T-shirt slogans #79

Must-have for when in India.

* Personal = Private. Go away now.

* I'm here for food, not advice.

* That's MY paper.

* I drink, I smoke, I gamble, I sleep around - you still want to fix me up?

* Honk if you're a jackass.


Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

For Brinda (ok, and the rest of you as well). Because you had to know this one was coming.


Guaranteed 100% no weight-gain India travel diet

Time Required:
The duration of your trip.

Do not keep ready:
Sitaphal ice-cream
Ghee medu vada
Cheese seeeeeeeeeeeendwich (Bombay ishtyle)
Ganne ka ras
Ragda payttis
Royal falooda
Dahi sev batata puri
Mango lassi
Aloo 65
And, of course, orange-flavoured hot chocolate.

Think about them, salivate, tell everybody how you're just waiting to get your hands on them - and then, for some reason quite unfathomable to yourself, make no attempt to partake of them*.

Why you should try this:
Everybody's allowed a temporary lapse of judgement.

* I'm still trying to figure out why I didn't.


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

n., Insisting that the water served to you in an Indian restaurant be bottled ("because you really can't trust this outside stuff - who knows where they filled it from"), but asking for loads and loads of ice in the fizzy drink of your choice.

See also:
Hepatitis A
Restaurant hygiene


Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Till You Do #89

Nine out of every 10 mannequins in Indian shops are 'flesh-coloured' - Band-aid pink/peach/cream - and are either size zero (for women) for size studbuff (for men). The remainder are those unnerving silver/ebony robot-type ones.

Allowing for the proportion of fair-skinned Indians who even closely resemble that colour to be about a tenth of the entire population, and allowing for the proportion who are either super-skinny (by choice) or muscled up to be another tenth .......

this means that 80% of all the clothes displayed in Indian shops completely fail in their sole function - giving the buyer an idea of how they would look wearing them.

A weekend post? Shocking no? Just to make up for all the non-posts.


The first thing that hits you when you land here is the smell.

It hangs heavy in the air, wrapping round you with every step you take further in. If it was a person, it would be a late-middle-aged man sitting by a beach, slumped in his unwashed and crumpled shorts, sweating out the cheap rum he's been investigating so intently. The little cooling machines that are planted around only help to make it swirl around even more, chasing you as you try to hurry your way through bored gazes and hustling chancers.

You might be tempted to think it's caused by a mixture of the carpets in this airport and the high humidity, or by the sprawling labyrinth that houses so many thousands nearby. But if you breathe in really deep and let it percolate through your little passageways, you will feel the undercurrent of brine, floating in from all the nearby edges of this little jut of land.

It all floats in - the everpresent threat of malaria from the marshy waters in the undeveloped open grounds, the decades of untreated toxicity from the creek that used to define where the suburbs began, the stupidity of drowning bodies in the shifting sandy beaches to the north-west, and even the smug satisfaction of the ever-powered promenades to the south.

This is not the smell of the city.

This is the smell of what it fought so hard with to become this city, and what it now woos so fervently in order to stay alive. This is the smell of patient and unavenged wrath, waiting to reverse the centuries of desecration and drown this impertinent invader under the weight of its own plastic and broken statues and shit. This smell is a reminder of all the years you were buoyed by all that it contains, and of how you can never escape it, run away though you might.

Welcome to Bombay.