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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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Garbage bricks? In Bandra

Years ago a Turkish diplomat getting ready to leave India shared that one thing he would not miss about Mumbai was the constant cacophony of the crows.

I was puzzled as this was not an issue for me… at the time I lived in Kalina. While there were birds a-plenty, crows weren’t specifically a problem.

Til we moved to Bandra.

That’s where the fun began.

And I remembered the crow comment… Oh how I remembered his genuine frustration at the constant, relentless cawing… What trouble they were getting into homes, garbage… the nuisance and nonsense of these feathered devils.

It was a frustration I began to share.. particularly as we have several crows who have adopted our building.

bandra-crow

One does get used to all sorts of noises and sounds, so after time, the cawing simply blended into the noises that make everyday life here.

However there is another aspect to the equation.

The humble garbage bin.

Why you may ask is this at all relevant?

Because in addition to the sharp cawing, this is a further element of angst with these scavengers.

They LOVE garbage. They LOVE even more making a mess of things. All your unmentionables strewn about for all and sundry to see… Our building crows boldly open bins to unearth your hidden edible treasures.

Enter the brick to the rescue.

In my climb up the stairs I discovered a simple yet smart way adopted by several neighbours to combat the crow garbage scourge!

bandra-garbage-brick

Just like the odd cones on our building pipes that keep the rats and mice away, a simple brick on top of the garbage bin makes it sufficiently challenging to the crows.

Voila! Garbage crow deterrent!

Now I gotta go get me a brick!!

Other Sunday Snaps:

Sunday solo salmon in Mumbai

Just after I booked my flight and stay for Jakarta, my attention turned to what needs to get done around the house before I take off for 3 weeks…

Did a little fridge digging and freezer check, discovering a frozen Atlantic salmon fillet just begging to be consumed with some assorted veggies….

My partner was on tour so it was just me, but one of the things about work travel is you learn to revel in the occasional ‘proper’ solo dinner…

So why not get into practice at home?

There you have it… found myself cooking up a storm to produce a scrumptious yet reasonably healthy Sunday dinner just for me, myself and I!

  • Poached salmon with a crazy yum citrus dill reduction sauce
  • Steamed cauliflower with a dash of tumeric
  • Toasted roasted beans with sesame, sunflower, yellow mustard and cumin seeds
  • Carrots with cumin and dill
  • Potatoes sautéed with onions a special home-made olive oil my partner picked up in Beirut, cracked black pepper and seasalt

What a pleasure… a good proper home cooked meal, at our own table, with a little music in the background. Yup… think I have my ‘home fix’ and easing beautifully into solo meals!

sunday-solo-salmon

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Rooftop Views in Mumbai

During monsoon, going out for walks along the Bandra sealink promenade is less than appealing.

On days when sitting at the computer working at home, I try to take a break to run up and down the stairs in my building just to get the blood pumping for a few minutes.

As a reward, sometimes when the rain abates slightly, I step out to our rooftop…

The air may be polluted but there is something about seeing the cityscape and sealink in the distance that makes one breath a little deeper. Looking up, I can sometimes spot kites spread their powerful wings and soar above the crows.

2016-08-05 Monsoon Cityscape

Then I head over to the other side for a completely different view. A tarp town… impossible to see the narrow winding lanes between the homes of the old village, covered with blue tarps and old plastic signs pined down with rocks.

2016-08-05 Tarp town

Two different perspectives… one city, one village from one rooftop.

Related ‘Sunday Snaps’ posts:

Stop and stare… in Delhi

When running up the steps for a meeting in Hauz Khas village in Delhi… was arrested by the sight of this mural on the staircase wall…

2016-04-18 Delhi Fashion Mural

From office art in Mumbai to stairwell murals in Delhi, any everyday art make you stop and stare?

Other Sunday Snaps:

Office art in Mumbai – Lorenzo Quinn

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These days I’ve spent a lot of time popping in and out of various office around Mumbai for a hectic series of meetings.

Every once and a while, I come across something that makes me pause….

Like these two piece by Lorenzo Quinn at India Bulls Finance Centre in Mumbai.

Lorenzo Quinn La Dolce Vita

About La Dolce Vita, Lorenzo shares:

The thrill of living the dolce vita in Rome must have been amazing. My father tried to describe it to me many times as I was growing up. It was a world full of hope and rebirth, a feeling of eternal spring for humanity. For me this sculpture represents that joie de vivre and the total abandonment to the child within.

Lorenzo Quinn Two Sides of Nature

And the Two Sides of Nature, he shares:

We often ponder which road to take. I wonder a lot about the good and evil in the world. There is a constant battle within us between these two. The Ego and the Superego – and in between is the Id. This sculpture symbolises all the parts of the inner self. We hope that what prevails is the Golden part of our soul.

Lorenzo Quinn Two Sides Close-up

Other Sunday Snaps:

Bagel Shop ‘Adda’ in Mumbai

The concept of an ‘adda’ in India is broadly a gathering of people in prolonged conversation. What primarily comes to mind when I hear this word is a group of guys in Kolkata in animated earnest debate, perhaps over a cup of chai collected by the side of a road.

In Mumbai, you can indeed find pockets of the ‘adda’ culture and my partner can often be found hanging out at his ‘office’ aka The Bagel Shop

So often that it is well known which table is ‘his’ and there is even a photo  next to ‘his’ table with a quote from him about the Bagel Shop being his ‘adda’.

2016-01-30 Denzils Adda

Any local hang-out spot near you where you can count on a good conversation?

Other Sunday Snaps:

Cricket fever in Mumbai

Folks who know me well know that sports just isn’t my thing.

After decades in India, I have yet to be converted to a cricket fan.

So imagine the surprise that I… someone who doesn’t follow cricket landed up at a coveted T20 cricket match in Mumbai. The game was a few days ago when West Indies trounced England.

Tonight most of India will be glued to their TVs… tonight the fate of the India team will be decided… tonight I almost wish we still had cable… I may not have cricket fever but I’m curious to know what happens!

T20 England vs West Indies

T20 England vs West Indies, Wankhede Stadium

Other Sunday Snaps:

Night sky in Singapore

While I am completely happy in our home in Mumbai, we do not have a ‘view’. Our choice of location was motivated purely by practicality – close to the highway to scoot to the airport or other parts and close to my partner’s mother.

On my December trip to Singapore, I stayed one night with a friend in ‘CBD’. We went to see the documentary ‘Naked DJ‘ at the Singapore International Film Festival then returned to this view. It was a most enjoyable evening sitting and chatting on the rather large balcony, with the evening lights our backdrop.

2015-12-02 Singapore Night

I’ve had the privilege of many fabulous views on my stays in various cities. Do you have a favourite?

Other Sunday Snaps:

Mmmmm mangosteens! In Bangkok

When you travel a lot, little extras in places you rest your weary head start to make a difference. Like a luscious exotic fruit plate.

What is even nicer is when there is a little help to navigate the delicacies offered… like this hotel from a stay in Bangkok in 2013 that had a menu card with explanation, how to eat and what you could expect trying the fruit.

Hotel fruit plate

The SukhoThai’s fruit plate

Me? I sooooo knew what I was diving into! From that tempting bowl, I went straight for the mangosteens.

Mangosteens have been a favourite since I first strolled with a friend in Singapore through a market in China Town. She made me buy a full bag – warning me that I would never be able to stop with just one.

She was completely right!

That sweet, tangy, juicy oh so yummy fruit… I’m craving it right now just looking at these photos, imagining that plump white pulp bursting into flavour in my mouth.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen demolished

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