Victoria’s Secret Angels

FeaturedVictoria’s Secret Angels

Angels – God’s gift to the Mother Earth. I am not referring to Humans here.(gotcha!) I am talking about Animals, the butchered wives of the world – mistreated, poached and at times demonized.

Victoria’s Angels – The Forgotten heroes of Mumbai.

Our city, Mumbai has been blessed with only 1 such house for our secret angels. It goes by the name of Victoria. Victoria Gardens aka Ranichi Bagh aka Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan commonly (read rarely) called Byculla Zoo.

Before the critics jump the gun to justify the obsolescence of this place, I concede the fact that Government authorities, environmentalists, animal rights activists and us, citizens have defeated ourselves. We are responsible for the pitiable condition of the animals in the only zoo of our city.

Yes, a much-needed face-lift is on the cards. Hopefully, once the development is completed, our zoo flourishes into an excellent hub of flora and fauna.

Wishful thinking aside, I paid visit to Byculla zoo to peep into the biosphere of Mumbai and boy it wasn’t as bad as some reviews on the internet crafted.

We were greeted by security personnel who stopped us from barging in the zoo with tiffins(which I mistakenly carried). I was asked to finish eating it and only then allowed entry. (Zoo +1)

As we set foot inside the zoo, the chirping of birds and frenetic movement of monkeys was palpable. We toured most part of the zoo and came across following exhibits –



In one of the exhibits, we found a surprising species – the Emu. Popularly mistaken as Black Ostrich (some of the visitors actually coined that term!) This black colored giant sized bird saw many visitors flocking towards its exhibit. Many of us clicked photographs of zookeeper feeding them and cleaning their shed.



I was particularly amazed by Hippopotamus amphibius. The third-largest type of land mammal lived true to its name. We saw 4 of these mammals in 2 different exhibits. “River horse” in Greek, makes real sense given that we saw 2 of them literally dozing inside the water, reminding us of the standing up sleep pattern of horses. Those 2 hippos were 95% submerged/floating in water, with only some part of back peeping outside. For more than 10 minutes, we were wondering as to how do these Hippopotamidae breathe! Best sight was of the baby hippo lumbering across her mother (I guess) and leaning towards her while eating grass. Arguably, the best exhibit in the zoo!


Horses, well, not really.  Blue bull or Nilgai

One of the first exhibits any visitor will see, close to the zoo’s entrance. Prima facie, it looks like a horse given the mane, tail and overall physical structure. By no means is it blue in color, (not even a blue tinge / shade)! And yes, although it is a bull – historical facts support my misconception of it being a horse. During Mughal emperor Aurangzeb‘s reign (1658–1707) of India, the nilgai was known by the name nilghor (“nil” for “blue” and “ghor” for “horse”). [Padhi, S.; Panigrahi, G.K.; Panda, S. (2004). The Wild Animals of India. Delhi: Biotech Books. pp. 26–7. ISBN 81-7622-106-6.]


Different types of parrots (names of which I fail to recount) with colorful wings, different shades (grey, green, blue) and also of different sizes (from tiny, fist-sized ones to larger wingspan ones). The chirping sound was a refreshing experience. Ironically, while we were gazing at these birds trapped / shackled in the cages, a crow flew over us as if to flaunt its freedom, a perquisite very few birds can enjoy.


Indian elephant

This exhibit attracted foreigners who accompanied us. The Elephas maximus seemed to have caught attention of the South-east Asians. Both the elephants were being attended by the zookeepers and were far away from the fence. Due to paucity of  time, we had to bid them adieu.



We geared up for a fascinating and thrilling encounter with Python molurus aka Indian python. With an adrenaline rush, we stormed the exhibit to witness a lukewarm response. This reptile, belonging to the family of non-venomous snakes, was apparently sleeping in the water tub, untouched and indifferent. While we were imagining the hissing or rattling, in reality there was absolutely no movement whatsoever. To our surprise, a bunch of kids tried teasing the Pythonidae (the actual name) by pelting a stone. The serpent didn’t move one bit. We reported the kids action to the authorities in order to prevent repetition of such an incident. As boredom settled thanks to the unconcerned Mr.reptile, we left the exhibit disappointed.

Apart from the above, we met monkeys, flamingos, peacocks, black bucks, Sambhar and spotted deer.

Friends we couldn’t meet –

  1. Humboldt Penguins – well we couldn’t get to see them. Actually, the main reason why Byculla Zoo came into the limelight was the arrival of unexpected guests – the acquatic lifeless birds from Southern Hemisphere. However, due to administrative reasons, the exhibit of South American penguins was inaccessible.
  2. Bear – a mountain-esque layout distinctly spans across the Bear exhibit. However, the authorities explained that the presence of bear can be found few and far in between. Most of the times, it lies safely inside the mound and hence the enthusiasts and visitors can’t greet and meet the carnivore.
  3. Crocodile – after minutes of croc-searching near lakes, ponds and different exhibits, we found no crocodile! Thus our wish of saying – “See you later, alligator” remained incomplete and unfulfilled. (yes, I know alligators and crocodiles are two different creatures altogether, but who cares? – both won’t understand our language!)
  4. Hyenas, and now absent Lion (last one lioness Jimmy died in 2014), Tigers (till 2005)

Anti-Penguin JibeScreenshot from 2017-03-11 18-15-11Screenshot from 2017-03-11 14-58-34

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad museum


Ironically, the exit of the zoo looked much more majestic and attractive than the entrance. Arches of the exit gate, the architectural style was really fascinating. After the zoo, we visited the museum which was typical of any such museum. The artefacts, instruments, utensils made of gold, copper, wood – descriptions were illuminating. One new find for me was the ancient Indian card game by the name – Ganjifa.

Overall, a decent 3-4hr outing at a location nested inside the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.

To the city that never stops surprising!

Trip Time – 8:15 am  – 2pm

Date – 11th March, 2017

Trip Cost – Travel Cost + 5 (Zoo entry fee) + 10 (Museum entry fee)

Travel – Via Train

Closest station on Central Railway Line – Byculla (bang opposite)

Closest station on Western Railway Line – Mahalaxmi (distance-wise)



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Heart attack is the new “fever”

Valid concerns being raised here. Coming straight through your heart.
It’s insightful to see how one decision you took (of giving your earphones a break and listening to crowd around you) led you to write this article.
Good work.

Disha Unadkat

As I was travelling in an overly crowded Mumbai local today morning, I decided to ditch my earphones and listen to random conversations between strangers. While some women were busy yelling at others in the compartment to adjust their bags, tie their hairs or shift aside, what caught my attention was a conversation between two friends who accidentally boarded the same train today. Amidst the hustle and bustle, they were happy qto have met each other. The expression on their face changed drastically and they were so so excited for the remaining part of the train journey.

They started talking. Obviously.

*In Marathi*

Friend 1: How are you? It’s been so long I haven’t seen you.

Friend 2: I am good. Yes, you tell me. How have you been?

Friend 1: I am doing well too. Started working now.

Friend 2: what have you studied? I completely forgot about it.

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Perfectly captures the essence of the Legendary player.

Running down the Right wing...

The World Cup 2018 has begun and has produced exciting football in its first 2 days. Russia hammered 5 goals on opening day which was followed by dramatic late winners in the next two games. There was already a feeling of excitement as Portugal and Spain, two footballing powerhouses were set to lock horns. I was a little skeptical about the nature of the game as matches with big build up often tend to produce a dull game. But from start to finish it was a treat to watch for any football fan as the two teams equally shared 6 goals- 3 of which came from a single man, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Everybody in the world probably knows this man. Even those with little affection to the game might have heard about him.
I started following football from 2006. That was when Ronaldo was gaining prominence. He was one of the…

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The Patriotic Pandemonium of Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin. Sachin. Sachin.

Just another Silly Point

On the announcement of Sachin Tendulkar retiring, Rohit Brijnath, in this morning’s Straits Times.

WILL he make a speech, this retiring Sachin Tendulkar, in his home city of Mumbai in November during his last Test and is it the closest we’ll come to a nation crying?
Will grown men snivel, maybe me, too, for his 24-year journey since 1989 was made alongside ours. He, 40, is part of our history, our dialogue, our reading, our growing up. Sport always goes on, but there is a sense of something ending – his career and every vestige of our youth.
Will another player ever find his entry to an Indian field an event in itself? He had India’s attention before it could see him, a frozen nation  waiting for him to emerge from the pavilion and adjust his crotch and take his stance, the only sane man in the stadium…

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An Anthology of Sachin Tendulkar Tributes …

One True Emotion. Sachin.

Just another Silly Point

Sachin Tendulkar’s career had been overwhelming and so too was the deluge of tributes.

Here’s my (far from comprehensive) selection of favourites.

Rohit Brijnath wrote as only he can. If you were fortunate enough to live in Singapore, (or were a subscriber of the Straits Times), you’d have read a lot more than the ones that finally made it to the wider world outside. At first, there was The Patriotic Pandemonium of Sachin Tendulkar at the time of the announcement of Tendulkar’s retirement. This was on the 15th of October, more than a month before the day it all ended. Read the first line of the piece a few times before going further – “WILL he make a speech, this retiring Sachin Tendulkar, in his home city of Mumbai in November during his last Test and is it the closest we’ll come to a nation crying?“.
Then the…

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The 14th Tape

The 14th Tape

13 Reasons. 13 People. Enough for Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old, to cut the race short and end her life. A nerve wracking 13 episode Netflix series that has left me numb.

All it took was the circle of her school life – the reticent Clay Jensen, the gay Courtney, Tyler – the stalker, Ryan – the arrogant poet, weak-hearted Zack, coward Sheri, power-hungry Marcus, first-love Justin, the frenemies Alex and Jessica, the helpless school counselor Mr.Porter and who-can-forget the inhuman Bryce. The gripping story took a turn for the worse when Clay recorded the 14th and the final tape – the one where the perpetrator owns up for his wrongdoing unaware of the consequences he is about to face.

Hannah gave Life multiple chances to prove her wrong, but it proved her time and time again that her absence was worth more than her presence. The walls between Life and Death are unsurmountable and daunting. But it took her just 12 months for cracks to develop and the wall to finally collapse. Just like an eraser rubbing the faint line drawn on paper, the blade ran with similar ease across the vein.

No matter how hard she tried to resolve, fight, confront or run away from the issues, the rut continued. Her words aptly summarized the need for all of us to work on the way we build our relationships.

Some of you cared, but none of you cared enough. And neither did I.

Takeaways –

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram) has made us a society of stalkers. On most occasions, it provides fodder for discussion. However, one can’t deny the serious repercussions caused when humans turn into devils and rattle the lives of the innocent ones.
  • Irony of college-life – “Popular kids are always mean. That’s how they get popular!”
  • Everybody wants to talk nobody wants to do anything. It reminds me of the age-old adage – “After all is said and done, a lot is said but very little gets done.”
  • It takes a tragedy to remind us of the importance of safety. Unfortunately, in this competitive rapid-fire world, the news gets stale quicker than food. Rape begets rape. Tragedy begets another tragedy. It’s an endless whirlwind after-all.
  • Casualties, Condemnation, Legislation, Casualties – the vicious circle is inescapable. Lives after lives, stories over stories – they keep on piling. Yet, the history gets rewritten again and again.

Sandhan valley – O really?

Sandhan valley – O really?


Day 1 : 14/01/2017

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Kasara via train 

We boarded the train at midnight. It was a perfect time for us trekkers to socialize and to know each other. One of the major highlights of the trek for me personally – Diversity.

Location-wise – Not just from Mumbai Suburbs, Vashi, to Gujarat.

Profession-wise – Police officer, Chartered Accountant, students pursuing Architecture, Law, Computer Science, Psychology, Literature.

All in all, the start to the trek itself was refreshing, away from the mundane life, peers and social circle.

Kasara station – Samrad village via Jeep 

3 AM ride in the Jeep, navigating the Ghats and light-less roads was some thrill!

I was introduced to Anup, one of our specially-abled friends. What ensued was – 2 days of epic banter! Anup was a livewire. Fully expressive, continuously pumped up and his gestures and emotions did the talking. We couldn’t even recognize the difference between us and them. Interactions with Anup and Yadnesh made me realize –

“To such people, even if you give them 1000 reasons to cry, they’ll show you the one reason to smile and be happy about”


Base village – Sandhan Valley 8:30

Walking towards the Sandhan valley – we were briefed by Vitthal Awari sir (Trek Instructor) about the course of action and few instructions.

At first, it was all about setting the right foot on the right stone with right position. Simplest way forward was to follow the immediate person ahead of you. However the real fun was to explore on your own.

Stones.. at times.. play real good tricks..

What might look as an easy firm landing ends up miserably bad due to wrong judgement. That error gets introduced either due to soil beneath causing it to slip or due to awkward landing of foot.

“Plant your foot and plant it well..No half measures..”

After the initial hiccups, it was about time we got another adventure. And bamm.. we had this water body in front of us between the valley. The only way to navigate through it was through the water body.

As is the case with any mirage or huge mountain – “Appearances are mighty deceptive!”

What we guaged as knee deep water ended up till our throats. Imagine what happens to 5feet ladies n gentlemen! Deplorable sight!

And it’s not just your 60 kg. body that has to be transported alone, you have your luggage to cater to as well!

Rucksack which for most times is a savior turns into an obstacle and hindrance!


Maintaining balance in the water, being aware of the biting stones underneath your feet, and firmly holding your bag above – It was all worth the effort. As we reached the middle portion, we were embraced by a spectacular view. Nature at its best! As we started the descent, I got to do rappelling not once but 3 times.

To top it off I was dispatched as the first one to do from our group!

Harness and ropes.. Certainly felt like – Living the Life on edge!

(Farfetching it..although at first it looks daunting .. it’s absolutely safe in truth )


“Keep your knees straight!”

“Stand firm!”

“Don’t push yourself towards the rock!”

“Hold the rope with left hand and use the right one to push yourself down!”

Chants kept ringing. Drama continued till 5 in the evening as we finally bid adieu to the rocks and the valley.

Camping – Night stay

Upon reaching the campsite, we felt a sense of joy and triumph of safely tackling the challenges presented to us by Mother Nature. Just like after a mammoth 200 run stand by a test cricket batsman, we enjoyed nice chilled ice bath. A small pond nearby was our makeshift – bathtub. We swam to our hearts content (only 15 minutes thanks to super exhaustion and dehydration). Post the super relaxing swim, we built our own tents and had early dinner (7pm). After which, we sang to our hearts content in the company of bonfire. Dozed off to sleep by 9:30pm. (A rarity I must admit)

Day 2: 15/01/2017

Sandhan Valley Campsite – Asangaon – Dadar

Woke up to the unpleasant chattering caused by alarms and began our last lap.

One of our fellow trekkers – super-experienced Police Inspector – Mr.Kadam gave all of us handy tips and instructions for Safety and Security. For e.g. – How to save yourself from Thieves, Robbers, troublesome Rickshaw/Taxi drivers? Especially for women – Using dupatta, Holding the collar to choke him, Using kitchenware for saving your own lives, etc.


From the camping site we walked through forests and barren land for 3 hours to reach a village near Asangaon. Staple diet – Rice bhakari, mix vegetable (brinjal,potato,beans). Cherry on the cake moment – playing cricket with young Turks for good chunk of an hour! As we left the village in a jeep to reach Asangaon station, our songs continued while we relived all the amazing moments throughout the trek.

The banter triggered on most occasions by Anup and Yadnesh

The tussle for winning coveted prize Ladoos

And most importantly Scenic beauty of Sandhan Valley..

Difficulty level – Moderate


  1. Follow the leader
  2. Better to go through a trekking group (especially if you are a novice)
  3. Carry Light-weight rucksack with Water-bottle, Sweater, Torch


  1. Get high (already its taxing your body a lot)
  2. Smoke in the valley (It destroys the sanctity of place, nature besides unsettling the honey bees tormenting the other fellow trekkers)
  3. For God’s sake litter that abode
  4. Expect network / service

Special thanks to Him Sahyadri Trekkers.

To the Good times! To one hell of a trek!



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