“Don’t speak Hindi to any rickshaw walas or people on the street,” the very handsome and personable Om, positioned behind the front desk of Anuraag Villa in Jaipur, advised my friend and me.
We were in Jaipur for the Literature Festival and had just checked in to the hotel. After looking at our documents, and learning that we were long term residents of Mumbai and could speak some Hindi, a fun conversation in Hindi eventuated.
Therefore, I was curious about Om’s advice. Surely, being able to speak Hindi would come in handy when out and about, like it did in Mumbai.
“No, the people here will start saying strange things to you,” Om warned us.
“Yes, they’ll tell you things like you’re very smart and will give you a lot of uncomfortable attention. It’s always better to simply listen and understand them. I know the local language of my region, but these days, I never speak it when I visit.” [click to continue…]
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Traveling around India never fails to reignite my love for this country.
It gives me the opportunity to see India as a tourist again, the way India captured my heart and soul the first time I visited. Away from the frustrations of day to day life, India becomes transformational again. I love India for the history and architecture, the beauty of the landscapes, and the spirituality. Rajasthan is my favourite place because it so readily brings this magic alive.
There’s been a huge amount of development in Jaipur since I visited 12 years ago. The city has a new airport, malls, and escalators. A Metro is in the process of being built.
However, wandering through the Old City that’s still relatively untouched by time, evokes the Jaipur of the past. I feel the most alive immersed in it.
Sunglasses on, kurta over my jeans, and emboldened by my years of living in Maximum City Mumbai, I embarked on a lone walk through the Old City to imagine, and dream, and see what I’d discover. [click to continue…]
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“Life is better if you share it with others.”
– Oprah, at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
I’ve never been a fan of Oprah’s. It’s not that I haven’t liked her. I’ve watched her TV shows numerous times and enjoyed them. However, I’ve never familiarised myself with her as a person.
This changed today.
I was fortunate to attend Oprah’s session at the Jaipur Literature Festival. I was riveted to her words the whole way through. They reignited my inspiration, and gave me a powerful reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing with my life. It was a very timely and much needed reminder.
Lately, I’ve been feeling tired and unfocused. I’ve felt like I want to live my life in private. I’ve even wished I didn’t have a blog or a book. The constant interaction with people, and their input into and opinions on my life, gets exhausting and disturbing.
What Opera said magically erased all the negativity I was feeling.
In her words, your life on earth expands exponentially when you can look inside yourself, figure out what you have, and give it to someone else. That something can be as simple as kindness, or listening. You need to know who you are. You need to create an identity for yourself that goes beyond what people see you as and define yourself as. You become what you believe you can be. And you shouldn’t allow yourself to accept criticism that’s not valid.
This isn’t anything I didn’t already know. But to hear that it’s what motivates one of the most inspirational and revered women in the world reinforces its importance.
How did Oprah develop such an amazing outlook though? After all, she was born into severe poverty in Mississippi, in an area where there was pervasive prejudice against black people. [click to continue…]
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Unfortunately, my blog comment moderator is unwell at the moment. Since the comments section has again started degenerating, I’ve decided to take a break from the blog until she’s back. It’s much needed as I have a lot of work on right now, and could really do with some peace of mind and time away from here for myself.
Please excuse us if there’s a delay in publishing your comments or getting back to you.
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One of the questions I often get asked over at my India travel site by women coming to India is, “How to dress?”. In this suggested packing list, I advise that it’s a good idea to keep legs and shoulders covered. I also mention that cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are fast becoming very westernised (this post shows just how westernised), and you’ll see people wearing jeans and t-shirts. However, in smaller cities and villages, people still dress conservatively.
One Indian reader responded and said that these days, even in smaller towns and villages women and girls wear jeans, t-shirts, pants, sleeveless dresses, and skirts.
That maybe so, but is it a good idea to dress in such a manner, or does it invite trouble?
Once again, there has been quite an uproar about women’s dress standards in India, this time prompted by a number of remarks made by people in positions of power.
The remark that first stirred the pot came from the director of police in Andhra Pradesh, V Dinesh Reddy, in regards to why the police had failed to stem the rising number of rapes (shockingly, more than three a day in 2011) and murder. He blamed women for dressing provocatively by wearing “flimsy and fashionable” dresses, and claimed that police had no control over these rapes. [click to continue…]
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Mumbai definitely wasn’t love at first sight for me. The first time I visited it, as a tourist in 2002, I found its contrasts and extremities off-putting. To me, it felt like Mumbai had an identity crisis. It seemed like it was an Indian city trying to be western.
My first year living in Mumbai wasn’t much better. I found plenty to dislike about it — the traffic and pollution, honking, crowds, and heat. The lack of space and privacy really bothered me. Not to mention how the city continually crumbles during the monsoon.
Yet, as my fourth year of living in Mumbai draws to a close, I’ve really grown to appreciate what the city has to offer. Strangely enough, I now love how its contrasts are confronting to people. Mumbai has shock value. It requires a certain strength to live here, appreciate the city for what it is, and fall into its groove. I love how it almost forced me to leave, but I didn’t.
Everyone and everything exists side by side in Mumbai. I can shop at a mall, or a simple local market. I can drink cocktails at a bar by the beach, or dine in a dhaba. I can go out alone safely at night, take a rickshaw and not get threatened and cheated. Indeed, I can take a rickshaw onto the premises of a five star hotel. We get fresh fish delivered to our door. Although the city is stretched for resources, we never have power cuts. And, Mumbai is the only city in India with a huge national park.
Want more reasons to love Mumbai? Check out this article on Mumbai Boss today. It shares some wonderful perspectives on Mumbai’s appeal.
Photo credit: Calamur.
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For me, 2011 has been “The Year of the Book”.
With the exception of a pilgrimage to Haridwar in April, a couple of trips to Kolkata with my husband for his work, and an intimate family Diwali, the book has dominated my life. The first half of the year was taken up by editing with my publisher, and the second half with launches (both in Australia and India).
This year has been one of the three most challenging years of my life (the previous one being my first year in Mumbai, with these struggles and these realisations).
Having a book published has been far from an exciting experience for me. Perhaps, if it wasn’t a book about myself, it may have been. But then, one of my main goals in writing the book would never have existed and been achieved. That is, the aim of conquering my fear of judgement and what people may think of me.
I found the whole prospect of presenting my story to the world so daunting that I ended up consulting an intuitive healer and returning to meditation as the best way of dealing with it and retaining some sanity.
I’ve either forced myself, or been forced, into doing so many things that I would’ve much rather avoided. But of course the largest leaps in personal growth come from the hardest situations. No pain, no gain — as the saying goes! [click to continue…]
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