Blogdosts, I had written this for Hindustan Times a while ago. Happened to come across it just now while looking for something else, and thought of sharing it with you. Just as I was busy posting it, my husband called to say he'd had a really frustrating experience trying to book tickets for a traditional Lavni performance at The Tata Theatre. Nearly every single seat had been blocked by the guys in Mantralaya!! In other words, the average, paying fan of this lusty, erotic and entirely amazing dance form of Maharashtra, had no choice but to settle for the lousiest seats, since the government babus had grabbed the best ones for themselves!!
Sharad Pawar has stated grandly that it is Maharashtra's turn to have a prime minister. Really?? What an ingenious way of promoting ones own interests??The day Maharashtra produces a worthy NATIONAL leader, the indian voter won't need prompting. Nor will Pawar have to come up with such alibies. No quota system for Prime Ministership, please!!
Mumbai , Mon Amour
Call me an over indulgent, blinded by love mother… but when it comes to Mumbai, I become a marshmallow….. an over wrought “Deewar”-type ‘ maa’, all quivering mouth and moist eyes. In other words, I turn to mush. Mumbai is my spoilt child. The one that can do no wrong – sab maafi hai. Mumbai is my blind spot. My secret weakness.Mumbai makes me vulnerable, irrational and illogical. I am prepared to overlook any and every flaw, because at the end of the day, Mumbai has made me. I owe Mumbai a big one.
Sometimes, I joke with foreign journos when they ask me about my on going love affair with my beloved metropolis – the one I call home. I tell them jauntily that no other city in India would have tolerated me! There is some truth in that. When I talk to other female writers from say, Delhi , they have nothing but horror stories to recount. Just a few days ago, a beautiful reporter from Pune came over for a story. She was the first woman to work in the newsroom of her stodgy paper. She had tears in her eyes when she recalled the insinuations, slights and putdowns she’d encountered at the time. I remember my own early days as editor of ‘Stardust’ and later ‘Society’. Or subsequently, when I started writing columns, followed by books. Like Frank Sinatra, I’m proud to say I did it my way. No compromises, no regrets. This was possible only because I was based in Mumbai, where professionals are genderless…. we are a family of happy eunuchs who are expected to perform on cue. Again and again.If not – out! There are at least a hundred others waiting to take the vacated spot. Hungry, impatient and even more talented.Nobody gives a damn whether it’s a man or a woman delivering those goods. It’s only the goods that matter.
Ruthless. That is the frequently used adjective to describe Mumbai. An apt description. Mumbai does not tolerate failure, which is why the success rate is so high. Mumbai is for winners. If you’ve got it, you’d be an absolute fool not to flaunt it. Rags to riches? Yes, it happens in Mumbai all the time. Where do you think Subhash Ghai, and more recently, a Madhur Bhandarkar get their inspiration from? These racy scripts were born out of realities that seem fantasy-like to those who’ve not experienced Mumbai’s magic. From a Dhirubhai Ambani to a Kangana Raut – take a look at their trajectories. Inspiring? Outrageous? Audacious? Why not? Both arrived penniless in this city, with nothing more than fierce ambition and a raging fire in the belly. Both were blessed with an incredibly lucky streak Both worked their respective butts off to get ahead. Both were seen as ‘outsiders’ trying to crash an elite club. Both used any and every opportunity that came along. Both grabbed success greedily when it finally showed up…. And the rest , as they say, is history. These are but two examples of what is possible…. achievable, in this amazing city of big dreamers and even bigger losers.
Mumbai is a harlot at heart. A harlot with a big heart. Just like Delhi is a safari-suited, oily and unattractive ‘babu’. Or Kolkata is a decadent zamindar, swishing around in a frayed dhoti. Good hearted harlots ensure nobody who visits, leaves hungry. Well….nobody starves in Mumbai, either. It is a city of scavengers, for scavengers. It succeeds in satiating all sorts of appetites and hungers.... like it is said, ‘ Idhar Rice Plate Chaalu Hai….’ Whatever the hour. Try looking for that in other city of India.
Mumbai’s generosity has been hugely misunderstood, even abused in recent times. This fragile, narrow, loosely interlinked cluster of seven islands is just about hanging in there. It has been taken for granted by successive governments at a huge cost to its long suffering people. Today, the ignorant and callous city fathers are all set to destroy an outstanding landmark – the magnificent , historic Crawford Market. And this evil deed will take place without Mumbaikars themselves having a say in the matter. All over a few pieces of gold. No doubt the sale will enrich quite a few corrupt councillors and their shadowy keepers. Alas, the average Mumbaikar will be far too preoccupied earning his\her daily roja to get actively involved in saving the city’s symbol of commerce and early trade, to stage a protest or move the courts. Our chiffon-clad socialites whose job descriptions state that they should be in the forefront of a move against such an act of atrocity, will be nowhere in sight when they are most needed. That is Mumbai’s biggest tragedy. All those who proclaim their love for the megapolis, remain passive admirers, and not action heroes ready to rescue a distressed maiden from certain doom.
Yes, of course, Mumbai is in trouble. It is broke. And broken. Despite Dalal Street celebrating an early Diwali, the mood in the gullis of the over burdened, over crowded city is far from upbeat. The Sensex is hot, volatile and sexy. Just like Rakhi Sawant. But how many Item Numbers can Mumbai perform to entertain the rest of India? “Paisa pheko…. tamasha dekho,” has been the catchy theme song of our ever- accommodating City of Dreams, for centuries. Now it is being forced to perform a strip tease, phookat mein. Like those poor bar girls who were rendered jobless overnight. Sorry, Boss. That’s not how it works. If anybody is sniffing around for a freebie, go elsewhere. This party’s over. Mumbai believes in just one eternal truth – show me the money. Mumbai, in return promises ‘Paisa vasool’. Or full refund. Unlike RGV. If you want to stay – pay up. Invest in the city, financially and emotionally. It’s got to be this way… or the highway. Any other way, and Mumbai may collapse. Phir tera kya hoga, Bhaiya???