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Mumbai Diary: Sunday Dossier

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Midday
24th May, 2020 07:15 IST
You'll be okay, hooman

A monkey shows affection to the man who feeds him every day at Chunabhatti. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Not a bad bat deal and gesture!

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Three medical staffers inspecting the autographed bat presented by England batsman Bill Edrich to the Woolwich Memorial Hospital in order to raise funds. Pic/Getty Images

After reading about a lawsuit settlement between cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and bat manufacturers Spartan, this diarist pulled out an old tale of a willow deal.

It involved then promising English batsman Bill Edrich whom British bat manufacturing giant Stuart Surridge wanted to sign two years after his 1938 debut against Australia. It meant that Edrich's name would be inscribed on every bat, replacing the legendary Herbert Sutcliffe, that great Yorkshireman.

But Edrich endured a miserable maiden Test series (67 runs in four Tests) and his misfortune continued on the 1938-39 tour of South Africa. However, his luck changed in the final Test at Durban, where he scored 219 in the last Test innings of the tour.

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Bill Edrich

Yet, on his return to England he was told that his name would not be appearing on the face of Surridge bats (later branded as SS which greats like Sir Viv Richards and Graham Gooch endorsed) due to his low run of scores. However, he was free to accept a 100 pounds-a-season deal to endorse their bats in advertisements. Edrich was happy to do that.

He also had a generous heart. Many years later, he got hold of a Surridge bat, got it signed by members of the 1953 England and Australian teams which included himself and donated it to the Woolwich Memorial Hospital in London to raise funds for their Remembrance Association.

We need to hear of such acts of generosity in these times. These gestures may not kill the virus, but can surely save lives.

Sketching in the time of COVID

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Conservation architect Rahul Chemburkar, who is the force behind the resurrection of Mumbai's old and forgotten pyaavs, is using the lockdown time to hone his sketching skills. From capturing the intricate details of Flora Fountain, to reimagining a lone urban tree, or the salt pans abutting the Eastern Express Highway, the self-taught artist is making his followers on Facebook, nostalgic about the city right now.

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"As a kid, I remember the train I would draw on the walls of our rented premises. It was retained even after we left the house by the tenants who came after us. The artist inside me grew somewhere around that time," Chemburkar tells this diarist. The lockdown, he says, has made him introspect about his own artwork. "An idea is blooming to compile them [the sketches] together in a book, or then to use them to rekindle old charms. Like I have drawn coffeescapes on postcards. This could encourage letter writing."

A creative family affair

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Rajat Barmecha, who shot to fame with Vikramaditya Motwane's Udaan, is not allowing the lockdown to get in the way of work. Recently, the actor shot a film at home by asking his family members to pitch in.

"While my mother helped me with costumes and props, my brother Vicky handled the camera. He is a director, so, he knows the the ropes. My house-help took care of the fans; when to switch them on and when to cut. And my grandfather, who is with us in Mumbai since the lockdown, was the silent observer. This was his first time on any of my shoots," said Barmecha.

A take on life

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Blues guitarist Shwe G teamed up with third culture hip hop artist Xenai for a conscious reflection on the state of the world in a recent track titled Everything is Fine. Released on multiple platforms on May 22, the song is a verbal joust. Sombre yet realistic, it pens the world in an altruistic/unbiased way. Xenai and Shwe G, both alumni of Boston's Berklee College of Music, got together in 2019 in Mumbai.

"A conversation at a bar led to us thinking about this track. The song is not just a mere collaboration between us, it is also a reflection of our diaries and from our days in the West together at Boston's Berklee College of Music. While Xenai is in Bahrain at the moment, we have released the song on Itunes, Spotify and Saavn," Shwe G, who is currently back home in Gujarat, says.

I feel so empowered!

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If you've met Saviojon Fernandes, you'll know that he is famously publicity-shy. The Goa designer lives and works out of his Siolim home with a tiny army of four tailors. His friends on many occasions have suggested using Instagram as a tool to reach out to clients who may not have access to his resort-wear label. But Saviojon was undecided and unimpressed.

Until he posted images of Madras check, Holland wax and block print face masks on social media on May 10. "I had some leftover scraps of fabrics and decided why not make masks for friends, family and anyone who needed one in Siolim. With business in lockdown, this project seemed like a good way to keep busy," he says.

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Within hours of the post, he was inundated with enquiries from users and fashion retailers about how and where can they buy them. "I didn't post with the intention of selling," Saviojon says. "I normally don't show any enthusiasm towards social media retail, but the response has made me rethink. I have managed to take care of a major chunk of salaries from the sales. I feel empowered."

Split between three fabric categories of Holland wax, Madras check and block print, the 100 per cent cotton, washable and reusable masks come in a little pouch sewn with a mother of pearl button. Jersey string replaces elastic, which can be adjusted with tie-behind head straps.

"Since people can't buy clothes, they are investing in masks. It has become the next big fashion accessory," he says.

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