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.

image

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.

image

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

Dharavi

April 1, 2014 at 19:54

We had a day of sightseeing around the city the other day. More specifically, sightseeing in Dharavi. We don’t have any pictures, as picture taking is not allowed in there, of respect to the people who live there.

Dharavi is a slum lodged north from the intersection of, and in between the western and central railroads in Mumbai, west of Bandra and Mahim. Sporting an impressive million people over two square kilometers, it is arguably the biggest slum in all of India.

We had a tour with Be The Local. It is a fantastic little company based in the center of the city-within-the-city. The founder is a student at a Mumbai-based college who was finding himself rather tired of trying to find a part-time job to pay his dues through college. A Dharavi local himself, he got a brilliant idea: Arranging tourist trips into the slum areas! Your first thought may be that going on such a tour is making commerce on frolicking through other people’s misfortune. But that is where you would be dead wrong. The tour is all about showing what Dharavi is truly about, an area with huge industries, people working, children playing, schools, doctors, shops, restaurants – you name it.

I admit that in the beginning I thought the tour would be a sort of “sunshine-trip” through the good parts of the slum. I was wrong. The slum itself is a good place, and I’m thinking that from now, I won’t even call it a slum.

We started our tour at the ticket office of the nearby Mahim station, where our guide Ahad picked us up. We walked on, crossing the overpass into this fascinating area. The first part we saw was the recycling plants. People working on sorting, crushing and working plastic waste into small pellets that can be reused. They also recycle aluminum through a rigorous process, creating large bars that are sold off for profit. Both materials are either gathered around Mumbai, or bought from people who gather it. They say 40 % of all recycling in Mumbai is done in Dharavi.

Further inside, we got to take a look at the biggest industries in the area, pottery, textile and leather. It was really amazing to see that the prejudiced ideas of a slum with the apathetic faces of the poor and sick was replaced with the reality of smiling and skilled craftsmen and -women creating high quality goods to be sold to an international market. 80 % of all leather made in India is from Dharavi, and it is the chief export in their – yes, you will not believe this – 1 billion dollar economy.

We walked through the housing quarters as well. That was amazing almost to the emotional. We crouched through narrow corridors between the houses just wide enough to fit a person, and not quite high enough to keep the power cables and steel bars a safe clearing from the top of our heads. It was dark and warm, but on both sides we passed apartments where people were sleeping, eating and just plain living. The most peculiar thing was that in the midst of these dark and clammy alleys, were very high quality and clean, though small, apartments. They are actually available for rent from as low as four dollars a month.

We went on through the area, and there was one thing that we all agreed upon. Never anywhere before have we seen children so happy. It was amazing to see how the children blissfully roamed the streets laughing and playing cricket or tag.

We also visited the main office of Be the Local and got to meet the guys behind the concept. The company aims at giving part-time jobs to Dharavi locals who are studying at the universities, by having them guide tourists through different tours of Dharavi, or Mumbai in general. It’s strictly a for-profit business with the fortunate side effect of giving back to the society. Our guide Ahad was a third year student at Mumbai University, on his way to a bachelor in accounting and finance.

We finished the tour shortly after, an amazing experience richer, and with a good deal of presumptions hacked away. I for one, knowing that most of the people of Dharavi are not rich, will never ever address them as poor either.

Thank you, Dharavi, for giving us a day so full of good experiences. We are definitely never going to forget the vibrant life that you hold!

Best regards, Marius

Our guests love India

March 30, 2014 at 06:47

We welcomed our guests at the airport Thursday night. Friday we took things slow, and Saturday we went for a trip to Borivali. We went to Sanjay Gandhi national park, and we took a hike at the Kanheri Caves and went on a tiger and lion safari among other things. It was great fun, and our guest agreed that if this was the only thing they would experience for the whole trip, they would be happy, because thay had such a great experience.

My father and Marianne at the Kanhei Caves

My father and Marianne at the Kanheri Caves

Some people wanted a photo of our guests

Some people wanted a photo of our guests

But luckily their vacation in India have just startet, and there’s much more to see and do.

Ancient Buddhist caves

In front of one of the 109 ancient Buddhist caves

Buddha

Buddha statue

My father with some of the many monkeys in Sajay Gandhi NP

My father with some of the many monkeys in Sajay Gandhi NP

Today we’re going to have a relaxing day with a Sunday brunch at the Renaissance hotel. We’re just going to eat a lot of food, drink a lot of cocktails, read books on a sun bed and spend some time in the pool. I can’t wait!

- Andrea

Beer tasting

March 16, 2014 at 11:57

This Friday we joined our friend Ashutosh to Worli for some beer tasting and beer pong. We went to The Barking Deer Brew Pub, which is supposed to be the first microbrewery in Mumbai. It was a great place. It’s located next to Blue Frog, and not too far from Hard Rock Café.

20140316-161002.jpg

Beer tasting

They celebrated both Holi – the festival of colors and St. Pat’s Day, so they served special green and red beer for the occasion. My favorite was the Bombay Blonde.

20140316-161232.jpg

Beer pong

After some beers and hamburgers we went upstairs to play beer pong. Marius lost, and had to finish of Ashutosh’s beer. Both Marius and I got a little tipsy, and I actually fell asleep sitting at our table in the pub afterwards. I was so sleepy, I couldn’t help it. And after a while we took a taxi back home. The fact that taxis usually don’t have seat belts in the backseats finally had it’s advantages, as I could lie across the seats and sleep all the way home.

Now, Marius and I are getting ready to celebrate Holi the next two days. Tonight there will be a Holi party in our building with a Holika bonfire and tomorrow we’ll have to put away our favorite clothes, as we will join in on the color festival.

Daily life

March 13, 2014 at 21:27

This is it! :-)

We finally had a few days in a row that were more or less routine. We’ve been running up and down mountains for the last month+ trying to get everything sorted with the apartment, paychecks, work, phone, internet access, you name it. Our free time has generally been spent exploring new restaurants, areas, temples, shopping malls and other fun stuff. But these last couple of days we have been able to just quietly sit down and reflect on the matter that we are actually living in the second biggest city in the world.

Up until now, it has felt a lot like a vacation in some regards, like we haven’t really been able to set any sort of roots. I think this week was for exactly that. I’ve gotten into things at work, and Andrea’s research is coming along well. We’ve spent some evenings just watching True Detective (which, I have to say I give 10/10, even though it disappointed me in the end – I think that says a lot) and relaxing.

I think Matthew McConaughey is racing towards one of the very best actors in Hollywood history! (courtesy of truedetectivequotes.blogspot.com)

So, we are basically settling into life here quite nicely. It’s been good to get a few days to breathe, because it won’t be calm for long here. Next week, on Monday, we have Holi coming up. It’s that festival where they throw colors at each other, the very same festival that is featured on every camera commercial in the world. :-)

Holi! (Courtesy of t2india.us)

Oh. And I need to find out how to pay my bills here. You would think you could just go the bank and pay them, but nooo. I have to get to a Vodafone shop to pay my phone bills, Airtel shop to pay for Internet, somewhere else I don’t know to pay for gas, and a different place yet again to pay for electricity.

… Incredible India!

Best regards, Marius

Crazy cat woman

March 5, 2014 at 20:16

So far there haven’t been too many down sides about moving to India. There is one thing, though, and I was prepared for this. I really, really, really miss my cat back home. It’s crazy, I know! But whenever I travel I almost always start missing him. And this is the longest I have been away from him since he was born. We’ve been here for over five weeks now, and I’m already starting to miss home. I miss my friends, family and my house – especially my kitchen! Haha!

Luckily some of our friends and family members are coming to visit us really soon, and we can’t wait! Also, luckily we have Skype!

20140306-002559.jpg

Skyping with my cat

So I talked to Gandalf over Skype today. It was so good to see him, and I think he maybe recognised my voice. Haha. But then again, that’s the crazy cat lady in me talking. Anyways, it was good to see that he was happy and healthy at home. My mom, dad and brother have been taken good care of him – so thanks for that!

Other than this I’m so happy about living in Mumbai. We have made some really good friends, we eat great food and we experience amazing things in our daily lives. So far it has just been a life changing experience, and we enjoy Mumbai everyday. Of course, some days we really miss our friends and family back home – but then we remember that we’re only going to be away for six months. On top of that we are lucky enough to get visitors in March, April and June – and we are so very grateful for that! We can’t wait to experience India with our family and best friends!

And for my cat, he will be forced to listen to the crazy cat lady-voice through my brothers iPad for the next few months.

- Andrea

JASHN 2014!

March 4, 2014 at 17:53

This weekend was a weekend of festivals. Following our trip to Suvarna Temple on Thursday, we headed to Capgemini’s own festival on Saturday. It’s for employees and their families only, and it gathered an impressive 16.000 people in an outdoor complex in Bandra, a little south of where we live. Quite the contrast to the max 150 people that Capgemini-parties in Norway gather! To think that they host these types of parties at every major city Capgemini is represented in makes the whole idea mind-numbingly huge. There were fashion shows and talent competitions with singing and dancing, all with only Capgemini-employees on the stage – apart from the two hosts – one guy who is a Bollywood actor and a girl who is an anchor on a TV-station here.

The stage.

The stage.

Another thing there was an abundance of, apart from people, was foooood. They served everything from Sheesh-kebab to Chaat to sugar-cane juice. I ate till I was close to exploding, and then we had some ice cream :-)

Pressing sugar canes...

Pressing sugar canes…

... into this refreshing beverage.

… into this refreshing beverage.

Sunset at Jashn

Sunset at Jashn

After the sun set, we decided to head on to a bar, as it was our Indian friend’s birthday. We headed in a cab, south, towards Worli, along with two Indian friends and another Norwegian colleague of mine who is here to work for a month, driving over the bridge that connects Bandra and Worli. Of course we went Indian-style, with six people in a taxi. We even got pulled over, but our Indian friends told the police that we were tourists just looking to see the city, and they let us go without any hiccups:-)

The gang who notoriously raided Mumbai on Saturday.

The gang who notoriously raided Mumbai on Saturday.

The choice for club fell on Hard Rock Cafe where we had some more food(!) and beers (and unfortunately, tequila). After this, we headed around the corner from there to Shiro, a club which we, funnily enough, got thrown out of the last time we were in Mumbai. It is a semi-formal club, and the last time we were there, we were actually looking for Hard Rock Cafe, which of course is around the corner. But that time, we thought that Shiro was the place (it’s rather poorly marked and signs are pretty non-existent). We were told at the door that we weren’t properly dressed to go in, and as such had to leave. We though it was kind of strange, as we had never heard of a dress code to get into HRC, but I remember us thinking that “Oh well, India is a strange place after all!” Haha! We did find out at a later date though, courtesy of our taxi driver, back then, where the actual entrance to HRC was.

Anyway, we danced the night away at Shiro – which is sort of strange for me, as I don’t really dance – but hey, that’s what tequila is for, right? After Andrea had, unsuccessfully, tried to wing man our friend into hooking up with what we found out was a bride-to-be at her bachelorette party, we decided enough was enough, and headed out for some more fun. We took a taxi even further south, past Haji Ali Mosqué, and to Marine Drive, where we jumped of and went for a nice night-stroll. Along the way, these guys with huge cans of chai on the back of their bikes sold us some hot refreshment, and we bought some fresh fruits from some kids. I almost choked, as I found out they put spices on the fruits. Like, really, really, really spicy spices. After walking around for a while, we decided to say good night to South Mumbai and Nariman Point and head on home to hit the pillow sleeping.

Best regards. Marius

Lazy Sunday

February 9, 2014 at 15:11

This Sunday is the most relaxed I can remember being, in like forever. We wanted to sleep long, but awoke by ourselves at around 9. We just put on the TV and cozied under the blankets for about an hour before we got up and went to the pool.

I started reading Paulo Coelho’s new book, “Manuscript from Accra” on the sun bed. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with his books. Some of them I think are really boring and stupid. Others are really  inspirational and great, in the sort of way that makes you feel like you grow as a person. My favorites are “The Alchemist”, “The Pilgrimage”, and “The Devil and Miss Prym”. I really like how his books are always centered around a really simple subject, that he splashes a bit of spirituality and magic on, to create a story that is really fun to read.

image

Anyway, we hit the shower because we were to meet our future neighbor and her friends for lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. They were really, really nice and we had a great time!

The lunch buffet at Renaissance is crazy. There’s one section for starters, one for main course, and one for desserts. And by section, I sort of mean restaurant. We payed about 2600 rupees (NOK 260) for the food with free drinks. Free drinks doesn’t mean two cokes and a coffee. It means full selection of cocktails, beers, soft drinks and wines. I was in heaven, of course. The price also covers a trip to the gym and the swimming pool, which we will be sure to visit another time.

After the four hour meal, I came down with a severe case of itis, so I had to sleep it off at our hotel. So that’s where I’m still at. I haven’t moved an inch. We were planning on heading over to Juhu Beach again tonight for some rooftop open-grilling, but we’re beat.

Oh. Tottenham’s playing now. That’s my queue for a trip to the bar:-)

Best regards, Marius

A different kind of day

February 5, 2014 at 18:55

Yes, that’s exactly what you get when you live and work in India! I wasn’t actually going to post anything today, but after getting home and thinking back on the day, I couldn’t really help myself. It was the kind of day that you don’t experience… Ever!

We started off taking a rickshaw to work. Which we always do, but I wish I had filmed this trip. It’s rather hot here, and sitting in the cool breeze of the open carriage is awesome in the morning. Plus, it’s the fastest method of travel in heavy traffic, and it costs us between 20-60 rupees (2-6 NOK). Our driver today decided he didn’t want to deal with traffic, so he took us out into the oncoming lane. I am usually pretty calm in these things even though, if you are a bit anxious about driving, you are going to feel like you are crashing every twenty seconds. This time, however, veering through oncoming cars and people and cows and whatnot, I was pretty sure it was my last moment in this world. It turned out alright, of course, as it has a tendency to do with everything in this city.

Arriving in Godrej IT Park, M4 office, we headed to the last day of inauguration where we got a very good and inspiring seminar about people with disabilities, and how we need to change mindset about disabilities.

Upon leaving the office, we see a bunch of people standing near the pond on one side of the building, looking at some workers emptying it. It turns out a little turtle is hiding in a waterpipe at the bottom of the dirty pond with polluted water, unable to get out, so they need to save it. Which they do, and after cleaning it of the muddy water and making sure it’s okay, the first thing they do is show it to us and let us hold it. It’s funny, because all the people standing around really wanted us to experience this, and no one swooped in to touch it or anything until they were certain we had held it and gotten a picture. I think it’s a good example of the love and pride Indians have of what their country has to offer, and their kindness towards foreigners – or firang – as they call us.

image

Emptying the pool

image

Finally got it out!

image

Andrea gets to hold it.

image

Cute little thing, no?

I went off on a meeting with the project leader of the project covering services for the Norwegian post office. We decided to try and find a suitable position for me there, with regards to me having some technical expertise as well as a good network on the Norwegian side. I can thus contribute both on the front and back end. It’s a good project for me, as I can get a place in the project on the Norwegian side when I get home as well.

It is rather funny, I go to India, and I still work on a Norwegian project:-)

The building that I will be working from is like the “store front” of the Capgemini office in Mumbai.

image

Visiting companies logo's, created with loose marble rock

image

Rose petals

image

The waiting area

We spent the rest of the day getting to know more people around the office, all of whom are so extremely nice and friendly.

I will update again a bit later. Just had to share this with you:-)

Best regards, Marius

Our first week in Mumbai…

February 2, 2014 at 12:30

.. is almost over. And we are so happy to say that we don’t have any regrets about moving here! When we talked about moving here it was the first week we thought would be the most challenging. And if that is the case we will probably have a really great time in this mega city. So far we have just loved it!

Hiranandani

Hiranandani

This week we have been viewing apartments, met with our new colleagues and just tried to come to know the area. We are really happy about Powai, where we are going to live. Hiranandani is a beautiful area, just filled with good shops and restaurants. And we could not be more happy about the Capgemini offices in Mumbai and the people who work there. They have just been so welcoming and they made us feel at home straight away. Obviously those are the two places we will spend the most of our time, so we are oh so glad we feel comfortable at both our neighborhood and our work place. 

Other than that we have spent quite a bit of our time shopping, eating and exploring. We have been to some malls, among them R City mall, which is the nearest mall to where we stay. Here they have international restaurant and café chains like TGI Friday’s, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Starbucks and so on, in addition to indian and other asian restaurants. They also have lots of good international shops like Tommy Hilfiger, Gant, Sunglass Hut and indian shops like Global Desi and Fab India.

R City Mall food court

R City Mall food court

We have also been to Infinity Mall and Inorbit Mall in Malad, which both host my favorite inexpensive shop abroad: Forever 21.

Forever 21 in Oberoi Mall

Forever 21 in Oberoi Mall

And the food.. For some strange reason we haven’t had too much Indian food yet. Maybe it is because we’re still trying to adjust to moving from Norway, where everything is familiar, to India, where everything is supposed to be very different. But still, we have tried some really good food this past week. For our Japanese or Chinese food we go to the incredible beautiful Skky Lounge in Powai, for our Italian we go to Red Olives and to satisfy our Belgian and French liking we go to Le Pain Quoditien.

Skky Lounge

Skky Lounge

 

Pasta at Red Olives

Pasta at Red Olives

Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien

It is safe to say I will need to start working out soon before my pants won’t fit anymore.

- Andrea