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What to do if you NEED to “go!” Public toilets in India

There are simply things not done in polite society… and yet when there are no easy ways to do what most consider rather private activities, it becomes a very public matter.

My favourite walking spot is the promenade with a view of the Bandra Sea Link. I’ll never forget one time I watched a mother patiently help her young daughter learn how to squat and defecate over a drainage hole. If you live on the streets, it is certainly a better alternative than many other options.

So the other day, I was delighted to see colourfully painted public toilets for men and women… set up to service the labour community that has sprung up next to the Sea Link promenade to build the new metro station. How fabulous!

Except, despite appearances and it being a terrific initiative, they don’t work. At all.

Instead, they stand locked, testament to a great idea with infuriatingly poor execution. Clearly money was spent to set them up, but not to actually keep them functioning.

It is hard not to be cynical. Until GST, on every transaction an additional 0.5% cess was paid to raise funds for “Clean India” i.e. Swachh Bharat… which is best seen in propaganda paintings supporting the government agenda of the day rather than real change.

As a woman, I dare you to find a decent public toilet outside of fancy malls…. that works.

However I remain optimistic. I take hope in the efforts of individuals who work to improve things… despite the odds.

PS – Interestingly this post prompted racist hate mail, naturally by a man, offended that I was concerned that time, money, effort went into something which could serve public good but doesn’t. Because after all “Foreigners like you have only to say shit things about India like any typical Westerners.” Hmm… I suppose having a life linked directly with India since 1990, nearly 20 years calling India home means nothing and I’m not entitled to have an opinion as my origins are outside India. I wonder if that same individual, if living in say Canada, would believe he has no right to be concerned about something he finds potentially positive but frustratingly not fulfilling its mandate?

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“What the heck?” in Mumbai

Are these a new art installation? Some fancy creative contraption? Preparing for the space age piping?

All around our building these shiny new objects attached themselves to our pipes…

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For those not familiar with life in Mumbai, you may be forgiven for your confusion.

After all, their purpose may simply not be required in your parts.

However for us? Let’s just say there was more than one reason we decided to welcome a kitten into our home. It was also in hopes that she would be a good mouse (or rat… or bandicoot) catcher!

Particularly since all the construction, let’s just say that the rodents of the neighbourhood have become rather adept at scurrying up our pipes. Those of us on the lower floors in particular are prone as they climb up and then hop through windows into homes full of all sorts of goodies.

But since these suckers came up? Not one rodent. Phew! Simple yet effective.

Any other unique ways of keeping rodents and other pesky creatures at bay in your home?

Urban Village: More the merrier!

Sometimes company is better… why snooze alone when you can snuggle with your feline family?

Company is better

Momma cat with her three kittens

Just another day in Bandra’s urban village…

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Glorious Graffiti by Gomez

If you wander around Mumbai you will come across some pretty spectacular graffiti.

Particularly in Bandra’s Ranwar village, there are stunning examples of street art. Given traffic conditions, the best time to stroll along Chapel Road, Veronica and Waroda Road is on a lazy Sunday when people not vehicles rule the narrow lanes….

Which is why I’ve decided to feature on the occasional Sunday an image from many months (nay years!) of wandering and clicking a pic here and there. What you spotted yesterday may be fading today to replaced by something new tomorrow. The only constant is change… with multiple flashes of creativity unleashed for a moment or two.

One such initiative occurred late 2014 with the St.art Mumbai project that brought artists from around the world to India. (more…)

Moosehead dude cycles into Bandra!

Anyone who has wandered around the streets of Bandra can’t help but stumble across some rather remarkable art on building walls, hidden along winding lanes, tucked away on the corner of a convenience stall.

Multiple arts projects find home in this western suburb of Bombay… one of the more recent was part of the Celebrate Bandra festival where St+art brought together a mix of Indian and international artists to create a new series of murals to brighten the buildings of Bandra… (more…)

Urban Village – I stand on guard for thee!

It has been a VERY long time since I strolled through the urban village outside our door.

Partly this was because for months I was traveling and hardly home in Mumbai. However it was largely as I simply wasn’t up to the obstacle course with my busted then fragile recovering ankle

However I finally overcame the nervousness of potentially re-wrecking my ankle on the uneven winding paths and took a wander along the familiar twists and turns…

The parrots are inside and post Eid also means the goats are gone. The kitten has become a grandmother with her latest offspring’s offspring doing their own interpretation of a peak-a-boo while a snoozing potted cat was easily spotted. (more…)

Urban Village – Motor Meows

A common sight in India are families of 4 or 5 perched precariously together on a motorcycle. Dad driving with another kid in front of him. Mom at the back with a babe clutched on one side and daughter squished between her parents.

Yet the ‘seat’ space is limited… And it turns out, just enough for a cat to comfortably stretch out and have a nice nap! (more…)

Urban Village – Potted cats

I’m a closet crazy cat lady! However sooooo cannot keep pets with travels… so indulge my desire for critters by visiting the friendly neighbourhood cats in the “village” just outside my building.

As I’m a generous sort, am sharing some random pics of potted cats…

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Check it out! I have a pot ALL to myself. Na! Na!

Yeah well, our pot is bigger than yours! We could even have a threesome!

So what? Our pot is big enough for a threesome!

Anyone want a potted plant with cats??

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Urban Village – I’m not kidding!

There is a delightful contradiction seeing “village” life in the middle of a major metropolis. One of the sister’s from ASK Your Sister was transiting from China to Goa via Mumbai and did a double take:

That guy is walking a goat – it really is a goat not a dog!! Do ya think if I moved back to Nova Scotia I could get a pet goat?? (more…)

Urban Village – Peak-a-boo!

Here’s another urban village wandering with my favourite subject – the neighbourhood cats.

Peak-a-boo! You can’t see me!

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Just look up silly! I so can TOTALLY see you!

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These guys just have that awww adorable quality.

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