher than India's overall literacy rate.
Mumbai's suburban rail systems carry a total of 2.2 billion passengers every year or roughly one third of the world's entire population.

Initially the city was named Bom Bahia or the "Good Bay" in appreciation of the excelent & deep harbor that it possessed on the East side. The English developed Bom Bahia into Bombay.
The Maharashtrians in Mumbai have demanded and achieved the renaming of Bombay as Mumbai. They claim that this was the originaly name of the city before the advent of the English who they allege distorted the name to Bombay. The name Mumbai on the contrary, is derived from the temple of Mumbadevi, the Goddess of Mumba.

Printed in Simplifly, March 2005.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thank God It's Blog Meet (again)

Attention all Mumbai Bloggers!! - A very important announcement

Saakshi Juneja and Amit Verma have decided to get together for another blog meet on 20th May, 2006 at 'Thank God Its Friday (TGIF)', Andheri West from 3.00 pm onwards.

Blog newbies, non-Mumbai bloggers and (only) blog readers - all are welcome.

However this time round no 'Special guest blogger' will be making a presence, but what the heck...good time can surely be expected.

Here is the full address:


So put a note in your appointment dairy or PDA and make sure to get your butt down there.

For more info visit http://desicritics.org/2006/05/17/100534.php

Saakshi O. Juneja is an active blogger...slightly feminist and overboard dog lover. Currently working as a Business Development Manager for a sportwear manufacturing company in Mumbai, India. Did graduation in Marketing & Advertiseing from Sydney, Australia. As far as blogging is concerned...is a complete Blog-a-holic.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Photo Feature on Ratnagiri (Maharashtra)

Who hasn't heard of Ratnagiri ?

Famed for its Alphonso/Hapus Mangoes....

The drive from Mumbai (Bombay) was 8 hours long with a couple of breaks along the way, but the scenery more than made up for the long journey. I hear the train journey has some beautiful views too.

We stayed at the wonderful "Kokanes Kohinoor Samudra Resort"
Located on the Ratnagiri - Pawas Coastal Highway, its away from the city, situated on a cliff, sprawling over 2 kilometres from end-to-end, it has the most brilliant view from every room in the multiple buildings.

The town of Ratnagiri is pretty small & so easy to navigate after driving around in Mumbai.
We first headed towards the Thibaw Palace - which was built for the exiled King & Queen of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1910-11. They lived here until they died. This would be a familiar name for those who have read "Amitav Ghosh's - The Glass Palace"

It has also been partly converted into a museum. The museum is rather pitiful as it has only 4 rooms. One on the ground floor which has some old sculptures salvaged from the Ratnadurg Fort. The 3 rooms on the first floor have some old, badly damaged copper vessels, old photographs and the last room is an attempt to recreate the grandeur of the palace. The sad part of it is that, although the furniture is still solid (being made of Burma Teak) the furnishings are terrible. Synthetic bright curtains drag your attention away from the intricate light fixtures.

These 4 rooms and 2 used for offices are currently the only usable rooms in the palace. there are plans to renovate & strengthen the remaining buildings. Hopefully it will be sensibly done.

Check out my entire photoblog entry

Monday, May 08, 2006

Interview with Usha Prabhakaran ~ author of Ushas Pickle digest.

Usha Prabhakaran is an amazing woman. She has just written a recipe book of Pickles. Since she could not find a publisher for her effort, she has self published. To learn more about her & some "quick n easy" recipes that she doles out in her interview.

Visit CelebratingWomenintheKitchen

The lady who has interviewed Usha is Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal. Time Out Mumbai readers would be familiar with her work.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hijacking of Parking Space

Sakshi Juneja writes on the hassles of parking & traffic in Mumbai.

Firstly, it takes me nearly 45 minutes to an hour to get from Juhu to M.I.D.C, Andheri East. The less said about the traffic scene in Andheri East the better it is. Come here any time of the day, at times even late evenings, you will, in all probability, be stuck in a jam. Most of the roads around the M.I.D.C are dug up - but then I can't recall a single day in all the three years that I have been coming here when the roads have not been dug up - this is the pathetic state of one of the most popular industrial areas in Mumbai city, 365 days of the year.

Read the Entire Article & Add your comments here.

Naturals Ice Cream

Naturals Ice Cream
All over Bombay & Pune.
Original Outlet at Juhu

13th North South Road
Opp Lotus Eye Hospital
Juhu Scheme
Mumbai 400049
2620 6053, 2670 7558, 3097 7272

At 25 bucks a scoop (26/- in Pune) this ice cream is a real steal & can't classify as an indulgence on the price factor, although it is on the taste factor.

Creamy ice creams which combine Indian kulfi with natural flavours with fruit pieces in them are absolutely amazing. On a scale of 10, Natural ice cream rates 15.

Some ice creams are available around the year. Like the chocolate almond, choco cream, french vanilla, mango, coffee walnut, badam, kesar pista, anjeer.... Some like the chickoo, seetaphal, papaya - pineapple, tender coconut & water melon are seasonal. But they all are priced at the same amount. In season, you can even opt for fresh mango or strawberry pieces served with malai ice cream for 65/- At the Juhu outlet, they will even convert your ice cream to a milkshake for 65/-

If you can't make up your mind in this range of flavors, go for a double scoop.

They offer free home delivery & you can even opt for the 1/2 kg tubs at 135/- each. If you give them a day's notice they even organise a thermocol box to carry your ice cream on a long journey or picnic.

Naturals ice cream actually spoils you for taste, that no other ice cream can match up. Baskin Robbins seems too sweet & most local brands seem too watery.

Some outlets offer a waffle cone for 3-5 bucks extra. With over 15 outlets across the city & a price point of Rs.25/- only, you have no excuse not to try Naturals Ice Cream.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Brio, The Cafe Bistro

Brio, The Cafe Bistro
Behind Shoppers Stop
Dynamix Mall
Near Chandan Cinema

Brio opened its doors about 2 weeks ago. It looks really fancy from the outside & you could be easily mistaken into thinking that this was an expensive joint and walking away.

For me, the craving for a coffee before visiting my favourite haunt (Crossword) was too strong to give it the go by & hence I entered and was pleasantly suprised by everything.

Read the Entire Review here.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kobe Sizzlers

Kobe Sizzlers
7 Bungalows
77A Om Cottage, J P Road
Versova Andheri (W)
Mumbai 53
2635 4848, 2635 4949

Basic simple decor.
Reasonably good service.
Great Food.

The Ice Tea at 50/- is light & refreshing & freshly made without an overdose of lemon. It hits the right spot on a summer day.

The variety of sizzlers (190-280) on offer is huge.You can choose chicken, steak or veg options. Theres even a prawn sizzler for 350/-. If you can't make up your mind between chicken & steak they even offer a combination of the two for 270/-. The basic sizzler comes with vegetables & fries, except for the Shashlik which is served on a bed of rice. Choose your sauce - schezwan/ garlic/ pepper/ mushroom. Then you can always add extras like cheese, mushrooms or fried eggs for between 10/- - 30/- per topping.

The chicken is always tender, but their steaks are sometimes a bit of an effort to chew (not rubbery mind you, not even too chewy, its just that by the time you have eaten it all, you may have a dull ache in your jaw) The hamburger patty is the best option since it gives you all the flavour with minimum chewing effort since it literally melts in your mouth but you do get to feel the consistency of meat.

You can try their burgers which range from 50 to 80. Sandwiches range from 50 to 90. Rolls & hotdogs (40-60) even pizzas (100-130). I've heard their pretty good, but never tasted them myself.

Their soups especially the scotch broth(50) are nourishing yet tasty. & in case you were wondering, 'Steak' is a polite euphemism for beef. I'm guessing that they anticipate trouble if they print beef on their menus.

My favourite sizzler at Kobes ? Hamburger steak in a garlic sauce with extra mushrooms & egg. (240/-) Try it sometime & be careful not to burn your tongue.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why are you looking at me ?

Many of you may remember the Blank Noise blog-a-thon on the issue of harassment of women on the streets, euphemestically referred to as "Eve-teasing".

Blank Noise is going a step forward with an intervention this time. They're planning to stage 'Why are you looking at me'. This is what it would look like, except, they're planning to do this in the evening and not at night - http://blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com/2005/06/participants-payal-sandhya

They can use as many volunteers as possible so please participate!

You can mail Chinmayee Manjunath [chininath[at]rediffmail[dot]com] for more details

Venue: Carter Road
Time: 5.30 pm
Date: Saturday, April 22

Please spread the word. They can use as many people as are interested. They need 17 for the intervention and everyone else can help with the posters/ opinion polls. And they need people to help document it with photographs, etc.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Book Review : Ravan and Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar

This review of mine has been published on desicritics.org

Met the author recently & since he seemed like an interesting person, I thought it might be worthwhile to read the book.

Ravan & Eddie is a reasonably hilarious story about Ravan, a Maratha Hindu & Eddie, a Roman Catholic growing up to adolescence on different floors of the Central Works Department chawl no 17 in Bombay.

Having never before been inside a Chawl, inspite of seeing plenty from the outside, this book seemed the ideal vehicle to get transported inside a place I had never been before. Or at least the blurb said so.

The story starts off when Ravan is not yet born & Eddie is barely a year old. It then follows them through the twists & turns of their growing up, the pleasure, the pain, the horror, the angst, the guilt, the questions ... they are all there in the book.

Kiran Nagarkar confesses upfront, that he has a tendency to rat on his own earnestness with something farcial, bawdy or self-deprecatory. If you can handle that, you will love the book.

With the mill lands being sold off for Commercial gains, the only way we may know of Chawls & life in them will be through books like Ravan & Eddie.

Kiran breaks of in between the narrative to give the reader "a Digression on Afghan Snow", a "Meditation on Neighbours", the "History of Romantic Comedies in Hindi Films", & the "Shortest Survey ever of the Portugese Advanture in the Old World"

The "Meditation on Neighbours" is Absolutely Brilliant, even as a stand alone piece of writing. It elaborates on some elementary or critical differences between the Catholics & Hindus living in the chawls. The book is worth buying just to read this elaboration.

Looking forward to buying and reading Cuckold & Seven Sixes Are Forty Three. Then maybe I can try to get my hands on his plays & screenplays.

About the Author :
Kiran Nagarkar was born in Mumbai. He wrote his first book in a language in which he had never written before - Marathi. The book was called Saat Sakkam Trechalis, recently translated as Seven Sixes are Forty-Three, and is considered a landmark in post-independence Indian literature. His novel in English, Ravan and Eddie, acclaimed as a literary bestseller, has been translated into Marathi.

Read an Interview with the Author Kiran Nagarkar

Monday, April 03, 2006

Wikipedia on Bombay/Mumbai

Wikipedia has quite a few postings related to Bombay's landmarks & culture. Clcik on each item to view.

List of Cultural Centres in Bombay
Other Places of Interest in Bombay include :
Aarey Milk Colony
Bandstand Promenade
Bombay Natural History Museum
Bori Bunder
Castella de Aguada
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Chor Bazaar
Chowpatty Beach
Crawford Market
David Sassoon Library
Elephanta Caves
Essel World
Fashion Street
Film City
Flora Fountain now renamed to Hutatma Chowk
Gateway of India
Gilbert Hill
Girgaum Chowpatti
Hanging Gardens
High Court
INS Vikrant
Jehangir Art Gallery
Jijamata Udyaan
Juhu Beach
Kamala Nehru Park
Kanheri Caves
Kashid Beach
Lands End
Mahalakshmi Race Course
Marine Drive earlier/historically referred to as Queen's Necklace
Marvé Beach
Nehru Centre
Nehru Planetarium
Powai Lake
Prince of Wales Museum
Prithvi Theatre
Rajabai Tower
Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali National Park)
Taj Mahal Hotel
Taraporewala Aquarium
University of Mumbai
Veermata Jeejabai Bhosale Udyan
Victoria Terminus
Vihar Lake

List of Mumbai beaches
Caves around Mumbai
Forts around Mumbai
Parks in Mumbai
Places of worship in Mumbai
Also see
Timeline of Mumbai Events
The Municipal Corporation Building
Buildings and structures in Mumbai
Railway stations in Mumbai

Friday, March 31, 2006

National Consultation On Environment, Human Rights & Law

NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON Environment Humanrights and Law
April 28-30, 2006

Dear All,
Greetings from India Centre for Human Rights and Law (ICHRL). We are a human rights organization in Mumbai, part of the national network; Human Rights Law Netork (HRLN). We are glad to inform you that we are organizing a NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON ENVIRONMENT, HUMANRIGHTS AND LAW during April 28-30, 2006 at Mumbai for activists and lawyers across the country.

In the present scenario of mounting pressures on our finite environmental resources from multiple fronts such as global climatic changes, population explosion, industrialization and urbanization, it is imperative to strengthen our rules and regulations further to conserve and safeguard the environmental resources inorder to ensure the invaluable ecosystem services that foster the very existence of life on this planet. Unfortunately, in the current Indian environmental scenario is very grim as the unsustainable resource utilization and development activities are being pushed forward flouting the existing laws and regulations. The situation is further worsened by the fact that these very rules and regulations themselves are being targeted for systematic dilutions especially during the recent years fuelled by globalization and market forces.

In this context, we felt that it is critical to examine how far the ongoing 'reforms' in the environmental laws and regulations currently under way in India would affect the people and environment. An objective discussion amongst people involved in the various aspects of environmental conservation and protection of human rights to cull out practical impediments to protect environment through existing system including the legal framework and come out with plausible strategies, solutions and alternatives to overcome these. With this in mind, as an initial step, Environmental Justice Initiative of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is organizing a three-day national consultation on environment and law on 28th to 30th of April 2006 at Mumbai with the following primary objectives;

1.Facilitating a productive discussion and experience sharing among Activists, lawyers and other concerned citizens on the issues concerning environment, human rights and law in India
2.To identify problem areas and lacunae in the legal system and formulate strategies to manage these short comings
3.Evaluate the existing and emerging laws and regulations in the light of past experience
4.Foster a national network of environmentally conscious people concerned against destructive development.

You may checkout the draft programme schedule here http://www.geocities.com/envirorights/NCEL/NCEL_PS.htm

Interested participants may please respond to eji[at]ichrl.org in the following format before 10th April 2006

With warm regards
Dr PR Arun, Senior Officer (Environmental Rights),
India Centre for Human Rights and Law, Mumbai. 400 009

NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON Environment Humanrights and Law
April 28-30, 2006

1. Name of the Applicant:
2. Educational Qualification :
3. Designation :
4. Organization & Address :
5. Address for Communication :
6. e-mail
7. Telephone:
8. Why are you interested to attend this consultation?

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Bizarre Makrand...

Whew...its been an interesting two hours! Sitting under tree-shaded granite seating at Prithvis. Its a delight listening to Makrand Deshpande talk about theatre, Bollywood, art films and life in general.

Makrand could be defined as a multi-task expert, besides his association with theatre as a playwright, director and actor, he is equally well known and well-loved for his role in films like Swades, Lal Salam, Satya, Makdee, Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro, etc. and his frequent appearances on the small screen.

For the past two days I have been persuading an interview with him. Today I was on the verge of giving up, and my frustrations led me to giving him a bad name on my blog. Until of course my mobile rang at 2 pm. We were all set to meet up by 3in the afternoon. Prior commitments, later made me shift our meeting to 3:30 which I did keep up to.

A very casual, serene, laid back Makrand sat there with his trademark unkept curly hair. He is known for his (half colored, half grayed) bushy locks, falling messily over his thin V-shaped face, already covered with a heavy moustache. Makrand was busy talking to his assistant and other theatre friends. Our table was filled with cigarette packets, mouth fresheners and empty tea cups. He immediatelyinvited me over. Upon seating I was asked if I would like a drink (soft of course) to which I gently refused. This was my second interview and I was uptight but Makrand unlike other Bollywood personalities came forth as a simple, unaffected, down to earth person.

I removed my brand new voice recorder, started explaining a little about blog life and the ball kept rolling from there....

Read Saakshi O. Juneja's Entire Interview with Makarand Deshpande

Workers Be Damned - The Akbarallys story

It's appalling to see the treatment bestowed upon employees of big establishments here in Mumbai. Imagine you are on your way to work one morning; just to find out that your sole means of 'bread and butter' is snatched away from you...forever.... Extinct overnight!!

No intimation given, no prior warning....NO JOB anymore...What a shock!

This is the story that Akbarallys-Santacruz (Mumbai), has to tell. On Friday the 10th of February, the store all of a sudden decided to fasten its doors to the world.

For over a month, 40-permanent workers have been squatting outside the estranged shop. Unable to get over the untimely death of their second home; where they have spent over 30 years of their lives. Struggling day in and day out, to obtain some kind of justice.

Read the Entire Article by Saakshi O. Juneja

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Film Clubs in Mumbai

Miracles Film Club
Frequency : Occassional Weekdays at 6pm
Fee : Rs 2200 / year
Screenings at :
Ketnav Preview Theatre, 17 Union Park, Near Pali Hill Hotel, Khar (W)
NFDC, basement of Nehru Planetarium,Worli
Contact :
Pramod Prabhulkar
98200 88367

Cosmos Film Screenings
Frequency : One Film on Alternate Saturdays at 4pm
Fee : None
Screenings at :
Comet Media Foundation, 1st Floor, Topiwala Muncipal School, Topiwala Lane, Lamington Road (near Grant road Station)
Contact :
Indraneil Chakravarty
2382 1893

The India Film Club
Frequency : One film every Monday at 8pm except dry days :)
Fee : None
Screenings at :
The Ghetto, Breach Candy Road, Mahalaxmi
Contact :

Mocha Film Club
Frequency : 4-5 short films on 1st Sunday of every month at 11:30am
Fee : Rs 100 cover charge at every event (includes a mocha shake)
Screenings at :
Bandra Mocha, Hill Road, Opp American Express Bakery
Contact :
2643 3098

Bimal Roy Memorial Film Club
Frequency : 2 films a month on weekends at 4:30pm
Fee : ???
Screenings at :
National College & Russian Cultural Centre
Contact :
2640 3041 (between 10am & 1pm)

Vikalp Screenings
Frequency : 1 or 2 films, 2nd Wednesday every month at 6:30pm
Fee : None but open to contributions
Screenings at :
Bhupen Gupta Bhawan, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi
Contact :

Prabhat Chitra Mandal
Frequency : 2-3 Indian & Foreign Art Films a month
Fee : Rs.450 Annual
Screenings at :
YB Chavan Auditorium, Nariman Point
Contact :
2413 1918

Cine Society
Frequency : 1 English & 1 Indian Regional Language Film Every month - only classics
Fee : Rs.350 Annual
Screenings at :
NCPA, Nariman Point
Contact :
2382 4228

Mithibai Film Club
Frequency : 4 - 6 Films a month over 2 days
Fee : ?
Screenings at :
Mithibai College, Vile Parle (W)
Contact :
2818 4354 / 55

If you have info about any other film clubs in Bombay, please click on Comments & leave the info there. Thank you

Flamingoes at Sewri

The sun had just risen and land breeze had given way to a soft cool sea breeze and in this virgin sunlight was great beauty amongst great harshness. Rusting fishing boats, factories and an oil refinery was a backdrop for a gift of nature - a light pink blanket of flamingos. A more skilled photographer would have typified this image better but alas my amateurish skills can bring you only this.
View Akshay's Photo Blog

Also check Amit Kulkarni's Photo Blog on the Flamingoes.

And if those beautiful descriptions have got you charged up to visit yourself, check out
Directions to Sewri-Mumbai's Flamingo Bay

Ash Birder Also says
The most important thing to remember is the tide timing. Flamingoes will be seen 2-3 hours before/ after high tide. Check this link for tide timings before you plan a trip.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Shadow City - A Photo Feature on Dharavi

Akshay has written a beautiful, sensitive article with illustrative photos taken in the area of Dharavi.

He has put a lot of effort inot the entire process & it shows.

Shadow City - A Look at Dharavi

Ramshackle corrugated tin, plywood, plastic, pukkah bricks, sheets of asbestos, sweat, toil, people and garbage make Dharavi, just like piles of earth, sand, clay and other materials make ant hills. Dharavi and many other slums like it are nothing but human ant colonies built by legions of our urban poor. They are places which are at the same time sombre, moving, joyful and interesting.

Push and pull factors bring people from our villages here everyday in search for something better. They settle here right under our apathetic eyes. But under the squalor is great spirit and ingenuity. I went looking for this spirit in this place most people refer to as 'Asia's largest slum' but I would prefer to call it the 'Heart of Mumbai'.

View the Entire article

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Crossword Hutch Book Award 2005

The Crossword Book Award was instituted in 1998 to identify & encourage Indian writers in English. In its first year, there was just one award for "English Fiction by an author of Indian Origin". It was won by I Allan Sealy for "The Everest Hotel"

Since last year, Hutch became a co-sponsor & this year 4 prizes were announced.
1. Popular choice - English Non Fiction (Hutch users to SMS votes)
2. English Fiction
3. English Non-Fiction
4. Indian Language Fiction Translation (into English)

The last 3 were each judged by a panel of 3 authors whose books weren't in the long list. The long lists were really long & the judges had a lot of reading to do.
Check out the long lists for English Fiction, Indian Language Fiction Translation, and a new category, English Non-Fiction which was exceptionally long with 59 books.

To be eligible the book had to be published between 1 sep 2004 & 31 Aug 2005.

The books were then narrowed to a shortlist :
English Fiction :
The Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin
Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta
Surface by Siddharth Deb
The Radiance of Ashes by Cyrus Mistry
Magic Seeds by V S Naipaul
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie.

The Award was won by Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie. Since he couldn't make it to the function, Mr Sriram called him on his cell in Italy and he thanked the crowd over the phone. It was an interesting experience. Rehaan Engineer then did an absolutely brilliant reading from a chapter of the book.

Indian Language Fiction Translation :
A Dying Banyan by Manzoor Ahtesham (translator Kuldip Singh)
Sangati by Bama (translator Lakshmi Holmstrom)
After Kurukshetra by Mahasweta Devi (translator Anjum Katyal)
The Unspoken Curse by V K Madhavan Kutty (translator Prema Jaya Kumar)
The Survivors by Gurudial Singh (translator Rana Nayar)
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Krishna Sobti (translator Reema Anand and Meenakshi Swami).

The award was won by The Heart Has Its Reasons and it was a pleasure to hear from Krishna Sobti herself on the book. She did make a point that most Indian Regional Language writers write brilliant stories but they do not have enough readership. Translation seems to be in order but a lot of the flavor does get missed out. Kitu Gidwani read out a passage from this book.

English Non-Fiction :
One Hundred Years, One Hunderd Voices' by Meena Menon and Neera Adarkar
Pundits from Pakistan: On Tour with India 2003-04 by Rahul Bhattacharya
Finding Forgotton Cities: How the Indus Civilisation was Discovered by Nayanjot Lahiri
Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
Didi: My Mother's Voice by Ira Pande
Chasing the Monk's Shadow: A journey in the footsteps of Xuanzang by Mishi Saran.

While Rahul Bhattacharya won the Popular choice for Pundits from Pakistan he attributed it to his friends who must have been busy sedning sms as long as the contest was open and thanked them for it. The jury awarded Maximum City by Suketu Mehta the top honors and Anahita Oberoi did a reading from this book.

Gossip Factor:
Held at the wonderful environs of the Discovery of India building at the Nehru Centre.
Chips, Veg rolls, cold drinks & coffee/tea were being served.
All the nominated authors of the non-fiction category were present. Other authors included Rana Dasgupta, Cyrus Mistry, Prema Jaya Kumar, Krishna Sobti & Reema Anand.
All the nominees received a certificate and a commemmorative award.
Winners received an award, cheque for 3 lakhs (to be spilt equally among translators or co-authors) and a citation.
All the nominated books were placed on sale at the location.
Book signings were close to impossible because of the media cameras around.
Seema Sehgal sang beautifully incorporating some profound poetry in her renditions.
Anahita Oberoi's blouse had a non existent back. It was held together by a slim thread.
Dandeep Das Deputy MD of Hutch said some beautiful words. I can't call it a speech because it was so touching, heartfelt & natural. It was a one sided conversation with the audience where he took us through how, which books influenced him at each stage of his life and in what way. They were books most in the audience had read and could identify with. Beautiful rendition.
There were 3 women in self colored crepe sarees who kept flitting around preceding and following every person who was called on stage up & down the stairs. It was very distracting and unnecessary. As someone remarked, this was not a "Miss India competition" The one area they could have helped out in, they ignored - lending a helping hand to the authors who found the steps difficult to navigate.
Crossword distributed a compilation of excerpts from all the shortlisted books. a wonderful collector's item, amazing business strategy (after reading excerpts, I'm already planning to buy a couple of the books) and a great memento of the event.

Had the most boorish woman in the world seated in front of me. She could not keep her trap shut for more than a minute. She was constantly cribbing about non issues. She rested her feet on the seat in front of her which fortunately was empty or kept them up on her own. Before the program started, she yelled at her poor husband who was seated 4 seats away about how he never takes things down and his memory is so bad and he should write things down like she had told him a million times before. Since there were 4 people between the 2, she was speaking loud enough for min 5 rows on all sides to hear her tirade. Was sorely tempted to whack her on the head. She spoilt the entire experience for all around her. If you come for a book award, of course there is going to be some book reading involved. If you don't have basic decency and courtesy maybe you should stay at home is what I wanted to tell her but followed Gandhi's principles of ahimsa & non violence so kept it to myself. :)