Meera at Marine Drive, Video

Update: Taking Meera around Mumbai is scary. Folks sporting makeshift masks is a constant reminder of the H1N1 dangers. Schools, colleges and many shops are closed. Swine flu has subdued Mumbai!

Meera Mumbai
(Don’t miss Meera video at end!)
Every evening we take Meera around Colaba Causeway, Gateway of India or Marine Drive. She loves going out, but is surprisingly very quiet. She is observant and looks with laser focus at people, dogs, cats or horses, or cars and buses. Meera doesn’t just look at people, she studies them, as if memorizing their features. Many of our relatives get uncomfortable at this scrutiny, by one so little. Of course she never forgets the folks she loves.

Meera is also fearless and wants to run around, but amma (M) has an unyieldingly tight grip on her.
Meera Mumbai

And Meera’s first Video! She just heard the hoof beats of a horse-drawn cart (taangaa) passing by. See how her body imitates the riders sway, even before she sees and points to the horse! She loves horses!



More Meera!

Ragda Pattis, Lassi and Sevpuri

Every evening we take Meera for a walk. Its just a few blocks to the local Maruti temple on Colaba Causeway. After darshan, we invariably stop by Kailash Parbat for some chaat. The bestest!

The Pani puri is best savored at the counter outside, where you stand and the bhaiyya dishes out the puri faster than you can gulp them. With Meera in tow, it is easier to sit inside and keep her occupied with some puffed rice, while we munch on our other favorites. I stick to what I like: Ragda Pattis and a Meetha Lassi – with a dollop of malai on top! M ordered the Sev puri.
Bon apetit!

Ragda pattis lassi Kailash Parbat Colaba


Kailash Parbat in previous posts

Pav Bhaji & Chole Bhatura
Pav Bhaji Kailash Parbat Colaba

 
 
 
 
 

How to eat a Paani Puri
How to eat Paani Puri Kailash Parbat Colaba

 
 
 
 
 

Ragda Pattis & Lassi (2004)
Ragda Pattis Lassi Kailash Parbat Colaba

Shivaji and Mother; Meera at the Zoo

Photos from Jijabai and shivaji at Jijamata zoo Ranibaug in Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag
Mother Jijabai grooming Shivaji; at Jijamata Zoo Ranibaug

Just in time for Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti.

In Mumbai, we had visited the Jijamata Gardens and Zoo (Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udhyan – PraNisangrahalay) named after Shivaji’s mother who had a positive and lasting influence on a young Shivaji. Mumbai’s premier Museum and International Airport are also named after Shivaji. We have all seen many statues of Shivaji, but this one was unique. The mother grooming and sending her son away, as if to go play, but fight for our beliefs and way of life.

I wish it was placed on a lower pedestal, so we could enjoy it better and it would appear that the young Shivaji was going to join other kids in the garden. Continue reading “Shivaji and Mother; Meera at the Zoo”

Dossier of Terrorist Evidence Submitted to Pakistan

Complete Dossier of Terrorist Evidence Submitted to Pakistan

Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, came under a heinous terrorist attack on November 26, 2008.

The terrorist attacks took place at many locations, especially at CST Railway Station; the Leopold Cafe; Taj Hotel; Oberoi Trident Hotel; and Nariman House. 165 Persons (civilians and security personnel) lost their lives and 304 were injured. Among the civilians killed were 26 foreigners belonging to many nationalities (Annexure-I).

So starts the 46-page dossier of evidence submitted to Pakistan by the Government of India. The dossier of evidence was also presented to representatives of 14 countries whose citizens were killed by terrorists in Mumbai (Nov 26-29 2008).

You can download and read the entire dossier. The entire dossier found at many Indian news sites is uploaded as four PDF files.

Continue reading “Dossier of Terrorist Evidence Submitted to Pakistan”

Mumbai Blasts: One Month On

Its been a month, but seems like only yesterday that I woke to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai! So many vigils, memorials, speeches and even some saber rattling! But really, what is different?

Other than a few cosmetic changes, the same incompetent and corrupt politicians are running the show. Condi Rice made a trip and gave some stern warnings. Pakistan blows smoke! India, the supposedly emerging super power, appears impotent! Folks are getting back to their daily grind. The traffic is still horrible and Chalta Hai rules!

Just returned to winter in Boston, after an all consuming trip to India. Still catching up on my emails, but the snow has been cleared from the driveway! Organizing my pics is a big chore, made easier by munching on delicious mithai (sweets) we brought back.

Created a summary of my Mumbai Blast posts and it is now a top-level TAB: Mumbai Blasts! on my home page. Was surprised at the attention the blog got during the Mumbai blasts. Thanks to all my friends and you readers who directed my attention to the various mentions in the main-stream media. I have listed (and linked) to all media at the Mumbai Blasts! TAB. If you know of others, kindly send me a link.

Appreciate the kinds words that many friends and even complete strangers shared via comments and emails over the last month. I treasure them all and as I reread many comments, I am overwhelmed by the kindness of so many. We humans have such a magnificent capacity for love and compassion. Yet, some humans, inhumans actually, can be so cruel. Verily, tragedy brings us closer; but does it require a tragedy?

Soon I hope to get back to my regular postings on delicious foods, exotic travels and beautiful people. And soon too, I will start to visit your blogs and read your latest happenings.

Hope your Holidays have been as blessedly beautiful as ours has been!

And since you have made it so far: This is my 400th post! Yaay!

Comment: Justifying Citizen Journalists

Columbia Journalism posted a discussion: How Should Journalists use Twitter?

Their Staff Writer Megan Garber critiqued a few of my tweets. Some of the criticisms were justified, others were, in my opinion, unstudied. Below, I have transcribed Ms Garber’s comments and my response.
Continue reading “Comment: Justifying Citizen Journalists”

Leopold Reopens, Mumbai Bounces Back!

See Previous Posts Related to Mumbai Terror Strikes



Picture Update from ~ 5:30 pm onwards Indian Time; Monday Dec 1st from the Leopold Cafe!

Met fellow twitter organizer Netra at the Leopold Cafe, Mumbai. After the shooting on Wednesday night, it had opened for the first time. It was not as raucous inside and much fewer foreigners (understandably). Many onlookers had to be kept out by guys manning the several doors. Several media folks were inside taking pics as well.
Leopold Cafe Reopens
Continue reading “Leopold Reopens, Mumbai Bounces Back!”

Mumbai: Beloved City Reclaimed

Mumbaikars Reclaim Beloved City
Continued from
Mumbai Blasts: Mop up at the Taj
Mumbai Blasts: Day 2
Mumbai Blasts: Day 1



Picture Update from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Indian Time; Sunday Nov 30th from the Leopold Cafe!

Here are a few pics from the crowds in front of the Leopold Cafe this afternoon.
The Leopold Cafe “did” open briefly this morning, but apparently the crowds showed an excessive enthusiasm to get in and see the battle scars. The Owners could not get private security quick enough and the Police asked the owners to close shop. Police also roped off the sidewalk in front of the Leopold; And surprisingly, there was a media circus with at least 5 TV vans and seemingly scores of reporters! Not fun! Meet a few tweople there! Good to finally put faces to names!

People were lighting candles and placing flowers just outside the Cafe
Leopold Cafe

I loved the little girl’s “UNBREAKABLE” Flag; exactly my thoughts!
Leopold Cafe

More Pics!
Continue reading “Mumbai: Beloved City Reclaimed”

Mumbai Blasts: Day 3, Mop Up at the Taj

Continued from
Mumbai Blasts: Day 2
Mumbai Blasts: Day 1



Picture Update from ~ 9:15 am Indian Time; Saturday Nov 29th
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag
Pics on FLickr! username “shanbhag”


Not to be deterred, I took a detour and reached the front of the Taj. I was on the sea face looking at the front of the Taj from its right!

Firemen had hoisted ladders and were climbing into the first floor

Police trying to provide a security cordon!

MORE Pics!
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Day 3, Mop Up at the Taj”

Mumbai Blasts: Day 2 Live Blogging

This Day 2 Post continues where I left off from Mumbai Blasts: Day 1



Update: between 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm; Indian Time; Friday Nov 28th
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag
Posting Pics on FLickr! username “shanbhag”


All these pics are from INSIDE the Secure Staging Cordon in front of the Taj; assembled here were fire engines, ambulances, Police forces, some of the Rapid Reaction Forces and some commandos; And ALL media types!

Scores of reporters looking at the Taj within the staging cordon in front of the Taj Intercontinental; Gateway of India in the back!
Reporters in front of Taj

Every time we heard a blast or gunfire, everyone looked at the Taj to try and figure out where it came from.
blasts at Taj

Scarred Beauty! Really! The Taj Still stands Tall!
Taj after the fire
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Day 2 Live Blogging”

Mumbai Blasts: Taj Burning; More pics from terrorist killing

This post is getting too long; See updates from Day Two at: Mumbai Blasts: Day 2

Follow the top level TAB; Mumbai Blasts for links to All related posts.

And, Previously Unseen pics from the 26/11 terrorist attacks.



Sorry, pic heavy post!
Revision ~ 12:15 – 12:30 am Indian Time; Friday Nov 28th
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag
Posting all pics on FLickr! username “arunshanbhag”

Dome of the Taj is nearly all burn’t out! Only the central post remains; the base of the dome is still burning! TV Cameras are located on diagonally opposite side of Taj and cannot see the dome; TV coverage only shows glow from burning dome! TV is now saying that shots are heard inside the Taj and all the terrorists are NOT YET cleared!

Taj Dome burning



Revision ~ 10:30 – 11:00 pm Indian Time
Follow my updates on Twitter http://twitter.com/arunshanbhag

OMG! One of the domes of the Taj is on fire; It is burning like a bonfire! I can actually see the structs/frameworks under the tiles in full blaze. OMG! NO! This can’t be happening!
~ Hand held; rested my elbow on the sill!; Sorry for blurry images from ~ 10:45 pm
Taj Hotel Dome Fire

MORE PICS!
Continue reading “Mumbai Blasts: Taj Burning; More pics from terrorist killing”

Pushkar’s First


One reason for our recent trip to Bharat was to help my nephew Pushkar, celebrate his first birthday. He is a true champ. For more than an hour, cousins, uncles, aunts, grand parents and all relatives, took turns hugging, babbling to him and asking him to smile and do this and that – did they really believe that he understood and felt any need to oblige? And during the entire festivities, he maintained his composure, did not moan, groan or wail! A true champ!

In the opening pic, he sits on his mother’s lap while his grandmother performs the traditional aarti. Look how fascinated he is with the tuup diyas, but does not try to reach for them. For the curious, even though this was his first birthday, an aarti is never performed with only one diya, and thus the two on the plate.

Curious fella, this Pushkar!

Continue reading “Pushkar’s First”

13 Dangerous Days of Monsoon

Following a newspaper tip:
The US Embassy has identified 13 days most likely to lead to flooding in Mumbai, during the monsoons.

This info is important for all Mumbaikars (not just US citizens), and the City Government should have been disseminating this info in the first place, rather than planning and sniping about a statue in the sea!

Excerpted from an email sent to registered US citizens. See the entire note from the Consulate here
Continue reading “13 Dangerous Days of Monsoon”

Mee Mumbaikar

Lady Sweeper Gateway of India Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag
Portrait of a Mumbaikar: Sweeper at the Gateway of India

Reading the blogs, I notice a subtle tension between those who refer to themselves as Mumbaikars and Mumbaiites. When our city was called Bombay, we were all Bombayites. We are no longer Bombay.

In 1509, returning from a conquest in Dabul, the Portuguese first landed in the bay off Mumbai and massacred the local kolis (fisher folks); then in 1534, took control of nearby towns of Mahim, Thana and Bassein by treaty. They referred to the tiny island of Mumbai, as Bombaim – ilha da boa vida (Bombaim – island of the good life). Bombaim itself did not mean “island of the good life,” it was simply how the Portuguese said Mumbai. After more than a century during which they fired canons at the exquisite sculptures at Elephanta Caves, the Portuguese turned over the city to the British as dowry in 1661. The British called it Bombay. The British left in 1947 and in 1995, Mumbai got its name back. Colonial sympathizers need to just get on with the program.

But what do you call a resident of Mumbai? I have previously used Mumbaiite. It does not sound right. As the word rolled over my tongue, it seems to catch. A cultural misfit – an elitist “ite” grudgingly grafted onto a gritty “Mumbai.” So incongruous. I would have preferred Mumbaikar.

pic of Aamhi Marathi sign by Arun Shanbhag Mumbaikar has a certain resonance, characteristically Mumbai. In hindsight it’s so obvious – a perfect match of the indispensable Marathi bai and the enigmatically reserved 'do-er', kar.

The “-ite” ending on Mumbai seems elitist, particularly in this graft. A pseudo-phoren lingo, best vocalized with a western drawl and a flourish of the stylishly held cigarette. Walk down the streets of Mumbai today; can you see that paan wallah, fruit wallah, dabbah wallah or zhaddu wallah mouthing Mumbaiite? Guess not! Mumbaiite seems the exclusive domain of the Peddar Rd-stomping, Barista-sipping, crowd.

Yes, Mumbaiite is exclusive, in that it excludes the likes of Ramu, busing tables at the tea shop, or these laborers pulling Haath Gaadis, or these vendors selling street side vada paav and sandwiches. It excludes all those who make the city go, albeit in fits and starts! Excludes those police – men and women, picking up the 'pieces' after the 7/11 and 26/11 terrorist attacks. It excludes that fabled, but tired, Mumbai spirit.

Mumbaikar absolutely!
It is democratic, a social leveller, inviting everyone irrespective of which school you studied at – if at all, irrespective of your social class. Mumbai belongs equally to those who ride posh cars and flick cigarette butts out the window, as it does to the sweepers picking up the butts. Mumbaikar, invites you to this city of broad shoulders and a big heart.


A few of my favorite Mumbai Posts:

Mumbai Local Train Journey!

All our family, relatives and friends are safe and well in Mumbai. Thank you all for your concern.

Considering my uncles, aunts, cousin brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, friends, and so many relatives take the local trains into and out of Mumbai every day, I consider myself lucky none were hurt in the 7/11 blasts! But for how long will we remain lucky?

Hunt the terrorists! Take no prisoners! Hunt them down!

This pic is from a few years ago. Late one night, many of our family took the local train from one of our cousin's home in the suburbs! Oh, what fun!

Monsoons In Mumbai – Be Safe!

Just returned from the Konkani Sammelan in Toronto, Canada. For the last three days I did not read a newspaper, watch TV, or even access the internet. Thus this afternoon I was shocked to hear of the rains causing havoc in Mumbai yet again!

I pray innocent Mumbaiites are spared the wrath of the rain Gods! That should be focussed on the incompetent government officials. Mumbai deserves better governance!

I hope you, your relatives and friends are all safe and well. Stay dry.

Butta – Roasted Maize

As you noticed I've been posting random pics from my collection! Work is crazy busy – and will be till we leave for mumbai in ten days. A short, one week visit for a family wedding, followed by a week touring the austrian and swiss alps.

I think I'll go on a mango diet in mumbai Anyone want to go mango shopping to crawford market?

pics of charcoal roasted maize corn by Arun Shanbhag
Every summer, after I've had my fill of mangoes, my eyes search for the butta wallah. Maize (or corn) roasted on an open charcoal shekdi (grill); then liberally smeared with a halved lemon, dabbed in salt and red-pepper powder! The butta season peaks as the monsoon starts, causing folks to huddle by the warmth of the shekdi.

One of my favorites here too. Weather permitting, I roast corn on the gas-fired grill. My local friends have never encountered this confluence of zing and zang on their corn, but are quickly converted. And as at the butta wallah, roasted corn is best served on the husk!

Golas: Shaved Ice!


What is it about golas that makes kids throw tantrums?
Here is my nephew Nived enjoying one!


The hand crank spins the ice block over a sharp blade. With a reassuring khluCH, khluCH, khluCH, the shaved ice falls as effortlessly as drifting snow. As a kid I was mesmerized by this magical transformation. The girl appears equally in awe.
The gentleman in the foreground reminds us, there is no age limit to enjoying the simple joys in life.


The maker cups the shaved ice in his palms, punches a small stick and squeezes it tight. As a kid, how many time have I stared at this action! I would have insisted he pick up the remnants of shaved ice from the base of the gizmo. 😛

He asks the girl to pick the flavor and with a few shakes, douses the virgin snow ball in color. The girl purses her lips in anticipation! I too was salivating! Enjoy!

Baanganga: Satellite View

A satellite view of Baanganga. Its the dark green quadrangle on the left.

If you have Google Earth: enter the co-ordinates as above, or in fractional degrees as:
18.945454N 72.793612E
But first, in PREFERENCES and the default VIEW tab, select “Degrees.”

Baanganga: In the Heart of Mumbai

Baanganga in Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag
After a refreshing early morning run in Mumbai I recounted the route to my parents. I had run from Electric House, via Mantralaya, along the Chowpatty sea face, past Wilson College, to the top of the hill.

“That's Walkeshwar hill,” my father revealed, “and if you had gone a little further you would have reached Baanganga and the Walkeshwar devasthan (temple or mandir).” My father explained how the Baanganga – the fresh water spring only a few yards from the ocean – came to be by the grace of Shri Rama. Being a Mumbaikar, I prided myself on knowing every significant site here. How did I miss this important landmark, while growing up only a few miles away? Perhaps I was not ready to walk here; here where Shri Rama walked?

Next day, I continued running to the top of Walkeshwar hill and over to Baanganga. Here enroute to Lanka, Sita, Rama and Lakshman are believed to have rested. I too removed my shoes and stretched my feet.

According to legend, Shri Rama and Lakshman did not find drinking water on this spit of land surrounded by salty ocean. Lakshman then shot an arrow into the ground, springing forth a stream of fresh water. The water pooled forming the Baanganga, (see pic above) refering to the purifying waters of river Ganga brought here by an arrow Baan.

For his prayers, Rama fashioned a linga from the sand, giving the area its name Walkeshwar (Wallu – sand + Ishwar – God). The crudely fashioned linga, with petrified finger marks is now enshrined in the tiny Walkeshwar mandir right across from the Baanganga. The mandir is to the left on this schematic. For bearings, the above pic was taken from the steps by the Ganapati mandir.

The Walkeshwar mandir is a tiny shrine and I shot this pic from the doorway. You can see the Nandi (seated bull) in the small antaralaya – foreroom. Past the collection box on the left, the linga is slightly below ground level, under the watchful eyes of the Naga Devata (Snake God). Early in the morning, all visitors can pour water on the linga (performing abhishek) and pray.

My fingers traced the ridges on this linga, where Shri Rama’s fingers had crudely moulded and turned to stone. How many had touched this before me? The blessed Sita, Shri Rama and Lakshmana too! And the millions and millions of devotees before me, thanking the divine for her munificence. And then I realized, how insignificant my life is. A tiny being, a tiny droplet from the ocean of Brahman – the Paramatman. I let the water flow over my fingers over the linga, and watched it swirl away into the unknown. Another devotee had offered a few bael leaves on the linga. I picked one up as a blessing from the divine, touched it to my forehead and carefully placed it in my running shorts.

I picked up my running shoes and walked around the numerous shrines, which have sprouted around this hallowed tank.

Baanganga in Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

In front of the Walkeshwar Mandir, these steps lead to the tank itself. There is a tiny shrine to Ganesha in the niche in the wall, behind where the lady in the red saree is praying to Nandi. The rest of the family appeared to be enjoying their outing here.
Baanganga in Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag


The little girl and the younger brother she held, were both mesmerized by the glinting waters of the Baanganga.
Baanganga in Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Yes, its the shoes! It’s my running shoes which bring me to fascinating places, where I meet fabulous people and take away great memories. Everyday I run is a day to remember! If you see me smiling, its because I am running today!

Ganapati Bappa

ganapati ganesh chaturthi Arun Shanbhag


Ganapati from our home, 2002.

On this occasion of Ganapati
Wishing Everyone
Days full of Peace and Good Cheer!

M&A


Recent Ganapati Greetings


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