Life in Mumbai can be extremely interesting, if only one keeps his eyes and ears open. So, while the happiness of sipping a piping hot Caramel Cappuccino here at the Reliance WebWorld lasts (anyway, it is only going to last till the time the guy from Java Green comes over and asks me to pay for the coffee), let me recount two observations I've made in this wonderful city..
Snapshot no. 1
I remember this time, not so long ago, when I was walking past a couple of buildings in Calcutta, when a Bengali maid-servant came out of a building and asked this guy squatting on the footpath, "Nobeen koi ?" (Where's Navin?)
Man: Ekhono aashe ni...keno ? (He hasn't come yet...why?)
Maid: Kiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ekhono aashe ni ??? Amaarke bole chilo je missed call dile neeche aashe jaabe. Ekhon amaar cell-e missed call pelaam, kintu o ekhono ekhaane nei.. (What !!!!!!! He isn't here yet??? He'd told me to come down once he gave me a missed call. I just got his missed call on my cell, but he isn't here yet...)
What gave me quite a turn apart from the romantic liaisons of the maid-servants of Calcutta was that the maid servant had a cell phone whereas the poor friend accompanying me on that beautiful evening walk didn't have one. With a pained countenance that only said "Wait till I tell Dad about this", she continued silently. That was when I knew India had gone hi-tech.
But Mumbai always proves that it is a step ahead.
Pasted on a number of trees along Juhu: Maid servant?? Call 93xxx xxxxx
Not bad for a country where less than 40 per cent of the country's total area is covered by mobile networks, and fewer than 8 in every 100 Indians use mobiles, compared with China's 30 per cent.
Snapshot no. 2
Having worked briefly as a freelance journalist for The Statesman, Kolkata, it is always easy to act high-nosed and frown at tabloids. However, my late-night work/Asterix-reading/Sudoku sessions ensure that I end up waking very late the next day and hence, don't feel like even venturing out to buy the regular newspaper, let alone glance at a tabloid.
But what gives me the opportunity to sneak a peek at what the tabloids are publishing are my nightly cheese masala-dosa sojourns. I prefer going down to the 'thela-wala' below my house and getting a parcel back home. And thanks to the ban of plastic packets, the dosa-wala stuffs the lip-smacking dosas into old newspapers, usually tabloids. These make for interesting reading while having dinner (well, there's precious little to do when you're having a solitary dinner).
I took the easy way out last time and frowned at a front-page tabloid story about how a television star's pet dog had bitten the neighbour's dog and how furious the neighbour was that the television star had not apologised. Smirk smirk. Reminded me of another tabloid story that my colleague at the office had read out about how a young actress was gifted a dog by her boyfriend. The story had gone into details of the duration of the relationship of the starlet, the gifts that she'd received on V-day this year and how oohhhhh---shooo---coochiiiiee-koooo it was for the boyfriend to gift her a dog. ("Ek ladke ne ek ladki ko kutta diya aur woh story ho gaya," my colleague told me with a snort, ending his heavily loaded statement.)
But just last-night I was delighted to read a good piece of journalism where a journalist recounted how a local politician had murdered a cable TV operator in Dombivili and had been told by the court not to enter Thane till the time the court gave its ruling. Yet, the politician had been spotted at the wedding of a magistrate's son (the journalist had managed photographic evidence). I felt proud of the journalist who'd written the story and also for the editor who dared to publish the story. Perhaps, tabloids aren't that bad after all.
Chalo, I'll be off to work again. Let's see if I can slip past unnoticed.....DAMN !! There's that Java Green guy. *Sigh* Where's my 50 ka note ?