Tag Archives: india

India 2014: The Tailor & Tailor-Made

I could read back on the comments made on previous photographs to see if I mentioned Leopold Café in Colaba, but decided against it and do know that I mention “my favourite restaurant” above.Yes, I loved Leopold Café so much so that I seem to recall visiting it almost every night that we were in Mumbai. But, the inserted photograph is not about the restaurant but a good soul who works in a shop or two away.

“The Tailor” was always game for a little chitchat when I went outside the restaurant for some fresh air and to stretch my legs. He is one of the many hard-working persons I encountered in India and I seem to recall that he only closed shop at around 22:00 hours in the evening.

As you can see, he is not a spring chicken but despite his old age, was full of joy and patience while I took photographs and disturbed his peace.

I promised this gentleman that I would email him some of the photographs I took and felt a little guilty this morning knowing that I had not yet kept my promise. As I type this paragraph, it is before 10:00 hours in the morning at around which time my email to Filippo Boutique will be flying out of South Africa towards Mumbai at electronic speed!

The Tailor

Colaba, Maharashtra, India.


India 2014: The Movies

We are still in Dharavi (Mumbai) with the next inserted photo which was taken outside the local cinema. When walking past we asked our guide as to the goings-on inside.

We were advised that the entrance fee is Rs.10 which is an amazing R 1.75 (0.158434 USD)!!!

Okay, it’s not big screen and the movies are apparently shown on a large LCD TV. Anyway, the cinema appears to have a ventilation fan and black dark curtain to keep the light out.

The Movies

India 2014: Day on the Run

It was one of our days in Mumbai that I pulled a fast one and ask the ladies if they wanted to go shopping the entire day and not be disturbed; they replied in the positive and were very excited. However, there were two rules: use your own money and I’m not joining you.

I set off on foot to explore the length and breadth of Colaba armed with my Canon 6D. We walked passed chaps selling books on the pavement and I made a mental note to return the next day (incidentally I did and purchased three Jack Reacher books secondhand for about ZAR 20 each).

My mission was to go to Camera Gulley, a small area littered with many camera shops. I found it but kept my money for Orms (orms.co.za) back home: nothing really grabbed me. However, some of the shops had really ancient cameras hanging in the window on display.

After that it was Bel Puri from a very busy vendor on the side of the road. My attention was drawn to this vendor as I witnessed students trying to climb over each other to get a dish. I stood up against a wall and ate my lunch trying hard to not drop curry gravy onto my camera.

I then trundled off for coffee at the nearby Starbucks where I ate up the free WiFi and drank a cup of coffee. On the way home I met up with the gentleman in the inserted photo. Like most persons begging on the road he was friendly after a small donation and fully supported our impromptu photo shoot.

This is the first post from my Lenovo tablet, a present that I bought for myself. It has proved super useful in getting me reading books again (free online reader).


India 2014: Anjuna Beach

Wikipedia: “Anjuna ([ɦɔɳzuɳẽ]) is a village in Goa, one of the twelve Brahmin comunidades of Bardez. Its church, St. Michael’s Church, Anjuna, founded in 1595, is dedicated to S. Miguel, and celebrates the feasts of S. Miguel (September 29) and Nossa Senhora Advogada (second week of January). There are three large chapels in the parish: the one to S. Antonio (Praias), to Nossa Senhora de Saude (Mazalvaddo), and to Nossa Senhora de Piedade (Grande Chinvar). The chapel at Vagator became the church of the new parish of Vagator, dedicated to S. Antonio, in the twentieth century. Anjuna is world famous for its trance parties held on the beach during the tourist season. Anjuna also hosts the famous flea market (Every Wednesday) wherein you can purchase many things, ranging from fruits to jewellery, clothes and electronic devices”.

There are a number of beach shacks or shack hotels spread along the beach where one can go to relax, party, eat, socialize and so on. During the day it’s as good as this and better – lie on a deck chair, under an umbrella, five metres or more away from the calm ocean (Arabian Sea). Order an ice cold Kingfisher beer and spicy chicken tikka with roti. Read a book and fall asleep while having a full body massage for just under ZAR 100. At night some of the shacks have live music and DJ’s spinning tunes.

My favourite shack at night is Guru Bar. The best place to stay for me has always been Henmil Holiday Homes.

Nothing beats sitting in Guru Bar sipping on ale listening to mellow tunes while the sun slowly goes down. The inserted photo was taken on the rocks in front of Guru Bar.

Anjuna Sunset

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: Dream Big

The inserted photo was first called “Future CEO” but I changed it to “Dream Big”. This little chap, not with all his teeth yet, was daydreaming on the side of the road in Dharavi. Perhaps he was contemplating which business on the street he wants to own one day or which movie he will star in.

I’ve always believed the Pakistani chaps in South Africa to be industrious with barber shops, mobile telephone repair centres, tikka & roti stalls that are open late and offer superb deals, but they seriously need to stand aside for the local Mumbai gents.

I’m no economist so I had to do a little research.

World Affairs (Gordon Chang) recently wrote:

We are headed to “a world-turned-upside-down moment,” which could come as early as 2016. “That’s when,” Businessweek tells us, “India, always the laggard, may pull ahead of China and become the fastest-growing of Asia’s giants.” Rajeev Malik, an economist with the firm CLSA, thinks that, given the current trends, 2016 will be “a big kicker” year. He predicts 7.2 percent growth then. He forecasts China’s will be at 7.1 percent. Move over, China. In a decade, India could have both the world’s biggest population and fastest-growing major economy. Yes, it’s premature, but we can see why Modi talks about our era as “India’s century.”

Dream Big

India 2014: Juhu Mornings

“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

Let me ask you: what is it like to be on Juhu Beach in the morning? Not sure… I’ll show you.

The inserted photo was taken at 08:04 on a Tuesday morning, and no it was not a holiday as far as I know. The plane above was coming into land (not departure as suggested by Wiki). Old, young, couples, singles and groups are seen taking brisk walks. Others sit on the sand and ponder what the day may bring, gossip or chant silent prayers. The beach may not be clean but it’s beautiful.

One thing that I’ve noticed in India on the beaches is that the dogs are very territorial. A pack of say four to six occupy a stretch of beach day in and day out. One or two are “posted” as lookouts while the others go about their business. If a foreign dog is seen approaching along the sand, then the lookout barks and the pack gathers. They don’t attack but bark on the edge of their territory and edge slowly towards the intruder. It is fun to watch because the intruder usually stands his ground for a while and a “barking match” ensues. The intruder always leaves when no quarter is given.


India 2014: Christmas Cheer Dharavi

It is Christmas morning and I am full of cheer. The irritation has passed.

I don’t know whether it was people asking really silly attention seeking questions on some Facebook pages (where they could Google the answer in the time it took them to write their drivel), the seemingly higher percentage of beggars in South Africa compared to Mumbai or Apartheid still being blamed for everything presently wrong in South Africa and up until doomsday, that has irritated me the most in the past two weeks. On the other hand it could just be that I’m becoming a really grumpy old man.

Was it the “converted” beggar at my neighbourhood traffic lights (now selling goods instead of begging) or the joy of the people I passed in Dharavi (large slum in Mumbai) a few weeks back that countered this irritation and strengthened my hope?

I’m not sure but I am very sure that not one person asked us for money when we casually glided around Dharavi. I never saw any beggars but saw loads of smiles, joy and many people getting about their daily business (work and study) with much vigour. On at least three occasions I was invited to take persons’ photos.

Wikipedia advises “Dharavi has an active informal economy in which numerous household enterprises employ many of the slum residents. It exports goods around the world. Leather, textiles and pottery products are among the goods made inside Dharavi by the slum residents. The total annual turnover has been estimated at over US$500 million. Dharavi has a high population density, and as with other worldwide slums, overcrowded. It is mostly low rise structures surrounded by Mumbai city. There is a disagreement if Dharavi is the largest slum in Mumbai. Some sources claim other slums in Mumbai have grown to become larger than Dharavi. Other sources disagree, and rank Dharavi as the largest slum in India.

Dharavi has experienced a long history of epidemics and natural disasters, sometimes with significant loss of lives. The first plague to devastate Dharavi, along with other settlements of Mumbai happened in 1896, when nearly half of the population perished. A series of plagues and other epidemics continued to affect Dharavi, and Mumbai in general, for the next 25 years, with high rates of mortality. Dysentery epidemics have been common throughout the years and explained with the low population density of Dharavi. Other epidemics reported include typhoid, cholera, leprosy, amoebiasis and polio, through recent years. For example, in 1986, a children cholera epidemic was reported, where most patients were residents of Dharavi. Typical patients to arrive in hospitals were in late and critical care condition, and the mortality rates were abnormally high. In recent years, cases of drug resistant tuberculosis have been reported in Dharavi.

Fires and other disasters are common. For example, in January 2013, a fire destroyed many slum properties and caused injuries. In 2005, massive floods caused deaths and extensive property damage.

Given my knowledge of South Africa and particularly Durban some of the facts above do not make sense.

Should Dharavi’s residents rather not be sitting back and only playing the blame game instead of going balls to the wall to do what they can with what they’ve got right where they are?

Or maybe the people are mostly doing what the one resident stated in the National Geographic article link below “You see. The Ganesh is undamaged. This is our talent. We deal with what is.”

Perhaps dealing with “what is” instead of “what should have been” makes the difference.


To end off I read another article by The Guardian which stated “Dharavi, at the centre of Mumbai, is a world in itself, a treasure of skilled labourers that the outside world is largely unaware of. Among the clusters of beehive hutments are about 20,000 small-scale manufacturing units.”


The inserted photo was taken at the foot of the railway bridge leading over the lines into Dharavi where they deal with what is and not what should have been! This is a huge part of my Christmas cheer this morning.

Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas.

#inspiredbydharavi #workhard #dealwithwhatis

Christmas Cheer Dharavi

India 2014: Anyone for ice cream

Ice Cream Man

After a little excitement at home with a sunrise shoot at uShaka with Gb, it’s back to India.

I’ve seen many people criticize the Chinese Fishing nets at Fort Cochin, stating it to be a poor tourist attraction. Well folks, you need to open your eyes to all that surrounds the nets. The promenade alongside the nets is full of interesting people and things – friends, courting couples, dogs, healthy crows, vendors, salesmen, and local folk taking a breather, other travellers and so on.

On the side of the nets are the fishermen with their cast nets struggling in the sea weed and strong currents. My favourite vendors are the ones selling freshly squeezed sugar cane juice or the ice cream man! There are also a variety of ships and boats that come in and out of the channel for your viewing pleasure.

Because of the channel and sea to the front, this is an ideal sunset and sunrise spot as you get the sun coming up over water.

The inserted photo is of the ice cream man who sold us top class frozen Cornetto type ice creams; good man!

Don’t forget where the best place to stay is – Heavenly Homestay,Fortcochin

India 2014: Nariman Point

“Nariman Point is Mumbai’s premier business district and country’s first central business district. It was named after Khursheed Framji Nariman, a Parsi visionary. The area is situated on land reclaimed from the sea. It had the distinction of having the highest commercial real estate rental space in the world in 1995 at $175 per square foot ($1880/m²). Nariman Point hit a new high as a flat sold for a record $8.62 million (USD) on 26 November 2007 [1], at an astonishing $2488 (INR97,842) per square foot. According to the “Office Space Across the World 2012” report by Cushman & Wakefield, Nariman point is the 15th most expensive CBD in the world. The area is situated on the extreme southern tip of Marine Drive. It houses some of India’s premier business headquarters. Nariman point is the 25th most expensive office market in the world” ~ Wikipedia

We visited Nariman in the late afternoon to watch the sun set. Other photographers were there plying their trade and taking photos of themselves and friends.

Chaps selling various foodstuffs were chased away by two serious looking young police ladies who walked like cowboys in a Western movie.

The mood was otherwise very relaxed on the water’s edge where all gathered to watch another day end.