Off the rails

December 31, 2015   Comments (0)
 

Wheels, doors, toilets.

Also sheds filled with: pantry hot plates, wheel shavings, trolleys of bolts, sleeper mattresses, and scrap -- at the Central Railways Mechanical Workshop. 26 acres of machines, 7,000 mechanics and engineers. All in the heart of Mumbai. Who knew? @brokentoilets #blog | December 31, 2015 at 02:59PM
Wheels, doors, toilets.

Also sheds filled with: pantry hot plates, wheel shavings, trolleys of bolts, sleeper mattresses, and scrap — at the Central Railways Mechanical Workshop. 26 acres of machines, 7,000 mechanics and engineers. All in the heart of Mumbai. Who knew?

I spent an afternoon poking around the sheds with the engineers while researching a story on the Indian Railways’ mandate to switch from the very unsanitary drop-chute toilets we inherited from the British to zero-waste bio-toilets. It was totally fascinating. I was fully enthralled by all the various maintenance sections and tasks — rakes on elevated tracks, being painted, welded, shunted. All very cool.

And everyone at the Central Railways was delightful. I’ve never dealt with a branch of the government so efficient and eager to help. I’ve come away not only equipped with more respect and understanding for what they do (and how uphill a task it is to cater to our great unwashed junta) but also impressed with the engineers and the CPRO. Ask me about my contrasting *other* experience to really get why I’m so floored. 😉

@brokentoilets #blog Shared via Instagram http://ift.tt/1kvrkEk and IFFT

 
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Victoria Terminus

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Today I went into offices at the gorgeous Victoria Terminus (CST) station for the first time. The jali screens on the window, the glowing laterite walls, the curving balustrades...awe-inspiring. I wish I'd had more time. The gargoyles are so cool. 
Oh, and I took the central line for the first time 😑😇 #blog | December 31, 2015 at 01:00PM
Today I went into offices at the gorgeous Victoria Terminus (CST) station for the first time. The jali screens on the window, the glowing laterite walls, the curving balustrades…awe-inspiring. I wish I’d had more time. The gargoyles are so cool.
Oh, and I took the central line for the first time 😑😇 #blog Shared via Instagram http://ift.tt/1Om85t2 and IFFT

 
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“Save trees, plant trees” – the irony of urban Mumbai

November 18, 2015   Comments (0)
 

Trees? We should plant some, right? But yeah, let's kill a few good ones first. 
Well played BMC and other civic authorities in Mumbai. You've murdered (condoned if not gone out with a saw yourself) three old, gracious rain trees in Prabhadevi that provided shade, homes to birds, oxygen, and hid ugliness behind their beauty. You poisoned them, stripped them off the living bark they need to survive, and then, irony of ironies, painted a TREE PLANTING slogan on one??? *slow clap*
I thought you guys were idiotic, now I know. 
#blog | November 18, 2015 at 10:32AM
Trees? We should plant some, right? But yeah, let’s kill a few good ones first.
Well played BMC and other civic authorities in Mumbai. You’ve murdered (condoned if not gone out with a saw yourself) three old, gracious rain trees in Prabhadevi that provided shade, homes to birds, oxygen, and hid ugliness behind their beauty. You poisoned them, stripped them off the living bark they need to survive, and then, irony of ironies, painted a TREE PLANTING slogan on one??? *slow clap*
I thought you guys were idiotic, now I know.
#blog Shared via Instagram http://ift.tt/1l4yHDg and IFFT

 
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Deepak Talkies

August 2, 2014   Comments (4)
 

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For more years than I can remember, I’ve wanted to go see a film at Deepak Talkies, one of the few single screen cinemas in my neighborhood. When we moved to Prabhadevi in 1987, Kirti Talkies on Caddell Road had recently shut, but was still a landmark. These ‘Talkies’, by virtue of their location, catered to mill workers who inhabited the charming two-story tenements that dot Lower Parel and Prabhadevi, and are now being replaced with ugly metal and glass high-rises wherever you look.
Every time I cross Deepak Talkies on my way back from Lower Parel, I try
(more…)

 
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disenfranchised (and dismayed)

April 23, 2014   Comments (1)
 

voter sms

If you know me at all, you know that I’m very apolitical, fundamentally secular, and that I believe in the fundamental right to suffrage. In fact, one of the reasons I was glad to move back to India from the United States was exactly this: Here, in my motherland, I have and can exercise the right, the duty, the responsibility to cast my vote and actively participate in the world’s largest democracy.

In the state elections, I was able to vote (twice) because, miraculously, with proof of address, I was able to find my name (misspelled) on the voter list. Thanks to extremely helpful volunteers in my area, I found the right list and got a temporary voter card in 2009 and also was proud to vote in 2012!

This time, I thought it was appropriate to register online for a change of address. The process was heavily advertised in the daily newspapers, and online by ads and tweets from sites like www.voteindia.in

My parents also recently moved so on February 18, I went online and did form 6’s for all of us. I took photos, I uploaded them, failed, then resized and then uploaded them, found and scanned address proof for each of us and uploaded that. too. And finally, after 4 hours, I’d done all 3 of our forms. The site assured me someone would come home to verify our addresses. And that’s the last I heard from them until March 8, when I got the first two of four text messages I would receive.
Here’s where it all fell apart: I trusted it. I trusted in the process. I also parsed this SMS to mean ‘bring them at the time of voting’. Which I was happy to. More fool me.

Earlier this month, in April I got another two SMS’s and these alarmed me. I learned that the voter registration had closed and no variation of my name was in the electoral roll at all. My brother and I went to our polling station (but, oops, they’d moved and despite verifying it online on the official Electoral Roll website it wasn’t where it was supposed to be, there was only a godown there. Helpful roadside beedi walas told us where it had shifted) and spent a good half an hour begging, pleading, arguing, finally crying. My name is not on any list. I’ve been struck off the previous building resident list and not added to the new one.

Everyone at the madeover school that doubles as the electoral roll office told me it’s my fault for not bringing proof of address and a physical photograph to Mahim before the deadline. I said I’d misunderstood the process. The SMS seemed clear to me, because I wanted to believe, I assumed the process had worked.

We spoke with Madam Chauvan, who seemed to be in charge, and she said nothing could be done, and passed on the buck to Madam Seema at Online ops for not being clear in her SMS — Madam Chauvan and her yesmen did agree that the SMS should have said to bring ID proof to Mahim before March 24.

On the line, Madam Seema said it wasn’t her fault the SMS could be interpreted wrong, because at her end, her team had sent out more than 400 character long messages. The message I got was only a truncated part of it. Clearly, it was the telephony service provider’s fault.

So … the long and short of it is that while I’ll take my passport and try to vote tomorrow, I’m almost sure I shan’t be allowed to.

And I can’t resist getting on my soapbox for a moment longer:  Where apathy is our middle name, people like me who desperately WANT to vote are penalized. Yes, I should have demanded to know when and where to bring the photo and proof of address, I should have guessed that only a part of the SMS had come through, but I’m clearly an idiot. For, I believed that having submitted my documents and getting confirmation that someone would come for address verification meant that’s what would happen. I seriously believed the SMS meant they’d done whatever and just needed me to bring the proof with me on voting day. (It’s my first national election, man, I don’t know what red tape is involved).

I haven’t been able to even talk about it – I feel bereft, ashamed, and upset. I’m embarrassed and I feel like a thousand types of failure because I really believe in the power of the vote. And now I am disenfranchised.

 
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a lion, a ling, but no elephant

February 13, 2014   Comments (0)
 
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Lion ling

The guard at this shrine at Elephanta (gharapuri) says it’s a ling astride a lion skin. My expert guide (coming soon to an audiocompass app near you) tells me that’s impossible and makes no sense. The emblem of Shiv would be on a symbol of Shakti, not himself. More likely, the lion was here first, when this was a Buddhist site, and the Shivling was added later. Hmm…

 
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gloaming

November 13, 2013   Comments (3)
 

gloaming
There are sunsets, and then there are sunsets when just for a brief slice of time you feel humbled and breathless from being bathed in this kind of ineffable beauty.

 
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genda phool

July 31, 2013   Comments (1)
 

RPB
Some time last year, the road by the Radio Club in Colaba was festooned with these. I don’t think I’ve ever needed to use the word ‘festooned’ before but it’s the only one that fits. The little globes are, of course, marigolds – definitely the coolest genda phool collection I’ve seen.

 
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still life with moving cat

July 29, 2013   Comments (0)
 

RPB
This is in Aamchi Mumbai, in the Ranwar village – that is Chapel road and Waroda road – Bandra. There is much better, clearer graffiti up in the area, including the famous Amitabh Bachchan wall, but then, the bike and kitty weren’t there, now, were they? (I also learned that this area was called Colaria Grande by the Portuguese and is one of the original koliwadas, or fishing hamlets, that made up the island of Bondura.)

 
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The Indian ‘caution: hot’

July 8, 2013   Comments (1)
 

RPB
Made me laugh. But then, I’m easily amused.

 
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