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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

In dedication to the motherland

So i'm heading back to India on the weekend - a couple-a-days in Mumbai and then with some friends we're heading to Hyderabad for our friends' wedding - should be really good fun! If you havn't seen India, you definately should. Its a place that can change you, for the better. Oh and you should read Shantaram by Gregory Roberts before you go - BEST-BOOK-EVER in my humble opinion. You'll know why after you read it. Do not be swayed by the size of this book.

India can humble the hardest of hearts. I'm not saying this because im ethnically Indian either. Theres an aura about the place and it wraps its aura-ed blanket around you as soon as you step out of the plane. People will stare at you - hell people stare at me and im brown. But its a good natured stare, they just havn't mastered how to not make you feel somewhat scared by their looks. What humbled me is the poverty. You can't get away from it, its all around from the minute you step outside. Poor children will follow you to your taxi asking for a few rupees. Apparently a few rupees 'will do'. Thats pennies, and I think its pathetic. Even if the cost of living is substantially cheaper. A lot of these people were just born unlucky, born well below the poverty threshold as the World Bank calls it and sit in absolute poverty. According to the Mumbai Wikipedia page, "62% of the population of Mumbai live in slums, which cover only 6% of the city's land". One of the slums has over a million people living in it. Scary. I heard when I was out there (for an idea of scale); that an elderly man was travelling for 2 or 3 hours to deliver around 40 samosas only to travel back to home with £2 in his pocket. With that £2 he would bless you with all his love.

I feel bad because after I came back to London I forgot about it, and i'm only remembering it because i'm going back. These are things that non-residing indians would notice by the way.

Anyway, thats the sad part!

Its a strange old place. Its normal to see people walking around in pyjamas. Its normal to see people sitting on trains (moving trains). Its normal to see a totally unecessary job filled by somebody (its a billion people after all). We went into a carpark back in November, and you know how you press the little green button to collect your ticket to allow the barriers to open? Right well theres a guy who sits between your car and the ticket machine to do that for you. Nice!

People are nice. People respect you. People respect each other out there. They'll go out of their way to show it too. Money helps :-) ... but to be honest its mostly because they have good hearts. On that money point, officials are corrupt, big time. Slip him a 50 (80 pence) and he'll turn his head as quickly as he appeared.

What I really love is their lingo though. Part of their unspoken lingo is of course the Indian head wag. I found this great insight into this phenomenon on this blog. For a whole new advanced level of head bobbling, check out this young dancer.
Indians say things like:
  1. TP ('time pass')
  2. Freak out
  3. Haa I went there today ONLY
  4. That movie was ULTIMATE (followed by the indian head bobble)
  5. Arey yaar, Kareena Kapoor acted TOO GOOD!
and I just love it!

People go nuts about cricket. I remember a grassy area near Marine Drive which had maybe 10 games going on at the same time! It was a very wtf kind-of-thing to look at, but was great. Total passion and highly efficient use of space! If there were two games going on in a London park in that amount of space all hell would break loose! Which made me think of this. Over a billion people live here, can you imagine if a billion people were let loose in the US. Do you think they would get along? I don't know..

Youngsters go to SO many clubs on a night out. Not like 3 or 4. Not like 4 or 5. Often more! They'll go 10 minutes to Shiro, or maybe 20 minutes having a drink and socialising at Hard Rock, then they'll drive across Mumbai to see more places just to add it to their repertoi of visited clubs that night! Its hilarious, and great fun. In under a couple of hours we probably managed to see 7 or 8 places. Mind you, going through red lights (a normality of course) helps get things done quicker. In fact after a certain time in Mumbai, the traffic lights have this continuous blink. That means if you want to go, go!! The only rules are, there are no rules! ha!

India is a great place. Even crossing the road is an adventure and you could write a book on tactics! Will twitter when I get there :-)

Man chilling out.

Think about it

Credit to Jessica Hady's fab blog for these. Its all common sense in the end, but its something we'd never have the ability to bring to focus or project to others.

There is this tingly feeling you get when a seemingly nice person smiles at you for no apparent reason! For that very moment, you think there is hope after all.

Humanity post here

It's not what you know, its who you know ;-). Link

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Chowpatty Ferris Wheel

Very strange! Chowpatty beach in mumbai has people running a Ferris wheel (no motor!). It works with guys climbing on top of the wheel, then jumping on the next round! Very w-t-f

Timeless 2009 by the LSE | Bollywood | Unofficial

Great performance guys!

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