Chak De Andrea!

Follow the exciting and not so exciting adventures of Andrea in Mumbai...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And so what shall I discuss today? Especially when it’s been such a long time since my last update.

Well first I would like to tell you about a terrible disease I’ve come down with, one which can’t be easily cured.

That’s right, I’ve become addicted.

Addicted to train shopping.

No, that’s not a typo. Train shopping, shopping on a train.

You see, on every train except those that are really, really packed, and I mean really, really packed, because otherwise nothing will stop them, there are people selling things.

Just about everything really.

Hair clips and bands, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, household items such as earbuds, sponges and dusters, notebooks, bindis, handkerchiefs, towels, clothes… the list goes on and on.

And so I have found myself train shopping to pass the time, because let’s face it, there’s nothing more interesting to do, besides talk to complete strangers, which I sometimes also do. So far these are my purchases off trains: earbuds, 2 notebooks, a pen which is also a torch (only 5 rupees! Bargain!), Some bracelets and some earrings.

Somebody help me stop this addiction before it’s too late.

In other news in the exciting life of Andrea, I went to lunch at somebody’s house the other day that I met at a mall! Sounds dodgy, but it wasn’t really. You see I had gone to this mall so that I could use the wireless internet there and I was running to get a table in the food court which was absolutely packed. Without realizing it I cut off another couple with a small child, and then felt really bad.

But the guy was like, “No, no, that was amazing. Real Mumbai technique, you must have been here for awhile.”

And I invited them to share my table.

And so I met Anand and Simone and their daughter Paloma. Anand is Indian and Simone is German and their daughter is sooooo cute. So we had a good chat, exchanged numbers and I never thought I’d hear from them again!

But they called up and invited me to lunch along with some other friends of theirs, and realizing that I should get out more and mix with people, I agreed to go. And so I made my way to their flat in Santa Cruz which had a great ocean view, and had a great afternoon there!

Their friends turned out to be from Egypt, two girls and a guy who are currently over here doing an IT training program with Anand’s company, so it was wonderful to meet them too. They’re having a hard time though, because they’re not used to eating such spicy food and are missing their own food from home.

I know that this is a short update, but hopefully I will soon be back with more exciting tales of my adventures, and this time you get some bonus things, which you might not even appreciate!

Thumbs down of the week goes to: Shahrukh Khan.

Yes indeed, King Khan has gone down in my esteem. Because he advertises fairness cream for men!!!!! Don’t you have any shame, SRK??? Do you want to make dark young men feel completely worthless? Thumbs down for you!

Funniest ad on tv for the week:

Well this is much funnier if you’ve ever watched Indian Idol/Indian soaps. Basically the host of Indian Idol and a soapie actor, is Hussein (can’t remember his last name). And so Hussein is advertising a washing detergent.

And he turns up to this woman’s house with his washing detergent and she’s like:

“Hussein??? Aap Yahaan???” (Hussein??? What are you doing here???”

And I’m like, “What do you think he’s doing here you silly woman?? He’s come to help you wash your dishes!!! That’s what he loves to do in his spare time while not shooting for tv shows!!”

And it really was very funny…

Although maybe not if you haven’t seen it…

Anyway, I shall try and update the blog much sooner next time!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mumbai is… star struck.

So I know it’s been quite long since my last blog update, however I have more than enough excuses! I was sick for awhile with a fever/cold in fact I still have a bit of a cough. Nothing to worry about, it’s just the rainy weather in action!

So ‘Andrea’s typical day’ part 2 will have to wait, as there were two special events this week!

The first was an outing with some of the kids from the centres which was really fantastic. Nita, one of our Directors, has managed to initiate a working relationship with some of the tv channels here, so Star TV invited us to come along to an event held for “Star Voice of India”, a singing competition. It was a mall appearance by the four remaining contestants, Sumitra, Abhilasha, Abhas and Irfan. Honestly I had no idea what I was turning up to beforehand, I thought it might be the actual shooting of the show, but I took a train to Mulund, (changing lines once at Dadar!), and was there quite early since I hadn’t had any idea how long it would take to arrive.

Since I was wearing my best salwar kameez I was absolutely paranoid about getting mud on it. So I took rickshaws absolutely everywhere rather than walking! So I arrived early, let the contact guy know I was there and took a walk around the mall to kill some time until the kids arrived, having a coffee and managing to buy two kurtis in the mean time (Not a very hard task…).

So finally 25 of our kids arrived, all dressed in their best clothes along with two teachers. They took us to a special cordoned off section right in front of the stage where we sat down and waited.

The performances were actually quite good, they all sang at least four songs from what I remembered. Sumitra was the crowd favourite since she’s a Maharastrian and from Mumbai, but I quite liked Irfan in terms of voice and attitude. The wonderful thing was that they got our kids involved, getting them up on stage to dance with them and mentioning them to the crowd. So it was wonderful for the kids who had a rocking time, and good for me, as I enjoyed the music, and met ‘sort of’ famous people.

And then afterwards the funniest thing happened.

The singers disappeared and I was waiting around to get our banner back when these people came up and asked me to sign an autograph, and I’m like… “Ahhh I’m not famous at all, you know.” And the guy replied, “That’s okay, if we couldn’t get their signatures then we should at least get somebody’s!” So I signed for him…. Well, it’s probably the only time in my life I’ll ever be asked for an autograph.

Then I took the train and an auto home (I would generally walk home from the station), and arrived back without a spot of mud on me! Mission successful!


Second exciting happening of the week, is that I finally went ‘out of station’, which is what going out of town is referred to here. My new room mate Anita was scheduled to move in on Saturday, so she called me Saturday morning to say she would arrive in the afternoon and then said “Immediately afterwards I’ll be going to Mahableshwar with some friends, do you want to come?”

And I of course said yes. After all I’ve been in India for a month and didn’t manage to leave Mumbai even once in that time, so how could I pass up the opportunity now?

And so I ended up going to Mahableshwar with Anita and five of her friends from work, as we all piled into two cars and set off. Unlike the rest of us in the house who are NGO workers, Anita works for a very fancy consultancy firm called Mackenzie, so I was in for a weekend with finance/business type people. All of them were very nice and we had a great time, but some of the work related conversations definitely went over my head.

So it took us almost as long to get out of Mumbai as the actual trip took, partially because neither of the people driving had any idea which road or exit we should be taking. However after buying a map and asking various taxi drivers we eventually found our way, while in the process losing the other car, and only caught up with them much further down the highway.

So in the end while we had left properly at about 4pm we only arrived in Mahableshwar a little before 1am, then we had to find a hotel. The drive was made more difficult by the fact that there was a heavy fog as soon as we reached the area.

So the next morning we all got up, had our breakfast, hired a guide and went off to see the sights of Mahableshwar. Mahableshwar is a hill station about 200 km from Mumbai. It has these beautiful green hills and fields, with waterfalls cascading down every so often and a lovely lake (go and see the photos that I posted on my Flickr page!).

So we went to several lookout points, went boating on the lake and visited a temple. We also had lunch where I had this frozen strawberry and fresh cream dessert, sooooo yummy. Mahableshwar is really famed for its strawberries so I felt that I couldn’t refuse to try some of them!

We arrived back in Mumbai late Sunday night. It might have been a short trip, but it was definitely nice to just get out of the city for awhile and enjoy some clean, fresh air and see somewhere that is actually beautifully, gloriously green.

So enjoy the photos that I’ve posted up and you’ll hear from me again soon!