Mira’s Musings

May 28, 2010


For an understanding of Mumbai’s original bedroom city, the end-stop for several lakhs of the city’s commuters, read this entry on Mira Road on www.urbz.net.

If your guy isn’t comfortable

May 24, 2010

If your guy isn’t comfortable with you using your fingers to gently penetrate the area, there are other ways to stimulate his prostate. One way to do this is to give some loving to his perineum, or the smooth strip of skin between his testicles and anus. Since the prostate is internally located between the base of his penis and his anus so touching him on the outside of that area can externally stimulate the gland.

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Jane Jacobs Walk in Mumbai

May 5, 2010

Last week, Mumbai-based urban practitioners Marinha Fernandes, Kapil Chavan and Swati Sanghvi, organized a Jane Jacobs Walk in which at least sixty people participated to re-discover the streets of Kalbadevi, Girgaum and its many tributaries. These walks were part of a global event in which similar gatherings glided down urban alleys in cities as varied as New York, Toronto (North America) and Lusaka (Zambia) and La Paloma (Uruguay).

According to urbanist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), in whose honour the walks are instituted, a walk is the best way to know a city, reclaim its streets and connect with its economic energy.

The streets chosen by the Mumbai team would have particularly fascinated Jane Jacobs, if she had had an opportunity to visit it in her lifetime. They are living testimonies to the economic vitality that she felt were significant to the health of a city. For her, local-scale production, manufacture and exchange of goods and commodities had the potential of regenerating the most lethargic of systems and her formidable scholarship proved this citing examples from Tokyo to the back-streets of American cities.

In colonial Mumbai, while the authorities were busy creating imperial cityscapes with their impressive architecture, this part of the city – the ‘native town’ as it were – was working around the clock to keep up the momentum of a thriving metropolis. They brought with them skills that had been shaped by centuries of trading and craftsmanship thanks to a dynamic trade and manufacture based inter-continental coastal economy backed from this end by Sindh, Gujarat, Marwar and other regions all the way down south. Communities from these regions adapted to the changes brought out in the newly emerging industrial world, but also revitalized the best of skills that they already had. And the city’s complex, enmeshed and flexible approach to urban life allowed them to create an architecture that matched their peculiar needs and interests. It is in these streets and by-lanes, shop-fronts and workshop spaces, that the business culture of Mumbai got shaped all through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

According to Jacobs, a city needs such creative energy of people and communities the way an orchard needs sunshine. And the growth and success of Mumbai as an economic powerhouse was definitely shaped by business practices that the narrow streets and tiny offices of this neighbourhood soaked up hungrily and nourished in return. Every modern business establishment in Mumbai has a story to say that links up this neighbourhood to their own success in some way or the other. It is this relationship between spaces, streets, economic activities and living that Jacobs saw as the fulcrum of good urbanism – something that was destroyed by urban planning practices geared towards cosmetic changes and speculative construction.

The New Village Press and the Centre for the Living City have also published a book this month – ‘What we See’ – a collection of essays in the memory of Jacobs, known among other things, for her vociferous criticism of Moses – an urban planner and engineer notorious for inaugurating the regime of freeways and car-based urban planning in the US.

Jacobs would have connected the decayed urban landscape dotting many parts of America today, to an economy in crisis because it has lost all moorings in local economies. One that has allowed runaway infrastructure and construction projects to dictate the process of urban living, rather than focusing on economic activities on the ground.

For Mumbai, Jacobs would have attributed its economic success to the way it balanced its financial sector with local production and exchanges, epitomized by its vibrant street economy and the neighbourhoods of the ‘native’ city. She would have explained its civic failure to the constant war the city waged against this very sector – epitomized by its anti-hawker, anti street-level and anti local business policies.

And yet – she would have remained optimistic seeing the way the streets of Mumbai continue to fight back!