Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wearing a sari to go to a wedding

Last Saturday evening I went to a wedding.  This was an Indian wedding and so everyone here persuaded me that I should dress up and go in a sari.  One of my colleagues took me sari shopping on Monday evening after school.  We went to Dadar where there are lots of sari shops and after trying several and insisting that I wanted a "dark colour" and "not too much bling" I ended up with one that I loved.  The next step was to have a blouse made (which happened at this little hole in the wall shop) and get a petticoat to tuck the sari into.

On Saturday my lovely friend Heeru came over and dressed me in the sari.  Then we had to get into (and out of) a taxi to get to the wedding.  After that I had to dance the night away!  All I had was one pin on the shoulder holding the pallu in place.  I was terrified that I was trip over the pleats at the front, or that I would step on the front and pull the whole thing off!  Despite this I loved wearing my first sari - it made me feel like a green goddess!

Jenny's wedding was really lovely and the reception was HUGE!  For my next wedding I want to go to a very traditional Hindu one.  I wonder who I know who can be persuaded to get married next?

Heritage Walk: Churchgate Station to Malabar Hill

On Sunday, Lex, Sharon and I set off for another of the Mumbai Heritage Walks.  This walk started at Churchgate Station and our first stop was the Oval Maidan.  I think this is where some of the Test Matches are played and the amazing thing about this was that it was very easy to simply walk in and watch a bit of cricket.   The area is surrounded by Art Deco buildings from the 1930s such as the Eros Cinema.

The Western Railway Headquarters by Churchgate Station.

From the Oval Maidan we could see the Rajabai Clock Tower of Mumbai University.  It used to chime "Rule Britannia" and "God Save the Queen" at one time (obviously this was changed after the Brits left!). The tower houses the university library and used to be the tallest building in Mumbai.

The Eros Cinema complex was built in 1938 to replicate the cinema halls of London.  From the Oval Maidan we walked along the Veer Nariman Road towards Marine Drive.  This road was lined with interesting Art Deco buildings and used to be called the Miami of Mumbai.

The Hotel Ambassador used to have a revolving restaurant at the top called Pearl of the Orient. We tried to go in, but found it was closed so we stopped for a coffee break at Gaylord's Restaurant - with its delicious bakery and garden coffee shop with white colonial furniture.

This place used to be called Jazz by the Bay where you could hear live jazz music every night, then they started playing different music and called it Not Just Jazz by the Bay. Now it's transformed itself into a Pizza place called Pizza by the Bay.

Once we reached the end of Veer Nariman Road we walked the whole way along Marine Drive.  At the top end of Marine Drive is Chowpatty Beach. At night the whole of Marine Drive is full of neon lights which forms a spectacular view known as the Queen's Necklace.

At the end of Marine Drive we climbed up Malabar Hill to the Hanging Gardens. This is the view looking back along Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The village behind our apartment

Earlier this year I did an online photography course.  One of the modules of this course was documentary photography.    I had no idea how the local people would react to me taking photos of them, but I first started taking photos in the village behind my apartment (I'm sure this village has a name but nobody has been able to tell me what it is called.  Rickshaw drivers don't seem to know it and when I direct them through here on the way home they can't believe that I live right next to this village).

Village restaurant
Local barber shop

The greengrocer

The assignment called for black and white photography, but to me this didn't really capture the essence of this village.  The people's lives are vibrant and colourful.  I think the colour photos show this much better.

The general store

Another barber - I found this photo quite poignant - he seemed sad to have no customers
The local delivery man - he comes round selling things.  The children just out of school were running along behind his bike.  

Republic Day

This rangoli welcomed us to the courtyard this morning

One of my neighbours called round last week to invite me to the flag raising ceremony for Indian Republic Day.  We met all the other tenants in our apartment complex in one of the courtyard gardens.  The dress code was orange, white and green, the colours of the Indian flag.  Lex and I made a point of trying to dress in these colours too (I actually wore an outfit made out of material given to me by our housekeeper in Thailand and then just draped a green scarf over the top).

The ceremony started with the national anthem, followed by the raising of the flag by the youngest and oldest members of the apartment community.  There was Indian music and dancing and a fancy dress parade for the children.

This little boy was Lord Krishna

This baby was dressed as a sunflower
This baby was dressed as a bumble bee

Just another Saturday night in Bandra

Last week something amazing happened.  While I've been writing this blog for friends and family, so they can keep track of what we are up to in India, I got contacted by someone else who had found my blog - or more to the point had found one of the photos on my blog and wanted to know where I had taken it.  He also offered me some more suggestions for places to go and take photos.  I followed up on the first suggestion last Saturday.  Lex and I had to go to Bandra anyway, so we decided we'd "discover" Zig Zag Road.  We walked up it, then down the other side of Pali Hill until we got to the beach.  These are the photos we took.

My camera was on "Intelligent Auto" for taking the photos above.  In fact I think they have turned out more orange simply because of taking the photo straight into the sun, which has caused the rest of the photo to become a silhouette.  Contrast this with the photo below, as the sun was just sinking below the horizon.  I found the colours of this fascinating.  I always assumed the brighest colours would be around the sun itself and that higher up the sky would be turning darker - but look at what actually happened!

We have lots of suggestions for other places to go to take photos now too.  We'll be back in Bandra again soon.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sankranti - a kite flying festival

Smita told me that I'd missed this (she is my cultural guru who tells me about all the Indian festivals).  The festival of Sankranti is when the skies over cities in Maharashtra fill with kites from before dawn until well after dark. The festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer. On what is usually a bright warm sunny day with brisk breezes to lift the kites, everyone takes to the rooftops and roadways to fly kites and compete with their neighbors.  I guess I will have to wait until next year to get photos of this!