Showing posts from February, 2011

Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of the best known heritage buildings in Mumbai. It is a world heritage site classified and recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Today, it is almost a cinematic cliche to represent Mumbai by using an image of Mumbai CST. It currently serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways.

If city historians are to be believed, the site at which the station stands today is associated with the very origin of Mumbai as a city. The city of Mumbai originally derives its name from the Goddess Mumbadevi or Maha Amba. The earliest temple dedicated to Goddess Mumbadevi is believed to have stood at the very place where the station now stands. It was demolished by the Persian invader Mubarak Shah and was reconstructed in 1317. It was again demolished by the Portuguese in 1760. To save the temple from further destruction, it was shifted to its present location in Kalbadevi.

The Victoria Terminus derives its na…

A Roman Drama

Compared to chaos of Mumbai's suburbs, Navi Mumbai's neatly divided into nodes and sectors. But these too need some getting used to, as was evident in this case. At Belapur CBD, a middle-aged man in distress was recently seen asking every other passerby for directions to an address in "Sector 2" to deliver a fairly large parcel.

Apparently, he had spent a better part of the morning literally going around in circles in the sector. Finally, he approached an autorickshaw driver for help. After looking at the address, the driver immediately said that he must have confused "11" as in the Sector 11 for the Roman numeral II.

Such confusion is routine in Navi Mumbai, shrugged the seasoned driver. The man hopped on to the auto and in a few minutes, the parcel was delivered to the right address.

Paid News and Journalism

Rajdeep Sardesai
Editor-in-chief, CNN-IBN

We live in the age of institutionalized corruption. From politicians to judges, from senior bureaucrats to policemen, from corporate tycoons to petty officials, everyone it seems has a price. As journalists, our profession demands that we enquire, interrogate and expose corruption. So, when an A. Raja resigns we rejoice that the resignation came about due to media pressure. When an infotech czar is punished we're hopeful of improved standards of governance. But what happens when the camera turns inwards, when news itself has a price tag attached to it?

A corrupt politician can be jailed, so can a business leader. A former chief minister can resign, a bureaucrat can be tried under the prevention of corruption act. But what happens to the editor and the correspondent who brazenly endorses cash for news? The recent controversy about "paid news" since the Niira Radia tapes became public that is undermining the very foundation of journal…

Power Play

The intensity of the debate about the forthcoming cricket World Cup that kicks off from today reminds the coffee houses within the community of a simple truth: as far as the wider public is concerned, a World Cup determines the world champion. Never mind that 50 over cricket is not the highest form of the game. Never mind that one day cricket is notoriously fickle--though it has seemed quite predictable in the last few World Cups.

Such niceties are lost on the crowd as it sits agog in the stadium or as it huddles around a TV set in remote villages. Indeed, they are lost on the players. To win a World Cup is the ultimate dream for all countries participating. For a while, winning a World Cup overwhelms the problems of daily life. Of course, they cannot cure them. Sports need champions and emphasizing on world champions. As much can be told from the response of the athletes upon winning gold medals. It is quite something to be the best in the world in any capacity. Sports offer that pro…

Rajabai Tower

The Rajabai Tower is a majestic clock tower ornamented with oriental figures. It is located in the precincts of the Mumbai University campus, right next to the Bombay High Court in South Mumbai. It is modelled on the lines of London's famous clock tower the Big Ben.

The Rajabai Clock Tower was designed by the English architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Since it is elevated to the height of 85 metres (280 feet), the construction for the tower began in 1869 and was completed nearly nine years later in 1878. During its time, the Rajabai Tower was the tallest structure of Mumbai. The total cost of construction was borne by a Bombay based stockbroker Premchand Royachand, a successful stock broker who also founded the Bombay Stock Exchange. The construction cost then was Rs. 200,000, a princely sum in those days. The clock tower owes its name to Rajabai, the blind mother of Premchand Royachand who was also a staunch follower of Jainism and it is believed that she was supposed to consume …

Movie Review: Dhobi Ghat

Dhobi Ghat literally means an open air laundromat. The washers or dhobis generally work in the open and wash the clothes from Mumbai's hotels and hospitals. It is located to Mahalaxmi station near the Saat Rasta roundabout. There are rows of open air concrete washing stands, each fitted with a flogging stone. It is currently the world's largest outdoor laundry.

The film Dhobi Ghat has an acquired taste which means you'll simply enjoy the film or it will be downright boring. Filmmaker Kiran Rao's deeply personal Dhobi Ghat has an atmospheric feel to it. By naming it "Mumbai Diaries", one can make out that the film has been primarily made for a film festival audience.

The film, as such, does not have a story--except four random lives which connect in Mumbai. An investment banker-cum-photographer Shai (Monica Dogra), the dhobi Zohaib/Munna (Prateik Babbar), the reclusive artist Arun (Aamir Khan) and homemaker Yasmin Noor (Kriti Malhotra). There are fleeting momen…

Gateway of India

The leading English newspaper Hindustan Times had recently come out with a campaign called "No TV Day" where the intention was to ditch the television and explore the city. I have always lent my support towards the campaigns the newspaper does primarily because they concern the larger interest of the general public. As always, the No TV Day was a rewarding experience. It made me feel like a tourist in a city where I lived for the past 18 years.

The Gateway of India is one of Mumbai's most famous monument and is often the starting point for most tourists who visit the city. The Gateway of India is important as it serves as a transit point for a cruise around the Bombay Harbour in luxury boats. Opposite the Gateway of India stands the Royal Taj Mahal Hotel and the Taj Towers, which serves as an example to the resilient spirit of Mumbai after the tragic 26/11 attacks. There is also a statue of the Maratha prince Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in front of the Gateway of India.