Table fans at Nagpada Junction.
We are all table fans. Our heads sitting on our flexible necks don't move mechanically like good old fans but given a chance, there are few more interesting activities than sweeping the 180 degrees around you for what others are doing. We all instantly become table fans at Railways stations (now Airports are more interesting with the way our middle class has started dressing for flights), bus stops, traffic jams, windows, and now mostly of facebook. For "low-lifes" like pimps and street photographers or writers, it's part of the job.
In this week's Mint Lounge, there's a beautiful story about Manto's Mumbai. In that Rusdhie has this to say about Manto,
“What attracted me to Manto was his approach to low-life subjects. I’ve always been interested in writers who investigate the underbelly of society, and I like it that Manto is neither sentimental nor hard-boiled, using, instead, a form of ironic dispassion that paradoxically becomes very moving.”
While very few can write like Manto, we all love to watch life and low-life subjects. These days, all you have to do is pick up the newspapers to do that but if you like to scan the streets like a table fan, there are few better places in Mumbai than the Nagpada Junction. It's near the Police station because our cops know it well too, that's why they have their police station there.
In the same issue of Mint Lounge is a extract from a Manto story called Siraj translated by Matt Reeck.
Read it here.
The extract is set at what is called Nagpada Junction now. This is where the Dhundu the pimp (this place is right next to Kamathipura) stands leaning against an electricity pole and goes table-fanning for prospective clients and ponders about a girl named Siraj.
The electricity pole no longer exist, but a free newspaper reading shelter stands approximately where it stood and it's a comfortable place to watch life where Belasis Road, Maulana Azad North Road, Maulana Azad South Road, Mirza Ghalib Road, Dimtikar Road and Sofia Zubair Road converge.
Here are a few images from in and around there.
The other good spot at the junction for table fans is taken over by the local old men. Inside the Reza Restaurant where Manto used to order or eat food from. It has seen better days but if you want some good meat, it's still a great place to visit. Close by on Clare Road/Mirza Ghalib Road, is this Bakery. Wonder what Dhundu in the story or Manto would have had to say about these little theaters in Kamathipura. Manto would've had to have conversations with Dhundu routed through here. Next door to the screen screening flesh is a theater that screens IPL matches on large screens. BCCI should be happy to know this. I like the line - Hain Dum Toh Aaja. That's what the men there go to prove and I wonder how much dum does it take to watch an IPL match.
The Telugu films dubbed into Hindi must be India's No 1 entertainment these days. You seem them all day and night at places where Taxi Drivers meet, larger chai stalls, barber shops, etc. They should start releasing these movies in Bhojpuri up north, if they aren't already.