This is our last…

June 26, 2014 at 18:27

Okay. We are at that point now. For every thing we do, we always comment: “This is our last time doing this”. Whether it is eating at our favorite lunch place Le Pain Quotidien (ok, that one we will honestly visit a few times more), having a beer at Chillies with friends, paying the gas bill, or whatever, sadness seems to creep slowly and steadily over us. Granted, some things I won’t miss that much, like the incessant honking, the humidity and extreme heat, and… Come to think of it, that sums up the large of it.

There are quite frankly so many things we will miss when we leave India. The many friends we have met here, who along with a million things have contributed to the one thing we’re stuck with: that India is an almost magical country, that have left us with impressions and emotions to last us a lifetime.

On the other hand, we have so much to travel home to! We haven’t seen our friends and family for so long, and we miss them so much. Whether it is Monopoly in the evenings, a game of chess in the lunch break or getting my butt kicked in FIFA14, or dinners and parties, there are so many things I can’t wait to pick up with our friends and family. Oh, how we miss them all. My parents are moving home after four years in Belgium almost on the same date as us, so this is really going to be a family reunion!

And while I’m on picking up tabs, it will be good to get back to work in Norway. I’ve gotten a position on the Norwegian side of the project I’m at here with the Norwegian postal services. This summer will definitely be spent sitting down and reflecting on all the things I have learned over the past six months. I mean, how does one effectively use, and communicate, such a unique experience. Luckily, finding that out is actually my field of work: Information Management. I’m looking forward to presenting what I have learned to Capgemini Norway. What that is I will spend a good time churning out in my mind. For now, I only know, more than ever, that Capgemini is the right place for me.

Best regards, Marius

Times flies by

June 16, 2014 at 18:35

Oh my. This blog has really been neglected for a while. It has almost been a whole month since our last post, so we don’t really expect anybody to still follow us. However, quite a few things have happened since our last post. We have had lots and lots of things to do at the office, the weather went from hot to HOT, followed by me having a small heat stroke incident. Friends are leaving for their home towns, as we are also planning to soon do the same. The weather has changed completely as the schorching sun has been replaced with a city soaked in water.

The monsoon has hit Mumbai, and it’s quite beautiful. As Marius and I headed home from work a few hours ago, the rickshaw broke down in the middle of the flooded streets of Powai with the rain pouring down, making the road into a small river, where the driver let the rick carefully roll us down to Hiranandani.

Marius and I ran in the rains without any umbrellas, completely soaked from head to toe, straight into our favorite restaurant. Le Pain Quotidien was decorated with candle lights in the dark, while the the windows had rain streaming down them. It was such a beautiful atmosphere, and the warm meal made everything just so cosy and nice. There’s something about feeling chilly in the city of Mumbai. It just feels so right after the last couple of months with intense heat. It’s amazing how you one minute are desperate after a refreshing mint lemonade with ice cubes, and the next you are craving a cup of hot chocolate. It’s just another aspect of this city of contrast. A part of why we will miss you so much when we go home, dear Mumbai.

- Andrea

Photos from Dharavi

May 20, 2014 at 15:18

I just can’t believe that a whole month has passed since our guests went back home. And during this time we have not been able to upload the photos from the Be the Local Tour in Dharavi, as we promised. Well, here it goes:

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge over to Dharavi

Sorting plastic

Sorting plastic. A lot of work.

Puppies

Puppies. So cute!

Embroidery

Embroidery

Wall art

Wall art. So pretty!

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This man must hold the Guinness World Record in pottery. It was very impressive!

Mom and Maja

Mom and Maja

The original White House

The original White House

The gang

Walking tour.

Dyeing

Dyeing

Hot work

Hot work

Hope you liked the photos!

- Andrea

Syttende mai

May 18, 2014 at 14:35

Yesterday was the National Day of Norway, known to Norwegians as 17. mai or Syttende mai. This day is for Norwegians one of the best days of the year. It is the one day of the year when Norwegians will be most proud of their country. We will dress up in our best clothes, many of us in our traditional bunads, and we will celebrate Norway from morning until night. The day is usually started with a Champagne breakfast with friends, family or both, while watching NRK’s Syttende mai coverage on TV. The most amazing landscapes and nature are broadcasted, which just contributes to our love for our own country on this day. Then people usually take a trip to the local celebrations, where children, russ and others parade in the streets with flags and music. In Oslo the royal family waves to the parade as the people walk past the royal castle shouting ‘hipp hipp hurra’. After this Norwegians often gather for a barbecue or share a meal in other ways with family and friends. It is also known as the one day of the year Norwegian children can eat all the ice cream they want.

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17. mai in Mumbai

This year however, the celebrations were a bit different than Marius and I are used to. It’s actually my first Syttende mai away from home, but it worked out way better than I thought. Eli organized a lovely 17. mai celebration at the Waterstones Country Club here in Mumbai, and gathered 20 Norwegians for a great lunch with typical Syttende mai food like Norwegian sausages, potato salad, eggerøre, spekemat and ice cream. Even Idun ketchup & sennep, lompe and Twist was served. That’s amazing!

17. mai at Waterstones

17. mai at Waterstones

Gilde sausages

Gilde sausages

Waterstones Country Club

Waterstones Country Club

Enjoying the food

Enjoying the food

After the gathering, we were invited over to a lovely Norwegian expat home here in Powai, to continue the celebrations with with dinner and wine, and some really tasty Gulab Jamun for dessert! Then we went home to continue the Syttende mai celebrations with our friends back in Norway over Skype. It was great talking to them, and we really wish we were back home with them this weekend. But luckily we’ll see them in a really short time, and until then we have Skype!

- Andrea

Cricket at Wankhede Stadium

May 11, 2014 at 21:34

Right on Marine Drive in Mumbai, you will find Wankhede Stadium, the home ground of the cricket team Mumbai Indians. They have had a struggle this season, and for last years winners of the Indian Premier League – IPL, two wins so far simply isn’t good enough. We felt in the depths of our stomachs that this statistic was about to change, as we hopped on the train at Vikrohli Station and headed for Churchgate. Andrea and I had just bought our Mumbai Indians jerseys, and we felt like real Mumbaikars when we boarded the train southwards with our two good friends. They had been nice enough to invite us to the game, and had arranged for tickets with some really good seats.

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On the local train

The trip landed at 10 rupees per person, which is around NOK 1. Affordable in other words. We luckily missed the big crowds, and as such had plenty of room in the car. We mostly stood soaking up some cooling wind by the always open doors on the Mumbai local train. I have to say, few things give the “real India feel” (from a firangs perspective) like taking the train around Mumbai. It is like everything you always pictured.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, cricket, right? We jumped off at Churgate, like I said, and walked back up Marine Drive to gate 4 of the Wankhede Stadium. We had tickets on the Sachin Tendulkar stand in the northern part of the stadium. If you don’t know who Sachin Tendulkar is, just know this: Mention his name to a Mumbaikar and you will summon the biggest smile you didn’t think possible. He is the greatest cricket player who ever lived – or as simply put by Indians: He is the God of cricket.

We got there early to avoid the big crowds, a strategy that panned out well, as we were close to the only ones on the stand when we arrived. After a few cold drinks and a bit of pizza, we we’re ready for the match. We got a good view of both the pitch and of the Chennai Super Kings cheerleaders – total entertainment, as our friend so aptly put it.

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The view

After some things I didn’t understand, it was decided that Mumbai would bat first. And so they did. We looked on in excitement as they struck fours and sixes like their life depended on it. The cheerleaders cheered for each one, a little less like their life depended on it. Chennai forced six outs during the half, in which they played 20 “overs”. An over is basically a segment of six balls being “bowled”. It will always be bowled by the same guy throwing. That means the first half is done after 120 balls are bowled or the defending team manages ten outs. An out can be achieved in several ways. Firstly, it can be made by bowling the ball past the batter and hitting the “wickets”, or three sticks lodged in the ground. It can also be made by catching the ball after a bat without the ball touching the ground first. Thirdly, it can be made by throwing the ball onto the wickets while the batter is making his “run”. One completed run – both batters cross to the opposite side – is one point. If the batter strikes the ball out of the field, he is awarded four points, and if he does so without the ball hitting the ground first, he receives six points.

That’s about it as to what I understand of cricket, which I guess isn’t too bad. Anyway, Mumbai batted first and hit an impressive 157 points in 120 balls. Unfortunately, even though the suspense filled the air in the stadium, Chennai managed to get more than that during their last over, and was crowned victors.

Although disappointed after the loss, there was really nothing that could take away from the incredible atmosphere at Wankhede. We even got on TV, so our fifteen minutes of fame are up. It’s funny, because I guess nearly ten million people saw us that night, and I’ve had people I haven’t even met come up to me and ask if it was me who was on TV during the match.

Us on the TV screen

Us on the TV screen

We concluded our trip to Wankhede with a stroll down Marine Drive and a cup of chai from a one-armed guy serving from the back of his bicycle.

You really got to love India.

Best regards, Marius

Sunny days

May 8, 2014 at 10:50
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Playing cards in the park

Hi! Okay, so I haven’t updated in a while. I’ll blame the weather..? The temperature here is about 35 degrees Celsius now, but the “felt” temperature circles around 42. Going outside is like stepping into a bakers oven and it will leave you apathetic. The feeling I get at around +35 degrees here is in other words much the same feeling i get in -35 degrees in Norway. Of course, the heat is not excuse to sit inside in the air conditioning all day. As any true Norwegian would stress, there is no such thing as “too hot”! So we took a trip to the park the other day to play some cards in the sun. The sun, being a relative term in this sense, because we got about 5 minutes in before we were surrounded by a group of kids who wanted to take our pictures and show us some card tricks.

The days spent in the office are very good these days, and very productive, we’ve blasted through most of the obstacles on my project, and are quickly nearing a finished solution. I hope our customer will be happy! Luckily there is really good air conditioning at the office, so we bless our time there. And we drink all the mango juice we can get our hands on. It’s mango season now, and boy oh boy, do I enjoy it!

Fresh mango juice

Fresh mango juice

Best regards, Marius

Back to work

April 28, 2014 at 14:21

After a fantastic Easter vacation followed by half a week of Delhi belly, it’s surprisingly nice to be back at the office. Marius was back at the office immidiately after our trip to Goa, but I stayed home for an extra week, firstly because my mother and little brother still stayed with us, and then because I joined my brother in getting sick on their last day i India. However, now I’m all better and ready to pick up my project where I left it. And better still, I have had lots of time to really think through all the things I have to do to make my project a success.

Me thinking about my project in Goa

Me thinking about my project in Goa (haha)

Time truly flies by when you’re having fun. Soon it will be only two months until we have to pack our bags and head for Chhatrapati Shivaji. And that reminds me… Chalo! Back to work!

- Andrea

 

South Mumbai sightseeing

April 27, 2014 at 15:52

One of the first trips we made with our friends and family visiting over Easter was down to South Mumbai. Colaba and the Gateway was our first stop, as we had plans to take the ferry over to Elephanta Island. It takes just about 45 minutes to drive from our home to this busy centre of Mumbai, but Marius and I rarely make the trip. Sure, this is where Mumbai really happens. The South has most of the best restaurants, clubs, stores and hangouts, but I find it just oh so crowded and touristy sometimes. I think it is the hillbilly girl in me that just loves green surroundings, peace and quiet. And boy, was I happy when I found out that you actually can have that that inside one of the World’s biggest cities. Powai really feels like a home in that sense. Anyways. As I was saying, we headed down to Mumbai’s most visited tourist attraction for our first stop.

The Gateway of India

The Gateway of India

The Gateway looked great as always and was surrounded by tourists as always. Since we hadn’t been to Elephanta Island in six years we couldn’t remember where to buy the tickets for the ferry, but luckily for us we met some grumpy expat Norwegians who helped us out. And by the way, the reason why I call them grumpy is because as Marius was introduced to them as a Capgemini Mumbai employee, they responded with a blunt “Why? Is he hired as a driver?”.

 

Nice Norwegians in the middle, grumpy ones to the left.

Super cute Norwegians in the middle, grumpy ones to the left.

The Gateway and Taj Mahal hotel from the ferry

The Gateway and Taj Mahal hotel from the ferry

The ferry ride took about 50 minutes, and when we arrived we were met with – do you believe it? Crowds! However we eventually made our way up all the sweaty stairs to the top, and it was definitely worth the workout. The Elephanta Caves were even more beautiful than I remembered.

Inside Elephanta Caves

Inside Elephanta Caves

Our friends taking photos

Our friends taking photos

Beautiful rock carvings

Beautiful rock carvings

Back in Mumbai we decided to go straight for lunch. As every visitor to Mumbai have to experience Cafe Leopold, Marius and I decided to bring our friends there, after a small detour to a Colaba Market back ally with a couple of the cutest swindling children I have ever met. Eventually we sat down at an unusually loud and crowded Leopold’s, I got my back and my bag dripping wet from a Bailey’s leakage just behind my chair and we got moved to another table by the always very helpful and friendly staff at Leopold’s. I got through my ten minutes of “South Mumbai hates me” frenzy, and we enjoyed some tasty dishes of biryani, garlic naan and tikka masala.

On our way from Colaba Market to Haji Ali

On our way from Colaba Market to Haji Ali

After this we all jumped into some taxis to experience Haji Ali at Worli. This place really make a big impact on tourists in many ways. Your first impression of the place might not be too positive, as the pathway to Haji Ali usually is filled by beggars, people with severe illnesses and handicaps and – maybe worst of all – quite a lot of children and babies are sitting or lying there to make some rupees from the people passing by. It is a really sad place in that way, and I know it made a big impact on our friends and family. Even though we made a few ‘donations’ here and there on our way to the beautiful mosque, we know it’s not enough. You really feel both privileged and helpless as you walk past these people, and it’s not a good feeling.

Pathway to Haji Ali

Pathway to Haji Ali

Sunset at Worli

Sunset at Worli

Haji Ali

Haji Ali

When we reached the Haji Ali however, the beauty of this mosque was even more apparent after dark. The way Haji Ali lights up in the dark is quite symbolic, as it is an important place of worship for very many people. Well inside the gates you get another completely different impression of this place, and I think our friends and family thought it was well worth the trip.

- Andrea

 

And then there were two

April 22, 2014 at 09:24

Our friends left on Saturday and Sunday, and tonight we have to say our goodbyes to our two last visitors at Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport. My mom and my little brother have stayed with us for two weeks, and before we let them go home, we have plans to spend their last day in India by the pool at Renaissance Hotel.

My mom and little brother at Sanjay Gandhi National park

My mom and little brother at Sanjay Gandhi National park

- Andrea

Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow…

April 21, 2014 at 17:06

Our friends left our fair Verona this weekend, leaving us in a state of sorrow for missing them. But we shall not be sad for too long; there are yet many things we need to do here and before we know we are home with them again. We’ve passed halfway in our visit here, marking a milestone on our way to a better understanding, new friends, great experiences and a richer life.

It has truly been great to have our friends here. Andrea and I will follow up with some posts and pictures over the next days to show you what we have experienced. A short recap for now: We spent the first couple of days in Mumbai, where we put two feet in different worlds. First by visiting Dharavi like we did with our former guests, to see the “grassroot” of the city. I’ve detailed that earlier here. After the visit, we decided to head to Aer Lounge on top of the Four Seasons Hotel. We had some food and drinks and watched the sunset from the 34th floor of this insanely luxurious place. The day after we took a trip to the beautiful Elephanta Island in the Mumbai bay.

For the week we headed to Goa. Although I had to do work, I had the fortune of a 7 hour battery life and resort-wide wifi, so it’s safe to say I got the chance to tan (unsuccesfully I might add) at the same time. We stayed in some beautiful straw shacks at the Mariposa Beach Grove, with a 5 km stretch of beach pretty much to ourselves. It was the perfect week. The food we ate, prawns, calamares, lobsters, king fish, snappers and a bunch of other delicious sea-faring creatures were all bought from the fishermans village next door based on what we felt like having that same day. I would recommend everyone to go to Agonda! We even managed to get some dolphin watching in!

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Well back in Mumbai, we jumped right back into the urban life, with visits to the national park here, and we also managed some shopping before I came close to a heat stroke because I wanted to show off and run to the top of the Kanheri Caves. Not my best move.

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But alas, the times are over. Our friends have left, but I’d dare say we are closer than ever before, and we have shared some amazing moments over the last week.

Needless to say, we miss them and look forward to seeing them again. But first, we need to stock up on some more of Incredible India.

Look out for some detailed posts and more pictures the coming week :-)

Best regards, Marius