Thursday, March 31, 2011

the beauty of little things...

As we were driving around the city the first day to get a glimpse of Mumbai we stopped now and then to take some pictures, on the boardwalk close to Chowpatty beach Jasmine found this beautiful flower.

Apart from Juhu beach in the suburbs (more about that later), Chowpatty is Mumbai's most famous beach. During the day, it is the hangout of the happily unemployed who snooze under the shade of its stunted trees. But in the evening the atmosphere is more like a carnival: kids screaming on Ferris wheels or taking pony rides, wayside astrologers making a quick buck, monkey shows, and even the odd self -styled gymnast who will demonstrate amazing yogic postures for a small fee. At one end is a row of bhelpuri shops hawking Mumbai's most popular snack: crisp puffed rice and semolina doused in pungent chutneys, all scooped up with a flat, fried puri. You might even catch a film shoot or a street play. In short, for most tourists Chowpatty is where the action is.

Funny, when I told Charu that I wanted to see Juhu and Chowpatty beach she was looking like me if she saw water burning! Why would I want to go to that dirty beach she asked me? But it wasn't for the water that I wanted to go... I mean I know there are more beautiful beaches in India, but I wanted to see the action and the things I had read about these 2 famous beaches, not go and swim there! So one night we went to Juhu, Chowpatty I had seen already a few times by driving by during the day, and if you have seen one you have seen both!

But more about Juhu later...

Ciao, M xx

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Life in Mumbai

My first four days in India I stayed with my friends in Mumbai in this gorgeous residential skyscraper, which is for the moment the tallest skyscraper of India with 60 floors, located at sea front in Tardeo, South Mumbai. The building is built on a slum land, which was acquired by the builders using re-development models which include providing free land and rehabilitation to slum dwellers in exchange for rights for property development.

So when you read this about my temporary 'house' for my time being in Mumbai I didn't really connect with the fact that yes indeed this beautiful skyscraper that is hyper modern, luxurious and glam and then next door is a slum, can you believe it??

Next door... like immediately next door? YES! That is Mumbai, rich and poor NEXT to each other. It was the first time I kind of experienced it so in my face!!

Here some pictures to prove it... the view from the balcony on the 35rd floor... you don't see really what is happening below at your door step from this high up, but normal slum life is there.

A view of the Arabian sea, Mahalaxmi Racecourse and the exclusive Willingdon Sports Club...

And then I looked down... and there it is... a slum!

So I ventured out one day, just WALKED outside 'my' building and met some kids on the streets who were actually and literally MY neighbors.

These kids were so cute, the biggest boy with the stick actually asked me to take a photo of them and he was posing real macho :-)

A happy guy making his living by shining shoes...

A young mother with her small child sitting on the side of the road..

So when you drive out of the parking the first street you hit is this corner, immediately outside you are in the middle of everything, shops, street stalls, hundreds of cars and people walking around.

A little side street just before you enter 'our' parking garage. So as you can see it is really mixed life, and this is all over Mumbai. Delhi is a bit different, you will have more certain areas. But I kinda like this! This is real life, people of all walks of life should be together! But I know that most people who are not from India would have a hard time living like this and being confronted with the poorer side of life, but you know what... it makes you much more compassionate and understanding!

With my pictures I hope to give you a real look into Mumbai and Delhi. So the good, the bad, the ugly but also the beauty of the simple things! I hope you can appreciate...

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To the market of Bhaji Galli (part 2) ~ भाजी गल्ली

Part of the fun of going to a market is the haggling and negotiation with the vendors. It's all done in a friendly matter and everybody should feel happy at the end of the sale. Then your job is well done...

Although I was not in a good negotiation deal here, since I was as 'exotic' as broccoli is at this market, you wouldn't see much of us both! So for me negotiation was out of the question... I always got the 'best price for you madam!'... yeah yeah for sure!! LOL at least double or triple the price they offered me. But luckily my friend Charu did all the shopping I was just stared at while I took my pictures... LOL

You'll see all kinds of stuff... chillies & bikes :-)

A little or should I say pretty hefty entrepreneur selling her veggies...

Shops on the side selling everything under the sun...

What is nice about this market for the local people is that they also deliver their goods directly to your home... but what fun is that? At least I would NOT go for this option, but I can imagine when you work full-time but still like the fresh produce, this is a wonderful service! And I must say, India gives good service!! (see my other post about this market here)

And then almost at the end of the market, I peeked into a little side street and saw this scene happening... doing some laundry.. how neat!

I visited another market, which was even more crowded and chaotic, but more about that later....

Today I have to host a book club meeting and a lunch for 10 gals at my house, so work to do! And guess what I am not making an Indian lunch but a THAI! I have to practice a bit more on the Indian first...

Have a Terrific Tuesday!
Mireille xoxo

Monday, March 28, 2011

To the market of Bhaji Galli (part 1) ~ भाजी गल्ली

For me markets in countries abroad are HEAVEN! I just love love markets!! The vibrant colors of all the fruit and veggies stalled out, the spices, but also the fabrics and other paraphernalia that is stalled out everywhere just fascinates me. But not only that it is also the people who visits and work at the markets. Wonderful combination of faces, clothing, behavior... I could just sit on the side and watch this life going by and clicking away with my camera.

But I didn't do that on this trip! I had planned to book a tour with Masala Trails who would take you to a fruit and veggie market called: Bhaji Galli on Grant Road that started in 1930 and grew bigger ever since. They would guide you around and you would learn all about the different spices and herbs that is used in Indian cooking with a lunch later to learn more about certain street foods. But of course my friend Charu said that is exactly the market SHE goes to for her fresh fruit and veggies every week, so we did this tour on our own!

The girls weren't too happy with this outing, because what fun is it for an 8-year old to go to a market in this heat and because of me taking to many pictures it took even longer than normal.... poor girls!! But we bought them some henna stickers for their hands... which made them happy :-)

About 300 vendors are here, some just one person who sells fresh but small quantities of pumpkins, village grown aubergines, flowers, lemons, snake gourd, lemongrass, ‘alu’or colacasia leaves, bitter gourd, kelful or banana flower. But also more continental vegetables like basil, thyme, celery, parsley, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, bell peppers, pak choy, avocados, cherry tomatoes, baby corn, leek and mushrooms.

This lady is just selling seeds and sprouts... not too happy that I am taking a picture, or maybe this is her daily look ;-)

I was wondering if these guys are competitors or just one shop divided in 2 halves?? They seem to be at peace with each other!

Everything looks so green and fresh!

Remember I told you about the religion of Jain? Well these folks don't eat root veggies, garlic and onions, so these are all sold at separate stalls, to not offend these people. How considerate!

Love this older lady in her colorful sari!

Not only fruit and veggies are sold here, also kitchen supplies, fabrics and all kinds of stuff...

More to come of this wonderful market...

So tell me, do you like markets, or do you rather avoid these busy and sometimes smelly places when you travel abroad?

Have a Magnificent Monday!
Mireille xx

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baba Amichand Jain Temple

Mumbaikars tend to get busy in their demanding schedules of life, but when it comes to religion, people appear to be highly devout. Religion plays an important role in the lives of people in Mumbai. Like any other part of India, Hinduism is the major religion observed by most of the residents of Bombay. Apart from Hinduism, the other religions followed here are Islam, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

So time to see some temples and after the Holi festival the 3 of us plus my friends Sucharu and Kavita visited a Jain temple.
Jain temples are generally the prettiest in India, and this one, officially called the Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple, is arguably the prettiest temple in Mumbai.

Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes pacifism and a path of non-violence towards all living beings in thought and practice.

Jains are strict vegetarians. They avoid eating root vegetables in general, as cutting root from a plant kills it unlike other parts of the plant (leaf, fruit, seed etc). Followers of Jain dharma eat before the night falls. They filter water regularly so as to remove any small insects that may be present and boil the water prior to consumption.

A very interesting religion, another thing that struck me was... that they eat less than one's normal diet, maybe this is what I have to do!! Convert to Jainism to finally loose the pounds I want... LOL

Mumbai has one the largest populations of Jains among all the cities in India so there are numerous Jain temples in the city where the best known is the Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple built in 1904. And this is the one we went to!

The temple is dedicated to Lord Adishwar, the first of 24 Jain Tirthankaras of the current era. The temple is presently used by thousands of devotees of the Jain religion for their daily worship.

The entrance is artistically sculptured giving the whole place an aesthetic richness. Two elephants brilliantly made out of stone are placed on both the sides of the main gate in the Jain Temple. The temple is adorned with colorful paintings, which have been painted very diligently. It is an absolute pleasure to observe and enjoy these paintings. And when you look at this beautiful ceiling, it was just magnificent! It portrayed a painted zodiac.

It was such a peaceful moment to be there, so serene, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this big city with 17 million people... you would have no clue by being there!

And just next door the hectic is all around it, a vendor selling balloons... that fascinates me about such a big city, there are always these little corners of heaven, peace and quietness, and next to it the day-to-day life goes on. How wonderful!!

Tomorrow my tour of the markets... love, love, loved it! Although not the girls... they thought it was boooring!! LOL

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Holi in Mumbai

The first full day in Mumbai was the Holi celebration. So immediately we were full in swing and in party mode! Holi (होली), is a spring religious festival celebrated by Hindus. And celebrated by people throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other on the streets.

After waking up and having a breakfast of masala egg scramble (Egg Bhurji) and a fried paratha (Indian flat bread), some fruit and lassi we went off to drive around the city a bit to get familiarized. Since it was the Holi festival everybody was off and it was so quite on the streets that it was the BEST day to drive around, now there were almost no other cars on the streets and certainly NO traffic jams, which are normally a fact of life in Mumbai!!

These are the colored powders people put each other on the face and wish each other Holi.

An old lady selling the powder on the streets.

This is a bit blurry because I was sitting in the car and these boys drove by on the motorbike having fun with Holi.

After that we went to my friend Kavita's house to have a Holi celebration, some drinks, more great food and we had a special drink that they make here in India for Holi, it is called Bhang Thandai. Bhaang is prepared by grounding the buds and leaves of Cannabis using a mortar and pestle into a green paste. It is mixed with milk, ghee, and spices to prepare a nutritious, refreshing drink known as Thandai, which is intoxicating in nature. So I decided to drink just one glass and see what kind of effect it had on me...

OK I am maybe from Holland where the marihuana is legal, but that doesn't mean that I use it all the time!! Actually I only have tried it once in my life and that was in the USA! (But if you like the recipe of this drink, click HERE)

After the drinks we had a scrumptious meal with a minced meat dish (Kheema Mutter), Red bean curry (Rajma), Pakodi Raita with corn, chicken tikka and an Indian salad with tomato, cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Yum Yum.

Afterwards we had coffee and tea with special sweets that are typically eaten with Holi, like kalakand, pedas plain and saffron, gulab jamun, kaju burfi.

After this huge lunch we still found time to eat out in a fancy fish restaurant here in the City called: Gajalee. Hey... I told you this would be a trip all about food LOL!

We had the famous Bombay Duck, a very light fresh fried fish ~ yes NO duck! although it is called that way, fish tikka, clams koshimbira, crab masala, roti, ghavni, dosa amboli, prawn butter pepper garlic. Just seafood.... but then Indian style!!

So all in all a great first day in Mumbai!!
More to follow,

Come into my house...

Sawubona, Unjani? (= Hello, How are you?) in Zulu language...

My name is Themba, do you like to visit my house, here in Soweto?

This is my house...

And this is my father and grandfather, we all live together with my mom and my bigger brother.

This is where we get the water for our cooking, drinking and washing up....

We boil the water first for tea or coffee...

Our favorite meal is Pap with gravy or tomato sauce....

After dinner we have to do the dishes...

Hope you liked the tour around the house!

Hamba Kahle = Goodbye!

Themba... for Mireille


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