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

Slumdog Millionaire

March 7, 2014 at 06:27

During breakfast this morning, we were watching TV and the movie Slumdog Millionaire came on. We came in right around the scene where Jamal and his brother are sitting in an unfinished building looking out over their old slum, and we were like “Whoa!”, that looks familiar. We didn’t quite catch the exact whereabouts of their location, but it definitely looked like our home area, Hiranandani Gardens.

A shot from Slumdog Millionaire looking out on Hiranandani Gardens

We did some Googling and came up with this picture. Lo and Behold – this is almost the exact same view that we have from our apartment. In the bottom middle of the picture you can see a green area, that is the Heritage Park, in which I do my running in the morning. The two tall buildings you see center, are the same two buildings between which we took a picture of the fire a couple of weeks back (notably, the one on the right is Octavius, where we originally got our heart set on moving in). All the way to the right, behind Jamal’s back, is the Nomura building, where our neighbor works. Given, the movie was shot some years back and Hiranandani is evolving at a crazy rate, so there are a few more buildings now Most notably in this picture, there are now three more buildings to the far left. I dare say that had the scene been shot with the camera pointing in the other direction (left) you would have seen the building we live in (I don’t know if it had been built yet, though).

The view from our apartment

The view from our apartment

You can see from this picture the two buildings in the center, the heritage park, the Nomura building, the tiny slum, and the ridge in the background. In addition, you can see the three new buildings on the left. I took this picture out of the window in our bedroom this morning just to illustrate how close the two viewpoints are.

On further scrutiny we gathered where the picture was originally taken. I can’t really decide which of the two building in the following picture it is, but it has to be one of the two on the right, and my guess is the one in the center, Torino, and that Adonia, on the left hadn’t been built yet, as you can see straight “through” it to the Nomura compound.

Avalon and

Avalon and Torino, with Adonia on the left. This is also a view from our bedroom, only from a window in the other direction.

We thought it was rather fun, so I wanted to share it here:-)

Best regards, Marius

Maha Shivaratri

March 1, 2014 at 09:22

On Thursday there was a celebration at the temple here called Suvarna. They celebrated Maha Shivaratri, or The Great Night of Lord Shiva. The festival is to honor Lord Shiva, of course, although I haven’t gotten a clear image as to what makes the particular day special. Reasons I have found range from it being Shiva’s favorite day of the year, to the day he saved the world by drinking a lake filled with poison, turning his throat blue. Another reason is that it is said to be the day when Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya, or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

The entrance

The entrance

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the temple, so I haven’t got anything from that for you, though. Anyway, the second we walked into the temple, we were greeted like long lost children or something. I’ve said earlier that Indians are really proud of their country and culture, and they love to share it with everyone. That impression hasn’t lessened after our visit to the temple! We had barely gotten our shoes and socks off when the baba, who set up the temple in 1957, took us in and showed us around. Of course, that was a rather difficult task. He is much revered in the temple, and for every step he takes, there is someone laying down in front of him, bowing, touching his feet and then their head or heart, to signal that he is above them, in some sense, and within them, I guess. He of course patiently blesses each and every one of them.

Just inside the temple

Just inside the temple

Outside the temple

Outside the temple

His name, as I understand, is Shree Shree Shree Suvarna Baba. He is quite the fellow, with the biggest smile you will ever see. He explained to us that this temple, although Hindu at heart, was for all religions; “Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, all the same”, he said, drawing the symbols for each of the religions on the wall with his finger. “One caste, one religion”, he continued, underlining that everyone was welcome into the temple. He showed us all parts of the temple and explained all the God-figures as we passed them. He handed us a special sort of food they gave out there, which was a candy of some sort, and really tasty. Finally he sat us down on a sofa in the back of the temple grounds and had one of the other babas open a coconut for each if us to drink. I really couldn’t believe that we would be welcomed like that. Shree Shree Shree Suvarna Baba had of course a whole temple full of people to attend to, so he left us there in the hands of some of the other babas, both him and us smiling from ear to ear.

We walked around the temple grounds for a while, just looking at the symbols, architechture and people. Satisfied, and our hearts filled with the joy of looking and talking to all the happy people at the temple, we headed home where we had to step over this little cute puppy dog.

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So, that is the story of how we experienced Maha Shivaratri, thanks to our friend Ashutosh, who was nice enough to give us a heads up about the holiday.

Best regards, Marius

How to train your dragon

February 15, 2014 at 11:39

Okay. Maybe the title is a bit misleading. Or in fact, doesn’t have anything to do with the following post… But they do have HBO here, you know! I was watching “How to train your dragon” the other night and it got me thinking how much my cat looks like the dragon the kid rides, Toothless. See:

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Toothless!

But, oh, I digress. I was really going to write about how you get an apartment in  Hiranandani. It is not very simple, it seems. Luckily we have been able to get a really great apartment in the 28th floor of the Verona building here.

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Verona!

We only lease for six months, since we won’t be staying here longer than that, and leasing for that short of a period is almost impossible. We of course found our dream apartment in the Octavius building, very similar to the one we have moved into, only renovated this winter. The owner, however, requested a minimum 1 year lease, which meant that wasn’t going to happen.

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The view!

We are however, very happy with our new apartment, paid for all up front (yes, that’s what it takes to get a six month deal). Overall it is nice. We are going to decorate it a bit more here to make sure its nice and “homey”, so you’ll have to wait for the pictures until then.
But you can see the view from our living room:

I need to give a big thank you to Pritesh at Expatprops, and to Tina Nair who has guided us around Powai, looking at apartments. She’s been a great help, and if you are considering to move here, I would very much recommend that you let her and Pritesh sort you out!

A little info on what you may expect financially when leasing here:

1 month rent to broker
3 month rent deposit (this goes straight to the owner, no deposit account)
1 month rent up front (maybe more)
10 000 rupees for registration
15 000 rupees entrance fee (amount depends on building, some even charge exit-fee)
2 000 rupees for police fees (1500 if you go to the station, but that was advised against – they may charge you baksheesh on top)
1000 signatures on 100 formalities and documents

Luckily it all works out fine:-)

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.

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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.

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Emptying the pool

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Finally got it out!

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Andrea gets to hold it.

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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.

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Visiting companies logo's, created with loose marble rock

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Rose petals

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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

 

And so we wait.

January 12, 2014 at 18:10

Today we are one day overdue from the day we were supposed to go to India. We had some issues with the documentation for my visa. It was quite a lot of paperwork we needed, it turned out. It will be right around another week before we can leave, I think.

It is really just as well that we are a few days overdue. Andrea has fallen really sick with Streptococcus and have been unable to get out of bed for a while, and you don’t really understand how much it is that you have to do before the day of departure. We have hardly gotten a chance to say goodbye to any of our friends and there are so many things we need to pack and pack away before we leave. Another thing is that we haven’t secured an apartment yet.  Andrea is a little anxious about it, but for me, it’s just another page in the book of “No worries”. It’s worked out pretty well for me for the last 26 years, but I’m guessing someday I will be rather disappointed. Let’s just hope it’s not on this one.

We are looking at a few places to live. We have been recommended the Powai area in Mumbai, more specifically Hiranandani Gardens or Lake Homes, which, in my opinion, look pretty great.

Powai, Mumbai

Powai, Mumbai

Hiranandani Gardens

Lake homes

It is quite expensive to live there, though. It will run at a little less than 1 lacs rupees per month (1 lac is 100 000, so it translates to about 10.000 NOK a month – 10 NOK ~ 1 Rupee). That means most of my salary will be eaten up  by this. Luckily, Andrea gets a pretty nice scholarship, and I can work extra remotely for Capgemini in Norway to supply our bank accounts with a little extra cash. We’ll be all right though, the cost of living isn’t that high overall. It’s fairly close to where we will be working, as well as the airport, so that is great.

I’ve gotten in touch with a few real estate agents in Mumbai, who all live in the area, and they have told me that it is a little difficult to get less that 11 months lease, because of a set “lock period” on that amount of time that is standard in Mumbai when you want to rent an apartment. They have said that they will be able to work it out, however, so we put our faith in that.

So for now, we wait. And are grateful for the extra opportunity to prepare and say goodbye to our friends, at the same time that we are very anxious to go.

Best regards, Marius