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Archive for the ‘Mumbai’ Category

from my window

The wind is blowing strongly today, from the west. It has knocked all the clouds out of the sky and blown the city dust away. Each green leaf of the leggy tree outside our 4th floor windows has been swept clean. Plastic chai cups, cigarette butts and paan packets are flying across the car park, gathering in handy piles on the sheltered side of the compound. Small sparrows are preening behind pot plants on our balcony and pigeons are hiding behind the AC compressor, cooing contently. The gulmohar is stripped of it’s dead flowers and dried seed pods, the banyan tree leans above it, rustling and swaying in a slow arc. The drivers are sitting by the back wall, watching their newly washed cars become enveloped in a fine coating of dust, whipped up from the construction site down the road. Two crows are keeping a fierce watch over their nest in the garden box of an empty apartment. The wind is sending shivers of feathers down their sleek black backs.

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chowpatty girl

The interior of our sleek black Mercedes is a cool, clean beige. A children’s nursery rhyme is humming from the stereo, above which I can hear the steady

tuck, tuck, tuck

of the turn indicator.

My driver is tall, moustached and sensible. He sits with his hands resting lightly on the wheel, waiting for the signal to change.

My eighteen month old daughter sits next to me in her impact-resistant car seat and we both look out at the wide sprawl of Chowpatty Beach, South Mumbai’s litter-laced, fish-stinking golden-sand beach.

Hundreds of pigeons gather round a circular bird feeding area – their gray bodies swarm and peck over tiny grains, then flap flap their way heavily into the sky. They swirl and land, swirl and land in stage-managed precision.

                car, car… bus!

                look up mama, sky!

my daughter says as I hold up her snack box, revealing a still-warm omelette. We are lunching on the go, on the way to an afternoon playdate.

tap, tap

tap, tap, tap

A head appears at my daughter’s window.

She is a young girl, maybe eight, possibly twelve. She is slight and small and wears a green floral dress, once proud and pretty, now worn, filthy and limp. The puffy shoulders look silly and big against her stick-thin scratched-up arms. Her hair is wild, matted; her lips are cracked and rough.

My daughter squeals with delight.

                girl, girl, mama see!

                eyes, nose, teeth, ears, hair

                                madam five rupees please madam

She eyes the light yellow omelette, the full water bottle and licks her lips as the signal light changes from red to green, a block ahead. The driver impatiently nudges our car forward and her face disappears, returning quickly outside my window.

                                madam please only five rupees madam

Her voice is low and urgent as she shuffles back and forth.

                girl, girl, look mama

                hi, hi girl!

Our car leaps forward suddenly, racing to beat the signal and I turn quickly to look out the rear window. The small girl is standing still, looking back at us. Her tiny feet are bare on the searing midday street, and she is framed by a blue sky and wide flock of swirling pigeons.

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mumbai tonight

…is breezy and hot. A crow is outside my window is caw cawwing it’s lungs out and if i knew for sure it was the one that woke me up at 6am and 6.15am this morning I would have no hesitation in throwing something at it.

I am surrounded by a pile of papers.. trying to study and start a business from the 2 ft square desk area where you also keep all bills, receipts, old journals, fabric samples and orange peels is not so good an idea.. The tangled mess of wires from the new high speed internet is forgiven for the 10% of desk area it also takes up, but I’m sure the novelty will wear off soon.

Mumbai tonight is noisy (when isn’t it?), and horns are honking furiously on the street below, protesting indignantly at that taxi pulling in front of them, or the light which is just about to turn green.

The sea breeze is strong and is rattling windows and blowing the curtains around. My fan is making slow circles above my head and some excel sheets are trying to make a break for it from underneath the cordless phone.

The Word document ‘assignment one’ (due on Friday) keeps intruding on my pleasant internet surfing, as does the pile of dirty laundry in the corner of the room.

Mumbai tonight is just another Tuesday in March.. the promise of a long weekend ahead, the knowledge of 2 more days (of assignment writing) to go…

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a morning jog

this morning we went for a jog along marine drive. we arrived before sunrise, when the sky was just beginning to lighten and the air still had a chill to it. as we ran the sky turned from a hazy grey to pink to blue and the back of the air india building was awash with colour. i only made it halfway before having to walk and K carried on ahead to chowpatty. the air is still fresh and cool and slightly bracing in the mornings, through our ‘winter’ is surely over now. everyone enjoyed the 3 weeks of wearing sweaters and socks in the evenings – i wore shoes and socks everyday for the first time ever in Mumbai, and quite enjoyed it. the smog is still there, the layer of dirt that hangs over mumbai and from marine drive looks like it envelopes malabar hill. the new apartment building at the end is only thing tall enough to peep through the top of the haze and the windows of its upper storeys sparkle and glitter as the sun rises.

the laughing club were there as always, warming with deep ho ho ho’s and ha ha ha’s; old men in white dhoties and starched white shirts were gathered to talk politics and grandchildren; a woman in a bright red chiffon sari, clanging gold bangles, kohl and lipstick strode past, her look only ruined by shiny white running shoes; the chaiwalla carried his steaming jug of hot tea and called out for customers ‘chai garam cha-iiii, chai garam cha-iiiii’; the street dogs stayed curled under the trees, enjoying their warm spots and ignoring the hunger in their bellies while the crows angrily searched the gutters for breakfast.

I walked back to the car and at the Hilton hotel flight attendants were boarding a bus while the Gucci store was getting it’s morning window wash. A treadmill jogger was framed in a 3rd floor window, watching the comings and going below him  and enjoying the airconditioning of the hotel gym.

And now the sun was up, the air warming quickly. K arrived back, sweaty and panting and it was time to head home and get ready for the day ahead.

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grand old dames of Mumbai

I went for a wander today and took a few snaps of the grand but crumbling old buildings in our area. Mumbai is packed with these buildings – imposing and majestic old dames who are slowly losing the fight against monsoon rains, determined banyan tree roots and gravity. There are some lovely details in these buildings, and as I’m not architecture student I won’t try to wax lyrical about them, just to say that I find them very intrigueing and grand and they are one of the reasons I love Mumbai.

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i have spent most of this weekend glued to my computer … now i have left the job the feeling of panic at the pit of my stomach seems to be growing quite rapidly.. I am reading and writing and cramming and learning about marketing strategies and cash flow projections, while surfing for commercial photographers in Mumbai  and trying to decide which webhost and ecommerce solution woul be best for me, while (of course) keeping up a game of scrabble in facebook.. I think my computer thinks I’m mental as I always have about 15 different windows open at the same time. this chaos cannot continue though and I have sent up some task lists for this week to bring some order into my life, and to make sure I get off the computer and get doing stuff.

I did manage to get out of the house for an hour to stretch my legs. i wandered south from our place, to the Afghan Church close to Navy Nagar in Colaba and had a peep inside. unfortunatly i arrived the same time as a couple of busloads of tourists so I missed out on getting that quiet calm that i enjoy in churches.

 

 according to my good friend Wikipedia, the Afghan Church was consecrated in 1858 and was built to commemorate the First Afghan War of 1838, in which and estimated 12,000 British and Indian troops were killed fighting Afghani soldiers.

photos from Sualeh Fatehi’s flickr set

Then I wandered up to Colaba post office area, and checked out the Art Quest Gallery – they have some really great pieces that I hope to get into stock for Rose & Sunder – I liked their ‘Kitchen Art’ the best, everyday items painted in bright colours.. they would look nice on a sideboard-

and this is a pretty vibrant ‘bed table’:

this is my favourite-

 

how cool is that? (literally.. it’s an ice box..)

(pics via artquestindia.com)

spent another hour doing my favourite thing ever – wandering the streets, exploring bylanes and window shopping and meandering until i eventually made my way home. tomorrow I plan to go out again and do some building photography, there is some seriously amazing old buildings around our area and some of the features I would love to catch on film and share with you all. tomorrow.. my first day as a self employed woman!

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one of the very first dates that K and i ever went on was a sunrise motorbike trip, to take photos around South Mumbai. It was very romantic, depsite the fact that we met up at 6.30am, and we covered most of south mumbai, giggling at traffic lights and exploring small by-lanes together. during a clear-out of my work computer today i came a cross a few of my favourite photos from that morning:

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