Category: bombay

MAHILA – the movie

In MAHILA (women), the filmmaker steps between different worlds, going from West to East, from urban to rural surroundings. Her encounters with the experiences and observations of rural Rajasthani women provoke reflection on the process of empowerment. In an artistic ethnography we see and hear how they are using education, technology and politics to redefine their destinies. As we trace the film-maker’s memories we are taken into questions about story-telling. How are the women fighting to get their stories heard? Can the filmmaker tell other women’s stories?

Signals from the South, Muu Gallery Helsinki 2009
Finnish Cultural Institute, Damascus , november 2009
Brigittines Brussels, 5 december 2009 19u
Lazareti Dubrovnik (croatia), 10 december 2009 19u
Netwerk Aalst, 17 december 2009 19u
okno Brussels, 17 january 2010 20u
Pixelache Festival Helsinki 2010
medialab Vienna, 20 february 2010 20u
happy new festival Kortrijk , may 2010
KASK Gent, june 2010
Soft Borders exhibition Sao Paulo, october 2011

padma : web-based video archive is a web-based video archive, launched as a public website in February 2009, that works primarily with footage and not finished films.’s interface offers some exciting new ways in which moving images, timelines, text and maps can be linked. It offers a practical technical and legal framework through which footage can be shared. It makes an appeal for thinking about film and video “production” in a number of different ways: as a filmmaker publishing video that is not a film, as a film editor organising footage using the archive, as a writer across one or many video clips, as a scholarly researcher or film student contributing notes or using links to clips as references, as a filmmaker reusing another’s material, as a programmer building further applications using’s open source software base, for example. a collaborative project initiated by five organizations: from Berlin, the Alternative Law Forum from Bangalore, and three organisations from Mumbai: Majlis, Point of View and Chitrakarkhana/CAMP. The entire archive is searchable and viewable online, and is free to download for non-commercial purposes. This offline exhibition reveals the many potential ways in which can be used.

Politics of Change: the newspaper

download here: Politics of Change, the Newspaper

fablab Pabel

The Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small scale workshop with the tools to make almost anything. This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production.
While Fab Labs have yet to compete with mass production and its associated economies of scale in fabricating widely distributed products, they have already shown the potential to empower individuals to create smart devices for themselves. These devices can be tailored to local or personal needs in ways that are not practical or economical using mass production.

Hitendra Kuralkar and Hiren Panchal from Fablab Pabel.

Demystifying Science. The method of science-observation, measurement, recording, classification, documentation, exchange of information with others, making hypothesis, testing hypothesis by further experiments and observation. These methods of science are not only possible in every day life but are financially very relevant to all sections of society.
At Vigyan Ashram (FabLab Pabel), we encourage invention and innovation and put it to use. We also try to develop technology for income generation. Many of the technologies are developed by our students, who are dropouts according to the classical education system.

fablab Pabel: technology document
fablab Pabel on the web archive test

Woman in pink with a covered head is joined by her husband. They stand next to each other and are then asked to sit down by camera person. Children in the background.
Husband and wife sort packets of plastic bags inside their home as their grand children watch television in the background. Another man comes to help them out. He takes a stack of packets, walks outside the house and loads them onto the cycle. Various zoom ins to the piles of plastic. 00:03:20.000 to 00:03:58.0
– Do you also help him?
– Yes.
– Actually, I have to go back to my village.
– She’s asking you (the wife) if you help him sort the bags.
– Yes (laughing).
– So then help him instead of hiding behind him.
– Yes! That’s it!
– Take those other bags out.
– Is he putting those (bags) on the cycle?
– Yes.

link to all movies with the keyword ‘technology’
link to all movies with the keyword ‘Bombay’

bombay impressions

bombay impression #01
streaming movie 01:08″

Fifty years ago, if you wanted to see where the action was in India, you went to the villages. Today, you go to the cities. What makes Bombay overpopulated is the impoverishment of the countryside, so that a young man with dreams in his head will take the first train to Bombay to live on the footpath. If you fix the problems of the villages, you fix as a happy side-effect, the problems of the cities.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

bombay impression #02
streaming movie 00:54″

The growth of a megacity is an Asian phenomenon. Why do Asians like to live in cities? Some parts of central Bombay have a population density of one million people per square mile. This is the highest number of individuals massed together at any spot in the world. Two-thirds of the city’s residents are crowded into just 5 per cent of the total area, while the richer or more rent-protected one-third monopolize the remaining 95 per cent.

Suketu Mehta — Bombay lost & found

bombay/tilonia :: 08/01/08

The sleepertrain to Ajmer (endstation Jaipur) is OK. AC2, 1280Rs for 1200 km, leaves Bomay at 9pm. Waking up, a dry, red, ondulating landscape shows up through the window, some mountains on the background. Waiters are running back and forth with masala chai, coffee, water, juice, vegetable cutlets, sweets — and you can get a ‘trainmade’ lunch at noon. It’s a ‘stop train’ so it slides … slowly, slowly, slowly. The doors never close, everybody can jump off and on. We pass Gujarat and enter Rajasthan. Landscape becomes dryer, with here and there a tree or some bush and cactus. Mustardseed fields are boarding the railway, peacocks are proudly walking by.

4.30pm, Ajmer. Not immediately an attractive city. It’s a marble-center, and this explains probably the dust everywhere. After a while I find my contact: Mr. Dev. Dett Sharma, a friendly old man. He arranges a private taxi for me, the driver doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Hindi, so this will be a silent trip, 60km to Tilonia.
Actually it becomes one of the most scary trips of my life! We drive on the new ‘highway’ (to Jaipur and Delhi). There’s a lot of traffic, trucks, hughe trucks. It’s a 2 lane highway, and all drivers seem to take the opposite lane. All the time our car is pushed to the side, sometimes 4 cars are passing each other on this 2 lane way. Nobody wears a seatbelt, cows, dogs, riksha’s and motorcycles and bycicles are all on the same highway. I see an old man on the backside of a bycicle, reading his newspaper – in this buzz! Women are veiled. All men are wearing colorfull, mostly orange, turbans.

ajmer to tilonia ajmer to tilonia ajmer to tilonia ajmer to tilonia ajmer to tilonia

We get off the highway and take a small road. The roadsign indicates: Jaipur 110 km, Delhi 350 km. The driver doesn’t know the way and has to ask for directions all the time. We get more and more into a bled, in the middle of nowhere. But everybody has a cellphone, and they seem to work everywhere.
Finally we reach the Barefoot Campus, I recognise it from the photo’s on the site. Vasu is still in hospital in Jaipur, he has problems with his respiration, but he’s getting better. I meet Mr. RamNiwas, who’s reponsible for the communication and the puppettheatre. He speaks english. He explains me briefly the how and why’s from Barefoot. The origin and basic philosophy in a nutshell. No difference in caste, nor in religion or gender. It sounds very promising. A group of 30 girls from Buthan arrived for 6 months to follow the solar engineer workshop. I’ll meet them tomorrow. I have dinner together with all Tilonia Barefoot workers Self service, and afterwards clean the plate and range it.

bombay :: 07/01/08

Last day in Bombay before taking the nighttrain to Ajmer. In the Taj Bookshop, I buy ‘ How to teach yourself Hindi’. I hope it will be usefull at Barefoot College. I can try to set up a basic conversation with the women. At 7pm I take a taxi to Bandra Terminal. The distance is 20 km, and it’s a 1 to 1:30 hour ride, due to rush hour. My polution-portion for today is certainly not less than 5 packs of sigarettes.

bombay harbour, gateway of India parsi's on fridaynight fridaynight bombay harbour bombay architecture

holy tree holy tree colaba market colaba market colaba market

The style of the Bombay taxidrivers is hilarious. They share cabs and they work in shifts, delivering as many passengers as possible during the hours the cab is theirs. They never leave more than 2 inches spare space between 2 cars, this at the 4 sides! The roads are completely packed with vehicles of all kind, nobody pays attention to lanes or any other kind of order. They all want to be first. At a certain moment, an older man in a Mercedes tries to pass us and points a revolver -I don’t know if it’s a fake one or not- to my driver!
There are millions of black/yellow cabs on their way, others are parked in long long lines at the side of the road. The day these cabs disappear, Bombay streets will be empty and a good deal of the polution problem will be solved. This crazy hectic ride takes me 1 year of my health. Suddenly, the imam starts to call for the evening prayers. Allahu Akhbar — in stereo, from two sides of the road. 20 metres further, a brassband finds his way through the trafficjam. Following them closely is the groom, sitting on his speckled white horse. This is Bombay too.

We pass through slums, truckdepots and construction sites. It’s dirty, dusty and noisy. Dinnertime, and everywhere people are preparing lunch on the street. Waiting in the traffic jam, I have the time to deconstruct the setting up of a shack.
It starts by putting a clothesline on the wall, and they add some belongings. Than 1 bamboe-pole is added, the start of demarcation of the territory. After a while, they add a second pole, and eventually a third and a forth one. The construction is covered with a cloth, and the space is appropriated. The cloth cover gradually changes for cardboard, plastic or metal, and the shack takes the forms of a semi-permanent structure. Refinements can always be done: extension of an upper storey, electricity. A brick wall in front of the cardboard or plastic, doors and windows to assure some privacy. This evolves from mobile architecture towards a new form of fast-city-architecture. But it’s not the end: some territory can be won on the street. Cots, mobile kitchen and washing place are put outside in front of the shack, and the street gets appropriated.
Later someone tells me that the government is trying to clean up the slums by development-projects consisting of huge buildings on slumsites. But the slum-population doesn’t like them. They’re not used to live on upper floors, their kids cannot play on the streets, they cannot have any extensions. So they accept the appartment and resell it, keep the money and start to build a new shack at the bottom of the building.

bombay :: 06/01/08

I take the bus to Crawford market, but as it’s sunday everything is closed. I wander through the muslim quarters and the call for the midday prayers fills the streets. Children have fun on a merry-go-round, and ride wooden horses named Mumbai, Delhi. Culcata, and so-on. The maidans are filled with cricket players and families lingering around on the vaste green lawns. I walk back to Fort, the large avenues are rather empty compared to Bombay norms. A nescafe milkshake in the Yoko restaurant is a tasty refreshment. I keep it modest, while families gather here for the sunday brunch.
Walking by the Bombay store this seems to be one of the only open spots. The larger shops, american model, are all open on sunday. The new hype are ayurveda beauty products in a trendy package. It’s tempting. It’s a relief to be able to smell and watch and try without vendors on your back. The selection is good quality, the price is similar.

muslim quarters muslim quarters muslim quarters muslim quarters muslim quarters

school's out dancing on the street dancing on the street and in the temple dancing

sunday in bombay cricket on the maidans out for a brunch bombay architecture people's book house

Walking towards Cinema Regal I have a tasty veg. toasted sandwich at a streetstall named Sanjay’s. It’s a discovery: grilled toasts filled with vegetables and topped with spices and ketchup. Yummie.
Under the arches of Dr. Naoroji Road streetstalls sell hairdryers and vibrators in all sizes. I thought Indians were puritans?

veejay's tasty toasts veejay's toast stall bombay architecture Sai Baba Seashore Hotel

Dinner at Basilico Cafe, Apollo Bunder Road. This is the new hype: some kind of NY deli, filled with NRI (non resident Indians) coming from the States or the Emirates. Rich people, their cellphones on the tables and with an air of desinterest over their faces. Most of them, especially the young boys, are fat. The good american hamburger life. Boursin cheese is proudly presented in the cooler section.
The Hindustan Times wrote that a mob of eighty men attacked and nearly raped two twenty year old girls on new years’ night in the Juhu neighborhood. The girls came out of an expensive hotel, an exclusive party with Bollywood filmstars, and were apparently tipsy. They shouted back to the men teasing them. They got attacked. The police was not too fast to help.
When you see the behaviour of these NRI (the girls both lived in California), their arrogant way of acting and wandering around, and at the other side the tense situation of the nationalist Hindus fighting for ‘their Indian rights’, you’re not surprised that something like this can happen. No claim was made at the policestation, and the girls returned the next day to the States.
This made me think of the Moroccon emigrants/imigrants last summer in Marrakesh. There’s always this necessity for a show-off: ‘see how I made it abroad, and my big car and my foreign accent put me a step higher in the homeland hierarchy.’

bombay :: 05/01/08

Around the corner of Bentley’s I find an Internet Cafe where I can connect with my own computer. For the x-time in line, I try to contact Barefoot College, without result. After 10 minutes, a speaker tells me in broken english to contact Bunker Roy and gives me his direct number. Great! He’s got my mail, and there will be someone to help me when I arrive in Ajmer. I can stay at Tilonia, in the Barefoot Guest House, and he assures me that there will be enough people to help me with translation. He doesn’t want to be interviewed: it’s all done by the people at Tilonia, and I have to talk with them.

In Bombay it’s becoming hotter by the day.
At the corner of Henry street, I witness a peculiar scene: two men are cleaning the ears of two other men with a long crochet. The earcleaners. Any job is a job.
Speaking about jobs: never trust the middleman. These handy businessmen with their fancy shops all dressed in the same suit. They try to sell you anything. All is good: too small, too big, too cool, too hot. I went to a tailor for a custommade churida and kurta. Indians are said to be good tailors: beware! They cannot take any exact measurement. First time the pants were far too small, I coudn’t get my leg into the trousers. OK, I wanted it fitting, but anyway I should be able to wear it! Second time, he made me trousers for a 120kg lady! They literally fall of my legs, I stumble over it.
Again a good lesson. Never trust the taste of an Indian, compared to our Western standards. So I need to go back once more. I will not give up. Stop asking questions. Don’t accept the NO.
The neighborhood of the tailors’ shop is a tiny village in the city. The streets are so small that no car can pass, and that’s a relief. Quietness all over. Kids are playing in their pyjamas before going to bed, old grandma’s are sitting on the cots and watch over the kids. A man is practising his yoga in the middle of the street, not at all disturbed by the gently buzz around him. Some people have the luck to find a nice place to live in Bombay, even if it’s very humble. Others have to sleep on the foothpath and sort their food out of the heaps of garbage.

sheetal tailors sheetal tailors sheetal tailors sheetal tailors village in the city

dish washing

On my way home – strange how quickly someone adopts a hotelroom as his ‘home’ – I pass an Indian deli-shop. They make me try everything: little spicy samosa’s, big very spicy samosa’s, sweets made from cashew nuts and mango. It’s delicious and it looks great too. I buy some stuff for my trainride to Ajmer, but I can’t wait and eat it immediately when I got into my room. It surpasses by far the food from the Leopold cafe!

sweet shop, colaba sweet shop, colaba sweet shop, colaba

Noise. Narayan writes about noise:
‘ This age will probably be known as the noisiest in human history. Noise is the greatest bane of modern life. Every moment of our existence we are being distracted by it, necessary noise, unnecessary noise, purposeful noise, and the purposeless, enough to fray our nerves and madden us. The noise in and around us is wearing us out at a terrific pace. It seems impossible to concentrate on any study or writing, particularly if one’s window looks over a street. We are surrounded by a moving, vociferious market all the time.’
My hotelwindow looks over Colaba Causeway. Tomorrow I will record the noise for 1 hour and use it as the soundtrack for my images. Horn please!