bombay :: 02/01/08

I have to arrange my trainticket to Tilonia. After several attempts i finally reached someone at Barefoot. Vasu is sick and is in Jaipur. Dr. RamKaram (the administrator) is my new contact.
It becomes a real difficult task to arrange a ticket via the people from Harbour View. I think they have a percentage on the bus tickets, they absolutely want to sell me a ticket to Udaipur. After half a day they tell me that the bus is full and that i better arrange the ticket myself.
At Churchgate station I get a reservation -by wonder- in no time. Long distance reservations: a destinated office and very good service from Indian Railways. I ‘ll leave Bombay the 7th at 9pm. Take a direct train to Ajmer, from Bandra Terminal. It will take me 17 hours to get there. I’ll arrive the 8th around 4pm.

colaba causeway colaba causeway colaba causeway fort fort

traffic jam fort gentle driver churchgate reservation centre

reservation centre reservation centre reservation centre reservation centre

From Churchgate I take a cab to Candy Breach, up to Crosswords bookshop. Nice ride, longing Chowpatti Beach and Marine drive. Candy Breach is uphill, direction Malabar. It’s an expensive residential aerea of Bombay, all very nice old houses — Victorian Bombay looks great.
I can’t find the book by Vandana Shiva. Staying Alive. She must be too alternative for regular Indian bookshops. Instead I buy a book by Octavio Paz, who was Mexican Ambassador in Delhi for 6 years. And The Story Teller’s World, short stories by Indias’ greatest novelist, Mr. Narayan. And a non-fiction on Bombay by a booming star: the New Yorker Suketu Mehta. By the way: Shantaram is everywhere. I’m sure Johnny Depp is hyping the story before the movie comes out.

marine drive marine drive marine drive chowpatty beach candy breach

candy breach candy breach

Be careful when you have to read a taximeter: you have to recalculate the amount.
The taxi driver at Candy Breach wanted me to pay 520 Rs (5.20 RS was on his meter). All drivers have a fare card by which you can recalculate the exact amount. For 5.20 it’s 75 RS. But I didn’t know, and that driver seemed not to understand english and kept telling me 520. I refused to pay. Then, he said, he will take me to the police. I relied: OK, because I was sure that something was not right. He called a cop, and this man explained me how it works. Another Indian misunderstanding.
Headed back for Colaba wanting to check out Kamata restaurant. I t was closed. Paltri as an alternative. Disappeared. The guard at Paltri suggested me to try Put-in on Colaba Causeway. I was not sure to understand him well. Puutin? Turned out to be Food Inn ofcourse. Reminding pipty pipe, I should have known.

Shaina gave me directions how to get to her Indian dance classes at Santa Cruz. In Churchgate, took the slow train for Bandra and checked in the ladies compartment. Quite an experience! All women and children, packed. Singing, chatting, talking. From time to time a woman vendor came up to sell oranges, notebooks, sweets. The women were very helpful, though most of them didn’t speak english so we had to communicate via body language.

ladies compartment ladies compartment ladies compartment ladies compartment ladies compartment

ladies compartment ladies compartment ladies compartment

Got off in Santa Cruz and was dropped in the middle of a very busy evening market. Took a riksha on SV road, and tried to explain the directions to the driver. After a while found the Milan subway, turned left and yes: there were the cows, my landmark!
In a classroom at the first floor some women and children were practising indian dance. The teacher seemed very severe. They had to try over and over the complicate movements. I didn’t see Shaina, supposed she was late. After a while it turned out that I was in the wrong class. Shaina came from upstairs, the graduate class.

We took a riksha to her place. Her home is a very busy studio. With some 8 people, they’re setting up a movie archiving project. It’s a collaboration between Shaina, Ashok and Sebastian Luetgert and Jan Gerber from Bootlab Berlin. It’s a very complicated project and they’re in the phase of outlining it. It was very interesting to follow their discussions about the basic decissions they had to take to set up the archive. Keywords, tags, movieclips, raw material, edited films, transcriptions, descriptions, location tags, maps, …
The possible ways how to search the database, visualize the interface, getting the content annotated in the right way.
I’m curious to see what will come out of it. This can become a very interesting link for the Mahila Samiti project. I would love to program a presentation from their project in Brussels. All by all, I felt home again. Talking computerlanguage, busy people setting up custom made projects from an artistic point of view. This database will be open source under a specific license, worked out by Lawrence Liang. It focuses in the beginning on Bombay and Bangalore content, but will extend to the rest of India. Besides their own movies (Shaina’s) they fill the database with important audiovisual material from NGO’s working in culture and human rights.

bandra - evening market bandra - evening market bandra - evening market bandra - evening market bandra - evening market

bandra shaina's place shaina's place

We all went out for food at Liao’s chinese/indian restaurant. After dinner I took a taxi back to Colaba. It was past midnight in the meantime, and the taxidriver didn’t seem or want to understand english (again). I asked him to put the meter, he refused. I said I want him to stop so that I could get out. He didn’t stop. I opened the door, he started to slow down, and I jumped out of the car. Tried to find some other cabs willing to take me to Colaba. It was very busy at that 4 way street, and suddenly I got a litlle scared. In the morning I read in the newspaper about a mob of 80 man molesting 2 women duren the new years’ eve. Suddenly all men had an agressive look. Probably imagination from my side, but aniway. No cab wanted to take me putting his meter. The first driver finally came running after me, and promised me to put his meter. We drove through a desolated city. Strange, never a stop light. We crossed all crossroads without stopping. It took us 25 minutes to reach Colaba aniway. Imagine what this must be in daytime during rush hour! I was happy when I reached the Harbour View hotel.