Musing on rain…

Just got back from a couple of days in Delhi – as usual, happy to be back in Bombay. Just being in Bombay makes me feel that all is well with the world (ok, here I push the Worli image and other such disturbing thoughts from my mind, just for a moment, ok). Good to be back home.

And now this post from Annie about what the Delhi drizzle means to her –

Besides, the weather’s too delicious to allow critiques. Or angst.

All you can do is walk in the monsoon drizzle. All you can feel is the damp edges of your skirt brush your toes. All you can think of is that breeze in the balcony. The morning papers are almost an intrusion into an otherwise harmless world…

….

Delhi rains are. Stilling.
Like you want to be very still. Like the world might stop, and gawk at it’s own reflection in a puddle, and brood about how happy it is.

The weather in Delhi is stilling… This is a picture I got back from Delhi – I cannot think of a better word to describe it..

Hard at work
Annie also says, Funny, how it was never like this in Bombay.

Bombay – the rains are lashing.
They bind you, they confine you, they swamp you, they confront you, they rise up in sheets and walls and are nearly an assault on the skin, but they don’t stop you. Strangely, Bombay rains are not ‘stilling’.

True, the rains in Bombay are not stilling. Or relaxing. To me, they are about life and movement and destruction. All at the same time. Like the huge waves crashing on the rocks at Marine Drive.

Somewhat like Bombay itself…

What does the Bombay monsoon mean to you?

Incredible India!

I read today – Tourism ministry hires 15 agencies for Rs 70 cr Incredible India campaign

And remembered what Harini, TV producer, blog mela host and friend told me a few days about why she hates Rajasthan …. the way men just look at you there and say you, aurrrrrrat

And there is another reason I dislike Rajasthan – oh, its a beautiful magical place alright – but that state never fails to amaze and dismay me with its orientation towards foreign tourists… at the exclusion of ‘locals’ (or is the word ‘natives’?)

This happened last October on a holiday in Rajasthan – I had made reservations at a haveli-type-hotel in Jodhpur – because we were travelling with an elderly family friend… I had found this place and booked on the net. We reached in the middle of the night ——-
and many unpleasant hours later, the manager told us that we could leave if we did not like the place – and he said, this is the problem with you Indians… And why – were we creating any nuisance – no, but we were complaining about the fact that the waiters at the restaurant had taken our order and then not served us – at all…

And oh, he was a Rajasthani… not “Indian”, mind you – Rajasthani… And this was in Jodhpur, India.

And the argument started…. And things only got better (in hindsight, things always seem better – because by then you think they are funny…)

The manager continued, if I had known that you were Indians, I would not have given you bookings here… After which of course, there was no point in arguing – what does one say? And as we came out, the auto driver who took us in search of another hotel told us, par aap yahan kaise pahunch gaye? woh loge to sirf firangi ko andar aane dete hain… (how did you reach this place? they allow only foreigners inside…)

Ok, so we didn’t get thrown out of the railway compartment – but then we weren’t in South Africa either… This was India in 2004….

Incredible India alright.

*****
And this is something I had written long ago on my previous blog…

The colours of racism

Have you always, like me, associated racism with ‘white’ ?

Read this very interesting article by Martin Jacques in the Guardian, The Global Hierarchy Of Race.

Racism, he points out, is not the ‘prerogative’ of the whites although they are on top of the pile. In various rungs lower down are the yellows, the browns and various other colours of the spectrum.

A veritable race rainbow ?

The one thing in common is, he points out, is denial as the natural response to any society to insinuations of racism. Nations are never honest about themselves: they are all in varying degrees of denial.

A friend of mine was in Korea recently and has lots of stories of discrimination…. Koreans consider themselves superior to Indians and other South Asians…. basis what, please? You can be called Paki in the UK or jihadi in the US…. But then, why am I talking about the whites ? Closer home, in a country dangerously obsessed with skin tone, you can be called a dark madrasi…

Racism obviously begins at home….

Update : Tarun asks me why I am “afraid” to mention the name of the guesthouse in this post here – as I replied to him, it just didn’t occur to me – and the point was not about this particular guesthouse but the general attitude in the place – some of the localites later told us that there were many such small hotels/guesthouses which catered only to foreigners – no harm in that I guess, except I wish they would mention this clearly in their website / at the time of making reservations. Incidentally and not at all surprisingly, such places ara rated very high in the lonely planets and rough guides of the world – but clearly, we were not the target audience for these guides.

This place is called Haveli Guesthouse and believe me, the place is nowhere like these pictures on their website suggests.

City of hope or despair?

Bombay no longer a city of hope? asked a couple of people at this blog after reading Once was Bombay?. To me, Bombay will always be the city of hope (not so sure about Mumbai though, if you know what I mean)… Where people come to make a living – whether from Bihar to be a coolie at Bombay Central or from UP to drive a taxi or from Gajraula to be a film-star… where between Mahalakshmi and Siddhi Vinayak – and Haji Ali, people believe that the gods ensure they who come to this city rarely go away disappointed….

And here Uma writes about the collapse and decline of the city (with interesting links as usual within the posts – do read End of the Mumbai dream by Samar Halarnkar)….

The city evolves, says Dheepak – meaning the old must make way for the new…. But if this is progress, then leave us alone, I say…

Once was Bombay?

Scene : Juhu at 8 p.m. last friday – self with friend from Bangalore – trying to get a cab. As one cabbie after the other refused to take us – and were rude to top that – (as our destination was fairly close by) – my friend said, what is happening to bombay? I can’t believe this is Bombay!

What is happening to Bombay? This is the city that I have grown to love in the past eight years that I have been working and living here – although I have lived in Bangalore and London in short spells in this while, I have returned to Bombay each time feeling happy to be back “home”…

And now, everything that I held dear about the city (all the myths?), I see being shattered one after the other…

Bombay has always been considered one of the the safest places in India – especially for women – and now, who can point fingers at Delhi any longer?

Power cuts used to be unheard of earlier – and now residential areas in any case swelter in summer with the frequent power shut downs; Bombay says hello darkness to billboards too…

And for me the last straw was when I went to ‘town’ (I live in vashi, alright?) last weekend and found the second hand pavement book shops had all but disappeared. Part of the ‘cleaning up’ of Bombay… ironically these shops were missing earlier too during the Kala Ghoda and Mumbai festival – why, these shops are (sadly, were) as much part of Bombay’s heritage as any British era building

I used to think living in Bombay spoils you for life in any other place… no longer? Slowly for me this city is turning into Mumbai… ‘Morality’ before all else!

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Once was Bombay is the name of a book by Pinky Virani

Private beaches

There is a program on Discovery Travel and Living called Top Secret beaches – well, I just found some of my own – we started with all intentions of driving to Goa – but ended up at other beaches on the way – all of them beautiful and mostly quiet – secluded enough to be your own private top secret one….

The first stop was at Harihareshwar – a small temple town by the sea…

View from the top

Sunrise

Then Ganpatiphule – the sand dunes of Ganpati – crowded just around the temple area but very quiet as you walk away to find your own space… And Ratnagiri – of mangoes and the Burmese connection – if you have read Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace – and spectacular views of the sea crashing against the rocks – from the ruined fort…

Ratnagiri

And the best at last – Tarkarli – Maharashtra tourism’s proud discovery – Tarkarli is fine sand, clear waters, lazing on hammocks, millions of stars on the sky at night – and lots of seafood for those so inclined… and boat rides on the backwaters – coconut trees, enough blues and greens to compete with god’s own colours… and the backwaters leading to more private beaches….

Tarkarli

MTDC has cottages on the beach – and I mean right on the beach – expect no great service but great views and you will be happy there…

More photographs on flickr…. do have a look sometime…

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