Monday, June 25, 2012

Mumbai musings

Mumbai is in the throes of ACP Dhoble (Assistant Commissioner of Police, Vasant Dhoble)’s “social” (as distinct from “moral”) policing. Ever since  the Social Services Branch of Mumbai Police – placed under him -  busted a couple of ‘rave’ parties involving kids of celebrities , high and the mighty –  who later tested positive for drugs – the city has been up in arms against him. Rallies are being held demanding his removal and ‘anti-Dhoble protestors’  are  valiantly courting arrests

The socio-lectuals  (Mumbai is proud of the fact – it doesn’t have any ‘intellectuals) are outraged.  The media Diva – Tavleen Singh tweeted:  “If someone wants to have a rave in a private home why should the police have a right to interfere”. She went on to add,  “surely the police must be doing more to catch drug dealers and terrorists and less on catching adult revelers”.


Pooja Bedi, another great mind hidden in a fab body,  had a different take in her weekly column. While taking care to stay on the right side of Dhoble (her own social diary must be quite a rave) ,  she says power should not be used “selective”.

All this, probably, inspired Aakar Patel – the only true intellectual of our time,  to devote his entire weekly piece on the ancient India’s connection with cannabis.

Ordinary folks have  more simple concerns such as places like Amar Juice Centre in Ville Parle (Irla, actually – opposite Cooper Hospital) closing down by 11  –  one of the few places  in the suburbs people could find something  to eat  (other  than  5 Star Coffee Shop)  after a late shift or post midnight show  movie.

The man is no doubt controversial and there can be two views about his method and motives. Surely, this can't be a clamour for legalizing drugs. That Mumbai is India’s most hip city – doesn’t give it an unfettered moral licence. Even New York had to contend with a Robert Giuliani’s tough act. It is his ‘cleansing’ drive that made New York the city it is today. 

In a country where, most laws are more than a 100 year old – the Bombay Police Act of 1951 would almost appear modern. But, it is a law that was followed more by exception than as a rule.  I also don’t buy the logic that – it is the drug peddlers who need to be targeted more than the drug users. Where there is demand – supply will always find its way. So both ends have to be tackled simultaneously for effective result.  But, interpretation of the law is always a tricky affair. 

So, it is a thin line that would distinguish a lady making liquor chocolates at home as a  commercial “hobby”  under the Excise & prohibition rules and another selling Bhaang Ka Laddus under the Narcotics act. What so different between discreetly adding a driblet of opium into a hookah as opposed to rolling a joint at a party  - or, for that matter, between having a swig and a sniff of Coke.


Finally discovered Arsalan in Khar having heard a lot about it from friends on Twitter. It is at the junction of S. V. Road as come from the Khar Road Railway Station. Didn’t go in to check it out –  will take the word of the Tweeple fraternity for it –  but I was impressed by the look and scale of the place, nothing like their rather shady outlet one in Bangalore. I am sure the prices will be suitably indexed over Calcutta by the PPP factor of Mumbai. Apart from home delivery – it seems they have already started also a home catering service as I figured out from the display on their van parked outside. Why can't they do something on a similar style in their 'home town' of Calcutta, I wonder. Mumbai broadens people's outlook for sure.


Auto Rickshaw

Auto rides have become quite expensive in Mumbai. Last time I took one from our company guest-house to the domestic airport early morning charged me Rs 70 and I thought he jipped me. But, today I paid Rs 50 each way to Khar and back. In comparison – on a relative scale – taxis seem less expensive. A trip to Byculla cost me Rs 125. Looks like – the Auto Drivers’ Union (probably controlled by one of the two Senas) is more effective than the ‘immigrant Bhaiyas’ dominated Taxi Drivers’ outfit.

Aaj ka Slumdog

Child labour still thriving in the heart of Mumbai.  This young boy  was working “bindaas” at the Banarasi Sweet Shop and Restaurant, where I stopped by for a Lassi. The owner couldn’t be bothered. Why should they be – if customers like me don’t raise a voice and are happy to go away just by clicking a snap on the mobile phone ?