Monday, September 17, 2007

Settled At My New Place

So, I've moved out from Oritel this Sunday. I had lots of help from a brother in the process.

I'm right next door to the Police Camp, which is both good news and bad news. That means that you don't have to worry about crimes too too much, but that also means that you have to make sure not to get on their radar too much. Not all police officiers in India are crooked, but they do exist. The rule of thumb here is: the police is not your friend. That is a shift from what I'm used to, which is: protect and serve.

I'll try to take some good pictures and upload them 'down the street' as soon as possible.

Also, the Ganesh festival has started. Apparently, everybody in Mumbai gets crazy on that one... so much so that its even surprising for the rest of Indians. Yay.

More about the place I live:
I'm at 17 minutes of SEEPZ gate 3, which is where the bus to work passes. That means that I can leave at 7:40, pray along the way in a nice foresty path that doesn't have too much traffic and hop on the first bus passing at 8:05. I get to work early enough to get my day really started at 9, so I can leave early in the evening too.
There is a store very close that offers long distance calls for dirt cheap (1.4 Rs / 6 minutes to Canada), and there are a lot of amenities 'down the street'... something you'll hear me say often. Its about 10 minutes walking distance.
A maid will wash my clothes, and I can pay a few rupees to get a guy 'down the street' to iron them for me.
I can buy groceries 'down the street'. There is a net cafe 'down the street', and not far from 'down the street', there is the Marol Depot, where a gazillion busses pass by.
More on the Ganesh Festival
There are temporary shrines all over the place. Politicians have put posters and big corporations are recycling the event in their marketing.
Ganesh is associated with professional and material blessings. The direct Indian equivalent of Mammon. This festival is BIG in Mumbai. The streets are illuminated, you have 'wandering temples' in trucks, with an idol + guys either a) playing drums loudly or b) loudly saying stuff (which I guess are praises to the Idol). According to Hindu beliefs, Ganesh is physically in the idol, and he will return back to the heavens after the idol is immersed at the end of the festival.
Yesterday evening, some idiot was detonating some explosive sticks right under my window. Its a tradition to have firecrackers during this festival, but that wasn't firecrackers... some hybrid between firecrackers and dynamite sticks would be an appropriate description...
We had an idol downstairs. They took it away in a big noisy ritual yesterday. There were many drummers and firecrackers. It was bad enough that I couldn't conduct a conversation with my new roomate. It didn't last too too long, thank God. Now I understand why the Catholic Church got all festival-y in the 4th century... people love these crazy things!
Overall, I find the society around me a bit superstitious... name your business after one of the gods for blessings, kiss the doorframe for blessing the house before leaving, put pictures of Ganesh all over the place, etc. etc. etc. And that's not just poor people!!! You'll see even big businesses put the Swatzik on their logos.
Short summary: you won't get me in hinduism anytime soon. Its a major major downgrade from a perfect infinite God.

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