Posts Tagged 'Bombay'

I Love My Slumdog

Dharavi -- The slum of 'Slumdog Millionaire'

As Oscar night draws near, Indian furor over Danny Boyle’s acclaimed film, Slumdog Millionaire, reaches a fevered pitch. India is being shown in a bad light! cry Indians who have never set foot in Dharavi or any other slum.

Indeed, they need not be familiar with the slum environment to mount their charge. Their complaint is fundamentally divorced from the question of the accuracy or fairness of Mr. Boyles’s depictions of the lives of slum-dwellers; it is about whether a foreign filmmaker is entitled to tell any story other than “India Shining”. This is a fable last told by the BJP in the 2004 elections. The Indian public didn’t buy it for a minute and, as a result, the BJP was able to snatch a stunning defeat from the jaws of victory. Congress has been running the government ever since.

Continue reading ‘I Love My Slumdog’

Liquid Lunch

Pani Poori Wallah

My travel over the 41 hours stretching from 7:00 am (IST) yesterday to 11:00 am (PDT) later today, breaks into four segments: Pondicherry to Madras, Madras to Bombay, Bombay to Seoul, and Seoul to San Francisco. So by the time I reached Bombay, I reckoned my journey was half over.

How better to celebrate – and spend some of my precious last 10 hours in Bombay – than with a liquid lunch.

Continue reading ‘Liquid Lunch’

Securing Air Passengers against the Threat of Menstruation

Airport Security

Indian airport security is usually pretty lax. Not that they don’t use uniformed military police to check your reservation to allow you admission into the terminal; but generally speaking, entry and egress can be managed easily with a smile and a flimsy excuse. Not that liquids and gels aren’t banned on flights, as elsewhere in the world; but I routinely travel with a liter water bottle, and sometimes my full dop-kit, without being stopped. And one more thing: Sikhs are permitted to travel with swords, which are religious symbols (apparently too valuable to be entrusted to the vagaries of airline baggage handling) as well as unnerving carry-on items.

But as Independence Day approached, and with al Qaeda terror threats on the front page of every newspaper, things got tougher.

Continue reading ‘Securing Air Passengers against the Threat of Menstruation’

Friends Without Borders, Global Rickshaw Style!

Friends Without Borders Global Rickshaw Logo
Click on image to view video

One of the many awesome experiences in the process of putting together the ill-fated Dil se Dil Independence Day Friendship Celebration was the chance to work with the brilliant Mumbai filmmakers Shivraj Shantakumar and Aparna Wilder, whose award winning film company Wild Kumar makes music videos and television commercials, and whose side project Global Rickshaw does shorts for the NGO community. We were looking for 90 seconds of fun to introduce Friends Without Borders to the television audience at Dil se Dil.

Click on the image above (or here) to see a low-res, high-spirit film about Friends Without Borders by Global Rickshaw, presented in three, unbelievably adorable parts.

If you missed our earlier film, created by Buddy Mukherji of Black Magic Motion Pictures, click here.

Slum Demolition in Mumbai

Slum Demolition in Lower Parel, Mumbai

Yesterday morning, the small slum opposite to Phoenix Mills, in Lower Parel, was razed by the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation.

Slum demolition follows a horrible, regimented protocol. The bulldozers and loaders arrive on site, unannounced. Scores of lathi-swinging policemen swarm in to inform the residents that they have an hour to evacuate belongings before their homes are torn down. The combination of surprise, force, and urgency stifles resistance. There is a resigned powerlessness that has been bred into the manual labor class, and it is as heart-rending to witness as tear-fill despair might have been.

Continue reading ‘Slum Demolition in Mumbai’

MāM Movies: Independent Filmmaking from the Heart

MaaM Movies, Mumbai

MāM Movies is all about film and all about energetic Bombay-based filmmakers; but it is not your typical Bombay dream machine. Not a single member of the MāM collective has ever shot an item number. And none has produced their first blockbuster – yet.

Instead, the dedicated young writers, directors, editors, and production technicians who call the 12-foot wide Andheri West walk-up their home-away-from-home (and frequently find themselves sleeping on its narrow roof terrace) are practicing their craft as an instrument of social change.

Continue reading ‘MāM Movies: Independent Filmmaking from the Heart’

Friends Without Borders, Reruns

Friends Without Borders's videos online, free!  Yeah!

You loved the book, now see the movies.

As we embark on the Phase II of the Friends Without Borders Project, delivering letters of friendship from kids all over India to kids in Pakistan, I want to put our video and presentations at everyone’s easy disposal. I should have done this long ago.

Listed below are links to: our Public Service Announcement Television Commercial, which aired last year throughout India and Pakistan; a short history of Phase I of the project, made by Rahul Brown just before we crossed into Pakistan last year; and two slide presentations introducing our project and the World’s Largest Love Letter events.

Continue reading ‘Friends Without Borders, Reruns’

Snot: The Canary in Bombay’s Coal Mine

Bombay smog, overlooking Churchgate

“Mumbai is such a foul city that frequent nose-picking has become compulsory.”

So begins Dilip Radte’s lengthy commentary and first-finger account on the Op-Ed page of yesterday’s Hindustan Times (Mumbai Edition). His point is that dust, grime, and foul air have reached a point where they clog the nose. In truth, at the end of every Mumbai day, I find myself blowing black-shit from my schnoz, just as one does in any other North Indian city, or in New York for that matter.

Radte also puts the prissy and well-mannered – who would turn up their nose at nose-picking – in their place: “The elitist’s only advantage over other Mumbaikars is that they don’t have to pick their noses in public.”

nose

Doing Their Level-Best

Swiss Army Knife

If air travel in India sucks, it is generally because India has learned too much from the US and Europe, rather than too little. Sure, there are some distinctively Indian annoyances. Passengers deplane in a mad scrum for the aisle-way, as if they were disembarking a Mumbai commuter train and had someplace to be other than killing time in front of the baggage claim carrousel. And once at baggage claim, travelers press forward with their luggage carts in complete disregard for the inconvenience they cause each other. But generally, the whole process looks all-to-familiar to anyone accustomed to post-9/11 air travel in the US.

And yet, today we found two aspects of Indian air travel that American carriers and the dreadful Transportation Safety Administration would do well to emulate.
Continue reading ‘Doing Their Level-Best’

Friends Without Borders: Status Report

Flags and Dove

This has been an exciting two-and-a-half months for the Friends Without Borders. As we make our final preparations to deliver the World’s Largest Love Letter and the first salvo of individual friendship letters from the children of India to the children of Pakistan, it is time to take stock of our achievements and look to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Continue reading ‘Friends Without Borders: Status Report’


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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