Mumbai – Photo Collection

This is a collection of different views of Mumbai.  Unlike most photo essays of Mumbai, I am quite happy to go into the suburbs and take pictures.

This, for example, is a picture from one of the sets in the collection – Public Spaces.

Powai Lake Promenade, June 2013

The Powai lake and the area around it was, till a few years ago, part of the extended forests that are now fall under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. That leopards and panthers still stray into these areas gives you clues about the loss of habitat of these biggish cats. So this promenade around the shore of the lake is, in a way, the edge between new age urbanisation and the legacy natural habitats of wild life.

The waterfronts of Mumbai, whether sea facing, lake facing or creek facing, are the most expensive chunks of real estate in the city (and possibly in the country). The creek side is still underdeveloped because of the mangroves and the general lack of interest of anyone to find an economic model to drain those swamps and put up high rises. However, as a public space, the swamps / mangroves do not fail the citizen nor other animals. The Sewri mudflats fall on the wintering migrations of the pink flamingoes.

View of the Worli Sea Link from Haji Ali, July 2013

But iconised in Hindi films and a part of every citizen’s life whichever part of the city he or she may be from is the sight of the Arabian Sea falling over the western promenades from the Gateway of India up to Versova during the monsoons. On a clear day, the tail end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link can be discerned. In the midst of heavy rain and general lack of visibility, in the picture above, all one can see is a faint greyish smudge behind 5 foot high white surf.

The streets:

Bandra, December 2012

And I think the city needs more of such touch ups to the walls on the streets.

Beyond Mumbai

Dahisar River, flowing through Borivili National Par, Mumbai, December 2011

There’s a rare unpolluted part of a river flowing within the municipal limits of Greater Mumbai.


The Oldest and the Youngest

Last week, amongst the queue of people lining up to climb Mount Everest, was an 80 year old and a 16 year old. And because an 80 year old has done it, now an 81 year old planning to do one more.

Yuichiro Muira, 80, from Japan, 23rd May, 2013

“I’ve made it! I never imagined I could make it to the top of Mount Everest at age 80. This is the world’s best feeling, although I’m totally exhausted. Even at 80, I can still do quite well.

Muira has had four heart operations so far. And this is his third summit climb. 2003, 2008 and now 2013. 5 years ago, aged 75, he reached the peak on 26 May, 2008. He was then the oldest man to climb Everest. His record stood for one day.

On May 27th, 2008, Min Bahadur Sherchan, then 76 years old, reached the summit.

As of today, Muira is the oldest man. But Sherchan is already in base camp and planning his next attempt.

“Our team leader has just arrived back at base camp and we are holding a team meeting on when exactly I will head up to the summit,” Sherchan said in a phone call. “I am fine and in good health. I am ready to take up the challenge. Our plan is to reach the summit within one week.”

One week earlier, 16 year old Nameirakpam Chinkheinganba, from Manipur, became for a few days the youngest Indian to climb Mt Everest. Apparently, in that queue behind him was a 15 year old Raghav Juneja. Here’s the story.

At 5.15am Nepal time (5am IST) I finally fulfilled my dream.

I looked around and took in the view; I could see everything — from the Camps to Khumbu Glacier and the paths that I took.

It was overwhelming; I started crying. There I was, on top of Mt Everest. I had overcome the one thing that I had feared most. When I started my ascent, my family went on a fast to pray for my safe return. Many people have lost their lives while attempting this — I was scared too. Till that moment I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it.

Now here I was on top of the world. I wasn’t scared anymore.

And a picture of Mount Everest.

Mount Everest at Dusk. Photo taken and belongs to Larry He, taken from his Flickr stream

The Nile

The Poetry Translation Centre is a fantastic project which I stumbled upon recently. Today’s random poem I read had this to say:

The Nile flows quietly…
Seeping through the city’s silence
And the burning sorrows of the villages.

This from the first Sura of the Poem of the Nile by a leading Sudanese contemporary poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi. The original poem was in Arabic and has been translated by Hafiz Khebir and Mark Ford.

The traditional English poems of the Nile reflect on quite different themes: This is Shelley

O’er Egypt’s land of Memory floods are level
And they are thine, O Nile–and well thou knowest
That soul-sustaining airs and blasts of evil
And fruits and poisons spring where’er thou flowest.

And this is Keats:

Son of the old Moon-mountains African!
Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile!
We call thee fruitful…

Clearly the earlier poets had the Nile as the main hero. Al-Raddi puts the Nile as the silent spectator winding through cities made into ghosts and villages burnt into despair by the civil wars and calamities of Sudan.

Here’s a Flickriver stream of pictures of the Nile as it passes through Sudan.

Traveling to See … and Hear!

So we travel around to see the world, to see people, to see monuments, to see history, to see things outside our environs. But to see, one does not merely use the eyes. One also uses the ears.

“Think about that,” Fristrup said. “In cities, we want to shut out the noise; we turn on our iPods and make our world smaller. In a national park, people do the opposite: They expand their world by listening.” Indeed, several scientists note that this is the very purpose of hearing. “Hearing is designed to get information from much farther away than your eyes can reach,” Arthur Popper, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, said in a telephone interview. “Hearing is not something that evolved so you can talk to me. It evolved so you can learn about your world.” But in a world dominated by the rush and roar of automobiles and airplanes, we close our ears—or stick in our ear buds—and so learn nothing.

There is, truly, very few places where the natural soundscapes are not interrupted by the sound of a spluttering truck or the whirr of a diesel generator running a pump. However, hearing and decoding both human created and natural sounds has its own science. 

In the Si Phon Don area of the Mekong in the Laos – Cambodian border, the puttering of long tail boats mix with the splash of the dolphins. On the Konkan coast, the steady drone of the breaking water mix with the soft chatter of the tourists in the MTDC resort with backing vocals provided by the local village music.

Tarkarli Beach, near Malvan, dawn

Try next time. Keep the noise reduction headphones and iPod buds for the noisome stuff they play in planes and buses.

Stalls and Balcony seats

Just 6 years back, I had been a regular at single screen theatres given that there was one 500 metres from my house in Chembur. But then it was sold off and the new buyers did what is the standard norm – tear it down and build a mall with a multiplex. The construction is still on at this place and I have no idea when it is likely to become operational. Of course, the implications are clear – from paying Rs 30 for a ticket to paying Rs 250 per ticket (irrespective of the quality of the film).

This piece on the old single screen cinema houses in south-central Mumbai evokes many memories and nostalgia.

For Rafique Baghdadi, a film and music buff and social historian, the theatres of this area still stand as photographic landmarks in his memory: “There were around 19 theatres within that 1-mile radius. You start in Girgaon with National (now Moti Talkies), also once Dargah Talkies, go up the road to Kamal (now the recently defunct Alankar); on the left is Silver, then comes Gulshan, New Roshan and you end with Alfred (once Ripon). Opposite Alfred was Victoria, which was renamed Taj Talkies before being razed. Further down, near the Parsi Fire Temple, was Daulat (which does not exist any more). Daulat was originally the Baliwala Grant Theatre, owned by the great comedian Khursetji Mehrwanji Baliwala. Further down what is now Maulana Shaukat Ali Road was Royal, and opposite it is Nishaat. Down the road, towards Grant Road Station end, begins Shalimar, opposite which are Super and Novelty. Take the left and you will come to Imperial, Naaz, Swastik, Majestic (where Alam Ara was screened and which does not exist any more), Lamington (now Apsara), Minerva (now a hole in the ground) and Dreamland (once Krishna),” says Baghdadi.

Okay, need to find a holiday day off and go photo-walking in this area.

Who Makes All These Lists?

Who makes all these lists?

We need more useful lists about Mumbai like:

10 places to halt for a bio break on a road trip from Mumbai to anywhere: Ok, the men can do it behind the trees. What about the women? In a bus trip to Goa, late at night, in the middle of a jungle, some ladies in the bus needed a break. The driver told them to hold on till they reach some town. The ladies said they couldn’t. So the bus driver had to stop. Off the women went behind the bushes.

10 places that don’t look like VT station in rush hour: The problem with many places around Mumbai is that all of Mumbai lands up there on weekends and holidays. The same crowd you want to avoid is there, ordering pav bhaji, listening to Munni, creating a traffic jam, etc. Really, one needs some escape.

10 places where you can just land up: Ok, I may be the only subscriber to the list for the simple reason I hate doing advance reservations and bookings and like. It kind of “restricts” me. I like to just land up and size up the place and then decide. The economics of the travel business are such that this “landing up” strategy becomes quite expensive. Of course, one has kind of become adept at finding out the cheap places and the last few trips I made on similar lines, one did come back with the wallet well preserved. Of course air travel (and possibly rail travel) become nonviable in such strategies. I shall share some of them in due course.

Random road links on the web – 22 Dec 2010

There is now a 20 acre open air “restaurant” for vultures. If you have any dead animals, you can go and put it there. I suppose the bird lovers are happy but has anyone asked the Parsis what they feel about this.

Jonathon Glancey writes a piece about Nagaland. A nice piece of travel writing but an Englishman is an Englishman and therefore such passages are not unexpected:

One marker honours the uncertain remains of Private Thomas Collins, 21, from Barkingside, Essex. The fighting at Kohima was so intense that bodies were mixed into a mash of bloody tropical ooze. It seems not only sad that a life like that of Private Thomas Collins should have been blasted from him at such a tender age, but also somehow almost ineffably strange that this young lad from England’s far east should have died in the Naga Hills. This was very probably his first trip abroad. One moment, his big adventure would have been to take a train up to town from Barkingside; the next moment, drilled, dressed in khaki, Lee-Enfield .303 over his shoulder, Collins was packed off to die in this improbably remote corner of the British Empire.

Via Global Voices piece on Maldives, I had a look at this piece on bullying by Maldivians by blogger Mohd Saeed.

We laugh at guest workers. Comes a waiter to your table asking what he can get for you. “Ey Bondhu” and just a bit of mocking. “Rashah dhey”… go back to your country!. And we laugh.

And lastly, there is this whole campaign on Gujarat tourism out of which this concept sounded quite interesting (albeit expensive).