Duplicate cops ?

The real thing about duplicates is that the duplicates are for real. Oh what a profound statement spouting out of the keyboard on to the monitor. Talk of an inflated chest, right now !!

Duplicates get by because they are so close to the real. In the seamless merging of the real and the duplicate, the gullible fall victim and duplicates live on. Or rather thrive.

‘Duplicate’ has very many names and forms. Counterfeit. Fake. Forged. Decoy. The internet has done its bit, by spawning : ‘copy-paste’ in students lingo firmly. A spot that was held by ‘xeroxing’ a while ago.

lets move on. Enough said that there have been cases of ‘versions’ of sweets, stamps, money, certificates, colas, paints, books and every thing that you could think of. Save the Sun, the Moon and such other imponderables.

Let me leave this here : If you are able to point to a few segments where duplicates are not present, well, I will personally write a letter to the prime minister, urging him to make use of such unmatched cerebral prowess. Original letter that is. Please don’t expect to hear from him though. But ofcourse.

If you find yourself cheated, God forbid, if at all that happens, what do you do ? Being preyed on for wearing your vulnerability on your sleeve as though it was an Armani suit, well, sometimes can have other consequences. As someone who sat through those civics lessons in school, you approach the cops. With a complaint. That’s when action starts.

In Powai, Mumbai there is something interesting happening.

Even before you could rush to the cops to complain, the cops are all over street corners letting you know to beware of duplicates. Beware of duplicate versions of cops themselves! Eh!

The first, time this ad met the eye, it was but natural to dismiss this as a work of a piqued smart alec. It didn’t take long, actually not beyond the next street corner, to realise that smart alec was in no way connected to this. For the next street corner had a similar board. A copy of the first one that is.

What does it take to be a cop ? A whole lot I am sure.

But that’s a wrong question. What does it take to LOOK like a cop? Not too much, perhaps. A crew cut and a burly look will perhaps get you close.

If some ingenuous chap with a crew cut, burly look and accompanying personality accosts you and catches you pants down, speaking to your surreptitious girlfriend, pause my friend and ask for ID. Or whatever. Establish he indeed is a real cop.

A few questions that come to the pea sized brain that nestles in a balding head are these mind are these :

Like who is the home minister? Which station do you come from?

Who is the inspector? Who is the commissioner of police?

Quite obviously, many of you would think of this as a rather juvenile list. Well, thats about what you can get for free.

The Amitabh Bachan KBC baritone is hesitatingly not recommended, for it could provoke thoughts of ‘crores’ at the end of it all, with no mention of lifelines.

The bottomline : Keeping a list of probable questions ( and answers) to test out the veracity of a cop is downright important. If nothing else works, then, asking ‘do you know who I am’ could perhaps be tried.

All these would work, as long as the chap who has accosted you is indeed a ‘duplicate’. If he does happens to be ‘real’ / ‘original’ and you end up asking all these questions with a tanker load of impunity, well, that could get you face to face with a discommoding peril of your life !

Whatever you do, people in Powai and elsewhere, do make sure you device your own means of separating the wheat from the chaff. The real from the duplicate.

Good luck. May the force be with you. The real one, that is.

Togetherness of a culture !

We’ve been going here. For the last couple of years.

It took us a while this time. Passing through metal detectors and a desultory security guard who would look at you and make you wonder if you bore a resemblance to Bin Laden or somebody. He then, would proceed to ask, whats in the camera bag. You could tell him anything from ‘Rolls Royce’ or even ‘dirty underwear’. For he insists on opening each bag. ‘Whats in the bag’ is more of a greeting. Like a ‘good morning’ thats randomly spewed in one of those airlines.

Opening each bag with an interest which reasonable men can only do, if they were told that in one of those bags, beneath the camera, there were two rasagullas and a samosa. Such thoroughness. What follows is a frisking of the body by a volunteer, wearing a rectangular card with a thick red tag around the neck that seems to confer powers on him, that ma durga could envy.

If you would want to experience sensuous pleasures at their tallest crest, well, visit a Durga Pujo pandal. ( For some reason pronounced as you would pronounce ‘sandal’, with a P). Mind bogglingly endless feast of community, a superlative exhibition of whats loosely called ‘culture’, a sense of devotion. Not to mention wholehearted gluttony.

The gluttons that we are, we make it a point to turn up here every year.

For some reason, the Powai Bengali Association seems keen on bringing size and scale to Powai. Last year, it was the Sun Temple at Konark which was recreated. This year it was the Jor temple. Recreated, we are told, by artists from Kolkatta and thereabouts.

For one, there is Durga ma. In all her splendour. Like every year. A spear, an asura and his splatter of blood right through his pectoralis major. A roaring lion. Two other Gods and two other goddesses for company. All created in such resplendent finery that there is a gasp that escapes everyone that sees the arrangement for the first time.

Durga Ma has deep eyes and has always eyed me and my camera with some interest. Or so I would like to think. But these days, with more mega pixels in every mobile phone, there are more outstretched hands clicking snaps than those in prayer. There seems to be a new meaning in her look.

Housed as she is in an elaborate reconstruction of the Jor temple. A magic brought alive by thermacol, paint, wood and lighting. You almost feel your stomach muscles go taut, to think all of this will be in a garbage dump after Durga Ma finds her space in the Powai lake. But during the ten days of Pujo, these produce a certain energy. A source. A centrepoint of sorts. For everything else.

After jostling for space infront of the Goddess and wondering why a bald head always finds my elbow just as I am clicking a picture, we leave the place. Take two steps, and walk straight into a stall selling fish fry, chicken, mutton and such else. Ofcourse, best complimented by Chinese food, spelt with one ‘e’ less.

And you are right. Only a moronic mind can nitpick on the English spelling of ‘Chinese’ in a Bengali festival being conducted in Mumbai, with so much food in front to pick and choose from. But, goodness gracious me, what food !!

The divide between gluttony and devotion is the closest here. All hell broke loose. No. That was wrong. It was heaven.

While that statement is about food, well, I could as well, continue with a comma !

Picture a whole lot of beautiful women. In an array of costumes that could well pass for a giant mosaic of a fashion parade in sartorial diversity. Crisp cotton sarees rubbing shoulders with garish silks which somehow sit so pretty, seamlessly co-existing with the modern types : miniskirts and an occasional sprinkling of jeans

Some of them sporting Gold, enough to set some insecurity in the minds of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Oh yeah.. and some foreheads adorned with bindis that could well double for a Frisbee disk and unleashed on anyone that acts funny. That big.

The men. Ah the men. Colourful free flowing Kurta-Pajama. That’s something of an ‘identity’ thing. You could hazard that guess without much danger. Bright yellows to garish purples. Violent blacks to spotless whites. All glittering under those big lights and sweat. (Some with so much embroidery that could get my curtains look so cheap). Many of them with the volunteer tag and a whistle.

There are streams of them. Walking by. Ofcourse, there is commerce. There are small stalls selling stuff from marble flooring to sarees to vada pav, all on one side. A divide apart, there is ‘enclosure’ space for cultural performances. The divide, perhaps to accentuate the thinly veiled struggle to keep a thick line between commerce and culture. Or so it appears.

Immense happiness permeates. People walk around in such joy. The young and old connecting up and coming together. For conversation, connections and chatter. Perhaps to catch up on the year that’s gone by and to draw energy for the years ahead.

There is energy here. An energy woven by a community coming together. An evident joy that presents itself in the twinkle of the eye and the sparkle in the laughter.

A passion that stays alive and ever present, to bring a certain part of West Bengal here. To keep alive a tradition that made their growing up years. To resurrect nostalgia by indulging in the present and perhaps laying the foundations for the year ahead!

Music. Conversation. Tradition. Devotion. Food. Laughter. Connections. Culture. Giving. Art. And much more. Well, go on, try making a more fetching combination than that.

That night, I slept fitfully. In my dreams came a few kurta clad gentlemen, all of them with whistles and volunteer tags waxing eloquence on a tall subject. It was apparent that cows were a long way from home.

Only to be awakened by a giant red Frisbee spinning away under the watchful eyes of Durga Maa.

Links to earlier year’s posts are here, here, here and here !

Morning ripples !

The Powai lake right here in Mumbai offers some of the most pristine e sights. Peace like a Buddhist monastery. Tranquil like a double dose of valium. And beauty like a professional photographers frame. Its just there.

On one side there is a hotel called Renaissance! (Let me not talk of irony or whatever). On other there side is the Indian Institute of Technology. On another there is a bustling road, teaming with traffic that can compete with any road for ‘The most snarl prone road in the world award’.

The bustling road opens into a residential neighbourhood which boasts of wealth (residents would file a defamation suit against me, if I hazard a guess about the quantum of wealth! For I am sure I will be off the mark by many marathon kilometers !)

Of course, the one remaining side remains what it was. Untouched. By and large.

Along the bustling road, the government and some well thinking folks have built a park and a joggers track along the banks of the lake. Complete with concrete, spaces for flower beds, children’s parks et al ! All for development you see.

It usually provide a lovely setting . A good run, looking at the hills afar, is always soothing. Blokes like me catch a run in the morning. Children soak in some shrieks of laughter in the evening. The elderly sing a few notes from memory as the moisture laden Powai air comes alive by the lake !

The lake also comes alive when its festival time. Where articles and idols that were worshipped are immersed ! Last years Ganpati Visarjan for instance, saw huge cranes help the immersion ! it’s a natural process, you see.

The IIT holds bustling thought for the future minds. In this case, there seems to have been a persistent afterthought as well !!

That’s the setting. You get the idea ! Don’t you.

Today, I run. With a lazy drizzle, muffled huffs and puffs, early morning traffic and such else for constant company! From a distance its such a pristine sight. The lake. At least one side of it. With hills and their reflection.

Today, I try and keep the buildings and their reflections away from my sight. Somehow, the hills afar seem prettier..

It is at that time I see him. Majestic and beautiful like a royal monarch inspecting his army.

I stop on my tracks. Open mouthed. Half from the run. The rest on just seeing him. I just stand and watch.

A crocodile.

A few feet away from me. Slicing through water like knife through butter. A small crowd gathers. Mostly staring. Some incessantly chatting. A lady mutters – ‘they should do something about this’.

I notice that I am nodding my head. I notice my nodding stops and my open mouth opens further, like a crocodile would, upon hearing her next statement.

“They cant let such animals live near our homes !” she says.

She could well have been a spokesperson for the crocs ! And spoken the same lines for the crocs as well.

As I stand watching the croc glide away, a shudder goes down my spine ! I wonder what I would say, if my home was encroached on by the buffalo and the bumblebee ! (Despite my home loan)

I stand there. Seeing him glide away. Hoping he will understand the pain and sense of loss some of us share. About his loss and ours too.

He continues gliding away. Somewhere in the middle of the lake where the hotel’s ‘Renaissance’ signboard’s reflection glistens in the morning waters of the otherwise still lake, is where he pauses and disappears.

There are silent ripples. That distort the reflection of ‘The Renaissance’. Perhaps reflective of us and our renaissance !

Its not the drum !

Its a big hefty drum. With a red cloth to cover. Perhaps to cover its might. Perhaps to cover what lies inside. These are distinctly rural men. You can see it in their looks and the ease with which they heave it on to their shoulder, lean on to the other side, and let the beats do the talking!

Beats that you are unfamiliar with. But resonating with what you know so well. From your own land. You wince. As memories of another time flow. In some time, there is music. Here, these three drummers whip up your heart beat.

At the other side, the charcoal embers laced with incense powder fumes! At yet another, amidst the crowd, there is palpable expectation.

In a short while, hips, legs, head and all other parts of the body sway to the beats. In a synchrony that begs to find a new word. A word better than ‘synchrony’ !

The hands. Oh yes, the hands hold those pots fuming embers !

Your heart skips a beat. As the drummers and the dancer get into a jig now and then. Un-rehearsed. But flawless, for all of it is in the flow of the moment. You wonder, how he heaves such a big drum on on his shoulder, creates music, does a jig in response to the dancers steps. Smiling all the way.

You wonder how those dancers hold those hot embers yet stay connected to each step of the drum beat. So graceful. And so complete. Smiling all the way.

You get goose bumps. Dancer after dancer. Some are artistic. Others mesmerise. Yet others hold the eye. All in seamless flow.

You notice that the pictures that you attempt to click are getting blurred. The angles are missing. There is a lot of shake. You wonder whats wrong with the camera. And realise that the cameras just fine. Its just you moving to the beats from those big drums.

To you, it appears that the real dance is the one that’s on in each persons heart. As people smile. Clap. Cry. Go moist in the eye. Laugh. Cheer. Click. Record. And of course, dance.

Right there. As the drummers whip up the music. And the dancers catch it from thin air. And throw it right back at the drummer.

Perhaps everyone is connected to a different time. Perhaps a different place. Perhaps a longing to recreate that time and place, now. In a different distant city. Perhaps its a nested joy in being one with similar minds and very similar longing.

You realise that you are in a trance. Soaking in the unfamiliar drum beat, the dance and the fragrance. And something more.

There are you are. Aware. Unsure. At peace. Strangely happy. As those rural drums get the city dwellers dance in joyous abandon !

Later on, you lie in bed, thinking of the evening. The drums, the dance and the beautiful women and handsome men. You realise, that you can describe all of that.

And you are aware, of something else that was there about the air. An undescribable part. You know that its there. Yet, it eludes description. You try thinking about it.

You are tired. And you choose to leave it at that. Half asleep, you mumble to yourself, ” perhaps it is Durga. Perhaps its just the dance”.

You realise that sleep envelopes you. You know you will sleep like a log today. After a very long time.

And as you slip into sleep…you mumble…”Perhaps, perhaps… its just the drums.”

(Written after attending the Powai Durgotsav ’09. Danuchi Dance. Friday. 25th Sept ’09. All snaps from the event)

Powai Durgotsav ’09 !

Durga Puja has been a festival of intrigue and great happiness. The pomp, the revelry. The gathering. And ofcourse, art and culture. All are on display here ! Check out last year !

At Powai there is this wonderful recreation of the ‘Sun Temple’ at Konark ! Here are some pictures ! All structures here are made out of Plaster, thermocol and wood. And to be dismantled in a weeks time !

Yesterday, there was ‘Anondamela‘. Where people sold stuff that made at home. ( stuff as in ‘food’)!

For a southerner like me, to see chicken Kababs and Fish fry sold in the same venue where there is a ‘puja‘ on, to put it mildly, is strange. But then, when they are sold and they look delicious, they are to be had ! You bet they were delicious.

By the time we reached, there was gathering on stage. And was this mention by a gent ( i don’t know who he was ) about the Times of India carrying a bigger photograph of the Powai puja, than the one at Lokhandwala.

I wonder why that should matter. About being better than Lokhandwala ! Or about… TOI….But quite a lot of people were happy. And they all clapped. Sure there must be reason.

They have an interesting array of programs on the menu over the next few days ! Do catch a glimpse !

While the pictures speak for themselves on what you probably will find there, i can tell you, the festive air and the spirit of the Pujo are to be experienced to be believed !


Paying Guest. In my humble opinion, that’s an oxymoron. For guests don’t pay. Are not expected to. Never. At least that’s my belief. And generally spoken word too.

What gets passed off as ‘PG’ accommodation these days can be best called a hostel in most cases. Perhaps ‘Paying Guest’ perhaps gives a ring of graduation to the professional world. Hostels are for college goers. (I havent seen any PG accommodation here in Mumbai so i have no idea of it here)

And perhaps also delivers another punch. With ‘Payment’ inherent in ‘Paying guest’ what it also perhaps signifies, is a degree of ‘self respect’ to the individual in question. That the stay is paid for !

Whatever be the logical reasoning around this, ‘Paying Guest’ continues to be an oxymoron, to me that is !

The world however moves on. Irrespective of what i think of as an oxymoron or otherwise. And PGs are advertised. Or… are they. Sample this.

These advertisements make the brain cells work. Wondering what is being communicated.

The ad on top. It talks about ‘Males in Powai’. As though the males in Powai are a special species, looking for such accommodation. Perhaps Powai breeds such males. hmm. But look at what follows.

No Brokerage.
No Deposit
No Restrictions

So, for for males in Powai, i guess these are the three principal woes. Brokerage. Deposits. And restrictions.

Move on to the ad below.

Which introduces us to a new form of human life called ‘Rentals’. What else would ‘ Boys & Girls & Rentals’ mean ?

Hmm…they could some thing else as well, but hey, i am not going there at all.

But here again : ‘No Brokerage No Deposit. No Restriction’. The brokerage and the deposit i can understand. But this ‘No Restriction’ business i find difficult. What kind of restrictions will boys and girls ( & rentals of course) usually suffer from, that would make them seek out such accommodation ?

Males in Powai, Boys, girls, rentals will be paying up. And staying as guests. With no deposits. And restrictions. Hmm.

I wonder why my mind is working this way. This post was supposed to be about the ‘Paying Guest’ being an oxymoron.

But you know, I am consciously practicing letting my thoughts flow on this blog. Without restrictions. Maybe thats why.

‘No restrictions’ for males in powai seems to be in. ahem.