söndag 1 februari 2009

Still adapting, adjusting, and processing things

I have been home for over a month now, but I am still adapting to various things, and adapting ...and still processing things that I witnessed and experienced while in India.

I am still so greatfull that I made it home when I was supposed to and not stranded at the airport in Bombay. I still can't believe how blessed I was.

Yeah, I lost 12 kilos when I was in India... but now I have gained back a lot too. I don't dare to weigh myself yet. Not until I have lost some more again. Being sick and not able to excersice as much, and all the Christmas food has not been good for me. Oh well, why give up

måndag 29 december 2008

More post-India thoughts

I sleep so much better now... the silence ..no honking cars and other traffic sounds all night.
So much more space everwhere ...so much less people ..I love it!
No salesmen that are in your face all the time.
I know what I am paying for ..and no strange tips for the stupidest things.
Internet that works properly and isn't slow as h...
..and more PRIVACY!!!
Well, the list can go on.
Still dealing with reality back home though. ...and it's not all easy. But atleast it's easier to manage from here.

fredag 26 december 2008

My first few days of adjustments

So now I have been home for almost a week. There have been some adjustments. First of all, I didn't celebrate Christmas this year, for personal reasons. But I've had some good relaxing time. Well, I went back to work the day after working night. That was ok. Felt weird to be back.

I went to an ice hockey game... and that was really nice. It has been something that I had missed. My favourite team Frölunda Indians (ironic name, even though it's referring to the Native American Indians) beat one of the archrivals, Färjestad.

My stomach is getting re-adjusted to the Swedish food now. But it's all good. I have missed a lot of the food back home.
..and of course the cold Swedish weather. Even though summer is my favourite season, I do really love my share of cold weather too. So I don't mind the cold weather we have now... or the dark. But I'll get tired of it in a few months though.

After being in India I realised even more how much I need to do to help other people that are in need. I also realised how corrupt and dysfunctional some aspects of the Indian society is. Money that is donated for charity disappears sometimes. So how can one help? There are many great Non Government Organisations that do a great job, and where the money is used wisely, and reported so that people can know where the money goes.
I will donate money to one of these organisations, the one I worked at while in India - Family Services Centre. ..and I urge any volunteers to do the same. It is for a great cause. ..and I see it as very trust worthy. Go to the web site and the information needed will be there.


And yes, I will continue to write on this blog a little while longer. There are still things that are needed to be said. :)

måndag 22 december 2008

My last hours... Almost stranded in Bombay/ Back home!

So I am back home! It feels great, weird, bizarre ..and in a way like I never left. My life here and the life I had back in India is so different.

Well, after my last post I did go out and tried to enjoy Colaba and Bombay a little before it was time to head back. I went on a horse and carriage ride ... Got offered hashish from a drug dealer for the last time, and women from a pimp for the last time. Had the urge to punch them both really hard in the face ...but I just ignored them and walk away.
I did buy a few of those giant balloons from the salesmen that I was so annoyed with a while ago ...I did buy some magic balls from this guy named Amaad, that had tried to sell me those for four months now.

I had my last dinner at Leopold's.... and since it was crowded I had the opportunity to share tables with Lotta and Lisa, two young girls from the Netherlands. They had been in India doing volunteer work, and were also going home the next day. I also spent parts of the my last evening with Vincent and Santosh from my hostel, at the Sports Bar in Colaba.

Early Sunday morning I took the taxi to the airport. I was worried that i would have overweight luggage, so I brought an empty cardboard box so I could mail some stuff home. I had been trying to get a scale so that I could weigh my luggage, but a normal bathroom scale is as rare as a garbage bin in this city. So I wasn't able to do it.... and guess what, I had 17 kilos of overweight! Daaarn! ..and no damn post office in the airport. I almost got stranded in Bombay for an uncertain time because I almost had to cancel my flight. I had to solve the 17 kilo overweight somehow... in the matter of minutes. I panicked and got upset and had my emotions running. I already wore extra clothing with extra big pockets, that I now had to stuff even more. ...and with some magic, supportive Finnair crew and by throwing some stuff away I managed... I probably wore 20 kilos of luggage in the pockets of my clothes, and I got away with an extra carry-on in the form of a plastic bag, plus things I stuffed in my lap top bag. ...I looked like no other at that airport.
Then I had to cut in line and hurry through the many security checks (with very surprised guards). I was the very last one to board the plane ...in fact, the plane was waiting for me, and when I boarded they announced on the speakers that all passengers were now on board. Of course I had my seat almost in the very back. I still can't believe that I actually made it. (This was the short version of what I had to go through).

In the airplane I sat down by Henrik and Nadia, a really cool young Swedish couple from Stockholm that I had met while back in Bombay, and once again yesterday, and again at the airport. We talked about our experiences from India, and about various aspects about Indian culture and politics - both good and bad.

The plane went through Helsinki, Finland on the way back too ...and I was able to breath sweet Finnish air once again. At the airport I was able to hear good ol' Göteborgish accent being spoken again ..and that melted my heart and I was even more ready to come home.

My parents, my brother Jonny, and my friends Alexander and Emelie welcomed me at the airport. Alexander and Emily had a bottle of Swedish Julmust soda, Swedish candy, and Swedish gingerbread cookies for me... so nice :)
I was also greeted by the cold and rainy West coast Swedish weather. But it was all good. I was back home! ...and wow, I suddenly got the feeling that Christmas was actually on the door step!

I will continue posts for a while and write some post India thoughts.... and other thoughts about the India issue. Please read them :)

lördag 20 december 2008

My final week in India! / The dungeons of the Indian Post Office

The time has come for me to return to Sweden after my four months in India. The flight leaves tomorrow morning. It feels so weird.

This week has been a week of farewells. One of the most emotional one was probably the one with a 1,5 year old little girl that is out in foster care, awaiting adoption. I have done home visits to her foster home and done progress reports almost weekly. She has improved so much during these four months. ..and I have drawn closer to her all the time. I almost considered adopting her myself :) She was at the hospital when I paid her the last visit. I held her and played with her and had lots of fun with her. I had to hold back the tears when it was time to leave. I wish her a good future and that she will come to a good loving adoptive home.

I said good bye to some of the kids in the slum communities... they will really be missed. I really loved those fellas. I'll miss my weekly visits to the slums.

Went to my barber in Byculla for the last time ..to trim my hair and get shaven. I got some type of special treatment this time. Totally unexpected he takes the scissors and stick the in the nose a bit and trims my nose hair! ..that was a different experience.
It turns out that even this barber has this electrical massage thing that he puts on his hand and it vibrates. I got my head, back, arms, hands, and chest massaged.

I spent Friday night with Katja and Julia, the Swiss girls. We went to Hard Rock Cafe here in Bombay. I finally made it there. I liked the place. It was in an old big wear house. It was way too expensive though... as any Hard Rock Cafe.

I took farewell of the people of TISS (Tata institute of Social Sciences) and the staff at FSC (Family Services Centre) where I had my internship. I liked those people :) I had a good time at the FSC, and it has been a great learning experience.

I have been stressed and have slept way too little every night this week. I have been stressed when it comes to get things ready ...packing and shipping things home. I have gathered so many things during my four months here.. so I had to ship loads of things.
The post office here can be a ...quiet draining. When I mailed packages last Thursday I went to the third floor of one of the post office....
First I had to sit and wait until something happened... I guess it turned out that they had lunch ... and didn't really inform that but just sat there. Then it was time to get my stuff ready.
First I had to go to one person and open my packages and show the content. Then I had to go to second person to get some forms stamped, then to a third person who sew a cloth around my packages (standard procedure here in India)- and then pay him for that, then I had to go to a forth person who sealed it with wax - and pay him too. Then I went to a fifth person who weighed my packages, stamped them signed them, and the finally to a sixth person who I paid the whole thing too. Don't remember for how long I was in there.

I went back there yesterday.... They open at 10am... but they really didn't get ready until 11am, so I just had to sit there for an hour while they were all getting ready ..slowly ..very slowly. Then the same procedure as the day before, with some minor changes. Same thing earlier today...

I will do some various activities my last evening here... and I'll write about them later... since I'm not sure I will be able to do them all.

Wow.... tomorrow morning. I'm a little nervous.. and excited. I'm so looking forward to see my family and friends again. ...and so many other things.
But I have also felt uneasy with going home too.. dealing with things and issues that has been "hibernating" while I have been here in India. Some of the things I have been able to be distracted from since there has been so much going on here ...but now I have to deal with them again. Back to reality. Some issues I am happy to deal with though, since I at the same have time felt helpless in some other issues, not being able to deal with them being so far from it.

Well, got to go... got to have fun here in Bombay for a few hours more!

tisdag 16 december 2008

Swordsmen in the Golden Temple, Monty Python by the Pakistani border, and Taj Mahal.

I arrived to Amritsar in Punjab around 3 am... two hours late. I took a bike rickshaw to the old part of town, close to the Golden Temple... and checked in to the first hotel that was still open and had space. I slept for a few hours.

In the morning I went for a walk, and decided to visit the Golden Temple even before having breakfast. I really enjoyed the sunset and the morning mist, and thought that it would be a good time to visit the temple. ...and it truly was. It was magic.
The Golden Temple was in the middle of a big pond, surrounded by a walkway and walls. The atmosphere was serene and nice... oriental and I was in such a good mood. The temple is the Sikh's holiest place by the way. Various types of Sikhs were there worshiping - everything from simple turban bearing Sikhs to the ones with whole outfits, including large swords. Men were bathing in the pond. Religious chants could be heard from the speakers on one side, and on the other side there were male singers singing some other types of chants or religious songs.
...once again, it was magic.

I walked on the bridge in to the temple itself and walked around. In there in the middle of the floor were the three men that could be heard from the speakers on one side of the complex. Two of them were also playing some type of electrical organs, and the third was playing on some drums. To the front left from them there were two other men performing some type of ritual with clothes. On the second floor there was some guru sitting and reading from the Sikh's holy scripture with a group of worshipers following along in their own books. On the third floor there was an other guru, but he was reading silently for himself.

I ate, walked around in the area, and went back to the temple later during the day, so that I could see it during bright sunlight too. Amritsar was way cool. I loved all the exotic and exiting clothing styles, and seeing men walking around with large swords on the side. Maybe I should start that fad in Sweden?

In the afternoon I took a shared jeep to Attari, where the India-Pakistani border crossing is. People usually go there to watch the afternoon border-closing ceremony. The Lonely Planet says similarities can be seen with Monty Pythons Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. That is so true.. and I would add that it also reminded me of roosters moving around trying to intimidate each others with their moves.
Indian ad Pakistani border soldiers to this funny marching back and forth on each side of the border. They were kicking with their legs and swinging their arms high. It was quiet entertaining and funny.
the crowds on both sides get patriotic and yells patriotic slogans. It was almost like attending football game.

In the evening I took the night train to Agra. There I got to know some cool guys from Delhi, Rahul, Sumit, Atul, and "Mr. Singh" (din't catch his first name)...yes, Delhi seemed to have trustworthy people after all (a joke - sure there are even more out there).

The train was late to Agra the following morning. I haven't taken a long distance train in India that has been on time. The only sight that I really partook of was... of course THE Taj Mahal. It was a long journey just to see one sight, but it was all worth it. It was an impressive sight and I am happy that I made it there. But it really wasn't fully as breath taking since I've already traveled so much and seen so much already. But I loved the Taj anyway.

I took the train back to Delhi at night and went to the airport, where I spent the night. I slept on three chairs with my head resting on my suitcase that was on a cart. Well, it was for free and better than the floor. In the morning I took the plane back to Bombay ..for my last week in India.

It was really nice to be able to travel around for a week. It was an adventure and I don't regret it. But I feel that I am done with India now. For various reasons. ...and I do feel more and more lonely now.

söndag 14 december 2008

High security in Cold Kashmir

I usually don't have problems with flying. But the plane trip to Srinagar in Kashmir was different. I guess that the terror attacks in Bombay did have a larger effect than I thought. I was more sensitive and my stomach tightened every time the plane tilted a little to much or made an unexpected move. I also felt a little uneasy with the height looking down from the plane when it was about to land. I was okay most of the time though.
Fire crackers have also made me feel more uncomfortable when I hear them explode. As a reflex I associate it with gun shots.

Anyway, Kashmir is a high security area. When i arrived at the airport I had to report my arrival at a special desk, and fill in a form. I have to write down where I was going to stay, when I planned to leave the area, my purpose for the visit, and so on.
The military was everywhere in Srinagar. More than in Bombay after the terror attacks.

It was really cold in Srinagar. It is up in the Himalayas after all, and it was far from being tourist season there at the moment. But I guess that it made my visit more unique, and more of a cultural experience (since it was foggy and cloudy most of the time I was there ... and rainy. ...and cold).

I lived in a houseboat on Dal Lake during my stay there. it felt very exotic ..and reminded me of some of the winter hikes in cottages out in the woods, that I made as a youngster. The nights were a little too cold though.

Farooq was the man that was taking care of the place and me while I was there. I took it easy on my first day, and had dinner with him and his family at night. On the next day I went on a shikar ride (a type of boat that the locals use). My Lamanvol (paddler) was Tanver, a pretty cool young man that was working extra. The ride was nice and interesting... even though the the clouds hid most of the mountains. It would have been totally gorgeous during the summer. Not only with the mountains, but also with the greenery and the "floating" parks on the lakes. After a tour in the lake we went to the Old Town and walked around there for a while. It was a Muslim holiday, and since Kashmir is heavily Muslim, most places were closed. As part of the holiday they kill sheep and eat it. So here and there there were guts and lungs and other inner parts of the sheep laying around on the ground ..or floating in the water, close to the harbour. I have no idea why they didn't clean up after themselves.

We went back to the boat and continued to other parts of the city... parts of Srinagar that could have reminded me of Venice with all its canals and buildings next to the water. But it rather felt like a flooded post war WW2 Eastern European city. ....like somewhere up in the Transylvanian mountains. It had a cool feeling to it though ..even if it once again would be a lot nicer during the Summer.

The next day I walked up the Shankaracharya Hill. It was foggy and a little rainy, but it was a nice promenade. There's a Hindu temple on top, but I would have been more interested of the view, that would have been fantastic if it wasn't because of the weather. I did get a decent view over the city and the lake on the way day though. ..and I enjoyed all the flocks eagles flying close over my head.
After that I went in to town and walked around and looked and shopped a little. There were soldiers everywhere. It felt like about 5 percent of the people on the streets were armed soldiers. I think that it's an even higher high security area because of the elections that were coming up the following weekend.

I might have visited Srinagar the wrong part of the year, but I don't regret going. I rather have visited it on the wrong time than not at all ..and it did feel like an adventure after all. It really did have a Central Asian atmosphere to it all ... with all the Kashmiri and other regional clothes ...and with all the military present.

I left for Jammu further south on Friday morning, by shared jeep. It was me, the driver and eight other passengers. I had planned to catch up on some sleep and read during the seven hour journey, but there wasn't much of that. I was so amazed by the view from the window once the weather cleared further south. I finally got a clear view of the mountains ..including the Himalayas. The jeep even made a special stop for me so that I could take photos. I sooo enjoyed that journey along the mountains ...where the roads could go to the left and right and up and down and back again. ...with Indian music being played in the car stereo.

Along large parts of the road there where still many soldiers ..with military posts on a regular basis. At one of the road blocks, foreigners were supposed to report in, and a soldier stopped the jeep and looked in to the car. The guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and I got ready to take out my passport, when the soldier suddenly asked the driver to move on. I guess I looked somewhat Kashmiri with my outfit and dark unshaven beard and sitting in the shadows ...that or he didn't bother.

I had a few hours to kill in Jammu, before taking the train to Punjab. Jammu was a pretty interesting town, and I saw some really interesting things... but just the few hours that I spent there was enough.

torsdag 11 december 2008

Can anybody be trusted in Delhi?

So I started my last tour around new places in India before going home to Sweden. Well, I'll still spend my last week in Bombay.

I haven't really planned too much ahead, and had not gotten the various tickets to the places that I wanted to visit. Only the return plane ticket to Delhi. That was because of lack of time and lack of energy. But I planned this last trip for a while, and I didn't want to give it up. The first part of the journey, Dehli, was a city that almost everyone not from there seemed to hate.

It started well though. I didn't decide what part of of town to look for hotels, until soon before it was time for the plane to land. I looked through the Lonely Planet real fast and decided on the Paharganj area. I got a cheap hotel for 250 Rupees a night at the Main Bazaar street. The bathroom was not in rally bad shape, but the room itself was perfectly okey ..for the price. The hotel had the ironic name Star Palace. I met Tim, a Canadian guy from Vancouver, at the hotel. He was heading home the next day, after touring India and Nepal for three months. The hanged out the first part of the day and checked out some of the Main Bazaar shops, and had lunch together. I liked the Main Bazaar street. It had its charm, and was above expectation.

I spent the remaining day on my own. I wanted to see some sights and took an autorickshaw to Humayun's Tomb. It was a pretty cool place. My rickshaw driver was supposed to wait for me outside and take me to the Red Fort. But he had called a friend and he picked me up instead. Not much to do so I went along. The Red Fort was closed so I watched it from the outside for a short time before heading back. On the way back the rickshaw driver took me to a shop, where I didn't buy anything. Refused other shop visits, but was okay with a stop at a travel agency, since he said that it was under the Government (which turned out later to be a lie). I talked to a agent there, and I agreed on a package deal, believing it to be okay because it suposedly was a government agency. It was way expensive, but I guess I liked to have it done for me, and less for me to worry about. The package included all the places that I wanted to visit. Srinagar and Jammu in Kashmir, Amritsar in Punjab, and Agra (Taj Mahal). My Rickshaw driver wanted 500 Rupees for his job when we got back. What a crook. Sure he spent a few hours driving me, but he didn't deserve that much money for it. I gave him 250, and that was still good I think.

I was about to end my day at a roof top restaurant, eating dinner. There I meat a man that started to talk to me.... and I'm gonna try to keep the story as short as possible. When finding out that I was going to go to Srinagar, Kashmir, and what agency I was using, he got "upset" and said that they were the biggest crooks in Delhi. He was calling a police friend and was going to help me out. He suggested me to cancel my credit card and he was going to send a policeman with me to the travel agency the following morning. He claimed that he himself was working for the Government. I thought that this man was a Good Samaritian who was concerned for me. He asked me to meet up with him at the Lakshmi Narayan temple the next morning. That was supposed to be a "safe place" (plus the fact that he lived close by it turns out).

I met up with him there, and we went back to the roof top restaurant where we met. While having my breakfast he continued to describe the plan that he started to tell me at the temple. While talking to him it turns out that he had a hidden agenda. He also acted like a travel agent, and suggested some yoga or meditation course in Himachal Pradesh ..and wanted me to go there. I was not interested. Then he had plans for the places that I wanted to visit.. and had this friend that could help me. I turned it all down. I wanted to do it myself. But then he wanted money for "helping" me and to pay for the policeman to come along. In other words, baksheesh - a bribe or "tip". I was disapointed to hear that corruption was part of this, but I was so involved in this that I didn't know what to do. He also wanted me to ask for 1000 Euros in compensation from the travel agency for the "pain" that they have caused me. I did not feel comfortable with that. It didn't feel right.

What happened then I have no idea really ...we waited for the police outside a police station ...the policeman came along in a rickshaw to the travel agency. But then for some reason he stepped out half way and asked the driver to continue to the destination. What the heck???

..and to keep it short. I did end up buying the package deal anyway. Long story why..ask me later if you want. Was it over priced? Most likely. But it felt okay, and I got someone else to do the work for me. Those weren't the only two reasons... as I said. Long story. I did get a Delhi city tour as part of the price though. A young guy called "Raj" was the driver. He took me to various sights and places in Delhi and New Delhi.. and it was pretty cool. Besides the visit to Jama Masjid Mosque. Well, the Mosque itself was cool, but the way there ..the traffic ... the crowds ..it was Hell .. a Hell worse than Bombay ...believe it or not. The tour car stopped a bit from the place and I had to take a bike rickshaw there. ..because it was so crowded. It was supposed to take me to the Red Fort too so I could see it so I just wanted to go back.

Afterwards I took a random short trip on the Delhi Metro. I wanted to experience the Indian Metro, something I in all honesty didn't think that India would have. I picked a station with a cool name, Vishwa Vidyalaya,and went there and back. It was a little like the New York metro actually.

Oooh... and how could I forget, during the tour I ran in to a snake charmer again, when I was about to eat at a restaurant. This time I got even better photos, and this time I was able to pet the cobra! :)

On Tuesday morning I was dropped of at the airport by "Raj". My next destination would be Srinagar upp in Kashmir by the Himalayas.

Who to trust in Delhi? I don't know... so many of them here seemed to have their own agendas in what they did. ..and I have to agree with those who didn't like Delhi. Even though I did see some cool things (including things not mentioned in this post), I really think that Delhi really doesn't have much to offer if you're visiting other places in India too.

Oh... and I never got back to the man from the roof top restaurant, the man I believed to be a Good Samaritian.

torsdag 4 december 2008


Sebastian went home today. Our university allowed to go home earlier if we wanted to and still get our credits. I support his decision and understand why. Things just aren't the same after the terror attack. I have lost a lot of my energy and motivation to be here. It has been really draining. It does not mean that I can't have fun or enjoy the rest of my time here though. Because I am staying here until the 21st, as planned. I am looking forward to going home ...but I'm just not ready yet. It would have been to abrupt for me ...and I still have things I need to finish up here.

Went to a peace march held here last night, held by the Gateway of India, and close to the Taj Mahal Hotel. There were about 20'000 people there, and very crowded. The atmosphere was sometimes very heated, and sometimes very peaceful. The various crowds with people of various opinions were mingled together. I could come in to a crowd where people were shouting anti Pakistani slogans or "We want war! We want war! We want war!" The next crowd could emphasize the unification of the various religions in India, and had Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians, walk side by side for the same cause.
At other places people were putting candles in the ground.

Common for many of the people was that they wanted a change, and that they were disappointed and angry at their government. I'm really not impressed by the Indian politicians in general myself.

I was interviewed by TV again. This time by Times Now. It was actually by accident. Some woman came to me and said "Do you want to see something on TV?" and looked very concerned. I thought it was something important that had to do with me being a westerner or something, so I said yes. But it turned out that she said "Do you want to SAY something on TV?" My co-worker told me today that she saw me on TV again. The interview... plus one part where Sebastian and I were walking towards the protest. We stood out as two tall white boys amongst a crowd of shorter Indians.

I walked around with a white t-shirt that said "Mumbai meri jaan" (I love Bombay in Hindi), to show my support. That caught a lot of attention since I was a white westerner wearing it, and I had a dozen of people photographing me. I still think it's fair of them to do so, since I take photos of strangers myself all the time here. I posed for them.

Anyway, Bombay... the city that I love, and the city that I hate. It won't be the same.

On Sunday I'm flying up north, and I will be touring some areas up there. I have some specific side adventures in mind. Not sure how safe they are or if I'll be able to do them, so I won't post about them here yet.

tisdag 2 december 2008

Refreshimg Goa ...and back to Bombay ...work ..and to Leopold's

The trip to Goa was well needed. I was down in Palolem Beach in southern Goa. I was there with three friends from the hostel I live at. It was Vincent the French guy, and two Indians, Santosh and Abhishek. One of Vincent's French friends joined in too from a different place in India, "Z.Z." (pronounced the French way - "Zet-Zet"). Santosh had a friend who owned a place down there. We shared two beach houses. Pretty simple but perfectly fine. They were actually nicer than most places that I have stayed in here in India.

I took the night bus down by myself, and met up with them in Madgaon, before heading down to Palolem. My thoughts were to a good degree still back in Bombay. I enjoyed my first day in Goa. But only to a degree. I needed to refresh my head from what had happened, but I still couldn't allow myself to let it go completely. It would feel weird. But that day on the beach, doing various activities, and being with those guys did help.
At night we could enjoy a house music party held further south down the beach. I partied for a long time. Fortunately it was not one of those stereotypical free loads of drugs party (or I would have left). It was more of a normal and legal party. The way I like it.

I was supposed to go home the following day, but I missed out on taking the bus back, since it went from further north, were I originally planned to stay. I didn't mind missing it though, and staying for an other day. I really needed it. I was able to enjoy the rest of my stay there, almost to the fullest. I have never experienced a warmer day as one of those days ..but it was all good. I loved life and was tempted to stay there for an other week, but I had obligations back in Bombay.

I have to say that Goa was a cultural shock. It was like I was transformed to the Mediterean sea in southern Europe (other than the amount of palm trees). Goa was sooo different from anything that I had experienced in India so far. Other than Indian salesmen, stray dogs, and cows, there wasn't much that showed that I was still in India. Ironically, this was the only place where I have seen a cow walk in to a restaurant, and without the staff being bothered too much. I tried to chase it out, but it turned its head and gave me a dirty look. ...well, it felt like it. ..and I didn't feel like messing with her. Didn't want to risk having a mad cow go berserk in the restaurant.

Santosh was the only one of the crew to stay in Goa for an other day. He even stayed there after I left. Again, Goa was wonderful. Goa would probably be the main reason for me wanting to go back to India one day. Goa was refreshing. Goa cured a lot of the heaviness from earlier this week. I love Goa (at least that part).

The bus ride back was on a sleeper bus ...and even shakier than any train rides that I have had in India.

Then I was back in he... I mean Bombay. The first thing that approached me was once again someone trying to cheat me. A rickshaw driver wanted 150 rupees for taking me to the nearest local train station. A ride that probably would cost only 30 rupees. I chose an other driver.
At the station... six fully packed trains passed me. Every darn compartment was packed. People were literally hanging out from the doors. ..and hanging or standing in spots on the sides meant for other things. I had enough, so I took a taxi down to Colaba. I was headed straight to work. Bombay and its hellish rush hour was back to normal. ..and I was reminded what the things were that I hated about this city.

Down in Colaba things were also back to business ...the traffic, the people, the stores and the street salesmen. Even Leopold's had opened up to my surprise. But people need to support themselves, and thus having to move on.

It felt good to be back to the office though, even if the past week still was in the air. ..and me being in the dead-as-hell-tired of Bombay. I went along with Neeta to a school a little north of Colaba. It was the same school that I visited in the beginning of my time here. I have to say that the visit was truly refreshing an made me get back a lot of my good moods. I love Indian kids. Not are they only cool and entertaining, they are also some of the most beautiful kids in the world.
I spent a lot of my work day there and other related businesses around the area, including interesting home visits. I got once again reminded about how privileged I am. ..and at the same time enjoy meeting some wonderful Indian people, living in poverty but with such rich hearts.

I had a late breakfast/lunch/dinner at Leopold's. I really wanted to go back there. But it didn't feel as strange as I expected it to be. Things seemed to be almost as normal. ..but it was calmer. ..and there were still bullet holes in some of the walls and in the window ..and people photographing them. I did it too .. but not for touristy or novelty reasons. I wanted to document it ...and remember it. Media was there too... discretely.

Did I seem to have a wide range of emotions and feelings these past days ... and in even on the same day? That sure is the case ... and that's also India for you.

fredag 28 november 2008

When I thought that everything basically was going to be nice and peaceful...

I was at a internet cafe in the Colaba area, where the terror attacks happened. I needed to go to the internet cafe to print out my bus tickets to Goa. I decided to go to this one since I had problems printing out at the internet cafe down the street from my hostel. I had also told people and friends on internet that things were calm right now. But only a minute from coming out of the cafe I heard heavy gunfire from the Taj Mahal hotel. .. and then an explosion, then some more gunfire... and another explosion. The Hotel is just a hundred meters or so from the internet cafe, and you can see it well. But there are lower buildings in between.

They had extended the road blocks further than before... and after the shootings people started to back off, but went back again. Towards the end of my stay down in Colaba they extended the road blocks (for civilians) so that the Taj was out of view almost completely. One could only see the top of the taller one of the buildings (that one had been secured I was told). Irritated policemen were backing of curious crowds with bamboo sticks. Not hitting, just waving them.

I reported again to the Swedish newspaper and once again my info got published. With a more serious photo of me this time. I even got interviewed by an Indian TV channel (NBTV) ....surrounded by a tight ring of 50 curious Indians. That was actually a little intimidating ...and I tried not to think about the crowd listening to me (...or maybe they were just enchanted by the TV-camera?). I tried to give some honest and smart answers. I was also interviewed by a Korean newspaper reporter.

Then there were rumours that there were shootings again in other parts of town... and people were worried, but it seemed to be false, because when I was by the CST station the police drove around saying in their speakers not to listen to the rumours and continue s usual.

Well... I am on my way to Goa now. ..and hopefully I will actually get there.


torsdag 27 november 2008

Towards the end of this crazy day...

Well... it's heading towards the end of this crazy day. I stayed around the area of Hotel Taj Mahal larger parts of the remaining day. Still not sure why, other than the desire to actually be there and witness the whole thing. There were periods of heavy gun shooting, crushing of glass, bombs or grenades exploding (at one point the crowd went down on their knees when one of the explosions felt extra serious. But it wasn't that bad of a threat really ... I think), and more fire from the main building. I think the fire has become under control, even if it was still smoking.

I overheard that the terrorists had high tech weapons, and that the bombay police didn't really know what was going on in there (I guess it's the military or some commando squad operating inside). There were snipers on the roofs of some buildings.
I wasn't amused or excited during the shooting, I just couldn't. I pictured that it could be hostages that got shot, or some of the forces trying to rescue the hostages. Towards the end I could see how some person was signaling with one type of flashlight from the window. Later the light from that room was switched on and off a few times. A little later I could see three people standing in the room next to it. Not sure if it was the terrorists, some hostages, or the attack force.

I did actually report to A Swedish newspaper from the Taj during the day. I had called them last night, for some reason ...or maybe a reflex since I have a smaller background in media ... and since I was here in Bombay, I felt that I wanted to contribute something. We didn't have much newsworthy to come with at first. But outside the Taj I texted them letting them know what was going on. I was then called up by a reporter from the paper and I told him what I've seen and experienced, and answered some questions.
I already got responses from friends back home being surprised by seeing me on the internet news.

I have so many more thoughts running through my mind right now... but at the moment they are only fragments, too complicated, and too many to describe in words at the moment.

I am leaving Bombay over the weekend. I planned to do it even before all this happened, but now it's even more well needed.

I pray and hope for the best for the remaining hostages. ..and my heart goes to the families that have lost a loved one.

Death has rarely felt so real to me, as it has done now.