I am currently attending the India edition of the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) in Mumbai and it is during one of the film screenings last day that I got the idea for this article. As the title suggests, there are dumb things that people do while they are watching a movie in complete darkness. And here I am going to list them out without much description.
Take a photo of a shot in the film with a flash
Slide unlock their mobile (with the brightness usually higher than average)
Return a phone call after it has rung for a few long seconds
Make a phone call
Get up and leave*
Do something on their smartphone
Get up before the end credits have finished rolling up
Stand in the aisle
Bring their kids who are clearly not interested in cinema
Take a selfie in the middle of a show
Laugh or clap more for than the accepted time span (the upper limit is 3 seconds unless you are at Cannes)
I have to admit that *I have gotten up and left from quite a few movies because they were just too bad to endure but in film festivals this just happens a lot, especially if the entry is free. But there’s no reason why anyone would engage in any of these activities while watching a film. While I get why someone would want to take a photo of a scene in a film (for film Twitter, of course!) and I know they must have forgot to switch off the flash. But what I don’t understand is where is the sensitivity and common sense? Engaging in any of these just goes against the idea of going to the movies. One would rather binge-watch on Netflix at the comfort of their home if they also want to chat with their friend or munch on popcorn all at the same time. This is why we need stricter cinema theatre rules and regulations.
It surprises me more to see such type of behaviour even in film festivals where it is assumed that the audience is more serious and sensitive with the art and their fellow enthusiasts. But I think it is safe to assume that none of these festivals are secure from this type of dumb behavior from its patrons. Be it TIFF or Berlinale or MAMI.
Maybe I am dumb for having pointed them out and spent 30 minutes writing this stub. TN.
…I will officiate the following rules and restrictions. Patrons will be required to follow this cinema theatre etiquette charter and will be automatically agreeing to them as part of the ticket purchase.
Network jammers will be installed with a power radius of 300 meters to prevent mobile communication of any form inside and around the auditoriums.According to the Indian Telegraph Act, the use of jammers by private establishments is illegal in the country. In special cases, an approval from the Cabinet Secretariat can be procured. Friendship with folks with political influence will then be put to use or the jammers will be installed and architecturally cloaked into invisibility during the construction of the theatre (Private entities can’t use jammers: Govt – Nivedita Mookerji, Business Standard, 17 July 2015) Patrons will be informed about this beforehand; heck even the tagline of the movie theatre will be: at Nair Talkies You Only Watch Movies
Show timings will be followed strictly. If a movie is scheduled to start at 8 PM, it will start at 8 PM. As in, the reel/copy supplied by the distributor will be switched ON, and lights will begin to dim
Auditorium doors will be closed ten minutes before the show timing. Latecomers will be sent back with a full refund (minus processing charges) or with a facility to reschedule their visit at no extra cost
Ushers will make sure patrons occupy their seats five minutes before the start of the show. Uncooperative persons will be shown the exit door without an alternative and without a refund
National anthem will not be played before a show; not even the 20-second shorter version or even if certain political outfits or moralists-activists threaten to vandalize my theatre or actually do itAccording to the Union home ministry of India, “state governments have conveyed that at present there are no protocols on playing national anthem at public places.” Further, the Supreme Court of India in its 9 January 2018 verdict stated that it is up to the cinema hall owners to decide if they want to play the anthem or not. (National anthem in cinemas likely to stay ‘optional’ – Rahul Tripathi, The Economic Times, 19 June 2019)I will decide not to play it.
No intervals regardless of the duration or type of the movie
Loo breaks will be discouraged and patrons will be strongly advised to make a visit before the start of the show. Emergency nature calls will be allowed but the names and Aadhaar card numbers of these people will be recorded in a database maintained and owned by the theatre. Three strikes will mean lifetime ban
There will be no canteen or cafeteria services but freestanding water fountains (mounted water dispensers) will be installed outside the auditorium entrance and exit gates and corridors
Complaints from patrons about other patrons (loud talking, snoring, obstructing the view, sexual activity) will be taken seriously and dealt in the same way as those taking loo breaks
Special couple seats will be designed (and located towards the end of the auditorium to keep prying eyes or the morality nazis from looking) to encourage platonic but silent and non-disruptive canoodling to heighten the movie-watching experience. Those involved in sexual acts will be warned but not banned because I understand and can confirm that sexual urge (i.e. the urge to procreate) is the second-most strongest human instinct (after that of survival)(It’s Normal! – page 112, Chapter 10 – Unsafe Sex (Sex and Illness), Dr. Mahinder Watsa, Penguin Books, 2015). Couples, regardless of their intentions, will be required to sit in these seats only unless all of the available ones are already occupied
People (kids) below the age of 13 years will not be allowed irrespective of the type of the film being screened. (If a child is turning 13 on the 20th of August he will be allowed to watch a movie in the theatre from the 20th)
No advertisements will be shown and instead movie trailers will be screened before a show. Trailers of Indian regional films will be preferably played over that of mainstream ones
Patrons will be mandated to enter the auditoriums freehand. They can choose to either safely dump their personal effects at the security or come directly without bringing anything other than their entry ticket (Film critics will be allowed to carry a pencil/pen and a paper). This essentially means mobile phones will not be allowed
All patrons will be frisked (by retired security professionals who have had at least three years of stint in airport security or in the immigration/customs department of India) before entering the building and the only things that will be allowed inside the auditoriums are listed below. Everything else will need to be dumped at the security and which can be collected after the show
the entry ticket
candies and toffees and mints not weighing more than 10 grams
3D glasses (depending upon the show)
Intoxication of any type will not be allowed inside the building; films without disclaimers will be encouraged
Patrons photographically caught littering will be permanently banned without preamble or the ability to contest it
Audio and video equalizers will be continuously moderated throughout a show. No show will run on preset or general settings of the entire auditorium, including that of the air conditioning, the humidifiers, and the ventilation
There will be no restrictions regarding clothes, footwear, and eyeglasses
All patrons will be mandated to sit through the entire end credits roll even when it’s not a Marvel movie so that they can sit and appreciate those behind the camera as well as cool down from the in-movie experience
The entire building will be friendly to all types of people above the age of 13 regardless of their physical capabilities or incapabilities
Theatre staff will be made up of people hired through a lenient recruitment process which will importantly not assess the candidates based on their sexual orientation, caste, religion, or the quality of their exposure to films. Freshers will be trained by me.
But since no one will come to this theatre due to the restrictions and it will be a loss-making enterprise altogether, there will be no such establishment opening till I suddenly become a billionaire with the ability to bankroll such an enterprise without additional capital support and political influence. TN.
According to the Indian Telegraph Act, the use of jammers by private establishments is illegal in the country. In special cases, an approval from the Cabinet Secretariat can be procured. Friendship with folks with political influence will then be put to use or the jammers will be installed and architecturally cloaked into invisibility during the construction of the theatre (Private entities can’t use jammers: Govt – Nivedita Mookerji, Business Standard, 17 July 2015)
According to the Union home ministry of India, “state governments have conveyed that at present there are no protocols on playing national anthem at public places.” Further, the Supreme Court of India in its 9 January 2018 verdict stated that it is up to the cinema hall owners to decide if they want to play the anthem or not. (National anthem in cinemas likely to stay ‘optional’ – Rahul Tripathi, The Economic Times, 19 June 2019)
I will decide not to play it.
(It’s Normal! – page 112, Chapter 10 – Unsafe Sex (Sex and Illness), Dr. Mahinder Watsa, Penguin Books, 2015)
This is a short article where I jot down some points that will show what (I think) the right way to celebrate Ganshotsav is. I have a special regard for the elephant god as you can read and find in one of my most popular articles on this website. So, you can rest assured that this is a practical article that does not resort to mockery.
Changing some of our ways as we celebrate the festival can go a long way in ensuring that we will be able to do it for more years, similar to how responding positively to the ongoing Save Aarey campaign will do. Here you go:
Avoid processions – This is perhaps the biggest issue emanating out of the festival. The concept of bringing in the Ganesha idol (aagman) and saying goodbye to it (visarjan) with fanfare should be minimized either by avoiding them altogether or doing it when the roads are emptier in the night. It should be mandated that all such processions should be carried out post 10 pm to aid in easy movement of both the traffic and the procession. Clogged roads lead to traffic snarls which in turn lead to chaos and even death in some cases due to stampede. It might be assuring to know that in 2015 the Bombay High Court had directed the BMC to restrict the burgeoning of pandals (a term used to describe interchangeably the setup that holds the lord’s idol or the association attached to it) and give permission to only those that have enjoyed a legacy or a long-term existence such as the Lallbaug Raja or the GSB Seva Mandal.BMC approves over 2k Ganpati pandal requests – Richa Pinto, The Times of India, 27 August 2019
Avoid firecrackers – There is no reason to let the whole world know that you are celebrating the festival by firing crackers. Lord Ganesha can sense all the love you have for him through your sheer willingness to celebrate the festival. Stop using firecrackers and prevent pollution of the atmosphere
Avoid loudspeakers – Vocal chanting (aarti) is one of the key processes to show love and worship to the deity but doing it on loudspeakers just adds to the noise pollution accentuated by the firecrackers (above point) and the music bands (below point), also incorrectly known as banjo groups. Let the pandit chant without the mic and you can follow his lead. No need to make the surrounding people know that you are doing an aarti. The lord has big enough ears to get the point
Avoid music bands – I know this is a source of income for some youth but it needs to stop for the greater good. More than the loudspeakers, it is the noise from these percussion-heavy banjo groups that makes existing during Ganshotsav a near impossibility. Add to that the use of amplifiers to blast Bollywood and pop songs in other languages such as Bhojpuri, Punjabi, and Marathi. I’m sure the lord does not think highly of this, let alone the Nashik dhol (Nashik beat) in repeat. The youth can adopt what they do the rest of the year and say goodbye to this noise-polluting practice. Visarjans can also be a silent affair without the use of these percussion instruments. And if you see the need for it, you can chant it using your vocal chords
Avoid floral wastage – This is as huge as we think it is small. Floral wastage during the celebrations is so high (and which contributes to poor sewage in and around the city) that in 2019 BMC tied up with NGOs to collect them and convert to manure. That’s a good step but extra work, which can be altogether avoided if you start avoiding use of extra flowers when the need is only for a few
Avoid PoP idols – This has been debated for long but has reached no consensus. It is common sense to avoid Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols (because of their non-biodegradable quality) and instead use eco-friendly ones made of clay (which are) but due to lower costs, better strength, and better designs, manufacturers still dole out Ganesha idols made of PoP. The change needs to start with the consumers here
Avoid visarjan in water bodies – This is the last point because it is the only one where I have seen some headway happening. Many pandals and homes in and around Navi Mumbai have shifted to artificial visarjan where they immerse the Ganesha idol in a makeshift pond on a terrace or a housing society backyard. This practice does not pollute the water bodies. The plus point is that this practice also avoids the procession as everything happens within the confines of the housing society or the house (in case of private pandals). Examples of this practice are one, a private housing society of Everest Nagar in Ghansoli, and two, a private one organized by Sushobita Nair and her family in Sector 6, Vashi.
I know it is almost the end of Ganesh Chaturthi 2019 but let this be an essential read for the coming years. From a theological perspective, this may not exactly be the right way to celebrate the festival of Ganesha but in this 21st century where we are riddled with environmental issues it is pragmatic to tweak our ways.
If even one of these points is executed by anyone who is involved in celebrating Ganshotsav I think we can make progress. As someone who tries to practice what he preaches, I will try to do the same starting 2020. TN.
On 29 August 2019 the Mumbai Film Festival tweeted out a few photos celebrating their decision to choose Geethu Mohandas’s gritty crime drama Moothon as the opening film for its 21st edition scheduled between 17 and 24 October. It is the first time that a Malayalam-language film is opening the festival, which has for the last four years consecutively honored Hindi-language features (with the odd one A Death in the Gunj (2016) a mix of Hindi, English, and Bengali) and majorly English-language ones before that. So, naturally as a Malayalam cinema connoisseur it made me jump up in joy. It also made me want to look back at all the opening films of the festival since its inception. This list is a product of that desire and MAMI’s contributions in decorating brilliant cinema since 1997.
From 1997 when Jaya Bachchan’s comeback film Hazar Chaurasi Ki Ma opened the inaugural edition to 2010 when it selected David Fincher’s Academy Award-winning The Social Network to 2019 when a Malayalam film is about to finally get a seat at the high table. This is a list of all the opening films of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) in its two-decade-long history.
Opening Films of Mumbai Film Festival
Listed chronologically along with the name of the director and the primary language of the film. Sourced from a tweet by MAMI (opens in another tab).
Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa
The Sixth Sense
M. Night Shyamalan
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Curse of the Golden Flower
The Social Network
Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell
A Death in the Gunj
Konkona Sen Sharma
Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
Note 1: The festival did not run in 1998 due to a lack of funding by the Maharashtra state government and in 2004 for unknown reasons.(MAMI – A Retrospective, The Big Indian Picture, Tanul Thakur and Roshni Nair, October 2013)
Note 2: For your convenience, this list has been duplicated on IMDb and Letterboxd. Updated every year.
A Little Bit of MAMI History
In the inaugural year 1997, MAMI screened a total of 70 films from 25 countries. The Big Indian Picture reports it as 65 films from 23 countries(MAMI – A Retrospective, The Big Indian Picture, Tanul Thakur and Roshni Nair, October 2013). Govind Nihalani’s adaptation of the Mahasweta Devi novel opened the festival which was then labelled as India’s first independent film festival. This, considering that Kolkata and Trivandrum already had their own versions, Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) and International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), respectively. One other major contender for that label was the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). But then MAMI was founded and it kicked off the first edition on 24 November 1997 with much pomp and circumstance. And it naturally ‘assumed’ the title. According to Rupleena Bose writing for MUBI Notebook, it was originally titled as ‘Festival of Films’ when it launched in 1997, which was partly because of a desire to replenish the dull mood of the Mumbai populace after the 1993 bomb blasts.
Either from the people involved in creating the fest or the type of films that were screened (The Fifth Element, Sholay (1975), and Ankur (1974) to name a few), it is safe to assume that many must have thought that it would revolutionize the industry. But more than either of those, it was self-sustenance that pushed MFF to the fore. More than twenty years later and with at least half a dozen more festivals running in India perhaps as a result, I’m inclined to confirm that it is the biggest cinema extravaganza that India currently has in the global landscape.
It is interesting to learn that the opening edition saw about 200 delegates in attendance and Jio’s part was played by Mahindra & Mahindra then which donated INR 5 lakh as sponsorship. The rumour that PepsiCo India showed interest – because of a lack of funds to run the 1998 edition – in sponsoring the fest in 2000 is actually true, but the organizers declined because they did not want it to be named ‘Pepsi Film Festival’. Nonetheless, India Inc. has been historically generous to the festival as past years have seen companies like Indian Oil (IOC), Star TV, Zee Cinema, Sahara, and Godrej contribute for the sake of continuity of the fest. In 1997 if the festival budget was around INR 10 lakhs, in 2013 it was estimated to be about INR 6 crores, thanks to ample funding by Reliance’s Big Entertainment (now ADAG). This type of funding helped MAMI turn from a cash-strapped passion organization into a real harbinger of creativity and vision for cinema on an international scale. In the next decade, it would not only start new competition sections but also run the only film criticism workshop in India – the Young Critics Lab which began in 2009 as a platform for young cinema lovers-cum-writers to hone their skills and take up film criticism as a serious profession.
One key thing to note here is that the organizers did not want the festival to be influenced by the demands of corporate giants, which is why film selection was and has been entirely up to MAMI. This confirms that there is no ulterior motive by certain elements who would want to push a specific film in which they have a vested interest. All the more reason to celebrate the decoration of Indian features as opening films.
What’s in a Festival Opening Film?
A lot, to be honest.
Since 2015 when the opening film was Hansal Mehta’s Manoj Bajpayee-starring biopic Aligarh, MFF has managed to be the starting point of buzz for creative cinema. How else would one explain the almost cult status that the Internet generation has given to Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut feature? Or Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018) that took Reddit by storm when it released on VOD earlier in 2019? MFF helps native films create buzz, the type that Moothon is currently enjoying as it approaches its worldwide premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) along with other Indian award hopefuls like Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink.
But this was not always the case. One of the main reasons why most of the MAMI opening films have been foreign imports is because of the buzz that existed and which they wanted to bring into the country’s mainstream cinema. Moneyball (2011), The Social Network (2010), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and The Sixth Sense (1999) have enjoyed heightened status and success in Mumbai and elsewhere in India also because they all were opening films.
In 2018, Vasan Bala’s action comedy opened the festival. And despite the hiccup by its producers due to an issue with distributors and theatre-owners, the film got a theatrical release in 2019. The buzz that MFF created in October 2018 definitely needs to be attributed.
An opening film sets the tone for a festival and in some cases it can also influence the rest of it. In 2017, Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz got the honour and the response was lukewarm. Although I could not attend the entire week-long event, I can confirm that the overall fest in terms of footfalls and audience response was much weaker than what it was in 2015 and later in 2018, one of my most successful years as far as MFF and me are concerned.
I like statistics so it makes sense to take a look at what numbers tell us about the MAMI opening films. Here you go:
12 are English-language features, four Hindi, three Mandarin, one each Polish and Malayalam
Three have been directed by women filmmakers, 18 by men
A total of eight Oscar wins for three out of 21 titles
Only one unanimously poor critical performer (Susanne Bier’s Serena (2014))
I think selecting Moothon (The Elder One) as the opening film for the festival by an organization that is largely influenced by Bollywood cine artists is a breakthrough. Admitting that cinema is the common language that we speak, MAMI has only transcended beyond what it set out to achieve when two decades ago industry stalwarts like Amol Palekar, Sudhir Nandgaonkar, Kiran Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shabana Azmi, Shyam Benegal, Gulzar, Ramesh Sippy, and others came together and sowed a seed that now gives us a taste of the best of Indian and world cinema every year. In 2018, the festival was one of the best experiences I had.
It is important to also note that the main intention of MFF was to create a platform for appreciation of regional films. International films already got the attention they desired, but for a secular and multi-lingual country like India where there are films being made in all major languages, MFF was a necessity more than a fad. The selection of a regional film (Moothon is produced by artists majorly from the south Indian state of Kerala) for the 2019 edition is a step towards an extension of fulfillment of that vision.
It is difficult to trace the history of MAMI but this list will probably act as a type of archive as we move ahead and break more barriers. TN.
The 21st Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star begins on 17 October 2019 and ends on 24 October 2019. Registrations are now open over at BookMyShow with one pass worth INR 500 ($7).
On 14 August 2019, a day before the day when half the people in India began their four-day-long leisure trip to some place and the rest half sat in anticipation to see the prime minister encourage patriotism on television, I successfully completed the Master of Arts in English Literature correspondence course from IGNOU.
A sense of pride and happiness engulfed me when I checked the results on my other computer, which dimmed a little when I calculated the final score (55.56%), a bit less than the first-year figure (60.75%). Not too great for someone who exaggerates his literary interests and reading skills, but still valid enough to justify this write-up.
There is a lot to talk about here, especially because I am originally a STEM student. But I’ll keep it to a few bullet points before I can write a detailed account of how I tackled the MEG programme and what I feel about the course provided by IGNOU, known as the best distance learning course for MA in English in India. Perhaps now tied to the one provided by Mumbai University’s IDOL (after it got the UGC accreditation recently).
I signed up for the course in 2017, two years after I graduated as a Bachelor of Engineering from Mumbai University. At that time, it felt overwhelming – no classes, four subjects to tackle in the first year, four assignments that are to be handwritten, and four paper examination in about eight months from that point of time. I was supposed to take it up using the top skill in the world: self-studying
I have to admit my interest for the course after registering and paying the fees dwindled considerably as my responsibilities grew at work. Then I received the first set of study materials by mail sometime in February 2018 and so began my actual journey towards diving deep into English literature. By April 2018, I had a fairly good idea about the course and what was required of me if I wanted to crack it
The first-year exams went by like a breeze. It was three years since I had experienced the sit-in-a-classroom-for-three-hours-straight ritual that wrecked my right-hand fingers after each paper. Yet I managed to write well as the results proved later in August 2018
The exam experience took me back to my diploma and degree days, as I saw myself mimicking my preparation and writing strategy. I have always depended on current affairs and observations around me to enrich my answers and it was no different this time
The second-year exams were tougher despite me having selected three electives of my choice (MEG 6, MEG 7, and MEG 11). That last one only because it had an entire chapter on J D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Laughably, I scored the least (50/100) in MEG 11
This course gave me a bit of travel experience too as I saw myself exploring the city of Bhiwandi as part of my second-year exams. On account of an error on my side, I chose a college in Bhiwandi as my exam center (because all these towns/cities were categorized as Thane and I chose Thane without realizing it) and it was probably the worst decision I made in 2019. As some of you might know, there is no direct local train from Mumbai/Navi Mumbai and you have to take a detour from Kalyan. It takes about 90 minutes to reach there which is why I had to depend on Uber while going and a combination of the good old Mumbai suburban train and auto rickshaws while coming back
One small, good part of this course was all the discussions that I had with a small group of fellow students in a WhatsApp group. When I was growing up and studying, I don’t think I had ever done group study or discussed notes with my friends or classmates. This changed during my MA and I think I enjoyed it
Probably the biggest change that this MA degree has brought in me is through its validation of my writing and literary bend. I now am more confident about my writing – as I sometimes do it professionally as a freelancer – which is what I had anticipated before signing up in 2017 even as I received puzzled looks from friends, colleagues, and family about my decision. I did this MA in English to validate and strengthen my experience and I think I got it
Lastly, I am a voracious reader now. Before 2019, I used to read less than 5 books a year on an average. In 2019, I have already read 14 books so far.
I have been thinking about this for sometime now. Exams ended in June 2019 and I still haven’t decided.
I have always wanted to take a look into journalism and mass media, so it could be something on those lines next. Maybe that, or maybe a change in my full-time job because it’s been more than four years with Publicis now. Need a psychological change.
I also have plans to go over all the study materials of the MA course just to get a better understanding. This will also help me go over the topics that I had skipped during the exams. Could be a great use of my time till 2020 when I sign up for something or the other for sure. TN.
Featured image courtesy: Sean Somics at Creative Commons
I would have used the term ‘motor vehicle’ but then I would not have been able to include my first-ever road accident that occurred back in 2004. It was a bicycle versus an auto rickshaw crash. This also means that I have been using faster transport mechanisms for about 15 years now, making this a perfect time to chronicle some of my worst road incidents, one of which haunts me till this very day.
Here are six times when my vehicle hit another or when another vehicle hit mine or when both the riders/drivers were equally responsible. Unfortunately, there’s no way to find out who was to be blamed during any of these crashes. We will have to depend on my point of view. Let’s start.
Bicycle Vs Auto Rickshaw – 2004
I had recently been gifted a bicycle – a black Hero Razorback bought from a private dealership in Airoli. Because I had managed to learn how to ride beforehand with the help of a friend named Alex, I was allowed to take it out for rides freely.
I also had a group of friends with whom I often went for cycling sprints. It is while returning home from one of these that I crashed into a stationary auto rickshaw. That day I learned that you should not put all your trust on mechanical brakes.
The fault was mine because I was at a good speed of ~30 kmph in a crowded street. I would have not crashed had I known that rains can restrict ability of a braking system. The rickshaw driver let me go with a minor admonishment but then years later I wrote something generalizing him.
Motorcycle Vs Sedan – 2014
Fast forward ten years and I now ride a motorcycle – a black Honda Unicorn 150 CB. Thanks to my friends Mitesh and Jithin, I quickly learned how to ride the two-wheeler before taking it for a ride on my own.
It is during one such solo riding in Kopar Khairane that I nicked into a sedan’s passenger-side mirror. It was a busy street and I had crossed about ten meters before I looked back at the car and the driver. I mouthed an apology and the driver waved me off with a smile. Don’t know if it was the apology or the admission but none of that has worked for me ever since, as we will learn later.
This was the safest crash because neither of our vehicles sustained any damage.
Hatchback Vs Motorcycle – 2016
This was probably the most devastating and also the one that involved my entire family save for my dad. We were on a pleasure trip to Murud in Maharashtra, a month after we bought a second-hand maroon Hyundai i20 Magna from a family friend. I was still a rookie driver, trying my luck at our first long trip outside Mumbai. That was probably the first mistake.
I was fairly confident of my driving skills, but that didn’t help me manoeuver the vehicle properly as we hit an oncoming two-wheeler. The bike first hit my right-side mirror, breaking it into pieces, and then slipped into a corner of the zigzag road, eventually hitting a tree. The rider did not sustain any injuries but he claimed otherwise. And so did 100 of his friends who he quickly called up to threaten me and my family. We ended up being traumatized and settling the dispute privately as it had soon turned into a religious issue, something that the on-duty policeman seemed to have enjoyed that day.
I like to believe the blame was on both of us, but the financial and emotional damage was one-sided. It temporarily put me in a state of tizzy.
Hatchback Vs Scooter – 2017
This occurred in a crowded place in Kopar Khairane. I was trying to get my car out of the busy street when my front bumper slightly – just lightly like a feather touches the ground – touched the back of a pink Scooty Pep. The helmetless rider, along with his kid, got out and started splashing expletives in Marathi.
I asked him to relax without downing my window glasses. He appeared to calm down as he took a look at the back of his scooter, gave me another look as if I had rammed into his kid and he was forgiving me, sat on and took off. The surrounding brouhaha as a result of the drama did not seem to matter to him at all.
I am to be blamed here, but then I have some questions:
Can’t two vehicles even slightly scratch each other when you are out on the road?
Why do some people take so much care of their vehicles (more than themselves at times) when they know vehicles are just temporary objects you use to get from A to B?
Why do these people wear their vehicle-protectiveness as a hat of pride?
This brings me to my most recent experience.
Hatchback Vs Hatchback – 2019
Around the dusty area of Panvel, my car rammed into a white Maruti Suzuki WagonR, denting its bumper and screwing up the parking sensor. The guy put on his aggressive suit and started talking like, again, I had rammed into his person. So much drama evolved from that minor crash that I almost ended up giving him the keys to my house. I began my response by admitting my mistake and that’s where onlookers started grabbing popcorn.
I was driving at 60-70 kmph and it was raining, together which led to the crash. But the lack of basic empathy from the victim left me startled, as I moved on to a state of depression for two weeks.
Hatchback Vs Sedan – 2019
This was on our way to Girgaum Chowpatty. Just before the Metro cinema turn, a golden Honda City scratched into my car and sped off before the lights turned red. I think it did more damage to their car than it did to mine, so we’re square, I guess.
The traffic policemen witnessing the scene remained motionless for a few seconds. Then they went back to chatting. Thankfully, it would have cost me a few hundred bucks for the mistake of someone else because my PUC certificate had expired the previous month.
Riding or driving on the roads these days does not come without its fair share of issues, regardless of who’s to be blamed for the ‘issue’. And the best way to stay calm and live life is to use public transit and avoid private travel as much as you can. You need peace? Use your car and bikes less often. TN.
We spent that entire evening looking for a chic coffee table for our new home in Navi Mumbai. I remember we visited at least five different shops across Palm Beach Road in Vashi and Belapur in a span of three hours to get the first real furniture for the new apartment. By 10 PM we were running out of furniture shops so we ended the quest by feeding ourselves at a nearby bistro that my sister had wanted to try out for long. We went back home and that’s when I suddenly realized: IKEA is coming to Navi Mumbai in late 2019. Why not wait till then and use a bean bag as a teapoy in the meanwhile?
(Note – The above photo is probably my first attempt at basic journalism. Since there’s no vantage point to get a proper glimpse of the entire property, I had to fib to an aged security guard of a dilapidated three-storie building nearby to get a good view. I climbed up to the terrace (while disregarding my breathing issues) and took this photo. Not great, I agree, but still something.)
That’s what I did and it’s been five months since then. We don’t have a coffee table in our house. And I have been waiting for IKEA to throw open their gates in Turbhe, Navi Mumbai ever since, hoping to be one of their first customers from Mumbai (unless people have flown to Hyderabad and paid a fortune to get something delivered back home). The trouble is I don’t know when it will open. The Hyderabad store opened in August 2018, so I’m inclined to guess it should be sometime around August here too, especially as it’s already breached its intended initial timeline.NDTV, quoting PTI, reported that IKEA would open its Navi Mumbai store in January 2019. (IKEA Starts Work on Navi Mumbai Store; To Open In January 2019 – NDTV Profit, 18 May 2017)
While I wait with bated breath to hopefully get my hands on the Frakta tote bag that will continue to put Balenciaga to shame, what I also want to talk about is IKEA’s big plans for Mumbai.
Quartz Indiareported that the Swedish furniture giant (I just can’t forget how Pepperfry CEO Ambareesh Murthy responded when he was asked about potential competition from IKEA)He said and I quote via The Economic Times: “Nothing would give me greater joy than to open a studio in Sweden right outside of the IKEA office.” (Ambareesh Murthy’s biggest dream: Opening Pepperfry studio outside Sweden’s IKEA office – Shannon Tellis, ET Bureau, 17 June 2019) began constructing a swanky 4,30,000 square feet store in Turbhe in May 2017. It also plans to launch smaller shops across Mumbai along with an ecommerce presence. Going by the images posted by users on Google Maps for the location (between Pawane and Turbhe at the highway side), it looks like they will kickoff at least by year-end.
More than the grandiose scale of the store, what has impressed me is the employment opportunities that it laid out. Other than the 5,000 and more workers that they are using to help build the store, they claim to double the number of jobs in the next three years.(Ikea to hire 5,000 workers for Navi Mumbai store; create 10-k jobs in 3 yrs – via PTI, Business Standard, 2 November 2018) And I like to believe that claim, thanks to what I saw in and around Navi Mumbai in the months of April and May.
They also had a dedicated site for people looking to apply. But, the one glaring issue I observed in IKEA’s strategy was that they assumed blue-collar workers would have the skills to log on to a website and apply for jobs. I don’t see what they were expecting clearly because most of the jobs posted were for blue-collar work. I know because I logged in.
If you had visited their Indian website sometime in May 2019, you would have been redirected to a jobs portal where most of the jobs listed were associated with manual labour. None of them required Internet surfing skills, so I just sat there staring and thinking.
But then, IKEA may be targeting contractors. It is only last week I saw a few job openings that dealt with supply chain and store management. Looks like they did find what they were looking for and now need more.
All in all, this article is possibly an indication about my anticipating to visit the Turbhe store and get myself some furniture. Not because I like to have Scandinavian design in my living room or because I have needed a book shelf for ages for my collection, but because I like to lose my sanity every once in a while. TN.
Here’s the location on Google Maps for your reference:
NDTV, quoting PTI, reported that IKEA would open its Navi Mumbai store in January 2019. (IKEA Starts Work on Navi Mumbai Store; To Open In January 2019 – NDTV Profit, 18 May 2017)
He said and I quote via The Economic Times: “Nothing would give me greater joy than to open a studio in Sweden right outside of the IKEA office.” (Ambareesh Murthy’s biggest dream: Opening Pepperfry studio outside Sweden’s IKEA office – Shannon Tellis, ET Bureau, 17 June 2019)
(Ikea to hire 5,000 workers for Navi Mumbai store; create 10-k jobs in 3 yrs – via PTI, Business Standard, 2 November 2018)