Torn between three cities

Today, between a misty morning and a cup of hot coffee, I got a call from an ex colleague.

“I’m in your home town” he said.

“Delhi?” I asked.

“I forget you change your hometown every other year! I tend to forget where you live. Sometimes you are in Goa, or Bombay and now Calcutta… which one do consider as home town?”

“It is Delhi I guess,” said I with the fair explanation, that I was schooled from there and majority of my relatives still stay there, so that’s what it would be.

It’s difficult for Hindu Kashmiris such as me. We don’t really have a hometown. I believe its a patch of land between India and Pakistan, still been fought upon, even after 60 years of “Independence”, tearing away families to all parts of the country and the globe. Till then, I think I’ll call Delhi the hometown.


Baby you can drive my car… Part II


Continuation of previous Post.

Bombay is the heart of cinema in India, called Bollywood, aka Hollywood.

“You have such wonderful interiors!”. I gaped soaking in the ambiance contrasting to the shabby exterior.

“You have wonderful taste!Where did you get these prints from?”

“They took the car and covered it themselves. No charge to me.”

“How many such cars are there?”

“About five of us, I guess!”

I snapped the pictures of these living canvases of Bollywood personas before alighting.

Running a quick search on the net, discovered an artist behind Taxi Fabric. Interesting.



“Aajaa meri gaadi mein baith ja”… Part I

Saturday morning is generally quite lazy. After a few kilometers walk and a cup of beverage, it is more so. Rather than walking back, I decide to take a cab. Saturday morning at 8.00 am is in no way a good time to find a cab easily on Nariman point. Overpriced Merus and Cool cabs line against the street, waiting for an unassuming tourist to step out from Trident. I am in no mood to pay price of a Starbucks coffee for the short commute, so do what comes naturally to many Bombayites; hail a kaali peeli.

Kaali-Peeli , translated : Yellow-Black cab; comes in many versions. Gone are the days of the oversized Ambassador, the linear Fiat; now we see stout Korean brands, most newly bought; zipping past and stopping only if they like where you are going. (!)

So, when I spotted a kaali peeli, I got a bit disheartened.

“The old Fiat!” I sighed and waved to the driver.

He caught my eye and soon trudged down the road with his 1990’s engine roaring while I waited impatiently.

I almost shut my eyes while I mumbled out the destination.

It was just a moment, …then…Blink! Blink!

My seat was a canvas of colour. Bollywood colours and dialogues made me a captive audience.

Then I asked him about the interiors.

( to be continued tomorrow)

Vibrant morning!


Its early Sunday morning. Sounds of Traditional Drums. Bright orange turbans. Carpeted stretch of road. Loudspeakers blare music. An MC somewhere in the distance. Selfie Point! Runners. Lycra Sportswear. Branded footwear. French perfumes.

Pavement dwellers watch the show from the comfort of their (un)homes, lying on the cardboard sheet which is their bed.

“A Marathon?” Trying to make sense of what is this fuss about.”Whats that?”


Towards Nasik and back with Mythology


Just over a hundred kilometers from where the periphery of Mumbai city ends, a stretch of road takes us to the eastward side, where basalt rock formations dot the landscape. The landscape is dry and dotted with thorny trees, quite a contrast from the lush lonavala road.

“This falls in the rain shadow area” explains my colleague.

We look at wonder at the miraculous formations springing up as we go further.

If you are familiar with Indian Mythology, you would have heard of Lord Ram and the story of Ramayana. According to the story, an exiled King Ram stayed with his wife, Sita and brother Laxman in a hut in the Dandaka forest. That place is said to be in Nasik from where the Demon King Ravana had kidnapped the Queen Sita.  Looking for his wife, the Lord Ram then travelled on foot for a day until he reached the edge of the land where the sea starts. He was thirsty, so his brother Laxman shot an arrow into the ground from where sprang fresh sweet water. This place is today called “Banganga” and lies hidden and forgotten in the plush locality of Malabar hill in Bombay.

How do flamingos turn pink?

Every year starting winters, tens of thousands of flamingos make their way to a little known jetty point in Mumbai. They travel from the Rann of Kutch,  which is their breeding ground and make way to two areas in Mumbai, one is a less known jetty point for their morning feeding and the other is their evening spot near New Bombay. when they arrive here in early winter, their wings are a shade of white, but during thier departure they become a pink.

How does this happen? Our guide from BNHS explained that these muddy flats near Mumbai are filled with blue green algae from which the birds’ digestive tract extract the pigment from the carotenoid and an algae rich diet ensures the pink colour to the flamingos. those better the diet, the pinker will be the color to the flamingos.

Rann of Kutch is a good breeding spot for these flamingos but is not rich in blue green algae. The birds travel hundreds of miles till Mumbai to get their adequate dose of nutrition.

However, the story could be short-lived as there are plans to create a trans harbour link over this area and the effects of that on the ecosystem, diversity and habitat is not known.