Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Planting An Idea

Sonia Sethi
Sonia Sethi
Updated on Aug 22, 2019 12:31 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByMalavika Sangghvi

Last week, we had the occasion to meet Sonia Sethi, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, the body responsible for the planning and implementation of the Mumbai Metro. With a PhD in Economics and stints at Oxford University and as a former transport commissioner of Mumbai, Sethi, who did her schooling in Delhi and is the wife of Sanjay Sethi, chairman of JNPT, is certainly a name to reckon with in the city’s corridors of power. Articulate, accomplished and ambitious, her enthusiasm and pride on the upcoming Metro and the transformational impact it will have on the lives of Mumbaiites is palpable. But even as she spoke about the lasting benefits of an efficient mass public transport system, we kept bringing the conversation back to trees and the need to fortify Mumbai’s green cover. And for this, we have activist Zoru Bhathena to thank. Before our appointment with Sethi, we had asked Bhathena in what way we could use our time with the senior bureaucrat towards the greater good of the city. “Let Mumbai see that the MMRDA is genuinely interested in greening up the Metro lines. When we travel to T2, the road is so green, why can’t the rest of the city look like this?” Bhathena had said. Think of it, you could go down in history as a public hero and earn the eternal gratitude of future citizens of Mumbai, we said to Sethi, warming to our assigned task of tree-advocate. You could get schools, colleges, corporates and senior citizens involved in the exercise, it could be a mass-movement and bring a sense of hope and engagement to Mumbaiites at a time when it is needed most, we said. And we are happy to report that while Sethi said the obligation of transplanting and replanting trees that have been sacrificed to make way for the Metro is being complied with, as per the directions of the tree authority, she responded positively to Bhathena’s suggestion of MMRDA taking the initiative of being proactive on a mass tree-planting initiative to increase Mumbai’s tree cover and after giving it serious thought, would come up with an action plan at our next meet. We eagerly look forward to this. Call us idealistic, but somehow we get the feeling that if anyone is up to the task, it will be an accomplished, articulate and ambitious woman like Sethi. As for Bhathena, between saving the city’s endangered trees and planting good environmentally sound ideas in the heads of senior bureaucrats, the work of an activist never stops, does it?

True Lies:
Gloom And Doom In India Inc.
Our Dalal Street source was beside himself. “I have recently been to three high-profile city events attended by the city’s top India Inc. leaders,” he said. “And I can tell you, never have I witnessed such low morale and abject despondency amongst them.” “From the son of a leading industrialist who in a departure from his usually low-key image went public with his dire outlook recently, making it known that he would rather live overseas, a common refrain that is said to be heard across business circles these days, to a business forum that has caught the interest of India Inc. because all the industrialists belonging to it save one own businesses that have gone belly up; to the latest joke doing the rounds that the only real business opportunity on the horizon is for five star hotel chains to launch five-star jails to house those who are the targets of taxation terrorism, there is a lot of dark humour that is emanating from the erstwhile Masters of The Universe,” said the source, adding, “And every one appears to be spending as much time as they can out of the country.”
Oh dear, will the last tycoon left in the city remember to turn the lights out?

What They Say
“I think we’re helping the situation. But there’s tremendous problems between those two countries [India and Pakistan], as you know. They are not exactly friends at this moment. Complicated situation. A lot has to do with religion. Religion is a complicated subject. I will do the best I can to mediate or do something.”
- US President Donald Trump on the Kashmir issue.

What They Mean
“And in return, they have promised to mediate between the US and Mexico, the US and China etc.”

Conscious Living

Sangita Kathiwada
Sangita Kathiwada

Word comes in that aesthete and fashionista Sangita Kathiwada, who has raised the city’s fashion and design bar with ventures like Mélange, is all set to introduce another path-breaking initiative in the lifestyle luxury space by the end of the year. Located at Worli on the ground floor of the beautiful heritage building that serves as her residence, the upcoming venture is said to be a boutique/wellness stay with eight live-in bedrooms, reflecting Kathiwada’s heightened aesthetic sensibility and deep involvement with the wellness and alternative healing and spiritual space over the years. “It will have curated programming, meals and therapies revolving around conscious living and conscious consumption, concepts that Kathiwada has been deeply engaged in,” said a source, adding, “Though work is still underway and the project is approximately three months away from completion, it gives every indication of being a stand-out destination, one that will bring together like-minded people and be a place for the tribe to thrive.”

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