Friday, 27 January 2017

The Airport that never was

The Airport that never was

Navi Mumbai!! The promised land for the land starved population of the original Seven island city. Yes, the Mumbai city had evolved from seven different islands, Colaba, little Colaba, Bombay, Mazgaon, Worli, Parel and Mahim. Though there have been many references to this area in the ancient times, especially Mahim or Mahikavati, which was the capital of Raja Bhimdev in the 12th century, it came to be recognised as Bombay after the Portuguese took over. The British then acquired Bombay from the Portuguese, fast development started and Bombay became a business hub. Over a period of about a century, Bombay reclaimed land from the sea to establish itself as one of the most important cities of British ruled India. Soon, great Cloth mills were erected throughout the city and the rail and tram network was established. Most of the big business houses had their offices in South Bombay or South Mumbai, as it was to be called later. Independent India inherited this enviable city from the British. After independence, the development gathered further speed.  The seat of Government, the Mantralaya, the Share Bazar, the ports, the head office of the Police, et al, were all located in South Mumbai. This concentration of all major offices in South Mumbai, the limited space availability, the need of the people to try and stay as close to their place of work, put a great strain on all essential services like water supply and transport. The standard of living for most residents went from bad to worse. This forced the government to look at surrounding areas to develop as business and residential hubs. And this is how the concept of Navi Mumbai started being developed. A separate body, CIDCO was established and was headquartered at Panvel situated on the Indian mainland. The surrounding village land was acquired from the villagers and was developed into a planned city. In 1973 Vashi city was connected to Mumbai by a bridge to ensure better mobility. There was not much response to the new city but all this changed with the starting of the wholesale market at Vashi in 1990 and the construction of a railway line between Mankhurd and Vashi. These two developments suddenly resulted in a boom in construction activity with more and more people now ready to shift to the new city.

Somewhere at the start of the new millennium, the proposed new airport at Navi Mumbai was announced which set off another frenzied round of construction in the nearby areas. The land prices went through the roof and flat prices appreciated manifold. The airport plans were drawn up and 7200 acres were earmarked for the new airport. But several NGO’s and the Environment Ministry itself raised several objections and the blue coloured board displaying the proposed location of the new airport has remained just that…a board, albeit, coated with a thick layer of dust which gets washed off every monsoon. The recent news that only one Conglomerate had bid for building the new airport which has further delayed the already delayed process, set me writing this post. The only ones to be highly benefited till now, has been the powerful builders lobby. So there stands the display board at the side of the road, weathering all storms since the last15 years.

Yatindra Tawde

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Pint Yoga

The Pint Yoga

There's new enthusiasm in the air. The men folk are excited, looking forward to their yoga sessions. The laziest of couch potatoes are now leaping with new vigour. The wives have pushed their husbands since long, to join Yoga classes, with little success. But now things have changed for the better.

Rakesh is a financial wizard who slogs throughout the week, his day starting at 6.30 am. and ending at 10 pm. He hardly gets time to exercise, neither in the morning nor in the evening. Work pressures force him to sometimes skip lunch. He keeps uneven eating hours, totally focused on his work. And the weekends are spent in lazing around the house and enjoying his beer sessions with his buddies. This unhealthy lifestyle has taken its toll and he suffers from hypertension. His beloved wife, Simran, keeps pushing him to take up exercise but with zilch success. And similar is the case with many other households in their locality.

One Saturday night, Rakesh comes home a little high and tremendously excited. Enthusiastically, he tells Simran about his plan to join a Yoga class next day. Simran is pleasantly shocked! She is not convinced but decides to humour him. Next day she wakes him up, early in the morning. “Rakesh, don't you have to go to yoga today? Rise and shine!”. After half an hour, the king has still not woken up from his slumber. “What happened to your yesterday's resolution? Why are you still in bed?”. Rakesh then mumbles about going in the evening. “Who does Yoga in the evening. Are you in your senses.” But no amount of threatening or cajoling disturbs Rakesh from his siesta.

Come evening time and Simran finds Rakesh ready with track pants and all.  And he is unusually enthusiastic.  He reaches the yoga gym with a spring in his step. The yoga session starts with the usual deep breathing exercises. It then proceeds to simple stretches.  Then the serious asana’s start.  And then it happens.  This is what has pushed so many men to suddenly take a liking for yoga.  After a set of every 3 asanas , a glass of beer is served.  Some mumbo jumbo about how beer is good for the system, is served by the new age Guru. The Guru himself is demonstrating  a very unique and complicated asana.  Standing with his feet together, he lifts his leg backwards and in the same fluid motion arches his back, lifts one of his hands, tilts it backwards, touching the tip of his finger to his toe.  And this is not all; in the same motion, he picks up a glass of beer with his other hand, takes it above his head and pours the contents into his throat. Then he starts demonstrating more asanas , the level of difficulty going up, but all the asanas are accompanied by a glass of beer.  All this while, the students are reaching their higher levels of consciousness, thanks to the madira. After 2 hours, everyone is satiated, the students due to obvious reasons and the Guru, due to the fact that he had been able to loosen their purse strings.

Rakesh returns home where he is given a traditional welcome by his doting wife.  She sees that her husband's cheeks are unusually flushed and there is a radiance on his face.  She is very happy to see this change in her husband.

Now guys, this is not a rambling of an idle mind but a very likely scenario since this has already started in the US of A, where people are always trying to bring some variety to anything they do, to overcome their boredom in any routine activity.

Yatindra Tawde

Friday, 13 January 2017

Sur Niragas ho...

Sur Niragas Ho…

Sur Niragas Ho…This phrase has gathered the maximum fan base in minimum time in the Marathi speaking world. Right from the time, when ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusli’, that gem of a movie by Subodh Bhave, was released, these three words are omnipresent, wherever a Marathi music program is organised. For a long time, Anand Bhate, popularly known as Anand Gandharva, and Rahul Deshpande have ruled over the hearts of Marathi audiophiles. Both enjoy a good command over Marathi Natya Sangeet as well as Shastriya Sangeet and Vitthal Bhajans. To this exalted group, a gem from Pune got added, introduced in ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusli’, as the voice of Sadashiv, a character played by Subodh Bhave. Mahesh Kale…

Mahesh Kale, an eminent student of Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, first came to prominence, not in India, but in the USA, where he had gone to pursue higher education. There he started his solo performances and became quite well known across America. He got his big break through ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusli’, and has not looked back since then.

Today morning, I woke up to the lilting strains of Marathi Natya Sangeet, which came riding over the chilled morning air, making its way through the tightly closed windows of my house, a precaution taken every night, to keep out the chill and the pesky mosquitoes. Even in my sleepy state I could recognise the heavenly voice of Mahesh Kale and decided I had to be at the Upvan Lake, which is currently all decked up like a bride, for celebrating the Sanskriti Arts Festival. Braving the morning chill, I reached the venue, the Tarang stage, a platform temporarily constructed on the lake. The stage was occupied by Mahesh Kale, regaling the huge crowd in front of him with ethereal singing, and all the musicians, who accompany him, in his singing journey. I too became a part of the mesmerised crowd. The next 2 hours were pure bliss as everyone forgot all their daily worries and concentrated on enjoying the experience of a lifetime.

Just imagine…you are sitting in an open air arena, Mahesh Kale is dishing out one gem after another, a duck passes by in the background, the mynahs, perched on the tree branches nearby, joining the chorus, the chilled morning air flowing gently over the lake waters, causing tiny ripples. And as the singer chants ‘Morya, Morya…’ or ‘Vithal Vitthal…’ , his tempo rising and falling, the entire arena is reverberating in Harmony.

Friends, if this is not heaven, then tell me, what is…

Yatindra Tawde

Sunday, 8 January 2017



Air travel has become fraught with risks, especially for the ladies, with some gents losing control over their hormones. More so, this happens during international flights where free supply of liquor acts as an instigator. So to keep such men restrained, plastic handcuffs are available with the flight attendants. I had never known about this fact but today I read in the papers that now, the domestic flights will also have these contraptions. It says a lot about the Indian male trustworthiness, or otherwise, in today's times. If 2016 belonged to the Indian woman, what with many achievements in various fields like sports, business, entertainment, you name it and the Indian woman was at the forefront. After all, who maintained india’s honour at the Olympics! It was Sindhu, Dipa and Sakshi. And the year closed with the greatest woman achievement film like DANGAL.

But 2017 is proving to be something else. It started with a very shameful New Years night where men behaved like zombies (I don't want to shame the animals hence I say that they behaved like zombies). And now this news about plastic handcuffs on domestic flights. To restore India as a safe country for women, a huge effort will be required. Before the literal meaning of the Swach Bharat Abhiyan , a real Swachata program to clean up the minds of the male specimen, is the real need of the hour, including those sitting in power, who say, “These things happen”.

Yatindra Tawde

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The mice can sing too

 There are many birds who sing beautiful songs, and I am not talking about the crows and pigeons. I was in Udaipur recently and was very fortunate to, first hear the beautiful cry of the peacocks and then see his elegant dance in the wilderness. The myna birds, are very common in Thane, and my wake up callers. Almost every morning some myna birds, make it a point to come to our balcony and sing the entire range of their opera. After all these years I am able to identify their different types of tenor, of course, without understanding the meaning. And if you go to such exotic places like Mahabaleshwar, you meet many other singing stars with their varied singing styles.

But I was shocked when I heard that the mice sing too, just like birds, so says new research. But to our good luck, this singing is in a high pitched ultra sound tones, which humans cannot hear. I shudder to imagine, if humans were able to hear this singing…

We humans are sleeping in the night. The friendly neighbourhood dogs are having their barking competitions. A few dogs barking from the opposite locality are answered with equal fervour by the dogs in our locality. A few home-bound dogs join in the fun to add to the already loud cacophony. Suddenly two cats decide to challenge each other with hissing and screaming. And the mice try to win over new mates with their screeching singing. As it is, whatever sounds uttered by mice are very uncomfortable to us, I cannot imagine how their singing will be. But looking at the innumerable mice occupying the sewers, and their propensity to multiply their numbers, if we were able to hear their singing, I am sure it would drown out all other sounds in the human aural range.

So folks, I am going to sleep now, with assurance that my sleep won't be disturbed by one more loud sound, other than those generated by fellow animals who already occupy not only the roadside but are stars of the social media as well. And I am grateful that the mice are not on social media otherwise their singing would make them sure fire singing stars and YouTube would have cute singing mice in addition to naughty kittens and puppies.
Yatindra Tawde

Mumbai - 2025

Mumbai - 2025 I am wandering through the lanes of my place of birth, Dadar, getting nostalgic about the days gone by. Hindu colony and my ...