Tag Archives: mumbai

India 2014: Alterations & The Customer

This is my second post related to the same location but with different photos.

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!

Alterations

The Customer

 

Photos taken in Colaba, Maharashtra, India.

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: 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!

Tailor-Made
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).

image

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.

Juhu-Mornings

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.

Nariman-Point

India 2014: Hotel Sea Princess Lobby

We stayed at Sea Princess Hotel (Juhu Beach) for two nights before heading down South. The easiest way to describe the hotel is to paste my Trip Advisor review below.

“This hotel was the best hotel that we stayed at. It was great to be on the beach and have easy access at sunrise and sunset. Also, the pool area was a great place to relax, have a swim, eat a meal and enjoy a sundowner. The free Wi-Fi, spacious eating area, size of the hotel, receptiveness of all the staff, modernisation and many other factors put Sea Princess at the top of the list. I have not even mentioned the grand breakfast and superb choice of things to eat. Prior to booking our stay, we noticed that other guests had complained about the lengthy checkout time. The reality is that to avoid complications at a later time, it is best that the hotel staff check the room while you are still there to answer or defend anything that may arise, and more importantly to still pack any property you may have inadvertently left in the room. I sincerely recommend this hotel for price and location when one wishes to stay in Juhu Beach. Just remember to arrive at reception a little earlier for checkout to give the hotel staff time to do the necessary tasks. To simply arrive at a time when many other guests also want to check out in a few minutes will certainly cause you unnecessary heartache, and this goes for any well intentioned establishment that seeks to look after its own interests as well as their customers. Please keep up with the free Wi-Fi as we stayed at another hotel in Colaba on our return trip from down south and their charging for Wi-Fi, cramped grounds and lack of a pool puts them way under your hotel, although they were a little cheaper”.

The inserted photo was taken one evening in the lobby of the Sea Princess. I like it because it was a “lazy photo” (I was waiting in the lobby and to pass some time thought I would just “point & shoot” from where I was slouched on the settee. No flash was attached so I just raised the ISO to 3200 (got to love my Canon 6D) – F4 (not much DOF but needed light) and 1/50 sec. It’s not the sharpest photo on the block but is a great reminder of our happy stay (and free Wi-Fi in the lobby and hotel rooms – two routers).

Sea Princess Mumbai