Sunday, April 30, 2006

rikshaw : meter

I spend a lot of my time in rikshaws, and this is what i stare at most of the time! Fares are quite cheap - this fare is equal to about .50 cents (USD). (To read the meters you take away the 0 and then subtract 1 from the number shown - so this fare was 21 rupees. They are old machines that have never been updated.) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 29, 2006

delivery: mattress

On a daily basis you see people in the back of trucks with some supply. This man had a good cargo day - nothing better than riding on mattresses if you have to ride in the back of a hot truck sucking up all the exhaust from other cars! Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 28, 2006

mrs. ambassador

I was waiting for a meeting and this beauty drove past me - turns out the owner was one of the people I was meeting with! It is rare to see the new HM Ambassador cars in Mumbai - and with a customized paint job, it's definitely one of a kind! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Good Morning India!

I have been wanting a photo of this shop's doors for quite a long time. The only time you can see this advert is in the morning before the shop opens, so the "Good Morning India" is apt! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

bollywood dreamin'

This is a bar in a slum neighborhood close to my house that I cut through everytime I go North. I haven't been in this place, but it is very unlikely that any Bollywood star has ever set foot in here! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Dusty typewritter with devanagari script (hindi letters)
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 24, 2006

Goddess of the Universe

Durga, the goddess of the universe and destroyer of demons, is most revered by Bengalis. This was a sticker on my rickshaw home today. Many rickshaws decorate their autos with their favorite gods, fim stars, family names, sayings or a variety of all the above. Posted by Picasa (Sorry its so late, Blogger hasn't been working all afternoon)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

tagore nagar

Small lanes between houses in Tagore Nagar
(This area used to be a slum community in the northeast part of Mumbai, but has recently been built up a bit. The water under the concrete planks is actually open sewer. these days its a wonderfully peaceful little neighborhood, still quite poor, but doing much better than they were just a few years ago.)
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 22, 2006

snack wallas

As the sun starts to set and it starts to marginally cool down the streets become full of snack sellers. These guys sell roasted nuts, chick peas, banana chips and a variety of other things that i know nothing about! The guy in the middle saw a white face, with a camera and came racing across the street on his "skateboard" - probably to beg, but all he got was his photo taken. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 21, 2006

donated: bench

In Mumbai, if it isn't donated then it most likely doesn't exist! You will find things donated all over the city - from park benches, no parking signs, public water at train stations, miniture parks, etc. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 20, 2006

auntie, photo

Boys filling up a scooter - which hopefully isn't theirs! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The new thing is Mumbai seems to be graffiti. They aren't too good at it yet as they only seem to write K2 all over Bandra. I have no clue what it means either. And I just love this random yellow building jutting into the sky with no other buildings around it! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

any thing you want, madam

Today I went to my favorite framing place to have a bollywood poster framed. No one there speaks any English but they always do exactly what I want for a great price! Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 17, 2006

lights and lots of sound

There are always lots of celebrations and festivals in Mumbai. For the last few days there has been a festival for Dr. Ambedkar, an "untouchable" who fought for rights for the lowest caste/class of Indians. This is the view from my house, of one of the many celebrations happening in my neighborhood right now for Dr. Ambedkar. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 16, 2006

praying for....

Since its Easter I decided to take our evening walk down by Mount Mary Church to see what was happening there. In front of the church are numerous stalls selling candles, crosses, flowers, etc. The most curious of all of the stands are the ones selling these "candle figures" which represent something that you want in life. If you want a baby, you buy a baby figure and take it in and place it as an offering to help your prayers come true. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Get your fix here

This is one of the busiest paan wallas in Kings Circle. I've never tried his paan leaf filled with betel nut, tobacco, spices and sugars (though woman do eat paan, it is pretty much taboo for a woman to buy paan from a paan walla), but others seem to like it. All afternoon and evening, this older Muslim man dressed all in white does good business, supplying Kings Circle's addicts and recreational users with cigarettes, bidis, paan, and supari.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Desi Siesta

One way to beat the heat these days is with an afternoon nap. Although the demands of the 24 hour global economy are transforming the institution of the traditional Indian siesta, many people still find a way to snooze away the hottest hours of the day...bed, or no bed. This is a sad sight, but in a city in which 60% of the population lives in shanty huts or roadside shacks, it's an unfortunately common one.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

King Circle Street Life

This shot depicts a typical Mumbai traffic scene, capturing the multi-layered character of street life - with a bullock cart, taxis, a bus, lorry truck, and flatbed truck transporting giant wooden spools (?!). Because Kings Circle is in the island city, the South Mumbai ban on auto-rickshaws applies here, limiting the chaos (and diesel pollution) somewhat.

This shot also shows Kings Circle's lovely old trees (oak, banyan, and pipal), hinting at how this once-forested sleepy suburb must have looked when it sat on the northern fringes of the metropolitan region. Directly north of Kings Circle is the neighborhood of Sion, whose Marathi name, "Shiv," means boundary or border. Kings Circle and Sion now sit in the middle of the city, as the metropolis’ border has extended farther and farther north. Someday this area will be considered South Mumbai.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ladies day out

There is really only one small plot of green space in Kings Circle - the circular park of Maheshwari Udyan. Small but well cared for, it is frequented by picnicing families, lounging men, and (in this photo) lovely ladies. These women (sisters? lifelong friends?) were willing to oblige my photo taking and seemed quite excited when I showed them their digitial image on the LCD screen. In this summer heat, the well shaded park, with a gazebo and fountain, provides a nice reprive from Mumbai's concrete jungle.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Weighing his options

I imagine that this profession is also unique to Mumbai, or at least to Indian cities: the scale walla. For just one rupee (a little more than $0.02), Mumbaikars can find out how much they weigh. Unfortunately, although a half dozen of these guys operate in the vicinity of Kings Circle, I have never seen a customer procure their services. I pass this man on my daily commute, as he waits patiently for a weight-conscious passerby. (I paid him a rupee for this photo, but I didn't step onto the scale.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Barbershop, Kings Circle ishtyle

Outdoor barbershops line the backside of Gandhi Market, just south of Kings Circle, offering men a haircut, clean shave, or mustache trim. All one needs is a razorblade, shaving cream, and a box to sit upon to be a "bala-walla" (my own name for these guys - "bala" means "hair" in Hindi. I don't know what they're really called). The capital expenditure may be small, but you need real skills to earn the trust of your customers, as you move toward their throats with a (sometimes rusty) razorblade. The stoic look on this cutomer's face says all.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kings Circle: Aurora

I've decided to focus this week's daily photoblog on my 'hood, Kings Circle. It sits on the northern edge of the island city, between Matunga and Sion. Kings Circle is the center of the city's Tamil community (reflected in the photo) and home of the world's best masala dosas and South Indian filter coffee. It's also the best place (north of the Colaba Causeway) to shop for used and pirated books. Like many Mumbai locales, the circular park that once gave the area its name was recently stripped of its Anglo moniker - it's now Maheshwari Udyan. But everyone still knows the area as Kings Circle.

This photo was taken at the Aurora Theatre - the best place to catch a shoot-em' up Tamil film, plus a few Bollywood blockbusters.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

drive thru shopping

Rush hour at Bandra station - the road is filled with people, motorbikes, rickshaws, cars and of course fruit and veg sellers! Posted by Picasa
(Note: Next week I will be away on business, so Liza & John will be showing you their view of Mumbai!)

Friday, April 07, 2006

waiting for alms

A little boy sitting on the street asking passerbys for alms. There is a mosque just feet away from where he sits. One of the 5 things muslims must do is give alms to the poor, so you often see lines of beggars waiting outside after friday prayers. Unfortunately in Mumbai kids begging on the streets is a very common sight. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 06, 2006

an expats oasis

Indigo deli - a newly opened cafe in Colaba that has real cheese, real meats, freshly baked breads and yummy western dishes. This is one place in Mumbai that you can completely forget that you are in India. The cafe is typically full of westerners, its so clean and nicely air conditioned! We typically find ourselves eating here at least a few times a month even though its a rickshaw, train and taxi ride away. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

effects of modernization

mumbai central.. i always know i'm in this area because of this random modern building jutting into the sky! the green/red boxes are mailboxes, but i don't know if anyone really uses them - i surely wouldn't trust them!
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

working man

a guy pulling a wooden cart (which isn't in the photo) headed home from a days work. this photo was taken today near Victoria Terminus Railway station. It was rush hour and the roads were full of cars, pull carts, motorbikes, and people! the background is actually a huge poster advertisment, but i thought it looked cool behind this guy. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 03, 2006

typical train photo

i forgot my camera at home today, so here's another photo from yesterday. a typical day on the trains - there is always someone hanging out the open doors, even when its empty like yesterday. And the blurred background you can see some of the slums that line the railway lines up and down Mumbai
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 02, 2006

so blue...

today we went down to town for brunch and afterwards headed over to see a photo exhibition at the Press Club. Unfortunately it was closed until 6pm. All around the building were people sleeping - this guy had lots of blue around him!