Stories about mumbai

“Altaf Hussain has been arrested – get home, now!”

1:20 pm, Tuesday, June 3rd It was a regular weekday with the familiar hustle of an office facing tight deadlines. Some people had finished their lunch and were chatting over tea about the upcoming football world cup. Others were just about to tuck into their food and planning out the post lunch work plan. A colleague broke the news, the possibility of which had been discussed in hushed tones many-a-times. Breathlessly she spilled the words: “Altaf Hussain (Chief of the MQM Party) has been arrested!” All was left aside and everyone started checking social media for updates. Some turned on the news ...

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Noor of Bihar

“Babu jee, India is so enormous. Mumbai, Agra, Delhi and Bihar are unfathomable in size. Either you take one step or accomplish a hundred, it will take 10 years to traverse from one end of the country to another,” she assured me in her mellifluous Bihari tone. As the fan overhead continued its eternal hymn, Nani (maternal grandmother) shouted in distaste, “Huh, you have seen India, my foot! Woman of no worth,” she shouted out, as mother and I looked at each other, exchanging mental notes on how to manage Nani’s incorrigible distrust of domestic helpers. Nani suffered from a cancerous tumour ...

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Making Democracy Real 2014: Come, let us dissolve these borders

I love being a part of events and exchanges that offer a possibility to interact closely with people from Pakistan. Hence, I was utterly pleased when I was invited to participate in the ‘Making Democracy Real 2014’ dialogue organised by Initiatives of Change at Asia Plateau in Panchgani, a five-hour drive from Mumbai. Such programmes strengthen my commitment to continue building ties with those who believe that genuine friendship between Indians and Pakistanis is possible. Held over five days, from January 10 to 14, 2014, this dialogue (they insisted on not calling it ‘conference’) brought together participants from over 30 countries ...

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On the 5th anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, let us take an oath

Five years ago, it was the worst of times for my neighbouring country. Mumbai, India’s commercial hub was under attack. The eve of November 26, 2008 was one of the bloodiest days for India. When the calendar marked November 29, the death toll exceeded 100 people.  Everything was deplorable. The entire Indian nation was mourning and rightly so. It was the worst of times for my country as well, as the whole Indian government and the media turned hostile towards Pakistan and built war hysteria. The attackers were reported to come from my soil. This was a shocking revelation. The after-effect of ...

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How many Ajmal Kasabs are we raising?

The memory of the fidgety and mentally distracted Indian classmate, biting his nails furiously, who could not sleep for the whole night after watching the live coverage of the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 flashes back to my mind whenever anybody mentions attacks. Indeed, it was a tragic as well as ghoulish event; the sights of the killings, the shootings, the hostage-taking and the lamentations of victims’ relatives were seen and heard for three days on satellite TV, which aired grisly images all over the world. (Photo: AFP) On that fateful day, Mumbai was attacked by ten men; nine ...

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Bal Thackeray’s end, a win for Mumbai

Finally Bal Thackeray succumbs to his own fear – fear of his own death. If there is one word that defines this rabid Hindu nationalist it is ‘fear’. It is to his credit that this cartoonist turned religious fundamentalist and rabble rouser maintained his hold over Mumbai for almost five decades on the basis of fear. Thackeray’s strength was not the ideology that his political group, Shiv Sena, espouses, but fear that his party ignites amongst his supporters and cadres. That’s why it’s difficult to characterise this man as a politician or a leader. The outpourings of obituaries and condolences after ...

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Visa restrictions: Who draws lines around countries?

The last few months have been full of optimism for Indians and Pakistanis who are eager to step across the border and experience what lies on the other side. The fact that both countries have been working towards a liberal visa regime  to enable people-to-people contact is a cause for celebration but there is bound to be anxiety until the time an official deal is signed. The recent news about a last-minute snag, leading to a postponement in this process after a meeting between Pakistan’s former Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, and India’s Home Secretary, R K Singh, comes across as ...

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Bombay slums: Dark, dingy and full of hope

Bombay (now known as Mumbai) enamours me like it has many people. While the plane lands over the city, you see a seamless mix of shanties and high rises. It is not so inconspicuous on the ground. Riding a local train from Santa Cruz to Malad East, I gazed at the best and the worst of living conditions of the people of Bombay. I was in the city to report on the raising real estate prices in the city’s slums. As I reached my destination in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia, there was a strange sensation in my stomach ...

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Islamabad Diary: Socialite ambassador and diplospeak

The US embassy held a preview performance of the Neil Simon play ‘The Odd Couple’ last week and made sure that there would be no couples, odd or otherwise. The invitation for the play, which was directed by the US cultural attaché and featured an inaugural speech by Ambassador Cameron Munter, expressly forbade any plus-ones. Predictably enough, Munter had lots of fun comparing the title of the play to the relationship between Pakistan and the US. Munter’s other big outing for the week was the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of the Hardees’ fast-food restaurant near Jinnah Super Market. The ...

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The storyteller-cum-wrestler

When A Hameed first showed up at the Tea House in 1948, you could not have guessed that he was a fugitive from a wrestling arena. Everything about him spoke instead of a romantic soul that had drifted in our direction. A short story called ‘Manzil, manzil’, one of his first, had been published recently. The romantic bent and the storytelling technique had encouraged some connoisseurs to believe that he was another Krishan Chander in the making. A Hameed himself would later tell us that tradition and upbringing had required him actually to take on Keekar Singh’s son. His father, ...

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