Monday, October 23, 2006

Night Out at Shiro - Mumbai

We met Stuart and his wife Vini and a couple of their friends and collegues at a very nice bar/restaurant called Shiro. It's amazing how you forget about the crazy streets of Mumbai when you're in a place like this. Hope to meet such great people in Bangalore!

Dinner at JJ and Zeena's in Delhi

Being in a strange country is always a bit of a shock to the system. We were very fortunate to have met nice people during our stay in Delhi and Mumbai. Good food and great company...what more do you need. O, of course a cold beer (They even brew castle here).

JJ, Zeena and Bikram

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Update from Mumbai

Rather late than never I guess. We arrived in Delhi on the 2nd of October. Marc spent a week’s induction with the Delhi ISOS team. On Saturday the 7thd of October we took a day trip to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal before we flew to Mumbai on the 8th.

Marc's induction continues in the Mumbai office as they discuss his role as BDM and his job of setting up an office in Bangalore. As for me, we have a driver which I've been using to explore the city but I find that we spend half the day stuck in traffic, which is really no fun.

Two weeks later we are basically still living out of a suitcase and getting tiered of eating hotel food. As per the "Greetings from Mumbai" posting we are looking forward to making a home in Bangalore which is thankfully happening sooner than we thought.

We will be flying to Bangalore on Thursday where I will start the hunt for a house while Marc will search for what they call a "plug and play" office.

We've had difficulty connecting to the internet from our hotel but have finally managed to update the blog with photo's from our trip to the Taj and of the city of Mumbai...enjoy. We will update again later once we are settled in Bangalore.

Until the next update, take care,


Streets of Mumbai

The street in front of our hotel lit up for the Diwali Celebrations with very loud music and fire crackers which makes us feel like we are under siege. This has been going on for 4 days now!!

All the trucks look like circus trucks

The Mumbai taxis that run on liquid gas

Street slums of Mumbai where you see people sleeping, eating, bathing and even see kids doing their business

This was somones home until the government decided to relocate them

Mumbai street scene... this boy was running next to the car to be in the picture

This must be the nicest view we've seen from a hotel room....Unfortunately not ours

Check out the cables hanging in the air

This is one of the entrances to the train station. There seem to always be a "pong" in the air...
This should give you an idea of the traffic

Cars, trucks, busses, people and the occasional "holly cow"

The view from our room at Hotel Krishna Palace

Gateway of India - Mumbai

The Gateway of India is meant to be the starting point for most tourists who want to explore the city. Funnily enough there weren't a lot of tourists around on the day that we decided to check it out

The fact that there weren't a lot of tourists made us easy targets. I was approached by a group of people that wanted to have their picture taken with me. Another celebrity moment and like in Vietnam I still find this very amusing. Or should I say they find us amusing.....
We were blessed by a local holy man that tied sting around our arm, painted our third eye and gave us sugar to eat for good luck. We figured it's more a case of - the bigger the donation the luckier you'll be

Taxi old and older

The Queens necklace through the smog

About the Gateway of India

Mumbai's most famous monument. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, complete with four turrets and intricate latticework carved into the yellow basalt stone. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianised, drawing droves of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch, there are steps leading down to the water. Here, you can get onto one of the bobbing little motor launches, for a short cruise through Mumbai's splendid natural harbour.

Taj Mahal in Agra (7 October'06)

Our first glimpse of the Taj Mahal

It is an amazing monument and changes colour depending on the time day

Hehehehe...We were instructed by our guide to pose for this very touristy shot!

The Monument is full of optical illusions and the flower patterns are insets of precious stones that give it the appearance that it's been painted

A Jamuna river that runs behind the Taj where Marc and I took a wrong turn and stumbled upon a cremation ceremony. We didn't quite figure out what all the black smoke and the funny smell was until we saw a burning raft next to the river. Needless to say we didn't hang around to photograph it. We got out of there in a hurry and were rather shocked over our macabre find

The wall around the Taj (one of the entrances) next to where Emperor Shah Jahan's first two wives were buried...note the holly cow walking down the street
Marc negotiating a price for our tour guide that led us around the Taj. We were of course bombarded by the locals trying to sell us all sorts of goodies

About the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world, and some Western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed. The Taj is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble. Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset. The Taj seems to glow in the light of the full moon. On a foggy morning, the visitors experience the Taj as if suspended when viewed from across the Jamuna river.
Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim, Emperor Shah Jahan (died 1666 C.E.) in the memory of his dear wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal at Agra, India. It is an "elegy in marble" or some say an expression of a "dream." Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) is a Mausoleum that houses the grave of queen Mumtaz Mahal at the lower chamber. The grave of Shah Jahan was added to it later. The queen’s real name was Arjumand Banu. In the tradition of the Mughals, important ladies of the royal family were given another name at their marriage or at some other significant event in their lives, and that new name was commonly used by the public. Shah Jahan's real name was Shahab-ud-din, and he was known as Prince Khurram before ascending to the throne in 1628.
Taj Mahal was constructed over a period of twenty-two years, employing twenty thousand workers. It was completed in 1648 C.E. at a cost of 32 Million Rupees. The construction documents show that its master architect was Ustad ‘Isa, the renowned Islamic architect of his time. The documents contain names of those employed and the inventory of construction materials and their origin. Expert craftsmen from Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore, and Multan were employed. In addition, many renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on many specialized tasks.
The Taj stands on a raised, square platform (186 x 186 feet) with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and a symmetry of architectural elements.
Its central dome is fifty-eight feet in diameter and rises to a height of 213 feet. It is flanked by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5 feet each. The entire mausoleum (inside as well as outside) is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty. The central domed chamber and four adjoining chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.
The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left), a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings. The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Greetings from Mumbai

Hi All,

Unfortunately we have not had a decent Internet connection in order to update the blog but thought we'd give you a quick update.

Mumbai is hard to describe, it’s a bit a of sensory overload. A Real assault on ones senses. Every day is a school day - some times it feels like a zone that mixes the 21st century and the Middle Ages. Generally the people are friendly but don't put them behind a steering wheel as they turn into demon alter egos. A part from the "pong" that hangs in the constant haze of pollution and the curried omelette and fruit salad we are doing well.

We are hoping to get to Bangalore by the end of next week and we are looking forward to starting our search for what will be our "home".

We'll update the blog with photo's soonest.