Dec 30, 2009

Working at Mukesh Ambani's Reliance.

So if you are a western school educated, successful professional and you are considering moving to India for a job.

How would it be to work at Mukesh Ambani's Reliance? What sort of people make to the very top? Are they hired externally?

So if you are a western school educated, successful professional and you are considering moving to India for a job.
Although Reliance is at the forefront of the Indian industries in terms of innovation and growth, it is a hierarchical and old style India enterprise. It is run as a big family Enterprise where the "owner's" word is the law. There will be pictures of Late Dhirubhai Ambani with a garland all over the place. Professional management will be layered away if not on an organizational chart then in decision rights away from the "owner". The layer will be filled with ruling family members and those close to the family. Loyalty will be as important as merit and competency.

Mukesh Abmani has studied in the US - in Stanford. Still the management style might be hierarchical.

Dhirubhai Ambani had made sure that his kids don't get too insulated from the streets - so he had hired a private tutor to take both the kids around the city of Mumbai in public transport - every day for three hours. He knows what it means to be a common Indian.

Mukesh Ambani gets to work at around 11 am and works through the day till midnight. If you are around where he works, then you would be doing the same. Working in India, means working late. You are either on calls with the partners on the western hemisphere or working late because everyone does so.

Managing the Government relationships - Indian Government at federal, state, and local levels is highly sought out. So your business skills will be just about 5-10% of what you bring to the table - the rest would be this relationship management. Reliance grew during the 'license Raj' - the time when the Government decided where the private and public wealth was to be directed, and to whom. That meant getting a license to do something would make you rich due to its exclusivity. Things are a little different now, but the people who run the business and the Government are used to the 'favors' available during the license raj. Outright bribes may be there, but more likely would be the favors bestowed through the network of other businesses and charities or foundations is the way to get ahead.

Can you manage that? Can you get some Government official's son an admission into US school? With full scholarship?

India is wonderful. Mumbai is exciting. There are opportunities for staggering growth. However, it is important to make sure that the downsides of working in Mumbai are taken into consideration.

Dec 13, 2009

Voting Finger

Interesting picture of the Bachchan family displaying the finger with voting ink mark.

Dec 5, 2009

Indira, Rajeev, Sanjay Gandhi with Dara Singh

But who is the boy on the far right - next to Dara Singh?

Sanjay Gandhi, Randhawa, Rajeev Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Dara Singh, Amitabh Bachchan.

Nov 26, 2009

Bhagwan - Bholi Surat Dil Ke Khote

A sorry cover of The Illustrated Weekly on India in 1990 - the year of the weekly's demise after 112 years. The top left picture is that of Bhagwan.

Bhagwan, following on suggestion by Raj Kapoor made a film called Albela - staring himself and Geeta Bali. The film had music by C Ramachandra. The songs are still popular and the dance step used by Bhagwan was so popular that it became the default dance step of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Bhagwan did try to duplicate the success of the movie with the same cast, but failed two times - the movies were called Jhamela and La'Bela.

He fell on really bad times. He had to sell his bungalow in Juhu and seven cars (one for each day of the week) and move to a chawl. Most of his associates left him in his time of need - except for C Ramchandra, Om Prakash, and Rajinder Krishan who used to pay him visit in his chawl apartment. Sadly, Bhagwan outlived them and died a sad man in 2002 at the age of 89.

Mario Miranda's Mumbai

Mario Miranda is a native of Goa, but he spent time working in Mumbai and capturing city's spirit. He depicted citizens of the city as bug-eyed cosmopolitan community suffering under lazy, ignorant, and self absorbed politicians. He packed people very closely with traffic, shops, and stray dogs. Policeman with protruding tummy and chicken legs, crying babies, pickpocket - the whole Mumbai on a page for you. Then there was a buxom secretary Miss Fonseca, office clerk Godbole (Marathi Manoos) who was bullied by his boss, and a film actress Rajni Nimbupani. They all shared the potholed roads - just like the Mumbai we know.

Mario does not have a formal training in art, but his natural talent saw him freelancing as a cartoonist and illustrator while he was an undergraduate in St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He got his first break with The Illustrated Weekly of India when it printed few of his cartoons. Then came the rejection when The Times of India rejected his work the first time. However, the paper began to give him assignments a year later. In 1959, he went to Lisbon, and was awarded the Gulbentuan Scholarship. He worked in London for a couple of years, even washing dishes to tide over tough times. After that was a stint in the US, working with Charles Shultz, of ‘Peanuts'. Then it was back to India, sketching for The Times and its sister publications.

He received Padmabhushan in 2002.

More from Mario Miranda.... Still more Mario Miranda.

Nov 25, 2009

Bar Girls, Save Us

Here's an interesting take on the
ban on the Mumbai bar girls and the terrorism of 11/26. Some of Mumbai's citizens believe that bar girls would be better at protecting them than the politicians. Tongue n' cheek - of course.

Thought Provoking Ads regarding 11/26/08

Thoughtful Ads capturing the essence of Mumbai's response to the 11/26 attacks by 10 terrorists from Pakistan.

Miss International Air Hostess - 1964 - Reeta Roy

Those were the days when the flight attendants were called Air Hostesses. In 1964, Air India Air Hostess, Miss Reeta Roy of Mumbai competed with other 15 air hostesses at an event held in Brisbane, Australia. She was the winner.

11/26 Anniversary

A Mural across the Chabad House where six people were killed by the terrorists during the 11/26/2008 attacks on Mumbai.

Nov 13, 2009

Lata Mangeshkar's 80th birthday interview

How do you define the journey?
I feel God has sent me to earth to sing. I started singing when I was five, but I don’t think I’ve worked as hard as many other people.

Why do you say you that?
After 1947 when I started playback singing, the work never stopped. Before that it wasn’t easy. I used to travel by train from Grant Road to Malad and then save money by walking instead of taking a tonga to the recording studios. I thereby saved 50 paise to Re 1 which I used to buy vegetables for my family. I was the sole bread-earner after our father passed away.

That must have been really tough on an adolescent girl.
I missed out on my childhood. I had to work hard, but I was immediately given a place in playback. One of the earliest composers to support me was Master Ghulam Haider. When he was told that my voice wouldn’t suit the heroine in a Dilip Kumar saab starrer Shaheed, he gave me songs in Majboor. Then other composers like Anil Biswasji, Khemchand Prakashji and Naushad saab came forward to sign me. From 1947 onwards there was no looking back.

There has never been a rough patch in your 65-year-long career?
I’m blessed. Nowadays I’ve almost stopped singing film songs but I enjoy singing and I continue to do the work I’m comfortable with like the recent Hamuman Chalisa and my forthcoming project with my brother. When I look back I see nothing I’d like to change.

What about your infamous rift with Mohd Rafi?
I’ll tell you what happened. We had a Musicians’ Association in the 1960s . Mukesh bhaiyya, Talaj Mehmood saab had started a campaign for artistes to get royalty so that they would have a comfortable old age. Main to leti thi royalty but I also wanted other artistes to get it. Rafi saab was instigated into opposing my campaign. In a meeting among musicians he said, ‘We get money for what we sing from producers and that’s the end of what we get.’ When he was asked his opinion Rafi saab turned to Mukesh bhaiyya and said, ‘I guess this Maharani here will say whatever has to be said.’

He meant you?
Yes. I said, ‘Of course I am a Maharani. But why are you calling me that?’ He said in front of everyone at the meeting that he won’t sing with me. I turned around and said, ‘Yeh kasht aap kyon kar rahe hain? Main hi nahin gaaongi aapke saath.’ I stormed out of the meeting and called up every music director to inform them that I would thereafter not sing with Rafi saab. We didn’t sing together for almost three years.

What about the alleged differences between you and your sister Asha Bhosle?
We’re sisters. The fights were because of her husband who was against me.

Composers gave all the heroines’ songs to you and all the supporting actresses’ songs to Ashaji ...
Not always. What about so many films where only Asha sang all the songs? In fact OP Nayyarji worked only with her. Even some of Burman dada’s scores had only Asha’s vocals.

That’s because you and SD Burman had a fight.
I didn’t sing for him for 14 years. Someone had caused mischief. Burman dada said, “I won’t have Lata sing my songs.’ I said, ‘I won’t sing for you.’ Asha sang all the songs for Burman dada during that period, even for Waheeda Rehman who insisted on me singing for her. Then one day out of the blue, Burman dada phoned me and said he wanted me to sing Mora gora rang lai le and Jogi jab se aaya tu aaya mere dware in Bandini. It was his son RD who brought us together. I remember Burman dada specifically told me that Mora gora rang was written by a promising new poet, Gulzar.

Who was your favourite composer?
I liked singing for Salilda (Salil Chowdhury) because his compositions were very challenging. I also loved singing for Sajjad Husain saab, then definitely SD Burman dada and RD. But in my opinion the biggest achievement was by Shankar-Jaikishan. With Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat they changed the way we looked at playback singing.

At one time you were accused of indulging in a melodious monopoly?
Once I was even asked if I tampered with the equipment during other singers’ recordings. Bataiye main kyon aisa karun? I never bothered with what other singers were doing. When Runa Laila came to India for the first time, I went to her first recording and everybody said I was just indulging in dikhawa, that in fact I had gone to see how she sang. Runa Laila met me with lots of affection. Later she too was poisoned against me. Even some male singers accused me of trying to stop them from singing.

Which heroines did you enjoy singing for?
Nargis, Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Nutan. I’d modulate my voice according to their personality.

Among today’s actresses for whom do you enjoy singing for?
I like Rani Mukerji and Kajol but I miss the camaraderie that I shared with the earlier heroines. I miss that mahaul. I really miss Kishore Kumar, also Rafi saab, Mukesh bhaiyya, Shankar-Jaikishan and Madan bhaiyya who fought with me when I couldn’t be with him for raksha bandhan. That sense of apnapan is gone.

Any unfulfilled dreams?
I wish I had given more time to learning classical singing. Lekin jo hua woh bahut hi achcha hua. What I want is that future generations of Mangeshkars keep my father’s legacy alive. My niece Radha and nephew Baijanth are singing well. I wish they make a name for themselves.

Do you miss having your own children
Not at all. My siblings’ children are mine.

Lata would nominate Sachin for Vishwa Ratna

Q: Like yourself, there seems to be no limit to Tendulkar's genius too. The entire country is celebrating his 20th year in international cricket. How do you look at this monumental achievement?

LATA: My heartiest congratulations to him. I have seen Sachin right from the time he made his debut as a sixteen-year-old. Since then, he has gone on to climb dizzy heights, he's got married, raised a family, and somehow remained the same humble man throughout. It's really amazing to know he has been around for 20 years. I greet him and his family. May God bless him and may he go on for another 40 years!

Q:You have been an ardent admirer of the game, from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin. What do you like about Tendulkar when he graces the crease?

LATA: Like Sunil Gavaskar, there's a comforting thought that Sachin will hold the fort, that Team India is safe. Though each stroke is a stroke of genius, I have a distinct liking for his straight drive. I also admire the way he looks up to the heavens every time he completes a half-century or century. It means he is thanking God for blessing him, and that's a great thing. Who can forget the 1999 World Cup, when he played on even though his father passed away midway through the tournament? Sachin took a break to attend the funeral and returned quickly to score a century, then looked up to the skies to seek his father's blessings. It was a very touching and emotional moment for every Indian. The poignancy of that moment has stayed in the minds of all who watched that knock. I am no exception.

Q: If you were asked to play favourites between Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin, who would you pick?

LATA: To be honest, it's difficult to pick one. They played in different eras and both brought laurels to the country. Sunil had his own distinct style while Sachin is in a class of his own. Both are legends in their own right. Having said that, I think Sunil retired a bit early. And what else can I say about Sachin? The fact that Don Bradman, the greatest batsman ever, was reminded of himself while watching Sachin bat is the best tribute he can ever get.

Q: Talk us through your first meeting with Tendulkar.

LATA: Although I don't remember the first time, I remember having met him once at Raj Thackeray's residence. That was on his birthday, on the 24th of April, which incidentally is also my father's death anniversary. I got a call from Raj requesting me to come over to meet Sachin. Since it was his birthday, I asked Raj what gift I could get for the young batsman. I remember we all sat outside, chatting. I presented Sachin with an idol of Sai Baba. As I did that, Sachin touched my feet and said, 'you are like my mother'. Usne mujhe maa ka darja diya. I was really moved.

Q: He is passionate about your singing, and that of Kishore Kumar's.

LATA: I know he likes to hear my songs and I feel humbled. He has also been to a couple of my concerts. But he never came up to me to say, 'I am here.' That's his greatness. In fact, I didn't notice him the first time he was there to watch me sing. The next time he came with his wife. I think it was in Mumbai or Pune. My brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar informed me that Sachin was in the audience. Then I noticed him and said 'namaste' from the stage.

What I really like about Sachin is that despite being a great player, he is so humble and down to earth. I know he has broken so many records, done the country proud and won so many awards. For doing all that and still conducting himself respectfully all along, I think, he deserves a Bharat Ratna. Why just a Bharat Ratna, I would like to honour Sachin with a 'Vishwa Ratna'!

Oct 11, 2009

Anil Ambani's statement seeking truce with Mukesh

Full text of Anil's statement to settle a family dispute that has resulted in litigation between the two business groups.

In June 2005, with the blessings and approval of my respected mother Kokilaben Ambani, and in line with the vision and value creation philosophy of our beloved founder Chairman, Dhirubhai Ambani, we announced the restructuring of the Reliance Group.

I had sincerely believed then, that we had resolved all issues, and come to an amicable settlement that would create two of India's most dynamic business groups, bring peace and harmony to our family, and generate substantial wealth for millions of shareholders of the Reliance family.

Over the past 4 years, some parts of that promise have been realised.

Unfortunately, the joy of that achievement has been tempered by the sorrow, pain and anguish of continuing disagreement and acrimony with my elder brother, Mukeshbhai.

Over these past 4 years, I have persevered with utmost sincerity, humility and good faith, and left no stone unturned to try and resolve our differences.

To my lasting regret, despite all my well-meaning efforts, I have failed - pushing us even to the extreme step of recourse to litigation to protect the interests of over 11 million shareholders of our Group.

Over the past few weeks, many elder statesmen, trusted family members, and long-standing friends of my father, Dhirubhai Ambani, who have always had the best interests of the nation and the Ambani family at heart, have talked of the need to break the current impasse, and to find a solution that puts an end to this bitterness and rancor; and paves the way for substantial future growth and value creation for the country and millions of our shareholders.

I agree with each one of them. This has been a time of deep sadness and pain for me personally.

Yet, throughout this very trying period, I have maintained the greatest of love, affection and respect for Mukeshbhai - as I have done since my birth.

In that spirit, I have made this pilgrimage today to the holy shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath, in the hope of seeking divine inspiration and blessings, in trying to heal the wounds, and in making a renewed effort to resolve, reconcile and reciprocate.

I sincerely believe that Mukeshbhai and I can, even at this late stage, sort out all our disagreements, in a constructive, cordial and conciliatory manner, if we both commit to getting this done.

The issues are only a handful, and the facts are well known. My judgement says that they can all be resolved in a matter of weeks, and will not require several months of discussions.

Accordingly, with the blessings of my mother, and invoking the power of Lord Shiva from this most sacred of holy places, I am once again reaching out to Mukeshbhai - and hope and pray that my feelings will be reciprocated, and we will arrive at a solution to all outstanding issues, with a generous heart, a willing mind, and an accommodating spirit.

There can be no better gift to my mother, Kokilaben Ambani in her 75th year, and to the legacy of our beloved father, Dhirubhai Ambani, the proud creator of the Reliance Group.

Sep 7, 2009

Kata Rute Kunala

Kata Rute Kunala is a special song for me. Here's something I did not know about it. Perhaps you might enjoy the background.

The song is sung by Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki. The composition is his own and the lyrics are by Shanta Shelke - gifted Marathi poetess. Pandit Abhsheki had his music compostion ready but there were no words. He presented a Hindi song with similar meaning to Shanta Shelke. Shanta Shelke created this song in Marathi almost spontaneously. Shanta Shelke was as good a poetess as she was a songwriter.

She was a graduate in Marathi and Sanskrit, which she did at Bombay University. She stood at the top of her class. She also taught in Dayanad College in Mumbai.

Aug 16, 2009

Great Wall of Mumbai

Mumbai city's longest wall runs from Mahim to Dadar down the length of Tulsi Pipe Road. It is 2.7km long. It was splashed with color and humor on the independence day. From the early hours of the morning, Mumbaikars with their spray can, chalk sticks, color roller brushes painted witty slogans along the length of the wall.

The Wall Project - a group of graffiti artists and BMC had organized the project. The Mumbaikars were mobilized through Facebook and Orkut. This was a wonderful initiative to bring Mumbai together.

Jul 4, 2009

Worli exit of Bandra-Worli sealink

Take a look at the newly opened Bandra-Worli Sealink's Worli side exit. Many believe that this will create a traffic standstill at the exit. hard not to believe it once you look at its layout.

Peddar Road Flyover - On Again

The Peddar Road flyover is back in the news - after being hit by obstacles over the past nine years. Residents of Peddar road have opposed this project since the flyover would be too close to their homes. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle being some of those residents who would be affected.

After successful implementation of Worli-Bandra sealink, residents of Mumbai have warmed up to infrastructure projects to help them reduce the traffic delays. Although, work on the later parts of the sealink have not begun, some cost estimates do exist. Worli-Haji Ali sealink would cost around Rs 1,900 crore and Haji Ali to Nariman Point sealink would cost around rs 6,000 crore. Peddar road flyover has arisen as a cheaper and viable alternative to the costly middle leg of this infrastructure.

The Peddar road flyover is expected to begin at Lala Lajpat Rai College and go south towards Peddar road. It will end near the Haji-Ali junction close to wilson College.

Mumbai to get 5000 CCTV to monitor traffic and criminals

Mumbai will have 5000 closed circuit TV cameras to watch 480 traffic junctions in addition to the government establishments, railway stations, and transportation depots.

The network will help the city law enforcement to keep track of the traffic offenders and suspected terrorism activities. The proposed project will include motion detection, bio-matrix, optical character detection and recognition, night vision, thermal imaging along with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities.

The project is supposed to fund itself from the revenue generated from the traffic tickets.

They might even catch the Bollywood stars on the go.

Jun 14, 2009

Mumbai's version of World Wrestling Entertainment

The Mumbai version of WWE (World Wrestling
Entertainment) was a rage in the 50s and 60s. Who does not remember Dara Singh?

For Dara, the wrestler-turned-
entertainer, wrestling was a hobby right from his childhood. He used to watch the
muscled wrestlers in his village and aspired to be like them. The
opportunity came when he went on a trip to Singapore, where freestyle wrestling was very p
opular. He there for three years and trained.

Wrestling brought Dara in contact with the best in the world. One of his
finest moments was when he fought Aslam and Anwar, the sons of Gama, the great pehelwan of undivided India, in a match that turned into an India-Pakistan contest and became a money spinner.

If one were to coin a name for that kind of wrestling it could well be ‘Tamasha Wrestling’. Its promoters were Gustad Irani and after his death Peter Patel. There was hardly any sporting entertainment then in the city. Cricket was just Test matches, maybe one in two years. Football was never big. So crowds would flock to the Vallabbhai Patel Stadium at Worli. Everyone knew it was fake, but everyone enjoyed it. For a 7.30 pm bout, people would start queuing at seven in the morning.

The idea was to get hulks into the ring. One remembers the huge cut-outs of wrestlers on the compound walls of the Worli stadium. The walls of the cemetery and crematorium opposite Marine Lines too almost seemed to be held up by pictures of wrestling greats from Dara Singh, his brother Randhawa, legend King Kong and the Pakistanis to foreigners with fancy names like Flash Gordon, Ali Reza Bei, Andre Cotula, Kid Zamboa, Baron Von Hekzi, Tiger Ray Holden and the Russian Bear, George Szybisco.

Of these, the one who captured Mumbai’s imagination was the Sydney-born King Kong. His real name was Emile Czaja. and he weighed 182 kg. He got the name King Kong after playing the part in an Indian movie. His bouts with arch-rival Sheik Ali and Dara Singh were famous. Dara once threw him out of the ring. When King Kong came back into the ring, the referee Wong Bok Lee gave him a drop-kick! Shades of WWE. On another occasion, Dara was thrown out and carried away in an ambulance. There was a call for revenge and a rematch—all mocked up for the pleasure of the audience. King Kong died in Singapore in a car crash in 1970 on his way to a wrestling match. Dara is a ripe 80-plus today.

The public relations of the promoters were excellent. The two afternoon dailies, Evening News of India and Bulletin, were full of wrestling. The bouts would be hyped up: What would Aslam do? Would Dara use the drop-kick, or the aeroplane throw? The popularity of the mock bouts was hurting the real wrestling of the akhadas. Sham recalls how Maharashtra home minister Balasaheb Desai, who was also heading the local wrestling association, decided to oppose it. Matmen from Kolhapur and Satara led a morcha against Mumbai’s WWE. The licence of the promoters wasn’t renewed. But for a decade and more Mumbai had its fill.

The better wrestlers from abroad were much sought after for stunts in films. One from Poland, Goldstein, did stunts in Jungle Ka Jawahar with the great stunt queen Fearless Nadia. Indeed, those were the golden days of Tamasha Wrestling. Everything wasn’t hunky dory though. There was exploitation. There were injuries, there was penury. The last days of King Kong in Hong Kong are shrouded in melancholy. A far remove from the million dollar revelry of today’s WWE.

Apr 2, 2009

Dutt Teri Ki

India's Supreme Court has denied Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's appeal to contest in upcoming elections sighting his prior convictions under serious anti-terrorism laws. It's a good deal for the Indian politics. Sanjay Dutt possessed no skills or temperament to represent people in the Government. If he wants to serve the people, then he should stick to his craft as an entertainer.

I am sure, this decision has also rendered his new Neta wardrobe useless. Perhaps he can donate it to the people of the constituency from which he was planning to contest.

Mar 28, 2009

Dharavi Sports Complex

Although the global economic slowdown has delayed the Dharavi makeover plans, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is planning to construct a sports complex in the area. The work of this will begin in July 2009. It is expected that the Dharavi makeover is begin as soon as the builders find it easy to finance in the global markets.

The sport complex will be open to all citizens, but the residents of Dharavi will be offered lower fees.

The plans include lounge areas, swimming pools, restaurants, dorms, and guestrooms. The sports facilities will include field hockey, soccer, volleyball, and of course cricket. The auditorium will be available for cultural events.

This club will be situated on a 12,427 sq meter plot near Dharavi bus station near Mahim Nature Park. Total cost is expected to be Rs. 10 crore. The place is expected to be ready in two years.

Mar 25, 2009

Mumbai's Red-Light District is Shrinking

Mumbai's red light area is located at Kamathipura with history going back as far as 1889. British rulers had encouraged establishment of Anglo-Indian sex workers in this area. The clients came mostly from the garrison area. Each brothel used to hang a red light outside the doors, hence the name red-light district. The red light indicated that the establishment was soliciting patrons.

1928 was licences issued to these workers and the brothels. This continued through 1950 when prostitution was banned in Mumbai, however, it was not eradicated. The area flourished, and around 1991, there were nearly 100,000 sex workers here. Then came the AIDS which over the years has claimed nearly 30,000 sex workers' lives over the past 18 years. It is estimated that there are only about 10,000 sex workers in the region now. The business at the red-light area is shrinking and is spreading over to brothels across the city, in massage parlours, and in dance bars.

Another force squeezing the area is economic. The Kamathipura area is situated between Byculla-Mazgaon and Grant Road regions which are prime real estate areas. Property developers are now making a play for the villas of the red light district. Downturn in the business and prospects of premium pricing for the location is resulting in many long time residents of the area moving out.

Soon, the red light area of Mumbai known as Safed Gully will fade into the history books of the city.

Feb 11, 2009

Tendulkar and Kambli Record Stand in Harris Shield Match

On February 23rd, 1988, Sachin Tendulkar was still a schoolboy. Representing his school - Shardashram Vidyamandir he was having quite a season in the Harris Shield tournament. Having scored a double century in the quarter finals, the expectations were very high from the "star".

On this day in the semi-finals, Tendulkar teamed up with his buddy Vinod kambli to put a stand of 664 runs. When the innings was declared, Tendular was on 326 and Kambli was on 349. St. Xavier's school was at the receiving end. Shardashram had scored 748 runs  at the loss of 2 wickets in 120 overs.

People who had watched this game unfold at Azad Maidan must remember this day so vividly.

Feb 10, 2009

Arsonist Crow at Shivaji Park

Is this crow showing arsonist tendencies? Rajendra Gawankar (HT) took this photo of a crow sitting atop a tree at Shivaji Park, Mumbai. It is holding  a match in its beak and is trying to strike it.

Feb 8, 2009

Reliance Big Entertainment Sets its Sights on Hollywood

Anil Ambani's Reliance Big Entertainment (RBE) has mega ambitions. Recently in the news for buying the rights of Rakesh Roshan's kites for Rs. 150 crore, the company has got into co-venture deals with Julia Robert's Red Om Films and Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment.

Reliance Big Entertainment will create a development silo for each production venture and it retains an option to co-finance the projects in addition to the rights in Indian markets.

Movie projects go through three stages - development, production, and distribution. RBE is currently immersed in the development phase.

In addition to these joint ventures, RBE also has creative partnerships with Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Chris Columbus, Brad Pitt, and and Jay Roach - not to mention Steven Spielberg.

Feb 4, 2009

Anti-Aircraft guns installed in Mumbai

Perhaps due to increased security after the November 26th attacks or due to the likelihood of the terrorists using aerial attack on targets in Mumbai, the navy is going to install Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft (L-70) guns along the coastline.

First of these guns will be near Mumbai Port Trust at Ballard Pier. The guns come with a Flycatcher radar system and generators. The guns can fire hundreds of shells in seconds. These shells destroy the targets by forming a barrage of high speed objects.

The guns are going to be manned by 20 commandos.

Mumbai's security is by no means any better. Hundreds of ships arrive to the port without proper scanning for dirty bombs or even a fertilizer bomb. It is up to the government and the armed forces to make sure that red tape is never a reason this precious city is left unprotected.

One additional note, although the gun is designed by Bofors, it is manufactured in India by the Ordnance Factory Board.

Feb 1, 2009

Mahim Halwa

Was Mahim Halwa first made in Mahim, Mumbai? According to Ram Joshi - part owner of Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwawala, it was first made by his great grandfather in 1780s. Girdhar Mavji had walked all the way from Gurjat to Mumbai in the eighteenth century to set up a shop here.

Mahim Halwa is made in technicolor translucent square pieces by mixing malt, sugar, clarified butter, and dry fruits and stirring them under heat for 30-35 minutes. The creamy liquid is them poured over wooden pads in thin layer to cool. That's really it. The pieces are cut, packed separated by butter paper, and they are ready to go.


Thali on its way out in Mumbai

How many of you have had Thali on your last visit to an Indian restaurant? Exactly!

It appears that in Mumbai, Thali - which is a selection of dishes served together in small bowls on a round tray - is on its way out. This has to do with the changes in the eating patterns - perhaps due to health reasons. People don't want to consume a large plate of meal; instead they prefer to order their meals through a menu of Punjabi or Chinese dishes.

Patrons are not willing to pay Rs. 30 - 35 for a Thali - instead they prefer mini-meals. So, Thali restaurants have two choices - go out of business or change the menau.

It won't be a while before Thali will be served only on special occasions. 

Ambani Family when Anil and Mukesh were boys

Here's a photograph of Ambani family when Mukesh and Anil were boys - quite likely when their place of residence was this modest apartment.

Here are other articles about this family.

New hospital opened in Andheri (W) - Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani

Jan 31, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - Amul Butter Take

Amul Butter has released their take on Slumdog Millionaire craze. They even have a line about Jai Ho! soundtrack. Here's a link to some other Amul Butter posters.

Jan 30, 2009

Residential Property Rates Jan 2009

Here's an updated chart of Mumbai real-estate prices tabulated by region. Compared to the October 2007, the rates have come down noticeably. Perhaps, this is time to get into the real estate market. However, it is always about location, location, location.

Infrastructure projects such as metro, monorail, sealink can add to the value of the place. Also, it makes sense to keep track of the pollution index and proximity to the landfills. lastly, know about the hospitals, schools in the area. For those buyers who need to know the very last details, learn about the underworld gangs running the area.

All of these tangibles contribute to the stamp duty assessed on the properties.

Here are some links to helpful information,
Mumbai as it stands today was built by taking material for the hills to fill the shallow water between the seven islands. This meant that some of the rivers of Mumbai were redirected. Because the land between the original islands is not as porous, flooding is also a problem.

Lastly, water supply is also a concern.

Jan 29, 2009

Hospitals in Mumbai

Mumabi has nearly 40,000 hospital beds and there are plans to expand this capacity further both at state and private sector level.

Most recently, 730 beds were added by Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Four Bungalows, Andheri (w). This will address some of the concerns in the city which has most of the hospital capacity in the south side. The new hospital will have 40 specialities and a helipad.

KEM hospital is going to get a Rs 900 crore upgrade with a 21 storied towers. Hinduja hospital in Mahim will demolish its old building a build a 20 floor new tower in place.

Andheri(w) area is also getting a pediatric heart center in Brahma Kumari Innova Children's Heart Center.

Health care industry has shown resilience to the current slowdown.

Vision Juhu - 10km Walking and Cycling Track

P. K. Pandit has submitted a plan for a 10km walking and cycling track in Juhu to BMC which will transform Juhu area. The plan is called as Vision Juhu involves a green stretch along Irla nullah. Irla nullah is currently being widened and cleaned. The encroachments around it are also being demolished. This plan will expand the green space and keep the encroachments which add to the pollution and flooding away.

The plan is for BMC to develop it on a build-operate-transfer basis. The proposal is well received by BMC. Slowly but surely, Mumbai is becoming a city that can handle the transportation, quality of life, and infrastructure issues facing it.

Jan 24, 2009

Iconic Tower - Tallest Planned Building in Mumbai

Mumbai town planners have been aiming to build taller buildings to increase the floor space index (FSI) of the city. Simply stated FSI is the ratio of total floor area of the building to the plot area. Currently Mumbai FSI is around 1 - 1.2.

If Mumbai is going to grow, then it needs to grow vertically - thereby increasing the FSI. Newly proposed Iconic Tower in Wadala will have 101 floors and will rise to 526 meters. There will be a 45 meters antenna at the top as well. With a total plot area 1.4 lakh sq meters and a built up area of 5.6 lakh sq meters, the FSI of this building will be 4.

The project is expected to cost Rs. 4128 crore and will be completed by 2014.

Other tall buildings in Mumbai are,

Raheja Platinum, Worli - 80 floors
Waves, Worli - 80 floors
Jupiter Mills Tower, Lower Parel - 75 floors
Dynamix-Balwas, Marine Lines   - 65 floors
Tardeo Towers, Tardeo  - 60 floors
Shreepati Arcade, Nana Chowk  - 45 floors

Jan 19, 2009

Stamp Duty Determination Guidelines for Mumbai Properties

Officials in Mumbai have clarified fifteen criteria in assessing stamp duty on a real estate transaction. Before this, the revenue officials were using arbitrary measures to come up with a number.

Here are those fifteen parameters.

1. Property will be more valuable if it is close to railway station, a bus stop, a market, multiplex.

2. Property close to the sea will cost more - due to cleaner air and sea breeze.

3. If the property is closer to crematoria or other polluting units, then the property will cost less.

4. If the title is disputed, then property value will be lower.

5. If the property is closer to schools or gardens then will cost more.

6. Uninterrupted supply of water, power, proper sewage service would add to the value of the property.

7. Higher the Floor Space Index (FSI), higher the value of the property.

8. The property is more valuable if it on a level land instead of a hilly area.

9. If the property is free of debt then the stamp duty will be higher.

10. If the property is well connected with the approach roads, then the value of the property will be considered higher.

11. Clear view of the surroundings will add to the value of the property.

12. Ownership property will be more valuable that leased.

13. Properties on irregular shaped parcels will cost less.

14. non-agricultural land will cost more.

15. smaller plot will be proportionately cheaper than the larger plot.

Property value determination is important because in Mumbai the stamp duty is nearly 5% of the higher of property value or the market value.

Jan 18, 2009

Kishore Kumar - Live

Kishore Kumar was such an entertainer. However, early in his career, he used to suffer from stage fright. He would kick people out of the studio during recordings. He overcame that eventually. If you look at his live concerts, where he is seen interacting with everyone on and off the stage, it is difficult to imagine a star who would sing on the stage only with is entire body shielded from public view.

Sanjay Gandhi wanted Kishore to sing in a political rally in Mumbai. When Kishore refused, his songs were banned from All India Radio. His income tax troubles also began mysteriously at the same time.

The maestro had to do several public performances to raise money to pay off his income tax debt. He also performed for charities. 

Here's kishore.

Jan 15, 2009

Mumbai to get a wax museum

Marie Tussuad used to travel across Europe in late 1700s with her was sculptures is the name associated with wax museums across the world - the most famous being in London. The Baker Street museum was established in 1835. Now Mumbai is going to get its own was museum.

There are three wax museums in India in Goa, Ooty, and Ludhuiana. Mumbai's wax museum will be at Girgaum Chowpatty at Birla Sports Center. The center will have a budget of Rs 30 crore in 2009-10 and it is expected to boost tourism revenue. A wax statue costs Rs 3 - 15 lakhs depending on the size and details and it takes 16 weeks to make one statue.

We can only hope that the place is not filled with statues of Indian politicians.

Jan 7, 2009

Gangs of Mumbai - underworld players

Once upon a time, Dawood Ibrahim controlled entire Mumbai. Now with Chhota Shakil, Chhota Rajan, Arun Gawli, and Ashwin Naik claiming their share on the city, the underworld is decidedly communal with Hindus against Muslims. 

The battle has essentially narrowed between Rajan and Shakil with others supporting one of them. Ashwin Naik supports Shakil from London. Rajan has support from Gawli. Here's a current map of Mumbai with the names of the controlling gangsters.

Chota Rajan used to work with Dawood before the 1993 blasts in Mumbai. However, after the blasts Rajan blamed Dawood for being anti-Hindu and anti-national and vowed to kill all 180 considered guilty. Rajan formed his own gang.

In 2000, Dawood tracked down Rajan in Bangkok. Shakil led the hit. In a typical Bollywood style, Shakil's men posed as pizza delivery men. Rajan made a daring escape by running away over the top of Bangkok rooftops. He was shot, but recovered and evaded capture by the authorities.

For a while, the Hindu political parties were supporting the Hindu gangsters. Current relationship is not as overt. State intelligence agencies, however, may be using links with these underworld individuals. Recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai (11/26/08) have brought the relationship between Pakistan's ISI and Dawood to forefront.

Jan 4, 2009

RD Burman Chowk at Santacruz

Rahul Dev Burman passed away fifteen years ago on January 4th, 1994. Today, a chowk at Santacruz (west) near his house was named after him. Attending the ceremony was Singer Asha Bhosle - who was married to him, and lyricist Gulzar. Here's a wonderful song where they collaborated to create magic.

RD has not left us. He is still setting the standards for Bollywood music.