Tag Archives: Bombay

India 2014: Two Faces of India

It’s been two months since we returned from India and the last five weeks or more have seen very little of the multiple photos that I took. I suppose what sparked my interest on Thursday, 12 February 2015 was a chat I had was a local/South African Indian businessman who was off to Dubai and Malaysia. I asked him if he had ever been to India and was sure I knew the answer before he gave it. He replied in the negative confirming my suspicions.

I asked him why he had never visited India, the country of his roots, and he told me what a number of other local persons have told me “It is very dirty and poverty stricken isn’t it?” Once again I went to great lengths to explain all sides of the coin as I know best from having visited India on three occasions during the past six years or so.

The first photo that caught my eye, one I have previously presented, was taken at night in Colaba outside Leopold Café. I named this photo “Blue Nights”. In this photo a mother or perhaps grandmother is seen holding a young child and asking for money.

On two occasions whilst walking on the streets during the day, we were approached by a mother with a young child who pointed at a nearby store and tried to convince us that she did not want money but baby food from the store. She followed us into the store and the shop owner even confirmed her story to be true.

Blue Nights

 

We suspected that this was a ploy to relieve us of our money, a portion of which would be returned to the mother once we left the shop and the shop owner would keep his cut. Of course our suspicions could be very wrong.

The second photo that grabbed my attention the next evening was taken early morning shortly after sunrise on the side of a canal on the Kerala Backwaters.

The green rice fields of prominent in the photo and the large long backwater canal is out of the picture, raised a metre or two above the rice field, to the left.

Kerala Dawn

The two photographs are collectively called “Two Faces of India”, but should perhaps be called two of many faces of India.

India 2014: Gateway of India

I had two sunrise shoots at Gateway of India, the first being uneventful insofar as unwarranted attention goes. The light was beautiful but not what I am used to. The second shoot was spent explaining to an officer the necessity of using a tripod to shoot long exposure stills. During the day there are many “resident” photographers present taking photos of tourists with the Gateway as a background. The perimeter and surrounding area is heavily guarded and a section of the Wikipedia article below reveals why.

“The Gateway of India is a monument built during the British Raj in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India. It is located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai and overlooks the Arabian Sea. The structure is a basalt arch, 26 metres (85 feet) high. It lies at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg at the water’s edge in Mumbai Harbour. It was a crude jetty used by the fishing community which was later renovated and used as a landing place for British governors and other prominent people. In earlier times, it would have been the first structure that visitors arriving by boat in Mumbai would have seen. The Gateway has also been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai, and is the city’s top tourist attraction.

The structure was erected to commemorate the landing of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder, when they visited India in 1911. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, the foundation stone for the Gateway of India was laid on 31 March 1911. The final design of George Wittet was sanctioned in 1914 and the construction of the monument was completed in 1924. The Gateway was later the ceremonial entrance to India for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay. It served to allow entry and access to India.

The monument has faced three terror attacks from the beginning of the 21st century; twice in 2003 and it was also the disembarkation point in 2008 when four gunmen attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, there has been a proposal to close all these jetties and replace them with two newer ones to be built near the Bombay Presidency Radio Club nearby. The second and third jetties are the starting point for tours of Elephanta Caves, which is a 50-minute boat ride away by ferry. Other routes from the Gateway include ferry rides to Alibaug and Mandwa; these ferries are said to carry passengers above their certified capacity due to their popularity.

The Gateway of India is a major tourist destination and a popular gathering spot for locals, street vendors and photographers. In 2012, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation moved the “Elephanta Festival of music and dance” from its original location at Elephanta Caves (where it had been celebrated for 23 years) to the Gateway due to the increased capacity offered by the venue. The Gateway can host 2,000 to 2,500 people, whereas Elephanta Caves could host only 700 to 800 people.

A bomb planted in a taxi exploded near the gateway in the 2003. The gateway was also the site of a major bomb-blast in August 2003 and was the disembarkation point of the terrorists participating in the November 2008 terror attacks when four gunmen attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. Public movement in certain areas was restricted after the 2008 attacks”.

Gateway of India (2)

India 2014: Auto Rickshaw

During our time in India it was a case of walking, or hiring a motor vehicle taxi or an auto rickshaw – known by us in Durban as a tuk-tuk. A taxi between point A & B in the city might be as high as say INR 900 / ZAR 166, but you can hire a taxi for 8 hours straight in Mumbai for INR 1200 / ZAR 221. Yes folk, that’s only ZAR 221 to be driven around the city, waited on and given a basic tour (the drivers usually point out all the tourist sites they have been asked to show previously).

At this point I have to introduce Jay Krishnan telephone +91 98 33 272871 of Mumbai who was referred to us by a family member in Durban and fellow photographer in Cape Town; both of whom received top-class assistance from Jay. We had the same experience; what a wonderful chap.

It’s really a case of booking your flight to Mumbai, securing accommodation and then calling Jay to advise him of your flight number / arrival date / time. He or his drivers will fetch and look after you. Whether you want to know about mobile SIM cards, second-hand books or anything else, just ask Jay.

The inserted photo of the auto rickshaw was taken on the main road in Juhu Beach at the entrance of what appeared to be a small slum settlement.

Auto Rickshaw

India 2014: Introduction & Juhu Beach

This was my third trip to India and it once again reminded me of a generally lovely nation that is prepared to work very hard to achieve their goals with big smiles on their faces.

Various Indian persons back home have said to me over the years that they would never visit India as it is dirty and the poverty is too much to bear. Having freshly arrived back with reawakened eyes, I would inform them that parts of India are now much cleaner than parts of South Africa and although their poverty appears to be greater than ours, the percentage level roadside begging is far less and the number of very poor persons doing small menial tasks to make a living is far greater.

Welcome to India!

At the start of our journey to India, we spent two nights in Juhu Beach, Mumbai at a hotel on the edge of the beach. Although we were there after the weekend and at the start of the week, we found many persons frequenting the beach at around sunrise and sunset, something which is not seen to this degree in Durban; most are attending to “evening duties” in preparation for the next day.

I did consider that it is perhaps a case of us having got into a rut and set routine, believing that there is no time to socialise much in good old-fashioned ways after work and before work the next day.

The roads around Juhu Beach are buzzing with traffic in the form of bicycles, rickshaws, private motor vehicles, taxis, tuk-tuks, horses and persons heading in all directions. It is not for the fainthearted as one often has to walk on the roadside next to the pavement and cross the road and unaided by traffic lights or any other forms of control; it’s everyone for themselves!

Many of the roads we travelled on are lined with large billboards advertising jewellery, saris, movies, luxury accommodation and various other things that the average person, who passed us on the road, would have little chance of ever affording.

The inserted photo was taken on the main road running alongside Juhu Beach.

Racing Juhu

“Juhu beach is located 18 kilometres north of the city centre on the shores of Arabian sea stretches for six kilometres right up to Versova. It is a popular tourist attraction throughout the year and is also a sought after destination for shooting films.

The beach generally gets more crowded on weekends with families and courting couples. The food court at its main entrance is famous for its ‘Mumbai style’ street food, notably Bhel puri, Pani Puri and Shev puri. Horse pulled carriages offer joyrides to tourists for a small fee while acrobats, dancing monkeys, cricket matches, toy sellers vie for tourist’s attention.

The beach is among the most popular sites in the city for the annual Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations where thousands of devotees arrive in grand processions, carrying idols of the Lord Ganesh of various sizes, to be immersed in the water at the beach, and unfortunately, beach become very dirty. Juhu Beach is also a popular spot for plane spotting as it is right underneath a departure flight path for Mumbai Airport” ~ Wikipedia

Of course I will return for a fourth visit.