Monday, February 22, 2010

Sign board hopping in Mumbai

As the observant person I am, it didn't take me any time to compile a list of 'funny signboards' in Mumbai during my last month there. Following are some of them:

1) A shop selling woman's garments in Tardeo reads: Monalisa- another great reason to be a girl.
As if there weren't any other reasons to be one!

2) A sport shop's signboard in Sion says: Sportsfolio.
No chances of of this shop's having a good portfolio!

3) A hair cutting saloon in Tardeo reads: Hairport.
Even though it isn't near the airport, I wonder why the name!

4) Another shop in Tardeo- this time a beauty parlour- that too a shady one reads: Affluent Beauty Parlour.
Wonder what affluent really means considering the parlour's structure was made of tin!

5) In Prabhadevi, a laundry shop read: Wash Well Laundry.
I think that the name came from the client's instructions!

(The comments are solely of the author, however cheesy or non-funny!)

Mumbai meri jaan

It’s been almost a month that I have come back to Pune, but I just can’t get the ‘city of dreams’ out of my head. I have to admit that Mumbai is a very addictive city. Once you stay here, say even for a year or two the pace just gets on to you. You become so used to the fast life that other cities seem to be duller than ever. Similar thing has happened to me.

I am a proud Punekar and just love my city. But a two-year stint in Mumbai has made me rethink. I have visited Mumbai every year as my grandparents stayed there but staying for earning my bread and butter was a hell of an experience. Traveling by local trains, observing people of different linguistic backgrounds, trying to understand alien tongues was so much of a challenge and I loved every minute of it.

The sea was my favourite and luckily I always stayed near the sea- in Jogeshwari (nearest was Juhu beach), Bandra (used to go to Bandstand for jogging) and Prabhadevi (near the Worli sea face). I used to love the five star food reviews, the occasional celebrity spotting and the trips to Marine Drive and my classes at Max Mueller Bhavan in Kalaghoda. The occasional AC bus rides via Haji Ali, the picturesque Haji Ali road, the oh-so-posh Peddar Raod and Breach Candy, I miss it all.

The yummy fruit juice at the Haji Ali Juice Centre, the Cannon Pav Bhaji near CST, McDonalds near CST, Rasraj Mushroom Pav Bhaji at Fort, Delhi Durbar at Marine Lines, Aditi Juice Centre at Andheri were some of my favourite eating haunts.

Time to sum it up all- Mumbai is meri jaan even though Pune remains my shaan ;)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Apart but yet together, a different love story

On V-Day, couples separated by distance plan movies, chat over phone, exchange gifts

Abhijeet (24) is madly in love. On Sunday, which is Valentine's Day, he will watch a movie with his beloved Pallavi. They will watch the same movie and enjoy the same cuisine but at different places-- he in Pune and she in Nagpur.

Many like Abhijeet and Pallavi, who are in a long-distance relationship, are determined not to spend this special day for lovers alone despite not being together. Instead, they have figured out how to enjoy the day "together".

Media professional Meghna (25) whose boyfriend Gaurav is studying in the US said, "I have asked a friend to order some authentic Indian food and deliver it to Gaurav's place. He loves desi food like fish curry and biryani. Through this small gesture I want to remind him how much I love him."

Online gifting sites always come handy when your loved one is in a far-off place. Riddhi (22), a public relations associate, will be gifting her boyfriend in the US flowers and chocolates. "Valentine's Day is synonymous with such gifts for your loved ones. I want him to enjoy them there even without me around, yet remember me," said Riddhi, who has planned a wine and cheese dinner with her friends.

Kaizad Bhamgara has sent a gift package containing chocolates, a card, love letters and soft toys to his girlfriend Shirley in California. He plans to spend a lot of time with her on the phone on Valentine's Day.

Love-struck Santosh Rao (23), a software trainee, will surely miss girlfriend Sonia on V-Day, but will make it special for her by sending her one of his T-shirts that she liked. "I will mail her the same shirt to show my love for her," said Santosh.

Harbinder Singh in Nigeria will make sure that his girlfriend Jeeya will be the first person he sees in the morning. "I will chat with Jeeya through the web cam in the morning and also gift her a pair of shoes she had spotted on a website," he said. His day will also end talking to her on the phone "till they fall asleep".

(Some names have been changed)

-Published in DNA, Pune on February 14, 2010 on the back page.

Odissi keeps this octogenarian going

For 85-year-old Ritha Devi, an acclaimed Odissi exponent, dancing is her only God and passion. Ritha Devi had to separate from her family and husband, but that didn't keep her away from her passion.

"In the late forties, when I was first exposed to dance, it was not considered decent for a girl from a good social background,'' said Ritha Devi, at a workshop she was conducting at the University of Pune.

Her father, who worked in the administration of the state of Baroda, opposed her dancing and stopped funding her higher studies. "When my father was posted in Shillong, I was exposed to Manipuri and my guru was Howbom Athomba Singh. I was the first person to perform Manipuri solo,'' reminisced Ritha Devi, who is the great granddaughter of noted Assamese litterateur Lakshminath Bezbaruah and the great grand niece of Rabindranath Tagore.

After her marriage, she continued learning dance -- Bharatnatyam in Chennai and Kathakali in Mumbai. Despite the opposition from her husband and the subsequent separation, Ritha Devi was determined to pursue her passion. But it was after an Odissi performance she saw, she knew that this was the dance form she should pursue and dedicate her life to. "Odissi was not known to people outside Orissa in those days. The grace and the sculpture like postures of the dance form really impressed me,'' said Ritha Devi, who taught dance in New York for over a decade.

She learnt Odissi from Pankaj Charan Das and specially, called him to Mumbai to teach the dance form to her. Pandit Ravi Shankar suggest Ritha Devi's name to various institutes in Europe and she gave many performances in European countries thereafter. She resided in New York for three decades and shifted to India in 2003.

Odissi is a dance form addressed to Lord Jagannath and a traditional Odissa sari stitched like a dhoti and silver jewellery is worn while performing it. "In ancient India, the Mahari Odissi dancers, which literally means great woman, were considered sacred and were respected. But when the Mughals came to India and destroyed the temples, these women were forced into prostitution. That's how later on, dancers were looked down upon,'' said Ritha Devi, who worked towards reviving and dignifying Odissi.

When asked what keeps her going, she said, "I love dance and that love keeps me going. I practise for three hours a day. It is the perfect exercise.'' She performed the Panchkanya-- tragic stories of five women-- Ahilya, Draupadi, Tara, Kunti and Mandodari, for four hours in Mumbai in 1971. "I was the only one to perform the Panchkanya,'' she added.

Ritha Devi feels that classical dance teaches one the right postures. "In Pune, Kathak is more popular because of the influence of Hindustani classical music,'' she reasons. She advises aspiring Odissi dancers to have knowledge of the great Indian epics -- Ramayan and Mahabharat. "You need to know the scripts in order to bring out the emotions in the performance,'' said Ritha Devi, who resides in Kalyaninagar and conducts dance classes at her residence.

"Dance has no age restrictions. Anyone who loves dancing can pursue it,'' she added.

Photo courtesy: DNA

-Published in DNA, Pune on February 14, 2010 on the city features page


Hi friends, Now that I am working with the Pune DNA, which unfortunately doesn't have any e-link, I have to share some of my good articles that have appeared here through my blog. :)