India is a country where great wealth and prosperity sits side by side with incredible hardship and poverty and making sense of the great contradictions is a nigh on impossible task. But that hasn’t stopped people trying. Here are some of our favourite attempts to understand and explain this diverse, compelling and fascinating country that we call home.
Nick takes us through his experience last year during Ganesh Chaturthi and explains what he learned.
The Modern Origin
There weren’t any crowds when we turn onto the side street indicated on our map. It was surprising considering my friend and I were trying to find the housing society responsible for the modern form of Ganesh Chaturthi, Mumbai’s biggest festival, during the holiday itself. We went down the entire lane only to find a small Ganesh in a nearly empty housing society courtyard. We decided to ask them for directions.
As we walked into the courtyard, with facads in the old Portugese style rising up on either side of us, a young man sitting on a wooden platform in front of the Ganesh pandal immediately bounced to his feet and came to greet us. He was incredibly friendly and quickly informed us that this was indeed the first society to celebrate the festival in its modern form, which they have been doing continuously for the past 121 years.
Prison escapes, a forbidden city, treacherously high mountain peaks, ancient belief systems – forget Shantaram, Seven Years in Tibet is the best travel story I have ever read. But while I was impressed by what he saw and learned, it was how Henrich Herrer accomplished these things that stood out to me. The story highlights 4 essential pieces of travel advice that can help us not only travel responsibly, but also get the most out of our trips.
Fantastical, lyrical and awesome in its nature, Indian fiction often derives much of its inspiration from real life events, lending credence to the old saying “the truth is stranger than fiction”. It can offer incredible insight into the country’s history, politics and culture in an incredibly engaging, entertaining and all too often, heart breaking manner.
A common and popular example of this is Shantaram (now almost as much of a pre-requisite to getting through customs as a visa is), so, without using the ‘s’ word, we asked our staff for their personal favourites.
One hundred and thirty five hutments jut out into the Arabian Sea, bravely defying nature and real estate moguls. Slated for redevelopment for almost a decade, Worli Koliwadi, or Worli fisherman village has, like so many other Mumbai settlements, continued to survive due a mix of legal, bureaucratic and geographical factors. But for us this means that there is one more interesting and unique Mumbai neighbourhood to explore!