india

India

VloMo08 : day18 #2 - hotel quirks + (hare) krsna consciousness

a quick look at my mumbai hotel room, plus one of the quirks of Indian hotels - I'm not really complaining about them, it's almost a 'game' to work out / discover what's missing each night (yes, small things amuse me - sometimes there's not a lot to do in hotel rooms on business trips :)

I stayed in india for almost a year in 2006 then lived in other countries and forgot some of the quirks, or rather differences here compared to home, so this video just mentions a couple so I can trigger my memory again - notes to self really. I know I shouldn't think these sorts of things are a big deal & i don't really, especially when I think about how some of the people are living outside, and here I am talking about missing towels... & most of these things are very stereotypical. if I was reading them on someone else's blog I'd wonder what the big deal is. so perhaps in writing them down / videoing them it's like therapy for myself to enforce that things are just different - no better, or no worse in than home. I'm hoping they'll be a future reminder / wake up call for me to remember how lucky I am and what a priviledged life I lead and to try stop being so consumer centric when I get home and get comfy in home life again and these memories fade. the people here are really nice - some of the nicest I've ever met, and that's more important than these quirks in the end.


things like crossing the road and almost getting hit by cars every time - at least for the first couple of weeks till you get used to it then you don't notice any more and have no fear and walk in between cars & rickshaws & their traffic tetris driving skills - every day could be your last here! you get used to it and don't notice after a while, until you go away then come back. the pace is different, the value of life is different. things happen here that don't happen elsewhere.

today we had lunch at a hotel restaurant (they have better hygene standards so there's less chance of getting sick afterwards). I had a toasted cheese & tomato sandwich and some chips (thin french fries). they put tomato sauce in a little container on the table, so I spooned some onto my plate to dip. after we'd finished, I noticed they cleared the plates, but put the tomato sauce container into the cupboard where the menus are kept - I think they might reuse it for other people! this isn't probably the end of the world, but then I remembered I sacrificed my tomato sauce & mustard containers to a family of flies during lunch at the hotel pool on the weekend. there were too many flies around as I was outside and it was really hot. so I pushed the sauces over to the edge of the table and the flies went for them instead of my food (obviously I wasn't having the sauces). so I remembered this and thought "oh no, I hope they don't reuse the sauces at the hotel I'm staying at or someone's (possibly me!) is going to be dipping in sauces that flies have been walking in & eating from" - & u never know where the flies have been before that as there's plenty of horrid things for them to crawl in by the side of the road!! I had sauce tonight, but I gave it a good checking over first. I'm sure it's not reused, but when you see things like that it brings out the worst thoughts in your mind!

it's just the little things in life.

back to the video - then I show the books found in the drawers here - the Gideon Holy Bible which is pretty standard in most hotels, except those I stayed in Jerusalem which had the Torah / Tanhk instead. and the Bhagavad-gita - which is the Hare Krishna book on krsna consciousness - this is the 'as it is' version ie non-interpreted Indian version, presented 'as is'. I like the pictures :) I've been reading this out loud and recording it tonight. it's strange reading out loud - I hardly ever hear my voice, only the voice in my head reading. my pronounciations are shocking! especially of the sanskrit words (or perhaps they're hindi? I'm not sure) I thought reading out loud might help with that.

and yes, I do understand and can see the irony in posting about quirks here and then reading the krsna consciousness writings & philosophy

VloMo08 : day18 - hotel quirks + (hare) krsna consciousness

18/11/2008

blog post :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day18-2-hotel-quirks-hare-krsna-con...

http://blip.tv/file/1481873

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VloMo08 : day18 - on chai (tea)

the guys in the office explained chai (tea), one of the most popular drinks in India. the spices (masala) are different in different regions so chai tastes different wherever you are. for 3Rs a pop, it's a bargain too! mmm masala

when I was in Turkey/Istanbul, tea was called cay & pronounced the same as chai. so it's interesting to see the commonalities in language / phonetics too.

VloMo08 : day18 - on chai (tea)

18/11/2008

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VloMo08 : day17 - book purchases whilst in India

I actually recorded this video on 09/11/2008 but it was a large file and my computer's been playing up during exporting so I've only had time to compress it tonight.

these are the books I purchased at Mid Land Book store whilst in Delhi. I always buy the annual Sarai Reader - a collection of research papers & project documentation from India and around the world. they always have something that I'm not familiar with - different issues are covered - urban issues, social issues, resettlements, voices of local people, keeping or documenting traditional methods in art & social / community circles + more. the books are available online as pdfs so I've read some of the chapters but I like to have a paper copy as I find them easier to read.

the bookstore owner recommended other books for me to try - mostly feminist books & topics! there were so many that looked really interesting & informative, but I chose one from each publishing house so I can buy more later. some were part of a series on varying topics.

I have a blog post on my site about (some) women in india links + details on the books in case anyone would like to find out more or read them too :
http://www.aliak.com/content/women-india-book-related-links

I'm not speaking very clearly in the video - I'm not used to talking & filming at the same time and I should have collected my thoughts a bit more before I started, but I don't have the energy to redo it so it is what it is :) & pulp fiction is different to the graphic novels (both were talked about at sarai i-fellows conference - but it's not clear from what I said in the video). the book "Delhi" is written by Khushwant Singh - sorry! I forgot his name whilst recording the video :(

I'm part way reading through the interviews with women writers & the short stories & the tamil pulp fiction books. yet to start the others - it might take me a while to finish. so far they're all great purchase choices! the interview book is especially interesting as it seems there were many topics that women were 'not meant to write about' in india up until, say the 1990s. I might have to find a collection of younger writers to compare with - though I note there's been quite a few younger Indian writers winning or being nominated for various international writing prizes.

VloMo08 : day17 - book purchases whilst in India

17/11/2008

http://blip.tv/file/1477706

blog entry :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day17-book-purchases-whilst-india

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VloMo08 : day16 - Patta Chitra Katha - traditional folk art of storytelling using visual language

today I watched a video Senthil Kumar posted a video on WADI facebook group called "Arjuna the Archer : AD 2008" - it was based on the techniques of Patta Chitra Katha

I wanted to find out more about this artform and technique, so I googled (without much luck, due to googling the wrong things) and asked the Sarai reader list and received lots of helpful information from many people. after reading about it, it reminds me a bit of the multi-media of a few hundred years ago. multiple paintings / panels on scrolls are read and music played whilst they're read, so there's a mixture of images, music, text, written / spoken word. the artists travel to different villages - equivalent to the communication methods / networks of today transmitting the multimedia messages & works. originally the works were made on cloth using vegetable based paints but these days modern paints are used and most works are done on paper. I hope the traditional methods are not lost completely! the style of painting comes from Orissa and West Bengal. modern artists use both traditional, classical topics as well as current topics & stories - they are trying out new variations of the art too, to keep the method alive and to learn new techniques & skills.

I wrote a blog post (ongoing) about Patta Chitra Katha @ http://www.aliak.com/content/patta-chitra-katha-traditional-folk-art-sto...

VloMo08 - day16

http://vimeo.com/2260235

VloMo08 : day16 - Patta Chitra Katha - traditional folk art of storytelling using visual language from kath on Vimeo.

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Patta Chitra Katha - traditional folk art of storytelling using visual language

Senthil Kumar posted a video on WADI facebook group called "Arjuna the Archer : AD 2008"

he's also posted it to youtube :
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=h-UPtfEkl_o

there's now a facebook page for Patta Chitra Katha

I wanted to find out more about this artform and technique, so I googled (without much luck, due to googling the wrong things) and asked the Sarai Reader list and received lots of helpful information from many people. after reading about it, it reminds me a bit of an equivalent to multi-media, or even video blogging from a few hundred years ago. multiple paintings / panels on scrolls (equating to video frames?) are read and music played whilst they're read, so there's a mixture of images, music, text, written / spoken word. the artists travel to different villages - equivalent to the communication methods / networks of today transmitting the multimedia messages & works. originally the works were made on cloth using vegetable based paints but these days modern paints are used and most works are done on paper. I hope the traditional methods are not lost completely! the style of painting comes from Orissa, West Bengal & Bangladesh. modern artists use both traditional, classical topics as well as current topics & stories - they are trying out new variations of the art too, to keep the method alive and to learn new techniques & skills.

I made a video for VloMo08 day16 explaining how I found out information about Patta Chitra Katha :

VloMo08 : day16 - Patta Chitra Katha - traditional folk art of storytelling using visual language from kath on Vimeo.

read more for information about this special artform ...

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mumbai digital arts, new media & urban research links

looking for digital arts, new media & urban research projects or exhibitions in mumbai - I'm only here for 2 weekends so might not make it to any festivals. here's some I found so far - some are past projects & some are not strictly mumbai based but I came across them whilst following links for mumbai related items

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Comet Media & COSMOS
a non profit group working in educational communication & new media. they have festivals, projects & publications
http://www.cometmedia.org
http://groups.google.com/group/cosmos_mumbai
upcoming events
aliak.com Comet & Cosmos page

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Digital artists - THE WEBMUSEUM CYBERCULTURE RESEARCH LIBRARY page
http://www.lastplace.com/page177.htm

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CRIT
http://crit.org.in

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VloMo08 : day15 - Dhobi Ghat Mumbai - public laundry

Dhobi Ghat is a public outdoor laundry where clothes of the local people and hospital & school laundry is done. it's cool to watch - hard work. I asked if the women do this too and he mentioned they wash on other days but that it's heavy duty work so is mostly done by men. it's one of the icons of Mumbai. it's next to a train station where you can see the old trains with people hanging out the doors on weekdays - another iconic image of Mumbai.

VloMo08 : day15 - Dhobi Ghat Mumbai - public laundry

15/11/2008

blog entry :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day15-dhobi-ghat-mumbai-public-laundry

http://vimeo.com/2258924

VloMo08 : day15 - Dhobi Ghat Mumbai - public laundry from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day14 - Mumbai clear skies & hotel

the only place I've seen clear skies whilst in India this trip has been whilst flying above the clouds. often when you're above the clouds you can still see glimpses of the ground whislt there's still light - but the Delhi - Mumbai flight I took 14/11/2008 had a constant thick blanket of smog.

another thing to be lucky for - back home the skies are so clear and blue. this is going into winter in India so there's usually less blue skies, but the smog seems heavier than I remember from 2006 - perhaps I've been away too long.

Mumbai airport is really nice - I thought I'd taken a video but can't find the clip. the hotel I'm staying at is not far from the airport and has an amazing, grandiose foyer - each room opens to the foyer. it's the Intercontinental "The Grand" Hotel. owned by a wealthy, prominent Indian family / company - when you turn on the tv you see a documentary about the owner's life & the story of how he built hotels, and manufactured cars + more.

14/11/2008

VloMo08 : day13 - Delhi tap water

tap water in Delhi - it looks the same as home but I get sick if I drink any of this. they have free bottles of water to drink & brush your teeth with at the hotels. the hotels have extra filtration systems, but I'd rather not risk it.

in Delhi water trucks drive around the streets and people take plastic bottles & buckets to fill up once a day. in some villages / hutments (slums) the communal tap only works for an hour or so twice a day - early in the morning or later at night. whilst India gets a lot of water in monsoon season - some cities flood - there's problems with the quality of water. in people's homes there's usually a water filter for a special drinking tap separate to the main water feed. so whilst at home we take it for granted that the water from the tap is safe to drink, in some places it's a luxury.

(trying out the zoom like in the other water tap videos - I don't seem to have a macro setting, or if I do I haven't found it yet)

actually I liked the sounds of the different streams of water as it went down the drain

VloMo08 - day13 - Delhi (Gurgaon) tap water

blog entry :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day13-delhi-tap-water

http://vimeo.com/2233526

VloMo08 : day13 - Delhi tap water from kath on Vimeo.

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Women in India & book related links

some links to follow up - mostly relating to the books i've recently purchased here in india - an ongoing list

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Asmita
ASMITA (literally, identity) was established in 1988 as a non-profitable, non-political and non-governmental organization by a nucleus of young enthusiastic women journalists. Its general objective is to fulfill the existing gap in participation, representation and access to media of women. It is committed to find new ways and directions for women's progress. Its major aim is to produce various publications on women in the media. ASMITA is the one and only feminist alternative media organization in the country, and it functions as a pressure group for the advancement of women through media activism. ASMITA Women's Publishing House, Media and Resource Organization (in short, ASMITA) was established in 1988 as a non-profitable, non-political and non-governmental organization by a nucleus of young enthusiastic women journalists, and started to publish the first feminist magazine of Nepal. The magazine was named Asmita which means "dignity" and "identity". In fact, this was the first movement of the organization for Nepali women's human right and empowerment through media.

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Women's World of India
Women's WORLD (India) was set up in July 2002. It is part of Women's WORLD (International), a free speech network of feminist writers, which has ongoing projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America. The primary aim of WW(I) is to provide a space for women writers in South Asia to analyse the circumstances in which women write, are published and read in this region, to identify the issues facing women writers here, and to develop a strategy for working on them at the national, regional and international levels.

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Blaft Publications
Blaft Publications is a new independent publishing house based in Chennai, India. Their releases so far include an anthology of Tamil pulp fiction, a translation of an experimental Tamil novel, a book of drawings, and a book of English short stories. However, in the future, Blaft has much wider goals. They are planning to eventually branch out into translations of fiction from other regional languages of South Asia, English fiction, comic books, graphic novels, children's books, non-fiction, textbooks, how-to-manuals, encyclopedias, and kitchen appliances.


The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction
- selected & translated by Pritham Chakravarthy
- edited by Rakesh Khanna

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Feminist Fine Print
A moderately priced, handy new series that offers two, three or four core essays on a single issue, from a critical feminist perspective. The essays may be single-authored or have multiple authorship depending on the issue, its significance within India and South Asia, and its theoretical and political implications.
- http://www.womenunlimited.net/catalogue2.htm for list of book details currently available

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Zubaan Books
An imprint of Kali for women

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Women's resources in Delhi
- a list of organisations

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Yoda Press
YODA PRESS is an independent publishing venture based in New Delhi. With a view to developing dynamic non-fiction lists, both academic as well as popular, which can make available interactive spaces for further discussion, scholarship, and writing, this young venture is currently focusing its attention on areas like urban studies, sexuality and the body, gender, cinema, contemporary art and popular culture, and new perspectives in history. In doing so, the larger YODA PRESS list hopes to effectively capture the non-mainstream, alternative, yet critical reality of contemporary India. The Press invites feedback, constructive criticism, and the ever enriching exchange of ideas, which can often lead to a stunning new publication.


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Sarai
http://www.sarai.net/about-us/introducing-sarai/overview
Sarai researches the urban experience, the city, the publics and practice of (old & new) media, "information and society", free & open source software, language and digital cultures and the interface between urban transformation, contemporary culture, and development. Sarai research has flowed into conferences, books, articles, art Installations and even school textbooks. Our researchers Include scholars and practitioners. Sarai places a premium on the research process as a whole, rather than just the final outcome. This means that Sarai research material continually reaches the public domain through collaborative mailing lists, CD's, small essays, apart from conferences and research articles.

Sarai publishes books (The Sarai Readers, The Deewan-e-Sarai and the Series), pamphlets (The Media Nagar Series), broadsheets (Sarai.txt, Cybermohalla Broadsheets) and occasional publications ('By Lanes', 'The Book Box' etc.) on paper as well as on the web. All Sarai publications are copyleft and maybe freely downloaded for non commercial & edycational use from the Sarai website.

Sarai embodies a continuing engagement with creativity in urban neighbourhoods through the 'Cybermohalla' Project in collaboration with a 'Ankur' Society for Alternatives in Education, a Delhi based NGO with a proven track record of more than two decades of work in the field of critical pedagogy and community mobilization in poor neighbourhoods in the city.

Sarai supports a growing network of independent researchers, practitioners and students all over India through fellowships and stipends. Over the last five years we have supported more than 400 independent researchers from all over the country.Many of these come from small towns such in the hinterland and in spaces marked by conflict such as Jammu and Kashmir and the North East. Half the proposals that have been supported have been sent in by women, a significant proportion of supported candidates belong to ethnic and religious minorities and oppressed communities. All the proposals investigate areas that would find little or no support, either in academia, or in mainstream media, although several of the candidates have gone on to make further meaningful work in academia and the media, to a large measure due to the ground that they were able to cover in the course of the Sarai independent research proposal.

Sarai invites critical reflections on the nature of the contemporary moment, by holding regular screenings and discussion of curated programmes of fiction, documentary and experimental films and video, and by acting as a convivial context for online and offline conversations through discussions, mailing lists and blogs in English and Hindi at the Sarai space and on the Sarai website.

Sarai engages with the Hindi/Hindustani public domain through publications, translation, lists, web content, software localization, events and workshops.

Sarai organises events such as - conferences, seminars, workshops, summer schools, colloquia, colloquia and hosts occasional residencies around themes thatthemes that reflect the programme's intellectual and creative interests.

Sarai produces media (video, audio, print, web) and contemporary art works, CDs, radio and software. Works produced at the Sarai Media Lab have been exhibited in several international venues such as Documenta11, and the Venice, Liverpool and Taipei Biennales.

Sarai collaborates with organizations and initiatives locally, regionally and internationally/globally on events, processes, networks, projects and publications.

Sarai reaches out to students and faculty in colleges, institutes, university departments and student societies to organize talks, discussions, readings, screenings, screenings, informal interactions and conversations.

Sarai archives different facets of contemporary popular culture, urban space and media forms with a view to making information about them available to a wide public of researchers and practitioners.

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VloMo08 : day12 - Palms Town & Country Club Gurgaon

VloMo08 : day12 - Palms Town & Country Club Gurgaon, near Delhi, India

a quick video of room 105 at The Palms Town & Country Club in Gurgaon, where I'm staying this week. off to Mumbai / Bombay next week for a couple of weeks.

blog entry :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day12-palms-town-country-club-gurgaon

http://vimeo.com/2223630

VloMo08 : day12 - Palms Town & Country Club Gurgaon from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day11 - K2 Korean dinner

VloMo08 : day11 - K2 Korean dinner

I went to dinner tonight with Ricky from work - he took me to the Korean / Chinese restaurant K2 in Gurgaon. & he explained the dishes we had. I had battery problems so some of what he said wasn't saved. the food was very tasty! there's also a karoke room but we didn't do this! others had booked the room

11/11/2008
K2, Gurgaon, India

blog entry :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day11-k2-korean-dinner

http://vimeo.com/2215146

VloMo08 : day11 - K2 Korean dinner from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day10 - driving home - Gurgaon

driving home in Gurgaon - it's a 35km road leading up to a toll way and it takes about an hour to reach the toll in the evenings. even the motorbikes have problems getting through. maybe a 4wd would have better luck

VloMo08 - day 10
10/11/2008
Gurgaon, India

(I'm a couple of days late - was in transit and had missing luggage problems & conversions on pc haven't been going to plan)

- this one's shot using the sony hdr-cx12e (pal)
- converted to avi on windows xp using voltaic hd (win) -> the windows version converts to either avi or wmv but it fails wmv on my pc as something's missing
- then avi converted to mp4 in SUPER (erightsoft.com/SUPER.html)
- then selected 720 size in QT pro (windows) to scale screen display

I think the HD camera did well shooting at night through the car windscreen - this is using lights from the cars.

blog entry :
http://www.aliak.com/content/vlomo08-day10-driving-home-gurgaon

http://vimeo.com/2205535

VloMo08 : day10 - driving home - Gurgaon from kath on Vimeo.

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re-cycle wallah - redesigning Indian cycle delivery rickshaws project

The Re-Cycle Wallah blog outlines a project to attempt to redesign the Indian cycle rickshaws in Ahmedabad with aims of "lowering human exertion by at least 30% and lower maintenance whilst keeping prototyping cost under re.5000; the outcome retail price is also to be under re.5000(around $125). Simultaneously providing a micro-credit loan scheme so the riders can own their own rickshaw rather than renting from a middle man." they are interested in ideas and feedback - you can post a reply to one of the articles on their site.

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videoshala - video + schools in Gujarat India

Shala is the word for school in Gujarat, India. this video from Frederick Noronha explains how video is being used in Gujarat to help educate children in areas where there are no teachers.

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