Shop till you drop

Shop till you drop

I took this picture last Sunday; when I tried to kill my boring rainy afternoon with a cup of coffee at Starbucks. There is a big project to make Singapore full with Hot-Spots; currently it is in BETA testing mode and all you need to do is sign-up with Sing-Tel or StarHub or M1(not sure) the three main Wireless provider ; the back-end services is provided by iCell and Qmax networks.

As Singapore is famous for its shopping center. This picture I took to capture shopping weariness of this guy as he drops on sofa at Starbucks after shopping at Mustafa Centre. It is a shopping paradise open for 24hrs. in Little-India area of Singapore which is very famous among locals as well Indian tourists alike. They even claim at weekend the store is packed with more then 15,000 customers of all nationalities. Well, while his lady partner was quite busy on her mobile phone, it allowed me to take this picture (invasion of sleep if not privacy). Personally, I do always complain about my feet hurting and headache whenever I am in a shopping mall but never dropped yet this way.

Arrived Singapore

Arrived at Singapore

Reached Singapore on a business trip for about 26 days. Will try to post more often as I explore Singapore from my angle.

Bombay International Airport

CSIA - Mumbai International Airport

Bombay International Airport is always under construction as far as my International travels are concerned. Good news is that it is getting better and the completion date is getting closer. Here, are the pictures for the same as I waited for my flight to Singapore.Though the pictures looks quite world class construction work; but on the ground it may be not …quality wise.

CSIA - Mumbai International Airport
CSIA - Mumbai International Airport

Celebrations

Guess ??

Looking at those plastic chairs brought back my memories of Anandamela (a Bengali children magazine - published fortnight. They used to have picture of common objects in obscure way and you have to identify the same. I know this picture is a far cry from those -any way some sweet memories to reflect upon from fourth floor while taking this picture.

In India celebration is part of life whether big or small ones. But not like west, where you have Christmas as the main one. Here some community celebrates one festival in a BIG way while others something else. You are always between BIG parties of communities. You can not miss them - the reason is very simple … bright choice of colors which catches your attention even if you don’t want which is once again different from west where black and white and sometimes red is primary colour of their clothing.

celebrations at office

Similarly, there are some big or small events at work also; not as fancy as of those year-end parties I attended abroad. As Indian economies and companies enjoy the Bull Run these celebrations got few extra feathers on their wings.

These two pictures were taken at PCP, (Peninsula Corporate Park) lower Parel. This used to be a big cotton mill before. Cotton Mills were moved out of Mumbai in 70ties after the long and famous strike by Shakti-Samanth. Now all those mills area are getting converted into posh malls, offices or residential apartments.

If I am not wrong it was party thrown out by Diageo – the big liquor company (Johnny Walker, Smirnoff and other big labels).

Cart in city road

Bullock cart on Mumbai Road

While coming to work this morning oxen (castrated male) cart carrying sugar canes caught my attention. It is not a common site to see a bullock cart or hand pulled cart (pulled or pushed by a man) at the heart of Mumbai city next to VT Station.

They are not allowed in the main roads of the city but can only move in the peripheral roads of the city. These kinds of slow moving objects cause most notorious traffic jam in India. But for poor villagers, these are the only way to meet their daily needs and feed few hungry stomachs. Revealing the very true fact of economic and emotional hardship that these low-wage workers face on a day-to-day basis.

Hand cart carrrying bananas

Cart is being used for ages and still continues to be an important mode of carrying goods mostly agrarian goods even in this modern age. Although, its popularity has declined considerably but it is very cheap than any other mode of carriage vehicles.

It has many shapes but the basic idea of transporting material remains same. It has usually two or four wheels. This cart is made entirely of bamboos and the wheels are wooden. It is also a very eco-friendly vehicle. Number of men or animal required to push or pull depends on what being hauled.

C for Cab and Cricket

Cricket – is India’s gorgeous past time – it is not taken as a sport. This picture was taken during Cricket World Cup of 2007 inside a Mumbai cab. But somehow I never posted the same. I am not a big cricket fan but is impossible to avoid cricket while you are in India.

In recent time, performance of Indian cricket team is quite disappointing. But that does not change Indians breathing cricket - be at India or abroad. Performance of India in any other sport is quite dishonorable considering its population.

Cricket and cricketers are most sought after in India. Best Indian performance of cricket in world arena was almost 20 years back when there was not so much glamour and money in that game. May be that is why they were more interested in playing cricket rather than endorsing any brand or product.

The worst of all is the Indian cricket board which is most money milking sport’s body in the world even beating those big football clubs of Europe. Chairs of Indian Cricket Board are filled up with politicians and old cricketers whose greed for money, power and limelight or Page-Three attention never ends. Enough of ranting …..for something which I don’t even care.

Life in monsoon

After scorching heat, monsoon has arrived in Mumbai. From last two consecutive weeks particularly weekends (June 23-24 & June 30-July 1) there were disruption of normal life due to heavy shower. Thank God, those were weekends otherwise life of 20 million people would have affected some way or other as many schools and offices are closed. We stayed mostly inside and I only ventured out twice to nearby shops to get some grocery done for forthcoming week.

Almost all modes of transports were affected severely; local trains which symbolizes life-line of Mumbai were stopped. People flying in and out of Mumbai also had great difficulties. But with all that Mumbai was back to business on Monday. This city and its people are doing quite normal but as a first timer to the monsoon we are taking things with surprise. Monsoon of Western India are well known to us as we were taught with importance in our Geography classes about them and how they effect the livelihood of farmers of this sub-continent.

These pictures were taken by one of our Support Engineer at Worli. Due to heavy rain there were around 2000 customers of MTNL (State owned Telco) were effected. One out of those 2000 customers was ours (a big fat multinational bank) whose services were compromised for a week. Counterparts sitting in developed countries don’t understand why it takes seven days to get a link fixed during monsoon. Basically, they don’t have idea of what monsoon is?

I am sure people would appreciate this hard effort put by telephone line-men they had to pump out water from the trench before fixing this mess. Red salute to all those people who get Mumbai going through tough time like this.

Technicians working

Technicians working
Telephone cables

Sweet teeth

From this Monday I moved to a corner desk as I put a new pair of shoes at work. The desk is nice but I lost my view from the window. Well, this post is not about my office and work.

Glasses - all set for party

Our boss is sailing Far-East and we had a dinner at Marine Plaza Hotel honoring him. The location of the hotel is great and as we were a big group we got a hall to ourself facing Black Bay and Marine-Drive of Mumbai. This windswept promenade is the crown of Mumai’s attraction. If you are in Mumbai try this location for an evening dinner - lots of high end hotel to choose from.

The food was good but not an excellent one; it was a buffet - with many verities of salads, soups and Indian snacks. I hardly had any place for main course after all those but I saved enough for dessert. There were around 10 types of them; and you can see I have taken almost all of them in my plate. I do not recollect any of those fancy names. Chef’s delight was the ultimate one. I was bit skeptical when taking the big white dessert, it had a layer of chocolate in the middle to make it yummier.

Desserts

Keeping my palm starched and flat on the key-board I confess I have sweet teeth. No big secret, I love [desire will be a better one to express my feeling for them] desserts particularly chocolates. I love dark chocolate but I just can not have enough of them at one go. Unfortunately, I am not getting my daily dose of chocolate as I used to have after dinner in Paris. In Paris, you even get 100% chocolate which comes with warning on the wrapper that you might find taste too strong. Chocolates of main-land Europe particularly from France, Switzerland, and Belgium are the best. Only chocolate I know and like from Italy is Ferro Rocher – well enough of chocolates for this post …but never enough for my tongue.

“Amby” in city of joy

Calcutta (Kolkata) – mega city of Eastern India. In this vibrant city with a distinct socio-political culture, cabs are grand old Ambassadors from Hindustan Motors and most of cars are manufactured from the nearby plant of Uttarpara. This picture was taken next to major long distance Sealdah Railway Station which shows that city of joy still struggles with traffic congestion. Unlike of other major cities where Tata indica or fiat or Maruti are common hired forms of mechanised transport this city has almost all taxis as amby painted in yellow.

Yellow Cab of Calcutta

Before Maruti it was the only car on Indian road. This reminds me of my childhood times when me and my brother used to identify a Mark-II, Mark-III or Mark-IV by its sound (all these models looked very similar). It was a stupid game in era of Nintendo –Wii. The game was a simple one - we used to hide behind a wall as we saw an Ambassador approaching, try to identify the same by sound and confirm as soon as it passed by from behind.

While writing this post I just found the web page of this car and found 10 reasons to buy this car ……

  1. First Indian car – [born in 1950 (inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford ,United Kingdom ]
  2. Power Steering – [Trying to match up the new market with Maruti, TATA, Honda and Toyota.]
  3. Multi Fuel Injection – [Well, all new car has that - what a big deal?]
  4. Company fitted CNG – [Well, you can convert almost every petrol car in India to keep your running cost as low as 1 Rupees for 1 KM.]
  5. Tough
  6. Tough - [tested on Indian roads for long time but why they have to list the toughness twice?]
  7. Roominess - [Yes, more then 10 people can travel in a single car at a given time!!]
  8. 5 Speed Gear box - [Another lame reason, all car now a days has the same. ]
  9. Easy repairable – [They claim across the country all mechanic knows the car inside out.]
  10. Serves the country – [Used by Indian Army and de-facto car of Indian bureaucrats and politicians. ]

If I have enough money one day I will like to have a chauffeur driven amby for myself just to hang out in nostalgia or in the roomy car or to be different from every one else ;) .My eleventh reason or may be only reason for having this car.

Rainy Sunday

rainy-market

This picture was taken from my phone camera when I went to do our weekly vegetable shopping in APMC [Agro Product Market] close to Vashi. Prices for every vegetables went up. Due to lack of infrastructure it was a shame to see so much wastage due to heavy rain. From the posture of the seller it was quite clear he was not looking for lot of customers as he stretches his back. There are protest against big retail chains as they started selling Agro products in India. Although, with the entry of big retail players it will take away lively hood of lots of small businessmen and prices will shoot up but may be with time they will help us in saving the products from calamity like this with better infrastructure.

Hue of the sky

Siliguri is gateway to the North East of India. It is commercial city of North Bengal where tea, timber and transport are the main business. It is a base point to head towards Darjeeling, Sikkim, kalimpong, mirik etc. Besides, it is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

snow clad mountain seen from Siliguri railway staion

Situated at foot of Eastern Himalayas it has very pleasant temperature but weather is very unpredictable as it gets shower any time. Summer is not like other parts of India which burns in hot lava. It hardly exceeds 32 C in day time and after every 3-4 days there is a light rain sometimes short sharp downpour. Winters are really biting cold with mercury level hardly rising to 15 C at day time. During winter, on clear day it gives excellent view of Himalayan peaks with an opportunity to see as backdrop of snow-clad mountains.

In the month of May, we went there for 10 days which was a great escape from Mumbai’s heat and frequent power failure. These pictures are from the terrace of my in-law’s house.

Day time at Siliguri

Clouds

Sunset at Siliguri

Udupi Thali

This thali is named after a small town of South western coast of India Udupi near to Mangalore. It is famous for Krishna temple where from udupi (also called udipi) cuisine got originated. It is basically delicious vegetarian cuisine with no onion, garlic as commonly found in rich north Indian cuisine. Udupi cuisine comprises dishes made from grains, beans, vegetables. The variety and range of dishes are wide and a hallmark of this cuisine is the use of locally available ingredients.

Udipi thali is very common in Mumbai where food is mostly served in Steel plate; but at certain resto you have choice of Plantain leave. Eating with bare hand is more fun although spoons are available. Normally, meals you get are with unlimited serving except the Sweet Dish (Only one portion of Sweet Dish is included like kheer or kalajamun). Service is very fast and before you blink your eyes you have the meal in front of you even at peak hours; hardly sometimes one has to wait for 10 min. at max. The menu is not at all spicy nor rich in oil but very close to ghar kaa khana (everyday meal). That is one main reason these places are very crowded during lunch hours.

Udipi Thali

    Thali consist of small dishes of several curries-
  • Chapatti (wheat bread) or Purri,
  • Sambhar - a soupy vegetable(pumpkin or gourd) liquid with a sour edge
  • Rasam ( spicy pepper water)
  • Chutney (mostly of coconut) or Dal (lentil curry unlimited),
  • 3 Vegetables (Fixed Qty) - one Dry Vegetable, One with Gravy and one made with freshly grated coconut
  • Curd (1 bowl)
  • Pickle
  • Pappad
  • One bowl steamed rice. (If you want to eat less Rice you can take 2 Chapatti or 3 puris or vice-versa).

But in recent times non-vegetarian variation of the same cuisine is making marks not only in India but across the world. Sea food cooked in coconut and whole red-chillies are one of the common one.

Bon Appetite – bien sur, while you tear off a small morsel of Chappati, dip and devour the taste of authenticity.

Courtesy still … in Mumbai

With all its busy, speedy life I found courtesy still existing within in Mumbai-local; an unexpected encounter with refined human behavior in this Maximum city. I was retuning home in a local train and lucky to be seated as I started from VT terminus. In the mid way a family of three boarded the train; it is quite out of the way for a female passenger to get into general or male compartment at the rush hour. This is one of the unwritten but well defined codes of Mumbai local. Female passengers never try to get in to the general compartment as they will be squeezed by male passengers.

After few minutes of thought and hesitation within myself I offered my seat to the lady by signaling her husband. It was a relief for them as they both mother and son were able to sit.

Suddenly I found a gentle touch on my shoulder; looking back I saw another gentleman is offering his seat to me as he is getting down. Normally the person who is standing next to the seat will be having his turn and it will be big “Faux pas” if someone else grabs the seat. It was an acknowledgement of my good karma by fellow passenger which threw me in astonishment. Needless to repeat again when every one is ready to grab others neck in this metropolis - it is a pleasant experience which I might have to cherish for a long time to come.