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Glimpses of Mumbai on this day

Sunday, 22 June 2014 - 7:44am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Woman of steel
We generally tend to disparage politicians. But among them are also people with a conscience. Former mayor Nirmala Samant-Prabhavalkar is definitely one of them. On June 5, tragedy struck her. Her daughter, Hemangi, a 19-year-old brilliant student, was chatting with her after dinner at their Bandra home when she suddenly complained of severe headache and collapsed. Nirmala rushed her to Lilavati Hospital, where it was diagnosed that Hemangi has had a brain haemorrhage. She went into a coma. After a brave battle, she breathed her last last Thursday.

Nirmala was totally shaken. But, even in her deep tragedy she thought of performing her duty towards society. She gave consent to the hospital authorities to remove Hemangi's cornea, liver and kidney. She waited patiently outside the operation theatre, holding back her tears. Hundreds of people from different walks of life and several friends of Hemangi converged at her home to pay their last respects. Even the toughest of mourners were moved to tears when they heard about the donation of organs.

Incidentally, as a trustee of Siddhivinayak temple at Prabhadevi, Nirmala had extended financial help to hundreds of poor patients. As a member of the National Women's Commission, she had championed the cause of women and, as a lawyer, had fought several cases pro bono.

Chavan's Varsha revamp
Many people, including those in Congress, are upset with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for "not taking decisions". But one decision which he has indeed taken has been welcomed by everyone. He has done away with the "ante-chamber culture". He has got the ante-chamber wall in his office at his official bungalow Varsha broken down and merged into the main office. He has put a large glass pane so that visitors can feast on the greenery outside.

He explained to dna recently, "there are no ante-chambers in government offices in Delhi where I worked for several years. Hence, I decided to do away with them here also." Of course, the absence of an ante-chamber does pose problems for Chavan, like when Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Ahmed Patel call him. At such times, Chavan goes out of the office and talks to these VVIPs.

With reports of his impending exit gaining ground, Chavan is already mentally preparing himself to move out of Varsha, which continues to be one of the most charming bungalows perched atop Malabar Hill. It is especially beautiful when it rains heavily. The catering staff ply you with hot bhajias, batata wadas and tea.

Get ready to have your taste buds tickled
Ramzan is round the corner and along with it comes a wide array of food offerings. The byzantine lanes and bylanes of Bhendi Bazar will be filled with scores of stalls selling superb kebabs, tikkas, kalejis, gurdas, haleem, murg musallams, roomali rotis, phirnis, malpuvas and custards. Of course, there will be freshly-cut fruits as well.

You saunter into one of the many gullies and plonk yourself on one of the many rickety benches laid across the pavement. A waiter will emerge from nowhere and take down your order. And before you can take a deep breath of the aroma-filled air, the table in front of you will be groaning under the weight of tandoori chicken, teeter or whatever it is that you have ordered.

For the best phirnis in town you cannot beat Suleiman Usman Mithaiwala. They are sold in mud bowls made at Kumbharwada in Dharavi. The smell of the fresh mud adds to the charm of the phirnis. You scoop the delicacy with wooden spoons. The stuff is so good that hundreds of people descend on the shop from all over Mumbai. Many are even known to send them to relatives in Dubai and elsewhere.

The best part of Ramzan is that hundreds of Hindus come to the predominantly Muslim area of Bhendi Bazar to feast on the food. No wonder, good food is regarded as the most secular stuff in the world.

The epidemic called honking
The noisiest place in Mumbai, ironically, is the area around the city police head office opposite Crawford Market. From morning till late evening, the cars, cabs, two-wheelers are all honking their way to glory. One wonders why the police, who are exposed to constant noise pollution, are not doing anything about this problem right outside their office.

One of them said, "We are so used to the noise that we do not even see it as a problem." In fact, honking has become something of an epidemic. No one thinks twice before blowing horns even outside hospitals and schools. Most drivers think that their vehicles run on the horns. BEST bus drivers are notorious for blowing horns. Even before the signal turns green, they are pumping their horns.

The soft-spoken joint commissioner of police Dr BK Upadhaya has promised to do something about this menace. Incidentally, he has also instructed his constables to proactively help ambulances clear traffic jams. He recently spotted an ambulance stuck at the signal near Soona Mahal in Marine Drive. He immediately directed the traffic constables to clear way for the vehicle which was blaring its horns. Not only that, he asked his men posted all along the ambulance route to ensure a smooth ride for the vehicle.

—(Compiled by S Balakrishnan)

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