Dec 30, 2008

Mumbai Chawls

In the early 1900, Mumbai was growing as an industrial city, and needed workers from Maharashtra and Gujarat. Most of these workers came to the city as single males or after leaving their families back in their villages. Housing needs of these workers were met by chawls. Chawls were built by private builders.

A Chawl is a group of one or two room housing units laid out along two corridors. The corridor in the front of the house provides the entry doors to the units. The corridor in the back provides a passage to common sanitary facilities that are shared by the units on the floor. Chawl buildings are typically 3 to 5 storied. The building can be linear or C shaped.

If a housing unit has two rooms, then the first room is living and sleeping room, and the second room is a kitchen as well as study room. This type of layout suited well for a migrant worker who needed a cheap place to stay so that he could send money back home to the family. However, due to lack of affordable housing at the next level, these workers continued to stay in the chawls even after their families moved in with them. The whole housing unit is around 300 - 400 sq-ft.

Most of the chawls were build before the second world war. They were constructed with teak wood with wooden flooring.

Chawls are disappearing slowly from Mumbai as more options for self contained apartments are becoming available. Due to better transportation, people are willing to stay further away from Mumbai and commute. However, while the Chawls ruled, they contributed to bringing the society closer together. Public festivals were nurtured by these communities.

Famed Marathi author P. L. Deshpande has written a wonderful novel about Chawl living named - Batatyachi Chawl. It's a classic.

Mumbai Art Deco Movement

The exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (Industrial and Decorative art exhibition) in 1925 in Paris kicked off the worldwide Art Deco movement. This was a huge break for the past design styles and it mimics machine age. Adopted for buildings, the Art Deco architecture included flat roofs, flowing forms, geometric patterns. It employed glass, steel, and concrete.

Mumbai designers embraced this style wholeheartedly. In 1935 at architects meeting in the city hall it was decided to build new structures in Art Deco style. Marine Drive buildings are testament to this. Eros movie hall at Churchgate is also built in the Art Deco style.

Unfortunately, Mumbai has not kept with the tradition while maintaining or extending these beautiful structures. The most common offenders are floor extensions, balcony closures, drainage pipes on the exterior.

A new book Bombay Deco is now available that studies this movement in detail.

Hills of Mumbai

Current topography of Mumbai bears no resemblance to how it appeared 300 years ago. Nearly half of the main city areas and about 20% of the suburbs have been reclaimed from the shallow sea by infilling and Backbay reclamation. The raw material for this was obtained from low lying around Sion, Raoli, Sewri, Dongi-Mazgaon, Kulra, Ghatkopar, Andheri, Jogeshwari, and Marol. These hills do not exist anymore. Also, original natural water drainage have been redirected or blocked. This causes monsoon flooding in the city.

Some of the original hills in Mumbai still exist. They are Malabar Hill (Hanging Gardern), Pali Hill (Bandra), Antop Hill (Wadala), Cumbala Hill (Peddar Road), Dongri Hill (Fort). Then there is Gilbert Hill in Andheri (W) which is just a monolith structure of black basalt rock about 60m tall.

The map shows this incremental development of the city.

Dec 29, 2008

Poisonous Snakes of Mumbai

There are areas of Mumbai around Borivli, Goregaon, Malabar Hill, Pali hill, Worli, Sion, Andheri, and Malad where snakes can be found. Here is a list of poisonous snakes of Mumbai.

Naja Naja (Nag). Large snake that can grow upto 150 cm.

Callophis Melanurus. Small coral snake that can grow upto 34 cm.

Russel's Viper. Grows upto 160 cm. Its fangs are nearly 1 cm long and are capable of penetrating flesh. Only 15 mg of venom is enough to kill a grown man.

Echis Carinatus (Phoorsa). This is a small venomous viper that grows up to 40 cm. Its inconspicuous nature, the speed of its strike, and its readiness to bite at the smallest provocation makes it the most dangerous reptiles in Mumbai. The species produces 18 mg of venom and may inject as much as 12 mg per bite. Only 5 mg is a lethal dose. The snake is quite hardy and is out and about even during hot days.

Trimeresurus gramineus (Indian green tree viper). Small green snake grows to about 75 cm. It can be recognized by its triangular head and golden eye balls. It can be found within forest areas of Borivli.

Enhydrina Schistosa (sea snake). Ash colored snake with round body can be seen around Versova after high tides. The snake can not move on land. It is not aggressive and its fangs are located far behind in his mouth and therefore it can not grip to inject poison. However, its poison is 4-8 times as venomous as that of king Cobra. About 1.5 mg is considered to be lethal. These snakes are active during day as well as night.

Hydrophis mamillaries (sea snake). Buff colored sea snake. Its fangs are located far behind as well so it can not grip effectively to deliver venom. The venom is neurotoxin.

Polyvalent Antivenin produced by Haffkine Institute of Mumbai is the only remedy against the snake bites from these species. One note of caution. Haffkine Antivenin is not effective against venom of King Cobra or other snakes not listed above. So, be careful handling exotic species in Mumbai.

Haffkine Institute

Haffkine Institute in Parel in Mumbai is a research organization focused on vaccine production. It was established in 1899 by Dr. Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine - a Ukrainian scientist. Dr. Haffkine was a bacteriologist who worked mainly in India and developed vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague. He had studied under Louis Pasteur.

Then Governor of Bombay invited Dr. Haffkine to Bombay in 1896 after an epidemic of plague broke out in the city. He found a place to work at the JJ Group of hospitals where he developed a plague vaccine and tested it on himself.

In 1899, the residence of Governor of Bombay in Parel was handed over to Dr. Haffkine to set up his institute.

Haffkine institute has been developing antivenin for the past 56 years. It is the only institute in India where lypophilized Polyvalent Antivenin against the venom of cobra, krait, Russel's viper, and Echis Carinatus snakes is produced. These are the only remedies for snake bites in India. The institute has a snake farm and holds more than 5000 snakes on premise. It also holds a snake awareness public demonstration every week on Thursdays.

Dec 28, 2008

Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy (JJ)

Anyone who has traveled over Mahim Causeway, or have been to JJ group of hospital which also includes the Cama Hospital recently in news due to the terrorist attack of November 26, or has heard of JJ school of arts, architecture must wonder what does JJ stand for. JJ stands for Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy. Here's some information of his splendid benevolence.

Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy was born in Bombay in 1783 in a poor family. His father's profession was to buy and sell old bottles. Jamsetji, at the age of eighteen, entered into partnership with his father in law, and made successful voyages to China - dealing in opium trade. His ships build in shipyards of Bombday trades with all parts of the East. He also dealt in cotton trade.

He was very prosperous after twenty years of business. In winning his fortune, he did not forget how to spend it - because for him responsibilities and duties were never separate from the wealth. Parsi, Christian, Hindu, and Muslims were alike the objects of his benevolence. He funded hospitals, schools, charity homes throughout Mumbai and India. He also financed construction of public works such as wells, reservoirs, bridges, and causeways.

Jamsetji's wife Avabai spent the entire sum of Rs. 155,800 in 1841 to build Mahim Causeway to connect Bombay to the island of Salsette after the British government refused to fund the public works project.

Queen Victoria conferred the knighthood on him in 1842, followed by award of baronetcy in 1858.

Sir JJ passed away in 1859. City of Mumbai has a lot of reasons to be grateful to this great man.

Mumbai Airport Lax Security

Here is a recent photo of common public accessing the Mumbai Airport landing strip. Granted that these people are just onlookers, shouldn't this area be off limits? There is a lot of awareness related to the security matters in Mumbai after Nov 26th, however, as the photo indicates, there is a lot of work still to done.

Early Bombay Newspapers

Bombay Herald was the first English newspaper in Bombay. It was started in 1789. Bombay Courier was started in the following year 1790. In 1791, the name of Bombay Herald was changed to Bombay Gazette. Bombay Courier was published on Saturdays and Gazette on Wednesdays.

Bombay Courier continued to exist for fifty-six years, after which it was merged with Bombay Telegraph. Bombay Gazette stopped its operation in 1842.

Both these papers contained almost entirely parts from English papers and occasional law reports. The first native newspaper in Bombay was Bombay Samachar in 1822. This paper was started as a weekly. It became a bi-weekly in 1833 and daily in 1860. Mumbai Karkman was started in 1830.

In 1822, the Government prohibited officers in East India Company from writing any personal matters related to their posts. In 1826, they were prevented from having any relationship with the editors, proprietors, or contributors with any newspaper. Inland postal delivery charges were also exorbitant. Post office controlled by the British government was charging half a Rupee for any inland delivery regardless of the distance. Inspite of this, the press in Bombay continued to grow powerful and influential.

Dec 27, 2008

Worli - Haji Ali sealink bidders dry up due to global slowdown

worli haji ali sealink mumbai

Bandra - Worli sealink is almost complete. This 5.6 km bridge will be in service around March 2010. The second part of this project is to build a link between Worli and Haji Ali. This bridge will be 3.3 km long, including a 1 km connector to Haji Ali.

The base cost of Worli-Haji Ali bridge is Rs. 1,120 crore. However, the successful bidder will also need to buy the Bandra - Worli sealink for Rs. 1,640 crore. Given the cost of building the bridge and maintaining it, the total cost of the bridge will be Rs 4,100 crore over the next 40 years, wich the bidders will need to recover through tolls.

Current global recession has reduced interest in this project. Among the 17 parties which had purchased the bid documents, only two consortiums have submitted technical bids - Reliance-Hyundai and HCC-John Laing-Samsung. Final bidder will be awarded within the next two weeks. The project is supposed to start in 2010 with the completion date of January 2013.

Dec 26, 2008

St Xavier's College, Mumbai

St. Xavier's College in Mumbai is one of the oldest colleges in India. The college has been affiliated with the University of Bombay since 1869. Women were admitted to college since 1912.

The college is named after St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit saint of the 16th century who had traveled to India.

The college is located in south Mumbai area and is close to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Marine Lines railway stations.

The college has been rated among top 10 colleges. It's famous alumni include Sunil Gavaskar, Zubin Mehta, Alyque Padamsee, Shabana Azmi, Farooq Shaikh, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Shobha De, Vidya Balan, Zakir Hussain, Ashok Kamte.

Here's a postal stamp issued by Indian postal service in 1985 to celebrate 125 of the institution.

Madhubala Postage Stamp

Madhubala was a popular Bollywood actress in the 1950s and 60s. She entered the film industry at the young age of nine. She is regarded as one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of Hindi Cinema and her movies have achieved a cult status.

She died young at the age of 36. However, in this short time she appeared in 70 movies. She was married to Kishore Kumar at the time of her death and is buried at Santacruz Cemetery.

Indian Postal Service has issued a stamp to celebrate this icon of Bollywood.

Here's a recent Marathi song by Avadhut Gupte that refers Madhubala.

Bombay Dockyard - 272 years old

Bombay was given as dowry by the Portuguese to King Charles II of England when he married Princess Catherine in 1662. Then Portuguese viceroy of Goa was opposed to this. He had written 'I foresee that India will be lost the same day on which the English nation is settled in Bombay'. British shifted their capital from Surat to Bombay in 1686 and Bombay became the naval fortress from which Britain went ahead to build a vast colonial empire.

Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia was brought from Surat to Bombay in March 1736 along with his 10 carpenters. Lowjee became the master builder in 1740 and this post remained with his descendants till 1884 when the dockyard was transferred from Bombay government to Indian Government under British rule. 

In 1772, shipbuilding with British oak was restricted to protect oak forests as well as due to superiority of teak over oak. Teak was not disposed to splinter as well it did not corrode iron. This brought on golden age of Bombay shipbuilding.

One of ships built in Bombay in year 1813 was HMS Cornwallis. This is the ship on which historic treaty of Nanking, ceding Hong Kong to the British was signed. HMS Trincomalee (1817) is the oldest British ship afloat was built with Malabar teak in Bombay Dockyard.

Indian nationals in Mumbai can participate in a heritage walk to examine glorious history of these yards that are 270+ years old. Heritage walk is conducted on the first Sunday of every month. For details, call 91-222-265-5750.

Here's also a stamp issued on the 250th anniversary of the dockyards in 1986. When built, Bombay Dock was the first dry dock built in Asia.

Current dockyard is spread over 138 acres of land.

Dec 25, 2008

Indian Cricket Victories - 1971

India has beaten Australia and England in test series to end 2008. This brings back the memories of 1971 series wins in Caribbean and England. Ajit Wadekar - a Mumbai native was the captain of the team and Sunil Gavaskar has begun his career with 774 runs in four innings (a double century and three other centuries). Dilip sardesai was also a huge contributor with 642 runs in the series. India won the series 1-0.

India also beat England 1-0 after playing three tests. 

Indian Postal Service had issued this stamp to celebrate this feat.

Amul Butter take on Current Events - Dec 2008

Amul Butter as usual captures the current events and packages them into memorable banners. How can butter be bad for you? Not when its Amul.

Dec 23, 2008

Backbay Reclamation Project of Bombay

Backbay Reclamation project had its genesis in Bombay - Baroda railway. During the cotton bubble, the land prices in Bombay had gone through the roof, and a railway terminal in Bombay needed a large amount of land that was close to the sea routes.

The agreement was that the Backbay Reclamation company will provide the government the land required for the railway terminal and other public purposes, and use the rest for profit -- at the time when land prices had gone through the roof.

This project stopped immediately after the American Civil War ended and a depression set into the land prices. The Backbay reclamation company went bankrupt and was liquidated. Government gave whatever land that was created for the purpose of building a live from Churchgate to the new terminal in Colaba. This terminal does not exist today. The reason for selecting Colaba for the terminal was perhaps the fact that a cotton exchange operated there since 1844.

Premchand Roychand was wiped out in this depression.

The reclamation project started again in 1917 - fifty years after it was initiated. However, again the depression on 1920s slowed the project down. As a part of the project the railway terminal built in Colaba was moved to Bombay Central, which is the current location of terminus of Western Railways.

From the initial plan to reclaim 1500 acres, the plan was reduced to reclaim 1145 acres in 1917. By the time a stage of the project was completed in 1929, only about 440 acres were reclaimed. 235 acres were sold to the military and 17 acres were incorporated into the Marine Drive and its sea wall.

Backbay Reclamation continued after independence of India and the land that was recovered is today's Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade area.

Eventually, Supreme Court injunctions protecting the shoreline and coastal fishermen ground the work to halt in the 1970s.

Bombay University before Backbay Reclamation

This picture of Rajabai Tower under construction was taken during 1869. It is interesting to note that there is no Oval Maidan in front of the University. That is because the Backbay Reclamation project was not put in place at that time. Much of the today's Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade area was part of the Arabian Sea.

Mumbai and American Civil War Connection

American Civil War is connected to the growth of Mumbai. Here's how.

Before the 1850s, India used to export cotton to Briton and import textile. However, the the cost of importing textiles ballooned to Rs. 20 millions by 1860. This led Mumbai entrepreneurs to create a cotton mill industry in Mumbai. By 1870, there were 13 cotton mills in Mumbai.

Cotton supplies from the US were interrupted during the American Civil War. Before the Civil War, cotton mills in England used to import only about 20% of their needs for cotton from India. However, with the blockade of the Confederate ports, Indian cotton prices rose. By the time, General Lee's army was defeated (1865), traders in Bombay had earned 70 million Pound Sterling in cotton trade. So much was the haste to make money in cotton that farmers in Gujarat were cutting down grain crop ready to mature to free up land for cotton.

Ambitious projects such as Backbay Reclamation were launched around that time. Dock Yards building also had attracted a lot of money. Premchand Roychand - one of the wealthiest cotton trader made fortune during this time. He donated money to build Rajabai Tower. He also lost considerable fortune in the reclamation projects.

The cotton bubble deflated as soon as the American Civil War ended. Large number of speculators were bankrupt. However, Bombay had launched itself towards industrial growth. Migration of workers from the rest of Maharashtra to Bombay was on and it was the place where fortunes were to be made. It was only a matter of time. 

Rajabai Tower - Mumbai University

The Rajabai Tower is a clock tower in South Mumbai in the fort campus of University of Mumbai. Modelled on Big Ben, the tower was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott - an English architect.

The tower is named after the mother of Premchand Roychand - a prosperous cotton and bullion trader. Premchand came to Bombay in search of work and became one of the most successful traders there by reaping enormous profits from cotton boom. Premchand donated Rs 200,000 in 1869 to defray its construction costs. The tower was completed in 1878.

Premchand's mother was blind and she was of Jain religion. She had to eat her dinner before sundown. The bells of Rajabai tower helped her know the time.

The tower stands 85m tall and was built in a fusion of Venetian and Gothic styles using locally available Kurla stone which is buff in color. Needless to say, at the time is was erected, it stood as the tallest structure in the city.

The tower is closed to the public, as it was being used on occasions by the University students to commit suicide after receiving disappointing grades.

Dec 22, 2008

Anil Ambani buys a $84 million yacht for his wife

Less than a year after his older brother Mukesh Ambani presented his wife with Airbus corporate jet, Anil Ambani has gifted his wife Tina a super luxury yacht. The cost is rumored to be around US$84 million. 

Named Tian - using first two letters of Tina and Anil, the yacht is anchored at Gateway of India, ready for the couple to usher in 2009.

Tian was built in Genoa, Italy. It is 34 meters long.

Taj Hotel Reopens

Taj Hotel in Mumbai has reopened. The old wing is still closed for repairs, but the tower is welcoming guests with 60% occupancy.

Ratan Tata - chairman of the TATA group which owns the hotel was critical towards the authorities response to the terrorists as well as the fire in old wing had talked about going the private route to protect the place. I wonder if it in place already.

Here's a look back to the last months events.

Dec 20, 2008

Lata and SD Burman - Dispute

After singing Chand Phir Nikla (Paying Guest) for S D Burman in 1957, Lata Mangeshkar did not sing for him till 1962. There was a misunderstanding between the two. They were brought together again by SD's son R D Burman for Pawan Diwani (Dr. Vidya).

Both these songs are timeless. Nutan is the actress in the first song and Vaijayinantimala is the dancer in the second.

This long gap in collaboration between Lata and SD Burman allowed Asha Bhosle to flourish. Asha is Lata's younger sister and her main playback singing rival Geeta Dutt was going through a difficult marriage with Guru Dutt who wanted to restrict her singing only to his movies.

Bollywood is such a key part of Mumbai and Lata ruled 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s in Bollywood. Here are more stories about Lata.

Lata the trendsetter Vividha Bharti tradition of announcing singer name was started due to Lata.

Dec 19, 2008

Old Woman's Shoe at Pherozshah Mehta Gardens

For those who grew up in Mumbai, Old Woman's Shoe at Hanging Gardens (now known as Pherozshah Mehta Gardens) brings special memories. Hanging gardens were built on top of a water storage tank at Malabar hills in 1881.

It is interesting to know about the person whose name appears on this Mumbai landmark. Sir Pherozeshah Mehta was born in Bombay on 4th August 1845. He went to England to specialise in law and there he was influenced by Dadabhai Naoraji who became his political guru. On being called to the Bar in 1868 he returned to India and was soon in the forefront of Bombay's legal luminaries. His eloquent plea for muncipal reform was later embodied in the Act of 1872 and Municipal Act of 1888. he became the father of Bombay's Municipal Charter, founder of its glorious civic tradition. He was elected President of the Corporation on no fewer than four occasions 1884, 1885, 1905 and 1911. He is considered the father of Bombay Municipality.

His political ideology was, as was the case with most of the Indian leaders of his time, moderate and was hence not directly opposed to the crown's sovereignty but only demanded more autonomy for Indians to self-rule. He was knighted for his service to the law.

How did Salaskar, Kamate, Karkare die?

ATS chief Hemant Karkare, DIG Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar were at their respective homes when they heard of the terrorist attacks. Karkare reached Haj House in his official vehicle where police had blocked the traffic. He put on a bullet-proof vest and helmet and walked towards CST Terminal.

Meanwhile, Salaskar had reached the Taj Palace Hotel. Joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria, who was at the control room, directed him to the Colaba station where two israelis had been detained at Nariman house. Maria later directed Salaskar to the Cama Hospital. On his way, he met Karkare and they headed towards Special Branch Office at Dhobi Talao, right behind the Cama Hospital. Kamte joined them there.

They got into a Qualis with Salaskar at the wheel while Kamte besides him. Karkare sat behind them and three constables occupied the rear seats.

They intercepted a terrorist behind St. Xavier's College. It was Ajmal Amir Kasab. Salaskar shot at him with his service revolver and hit his hand. He dropped the bad he carrying. As the vehicle closed towards Kasab and slowed down, Ismail, Kasab's associate emerged and took all by surprise. He sprayed bullets from his AK-47 and hit Salaskar, Karkare, and Kamte. Both the the terrorists pulled their bodies out and made away with the vehicle. In the back, lay constable Arun Jadhav with two of his dead colleagues - taken by the terrorists to be dead as well. He survived and was able to tell the whereabouts of the two as they switched the cars. 

Both the terrorists were eventually cornered at a blockade near chowpatty. Kasab was captured.

The slain officers are being considered for Ashoka Chakra award. Update: They were awarded Ashok Chakra on an 26th, 2009.

The Ashoka Chakra (AC) is awarded to officers and enlisted personnel of all military branches, as well as to civilians, for the most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice other than in the face of the enemy. It may be awarded posthumously. The AC is the peace-time equivalent of the Param Vir Chakra (PVC). 

Dec 14, 2008

Parvathy Omanakuttan - Miss World 2008 First Runner Up

Parvathy Omanakuttan, Miss India 2008 is the first runner up Miss World 2008. Born on July 13th, 1987, she is a graduate of Mithibhai College in Mumbai Suburbs near Juhu and Andheri. Her major was English literature. 

She is 5' 8.5'' tall with athletic 32-27-36 vital measurements.

Her hobbies include listening to music, dancing, glass paining, and reading. She plays basketball and badminton.

Born in state of Kerala, she now lives in Mumbai. She is open to joining Bollywood if opportunity comes knocking. She admits to having a quick temper "I can lose it in a snap". 

Dec 13, 2008

Night walks on Mumbai Beaches - No more.

Night walks on Mumbai beaches is soon going to be just a old memory. BMC is planning to implement international guideline that bans public on the beaches after sunset. The civic body will ban entry to five of city's becahes as Juhu, Marve, Madh, Asksa, and Gorai after sunset in a few months.

As a part of these measures, the visitors will be frisked or even asked to leave after sundown. BMC is also going to set up a security agency to monitor beach safety. This agency will create safe zones at the beaches. Visitors will not be allowed to be at risky zones after 6 pm.

Beaches will also begin to display the danger areas as timings of high and low tides.

Anandghan - Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar had donned name Anandghan to compose Marathi film music in the 60s. He provided music to the following movies.

Mohityanchi Manjula (1962)
Maratha Tituka Melvava (1964)
Saadhi Manse (1965)

It is not clear why she used this name. Was it to avoid diluting her singer brand? or was it to avoid appearing as a competitor to other music directors of the time?

Hemant Kumar's singing career was impacted the moment he started providing music to the movies. Other music directors dropped him as a singer. Lata was always keenly aware of these things. Perhaps this is the reason we did not see a lot of composing from her.

She had also provided music to a Marathi movie in the 1950 (Raam Raam Pahune) under her real name.

Here's a song from a movie Saadhi Manse.

Dec 12, 2008

Badshah Falooda - Crawford Market, Mumbai

Falooda is Zoroastrian Persia's national drink. Badshah in Crawford Market area is the place for Falooda in Mumbai. About 65% of Badshah's business comes from Faloodas. Falooda is a tall cooling milk-and-rose syrup drink with vermicelli and takmaria seeds (also known as sabjah). It is typically topped with ice-cream.

Badshah store is named after B. A. Badshah. He operated seven fruit juice shops in Mumbai during the early 1900s. He was a kind man and a wonderful employer. He died at a young age of 38 without any kids. In his will he left each of his seven shops with once of his loyal servants. Badshah at Crawford Market was inherited by Merwan Jehangir Irani - then manager of the place. He has employed a 12 year Iranian immigrant for cleaning help. Mr. Irani was impressed with the boy's ethics. When the boy grew up, he married his daughter Yasmin with the boy and handed the shop over to the couple. Aspi passed away in 1996, and Yasimin ran the should with her daughter Behnaz's husband. They also have opened a shop in Pune.

152/156 Lokmanya Tilak Marg,
Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 400001, India
Ph: 23421943, 23449316, 23425950

Dec 5, 2008

Amul Butter's take on Mumbai Politicians

Amul Butter banners are integral part of Mumbai because they capture the sentiments of the city. Right now mumbaikars are not too thrilled with their political leadership. VIP politicians get commando guards while the common public is left to fend for themselves. This poster is both timely and timeless like any other Amul poster.

Other Amul Posters.

Katrina Kaif - Sexiest Asian Woman 2008

Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif has been adjudged the sexiest Asian woman in the world in 2008 by a UK-based weekly, with last year's winner Bipasha Basu pushed to the second spot. In the annual round conducted by 'Eastern Eye', a leading British Asian newspaper, Kaif emerged on the top in a shortlist of 10.

The judges included Brianna Ragel, editor of Asian Woman Magazine and the former editor of FHM India, Farhad Dadyburjor. Hamant Verma, editor of Eastern Eye, said: "Katrina Kaif's natural beauty and easy charm has enabled her stock to rise in Bollywood. This has resulted in a number of lucrative offers, and appearances in films that proved to be box-office hits."

Kaif, who was brought up in London, was ranked one place above last year's winner Bipasha Basu and two ahead of 2006 winner Priyanka Chopra. Kareena Kapoor came third in the list.

New entrants to the 'sexiest list' included Pakistani actress Mehwish Hayat (nine), Miss India Universe Simran Kaur Mundi (10), former Miss Sri Lanka Jacqueline Fernandez (12) and south Indian actress Asin (22). Former Miss World Aishwarya Rai was at the seventh place.

Pigeons of Taj Mahal Hotel

During the coverage of the attack on the Taj Mahal hotel you might have noticed hundreds of pigeons flying around the hotel looking for their familiar resting spots. Thousands of these pigeons were scared away due to continuous explosions and fire during the 60 hours of siege. They were also missing out on the grains provided by the tourists.

Animal activists have worked with the police to set around 80kg of bird seeds around the hotel to bring these birds back to the area, and the pigeons are flying back their nests on this magnificent hotel.

As the tourists return to the area so will the pigeons. I hope these birds find an alternate nesting place during the repair work on the hotel.

Mumbai Customs get three new hi-tech patrol boats

To patrol the waters of Mumbai, the customs department launched three high tech boats, Ila, Chitra and Kaushalya, which sailed off the Ferry Wharf on Friday. The customs boats have the widest range of jurisdiction—from all around Mumbai to Dahanu.

This was the first phase in which the finance ministry had cleared the decks for three out of the 24 ships proposed by the customs early in 2005. 
These ships, which have been imported from Malaysia and each costing around Rs 5 crore, will soon replace the existing customs boats that are old and outdated. A customs official said the officers patrolling in these air conditioned facilities would be provided with hi-tech arms such as AK-47 and SLR rifles. Measuring 20x10 m and sailing at a speed of 32 nautical miles per hour, the two-storey boats have a capacity of around 30 officers on board and are equipped with powerful search-lights, long range binoculars as well as emergency sirens. They also have conference rooms, small dinning rooms, kitchens and toilets.

Dec 3, 2008

Premier Padmini Taxis Disappearing from Mumbai

It is time to say goodbye to the age-old Premier Padmini Taxis on Mumbai streets. December 4th is the deadline to phase out taxis that are 25 years or older.

There are nearly 55,000 taxis running on Mumbai streets. This rule, which was approved by the State Transport Authority and Mumbai High Court, will take more than 7000 vehicles off the road.

Maruti Omni and Wagon R are the new favorites.

Premier Padmini was based on 1963 Fiat 1100 design and was built in India from 1968 to 2000.

The old taxis have been fetching just Rs 12000 in Mumbai scrapyards. The replacement cabs -- Omni -- costs upwards of Rs 1.85 lacs.

Taj Mahal Hotel - Old Glory

Ratan Tata has promised to restore the hotel to its old glory. Here are some of the pictures from the old wing. Tall atrium with sturdy wood construction was credited for protecting the hotel from fire. It is also clear how intricate the layout of this place is. Marine commandos who fought the terrorists before the NSG commandos flew in had no layout maps. Under the cover of darkness the terrorists  who had sixth floor position must have tough to defend against.

Taj Mahal Full Page Ad in Paper

TATA which owns Mumbai Taj Hotel has taken a  full page ad announcing that it will be back.

Dec 2, 2008

Jyoti Kalash Chhalke

Song -Jyoti Kalash chhalke (bhabhi ki choodiyan 1961) 

Singer -Lata Mangeshkar
Lyrics - Pt.Narendra Sharma, 
Music -Sudhir Phadke


Aaa aaa aaa aaa

jyoti kalash chhalke jyoti kalash chhalke
jyoti kalash chhalke jyoti kalash chhalke

huye gulaabi, laal sunahare
rang dal baadal ke
jyoti kalash chhalke

ghar aangan van upvan upvan
karti jyoti amrit ke sinchan
mangal ghat dhalke
mangal ghat dhalke
jyoti kalash chhalke

ambar kumkum kan barsaaye
phool pankhuriyon par muskaaye
bindu tuhin jal ke bindu tuhin jal ke
jyoti kalash chhalke
jyoti kalash chhalke jyoti kalash chhalke

paat paat birva hariyaalaa
dharati kaa mukh hua ujaalaa
sach sapne kal ke
sach sapne kal ke
jyoti kalash chhalke

Usha ne aanchal phailaayaa
phaili sukh ki sheetal chhaayaa
neeche aanchal ke
neeche aanchal ke
jyoti kalash chhalke
jyoti kalash chhalke jyoti kalash chhlake

jyoti Yashodaa dharati gaiyyaa
neel gagan Gopal Kanhaiyyaa
jyoti Yashodaa dharati gaiyyaa
neel gagan Gopal Kanhaiyyaa
shyaamal chhavi jhalke
shyaamal chhavi jhalke
jyoti kalash chhalake
jyoti kalash chhalke jyoti kalash chhalke

Dawood Ibrahim - US Fact Sheet

India has asked Pakistan to surrender Dawood Ibrahim. He is one of the suspects in 1993 bombing as well as in the current Mumbai attacks. Officials in India belive that Dawood is under protection from Pakistan's ISI agency which has been engaging in shadow war with the much mightier neighbour. Here's his US Fact sheet.

Dawood Ibrahim, the son of a police constable, has reigned as one of the pre-eminent criminals in the Indian underworld for most of the past two decades.

Ibrahim's syndicate is involved in large-scale shipments of narcotics in the U.K. and Western Europe. The syndicate's smuggling routes from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa are shared with Usama bin Laden and his terrorist network. Successful routes established over recent years by Ibrahim's syndicate have been subsequently utilized by bin Laden. A financial arrangement was reportedly brokered to facilitate the latter's usage of these routes. In the late 1990's, Ibrahim traveled in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.

Ibrahim's syndicate has consistently aimed to destabilize the Indian government through inciting riots, acts of terrorism, and civil disobedience. He is currently wanted by India for the March 12, 1993 Bombay Exchange bombings, which killed hundreds of Indians and injured over a thousand more.

Information, from as recent as Fall 2002, indicates that Ibrahim has financially supported Islamic militant groups working against India, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT). For example, this information indicates that Ibrahim has been helping finance increasing attacks in Gujarat by LeT. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous) is the armed wing of Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irsha (MDI) – a Sunni anti-US missionary organization formed in 1989. The United States added LeT to the list of designated terrorists in October 2001. The group was banned by the Pakistani government, and its assets frozen, in January 2002.

Nov 30, 2008

Timeline of the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks


Taj Mahal Hotel condition after The attacks

The famed Harbour Bar at the Taj was the first licensed bar in Mumbai and a favourite watering hole of the city, is charred beyond recognition. Nothing’s left of the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Wasabi either. The 1st and 6th floors are badly gutted, the 4th and 5th partially burnt.

1. THE LOBBY: This section of the 105-year-old building was lined with artifacts and antiques is not badly damaged. Unlike some of the other sections, no explosions or fires occurred here. There are few bullets lodged in the walls. 

2. SHAMIANA: The all-day dining restaurant’s flooring was wrecked by grenade blasts, which left a huge hole. Glass pieces and bags lay scattered all over the floor on Saturday night. The section overlooking the poolside is in a mess. 

3. HARBOUR BAR: Facing the Colaba seafront on the ground floor was India’s first licensed bar. Reputed for its rare selection of whiskey, cognacs and Cuban cigars, the Harbour bar has been badly damaged in the attack. 

4. WASABI: Japanese restaurant Wasabi is located in the old wing on a level above the ground floor has been gutted. Featured in the prestigious Conde-Nast Traveller List of eateries, the restaurant was known for its sakes and sushi bar. 

5. SECOND, THIRD FLOORS: The status of these floors is relatively okay. 

6. FOURTH, FIFTH FLOORS: These floors are partially burned and have minor smoke damage.

7. SIXTH FLOOR: The headquarters of the terrorists is completely charred. The woodwork is smashed. All sea-facing rooms including the presidential suites — which have hosted heads of state — are in a shambles. Valuable paintings, period furniture and hand-woven silk carpets are believed to have been destroyed. 

8. SIXTH FLOOR OCCUPANTS: The terrorists had two rooms on the sixth floor; so did the general manager’s family which perished in the fire. 

9. DOME: One of the domes with Moorish and Oriental influence has been damaged in the fire. 

10. TERRORISTS ENTRY: Two entered from the poolside at the rear; two others came in from the side entrance. They had already penetrated the hotel via Housekeeping, the only service to be outsourced. They had an intimate knowledge of the layout, the back entrances, the storage
rooms. They also knew of the passage between the old and the new wings, from the banqueting section. Old kitchen staff use this passage. 

11. TERRORISTS: One was found dead in the Harbour Bar and one on the staircase between Harbour Bar and Wasabi.