Monday, 31 December 2012

The Year That Was

A year is a long span of time in our lives, but for a city that is centuries old, a year is just blip on the historical timeline. Time always seems to pass so slowly when we are going through the moment. But once the year is done with, when we look back, we always feel that the year came to an end quickly, time flew by without our noticing it. So here we are at the very end of the year that was, 2012, the time when we look back, reminisce, and we look forward to a year full of possibilities, full of hope, that 2013 will be what 2012 could not be.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Understanding Cities


You might have read in the papers about the ‘BMW Guggenheim Lab’ that is in town these days. This moving lab which has previously travelled to cities like New York and Berlin, before coming to the shores of Mumbai, likes to describe itself as urban think tank, a community center and a public gathering space. Its primary motive is to address issues pertaining to contemporary urban life through various programs and public discussions. We caught up with the Guggenheim Lab’s resident blogger ‘Christine Mclaren’, who has been trying to understand our magnificent city by unique ways like walking blind folded through the city and commuting in peak hour rush in a Virar local!

Christine McLaren

Thursday, 27 December 2012

In Chat: Shakti Mohan 'The Dancing Queen'



You have been awestruck by her dancing skills and you have voted to make her the dancing queen. We are talking about the sensationally talented dancer from Mumbai, ‘Shakti Mohan’. With her exquisite dancing skills she won our hearts and the dance competition ‘Dance India Dance 2’ on Zee TV. But she didn’t stop there; she went on to shine on the silver screen with the song ‘Pritam Pyare’ from the movie ‘Rowdy Rathore’. Recently, she launched her own dance video ‘Move’ and a calendar called ‘NrityaShakti’. Here are the excerpts from our interview of Shakti Mohan, a dancer, artist and performer, poised to achieve great heights and success in coming times.

Friday, 14 December 2012

From Paris to Bollywood


The glamour, glitz, fame and moolah of Bollywood lure many to Mumbai to try their luck in the film industry. People from across the country, from big cities to the countryside; come to Mumbai with the dream of becoming a superstar. Some are spurred by passion, others attracted by its glamour. Those driven by the glamour and other ulterior motives find the struggle too hard; while those driven by passion keep trying to live their dreams. In the end only some succeed to achieve what they came for. Discovering Mumbai features Christie Bourcq, a French national and a passionate actor-dancer who flew down from Paris to take plunge in Bollywood. This is about her journey from Paris to Bollywood!
Christie Bourcq

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Networking Dinner


The fast life of Mumbai can prove to be a killer for many. Our modern live’s require us to Juggle too many balls at the same time, which eventually tires one out. What we need are endeavours which can help to break away from these monotonous lives that we live. The best way would be to go out and meet interesting people. Mumbaikars, an innovative lot, have experimented with various versions of networking, from dating meet-ups to foodie meet-ups, there’s a networking platform for every kind of interest. Discovering Mumbai features Megha Deokule, who organizes one such networking meet up called ‘Coral’, which allows people to network over great food.
Megha and Pawan, co-founders 'Coral'

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Fashionista


The debate for which city deserves the title of the ‘Fashion Capital’ of India has been raging for quite a long time now. Both Delhi and Mumbai claim the title as theirs and it really is a tough call as to which of these Indian cities deserves the top slot. Bollywood certainly adds glamour to Mumbai’s fashion industry but Delhi is where most of the top designers of the country have their base. Well, we are not here to decide which city deserves the crown, neither are we talking about those designers, supermodels etc. We are here to talk about the world of fashion bloggers and today we feature ‘Shubhangi’, a fashion blogger from Mumbai, who writes the blog ‘Shubhi’s Revels’. Make way for the fashionista!
Fashion blogger - Shubhangi

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Queen of the Suburbs



‘Queen of the Suburbs’, that’s how the suburb of Bandra is descried, and rightly so! Everyone loves this suburb. It is the symbol of Mumbai’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. From the energetic nightlife, the seafronts of Bandstand and Carters Road and the celebrities, we are in awe of everything that Bandra has to offer. There’s so much happening in Bandra, so much life, so much excitement. It’s difficult to comprehend why just one suburb, in this huge a mega polis, has been blessed with so much. Well, we came across a Mumbaikar who is trying to understand what makes Bandra click. Discovering Mumbai presents Aalika who is working on a project, ‘The BandraProject’, which aims to unlock the mystery behind Bandra’s charm.
Photograph by 'The Bandra Project'

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Decoding The City Through Stories




Mumbai is certainly the most mystical and mysterious city of our country. For years people have been trying to understand this city. Various means have been adopted by them and a lot has been written about the city. But still there is no absolute clarity as to what makes this city so unique. Mumbai still lures the explorers to come and explore it. Discovering Mumbai itself is one such experiment and so we were very happy to come across another great experiment in the discovery of the city. ‘Katha Cues’, a group of people who gather to share stories, founded by Tarun Durga, is an on-going experiment to understand the city through the stories of its inhabitants.
  

Monday, 26 November 2012

Improvising Theatre



The vibrant theatre culture of Mumbai has been witnessing a steady stream of talented and innovative actors which are bent on changing the old ways. Their penchant for travelling on the path less travelled has resulted in creation of an innovative theatre scene in Mumbai. ‘Improv’ has been the talk of town in recent years. Improv theatre has changed the way we watch and experience theatre by making the audience a part of the action. Discovering Mumbai presents Adam Dow, founder of ‘Improv ComedyMumbai’ (ICM), a group dedicated to pushing the boundaries of Improv theatre and taking it to the masses. Time for some improvisation!
Adam Dow

Saturday, 24 November 2012

In chat: The Narrators



So you love books? You have many, adorning those shelves in one corner of your home. Do you wish if there was a better, beautiful and artistic way of displaying your book collection? If you can relate to all of the above then the ‘The Narrators’, an initiative by Reshma Jain, has the right recipe for you. They have just converted literary masterpieces into beautifully designed posters. So now you can have the entire text of the book in the form of a poster, decorating the walls of your home. Excited? Read on, for our interview with Reshma Jain and you can also check out a few of their works here. For the entire collection, head over to their site -here
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Breakfast Projekt



How far can you push yourself for your passion? Setting ambitious targets is easy, but getting up every day and sticking to it is tough. We start out with much gusto, but somewhere down the line the fire fizzles out, the target becomes an insurmountable peak, and we just quit. How about setting yourself a target of preparing a new breakfast every morning, throughout the year? Sounds ambitious? Well Pratishtha Khan, has set herself this ambitious and rather unique target. Discovering Mumbai presents Pratishtha who has started ‘The Breakfast Projekt', through which she aims to cook up 356 different breakfast recipes in 365 days!
Pratishtha Khan

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Online Banya



You must have heard all the views about how FDI in retail will lead to disappearance of your local kirana shops. We don’t really know if that is going to happen or not. But even before Walmart could step into the country, one Mumbai based grocery store has already disappeared! Where did it go? Was Walmart behind its disappearance? Well, it didn’t really disappear, it just went online. Discovering Mumbai presents ‘Local Banya’, an innovative online grocery store started in May by Karan Mehrotra, Rashi Choudhary and Amit Naik, which wants to change the way you shop for grocery, one click at a time!
The Local Banya Mascot

Monday, 19 November 2012

A Project to Save the Environment



Lot has been said and written about the impact of human civilization on the environment. The pace at which modern human civilization has grown in the last fifty years is amazing. This growth, however, has come at a cost. To feed the needs of the growing human race, forests across the globe have been cut down at an alarming speed. India, especially, is at crossroads thanks to its ambition to develop and the impact our growth is having on the country’s natural resources. Its lack of forest cover is a well-known problem. Discovering Mumbai presents Hari Chakyar and Anthony Karbhari, two Mumbaikars on a mission to create awareness about the environment and encouraging people to plant trees, called 'Project 35 Trees'. It’s time to Go Green!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Protecting Innocence



Almost everyone who has an internet connection has a Facebook or Twitter account. Vast amounts of data shared by people on these websites. Even kids have taken to these sites with much gusto. They are born digital citizens. But how safe are children on these sites? It’s not just hacking that’s a threat to children. A new menace is on the rise, mostly unnoticed so far. ‘Cyber bullying’ the virtual version of bullying is widely prevalent amongst children. Three Mumbaikar’s have taken up the task to protect children from this cyber threat. Discovering Mumbai presents ‘CyberSmartie’, a start-up founded by Shekhar Tripathi, Sayantan Sen and Neha Doshi, the people on a mission to protect children from Cyber Bullying.
Cybersmartie at work

Friday, 9 November 2012

Crazy for Food


Mumbai has many treasures for the foodie. From high end restaurants serving international cuisines to the budget restaurants serving amazing Indian delicacies, there is a lot to explore and relish. But given the sheer size of the cities it often becomes difficult for one to travel from one corner of the city to another to try a new restaurant. Also it’s sometimes difficult to convince people to come along to a far flung place. A few Mumbai foodies, however, have found a solution to this problem. They have come together and formed a group 'Pet Pujari’s', a group of people who will do anything for food! Discovering Mumbai today features Sushil Cherian, the founder of this fabulous foodie group Pet Pujari’s.
Pet Pujaris at 'Bagelwala'

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Creating Magic on Stage



The theatre is an integral part of the city of Mumbai. Its roots can be traced back to the days of the British Raj. The Parsi style of theatre dominated during the late 19th and early 20th century. Post-independence, particularly in the 60’s and 70’s, the golden period of Indian theatre, a lot of changes were seen in the way theatre had been functioning. But post 80’s theatre started to lose its charm. However, over the last decade or so it has been making a comeback. And this comeback has been led by the youth who have taken to theatre with a new approach. Discovering Mumbai presents Divya Palat, an actor, playwright and director, who pioneered the improvisation style of theatre in the Mumbai theatre scene. She also started the ‘Balancing Act Productions’ which has won numerous awards for their plays.
Divya Palat

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Classical Sound of Harp



For quite a long time, for most of us Indian’s music began and ended with Bollywood. The sound, or rather noise, of Bollywood drowned out everything else. Even today, all day long, through the Television and Radio we are constantly bombarded with Bollywood music. However, now we have a large chunk of population that is exploring and listening to different kinds of music. It’s not just the new age punk or alternative rock but even classical music, both Indian and western is seeing a revival. Discovering Mumbai presents to you Nush Lewis, a popular harpist, singer and songwriter; whose work with the strings will definitely make you fall in love with the harp!
Nush Lewis

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Bridging the Gap



The Indie music scene has been steadily gaining strength over the years. Indie bands and music are slowly making inroads into our taste of music, which was previously predominantly ruled by international or Bollywood music. More and more people are being exposed to indie music through various mediums like live shows, radio, online music stores etc. Today we feature ‘OK Listen’ an online music store started by Vijay Basrur with the vision of bridging the gap between musicians and their fans.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Wherever Music Takes You



Love music? Love attending gigs? Disappointed that major international artists skip Mumbai most of the times? Willing to travel to wherever your favourite band is performing in the country, because you just can’t afford to skip the gig! Worry not; Chorush is here to solve your problem. Chorush, a tourism company built around music, started by two music aficionados, Krish and Suraj, is an initiative to take music fans to where the music is. No longer missing that once in a lifetime opportunity to see your favourite band/star perform live, thanks to Chorush! Ain’t that music to your ears?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Feminine side of Mumbai’s Underworld



Mumbai’s underworld and its dons are as famous as the Bollywood and its superstars! It’s a menace that has captured the attention of the general public for years now. Through Bollywood flicks and newspapers, many have tried to explore the dark side of the city and its anti-heroes. But beyond the ugly gang wars and encounters, there’s one side of the underworld which has often been overlooked. It’s about the women who were part of this organized crime scene. Surprising but true, there were many women who made a mark in the world of crime. Discovering Mumbai presents Jane Borges, who co-wrote the book “Mafia Queens of Mumbai”, which throws light on these lesser known female characters from Mumbai’s underworld.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Changing Lives



The government of India wants you to believe that India is shining, that we are poised to become a superpower soon. But beyond all the brouhaha surrounding India’s rise, as citizens we do know and we can clearly see the glaring dark spots in the image of India that is being sold to us. We all know what ails this country; that at the grassroots there are still plenty a problem to be solved. But its not just the government, we too are to blame for the malaise our society finds itself in, like someone has said, “Knowing what to do and still not doing it, is the biggest crime”. Discovering Mumbai is proud to feature a Mumbaikar working to bring about a change at the grass root level by educating children from underprivileged sections. That Mumbaikar is Himani Sanghvi, a Teach For India Fellow (TFI).

Himani (Right) with her students

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Breaking the Glass Ceiling



 One of the good things about Mumbai is that it gives you the opportunities to create a career in the field of your interest. It’s not always easy, if you are trying to make it in a niche industry. Old traditions and habits come in the way of youngsters trying to break into such industries. With our society still being a male dominated one, women often face such barriers. But age and sex can never stop you from doing something you love to do. And this spirit is highlighted by our today’s featured writer, Karina Aggarwal, who writes about alcohol on her website Gigglewater411. Discovering Mumbai proudly presents the lady whose knowledge of spirits will leave you spell bound!
Karina Aggarwal

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Food Blogger



One business that’s ever happening in Mumbai is the business of food. An unlimited number of restaurants are present out there to serve our desires. They come in all shapes and sizes, serving various kinds of cuisines. But too much choice has its own problems. Not everyone is open to experimenting with food like us; we can pretty much have our food anywhere! For those who like to tread with caution there are many websites like Burrp and Zomato offering reviews of restaurants. We recently caught up with one Mumbai based food blogger and restaurant critic, Ashrita or ‘Caramel Wings’ as she is known in the blogosphere. Here’s our feature story on this foodie and food critic.
Ashrita - Food Blogger and Restaurant Critic

Friday, 12 October 2012

For the Love of Cycling



All of us, at some stage of our childhood, have tried our hand at cycling. As we grew up, motorbikes and cars became our preferred means of transport. But the humble bicycle is making a comeback and that too in a serious way. A cyclist, with all his gear and an expensive cycle is has become a common sight on a weekend morning in most parts of the city. It’s not just the youth; people from older age groups too are rediscovering the joy of cycling. Being cycling enthusiasts ourselves, we set out on the hunt for people who are in love with cycling, and we stumbled upon a whole bunch of cycling freaks! Discovering Mumbai presents to you ‘BandraCyclists Club’, a group of cyclists from in and around the western suburb of Bandra.
You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Art of Coffee Brewing



Historically we Indians have been tea drinkers. But recently the trend of drinking coffee has been catching up, especially in the metros. New coffee shops are springing up everywhere in the city. Coffee seems to be the favourite drink for urbanites today. Café’s in the city offer various kinds of brews of coffee, but you can’t afford to go to a café all the time to have a cup of coffee. What to do when you want to have that same taste of coffee at home? Sadly, most of us are stuck with the option of instant coffees which are nowhere near the taste we get at cafes. Well, worry not; you can use the services ‘TheCoffee Coach’ who conducts workshops that teach you how to brew that café like coffee in the comfort of your home. So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this feature story of ‘The Coffee Coach’ by Discovering Mumbai.
Sahil Jatana - The Coffee Coach

Monday, 8 October 2012

Those Damn Memes



We love Facebook, well; we all love Facebook, don’t we? We really didn’t need to make this statement; the numbers speak for themselves. If Facebook was a nation, it would have been the third most populous nation of the world. There are many ways people use this social networking site, from connecting with friends to sharing info about their businesses, this tool can serve many purposes. The ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons are one of the biggest inventions of our times. We use them very generously. More often than not, we see people sharing lots of funny images. We find our walls are always filled with such images. ‘Meme’, that’s what they are known as, are extremely popular on Facebook. And today, we feature the Facebook page ‘Indian Memes’, a page committed to creating memes based on local content, on Discovering Mumbai.
The Famous Grammar Nazi Jaggu Dada character

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Being a Movie Critic

If you are an Indian, then you’re also expert on two particular topics – Movies and Cricket. We like to talk about these endlessly. Everyone has an opinion. From Sehwag’s bad form to what makes the three Khans the kings of Bollywood, we know it all. Fridays have become such important days for us, as we all look forward to the release of the next Bollywood blockbuster. But a new predicament has arisen thanks to the number of movies releasing each week and the cost of tickets at multiplexes. It has become important to know which movie is worth investing our money in. This is where movie critics come to our rescue! They watch the movie so that you can decide whether to watch it or give it a skip. Discovering Mumbai recently interviewed ‘Blessy Chettiar’ a movie critic at DNA newspaper to understand what it means to be a movie critic!

Friday, 28 September 2012

It's Showtime!

Finally we found something on Facebook that made us smile! Something that we were yearning for since last three years and that thing is ‘company’. Company to watch plays, comic or intense. It’s rather odd, but true, that in a city like Mumbai it’s still tough to find people who would willingly accompany you for watching a play. We are not the ones to take our friends to plays gunpoint; the same friends that would willingly pay through the nose for a mindless Bollywood flick at an expensive multiplex! If your countless attempts to tempt your friends to watch a play have failed then ‘Its Showtime’ is your saviour. Its Showtime, a Facebook group has been founded by Salonee Sanghvi Doshi, a Mumbaikar who is undoubtedly in love with theatre.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The World of Manga



Welcome to the world where limits are defined only by the extent of one’s imagination. Welcome to the world of flying creatures, magicians, wizards and even aliens; a world where some people are confused about how to wear their underwear. A world full of superheroes and the evil, sinister villains who are hell bent on destroying our world, come what may! A world of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour. It’s a world where little sticks cast spell and brooms are flying machines. This is the intriguing, mystical and bewitching world of comic books and you are cordially invited to this world by ‘LeapingWindows’ – a comic book library in the suburb of Andheri. So are you ready to leap through the window to undertake a voyage through the world of manga?
A view of the library

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Guest Post: Amanda Rivera



This is a day of firsts. Today Discovering Mumbai presents it's first guest post. Also this is the first time that we are stepping outside the borders of Mumbai to bring to you a story from another equally enchanting metropolis - Delhi. Today's guest post writer is Amanda Rivera.

Amanda Rivera is a young professional working and making her way through the beautiful chaos of Delhi. After spending time throughout the USA, Europe, and a brief stint in Southeast Asia, she is excited to make India her home.

'Bitter Reality' is a gripping post about her not so great experiences in Delhi. Her blog is special as it gives you an insight on how a single American woman is adjusting to life in Delhi. You can read your blog here.


Friday, 14 September 2012

The Spirit of Mumbai



Mumbai and monsoons share a very puzzling relation. The average Mumbaikar beaten down by the summer heat, eagerly awaits its arrival. They also welcome its arrival by having fun in the first rains, to heading out to hill stations as soon as the first rains arrive. But this festive spirit is short lived, as the early light showers give way to heavy downpour, the citizens can be seen wearing a weary look. As an implied rule goes, Mumbai has to be brought to halt by heavy rains at least once every monsoon. Even after pumping in crores of funds and putting in years of efforts the solution to the problem of flooding seems far-fetched.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

We got featured by easyvoyage.co.uk


Hey guys we got featured on the India Travel Blogs page of EasyVoyage, a UK website. Here is what they have to say about us –

Comments: Featuring talented up-and-coming artists, performers, and entrepreneurs doing unique work, this blog is a great resource to know the city of Mumbai.  

Strong point: Their interviews give you a look at young Mumbai residents and their passions.

There some other great blogs on this page too. You can check out the page here - http://www.easyvoyage.co.uk/india/blogs

Highway to Hell


We all love the cosmopolitan lifestyle of the city. We love to party hard, booze and a great night. The youth of the city, in particular, like to revel at the many nightlife destinations the city has to offer. Alcohol consumption is obviously a growing trend in a city like ours. Also on the rise is the trend of drunken driving cases and accidents. Many youth have lost their lives thanks to driving under the influence of alcohol, and many of these were very young! Alarmed by the rise in accidents due to drunk driving, the students of RD National College, Bandra, have started a drive ‘HIGH’way to Hell’; which aims to create awareness against drunk driving and hopefully save young lives from being wasted.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Life is a Cartoon


The city is huge and damn fast. Wherever you look, you will only find people in hurry! People going about their daily routine, oblivious to their surroundings, in the hurry to catch a train, a bus or maybe an auto-rickshaw. No one walks here, they all speed-walk! Through the course of your average day you come across many people, you have many interactions. The streets are bustling with interactions, incidents and accidents. Some incidents, you are a mere spectator, some, you’re part of. The tech savvy generation of today documents many of these incidents on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. However there a few who look at these incidents from a very different viewpoint. One of them is Saakshi Vyaas, for whom, such incidents from her daily life become the source of her illustrations. Discovering Mumbai presents the story of ‘Saakshi Vyas’, Mumbai based freelance illustrator.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Comedy Star

These are very stressful times indeed! Stress is all around us, from rising inflation and falling Sensex, from rising corruption to a slowing economy and a Prime Minister who doesn’t speak up! There are endless sources of stress! Stress related diseases are on the rise. If only life was little less stressful! It would have been so much better, wouldn’t it be? But fighting stress is no rocket science, all you need are simple things, maybe, all you need is just a bit of laughter! And that is what this lady and her colleagues are trying to propagate. This wonderful crop of people called stand-up comedians, are trying their best to make us laugh out loud and have some relief from the stressful lives we live. Discovering Mumbai presents ‘Aditi Mittal’, a rising star on the stand-up comedy circuit. We had a great time at her show @The Comedy Store and that was followed by an equally amazing interview. We can vouch that she is as good off stage, as she is on stage!


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A tour like no other!

Slums have often been looked down upon, a neglected part of the city. But these are also some of the most enterprising parts of our city. Dharavi, especially, is renowned for its many house industries. Lately, the focus of media and writers on this patch of the city has been helping in changing the perception about slums. A lot still needs to be done, to change the image of these places and also for bringing about a change in the lives of its residents. The negative perception can only be changed through educating people and what better way than taking them to ground zero. This is the aim of ‘Reality Toursand Travels’, they want you to witness first hand, the life in these slums; they want to wash your eyes off the perceptions that you were carrying for years and see these places in a new light. And while doing all this they also want to help the residents of these places, they want to help them lead a better life, a life that everyone dreams of when they land in Mumbai.
Dharavi

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Flash Mobbed!


‘Flash Mob’ a term the average Mumbaikars was oblivious of till they were struck by one on 27th November 2011. Hundreds of young people dancing to the tune of a popular Bollywood song at one of Mumbai’s most prominent landmark – The Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, also one of the busiest train terminals in World, were a sight to behold. What followed was euphoria, with many similar flash mobs being organized by people elsewhere in the country. Well, we can proudly say that Mumbai was the city that popularized the concept of Flash Mobs in India. Discovering Mumbai presents to you ‘Shonan Kothari’ the Mumbai girl who gave us ‘Flash Mobs’ and we are definitely obliged to her!
Shonan Kothari

Monday, 27 August 2012

Welcome to Mumbai

The ‘Maximum City’ – Mumbai, is one of the most vibrant cities that you will come across. Everything about this city is so intense, from the overcrowded public transport system to your usual hangouts like Marine Drive and Chowpatty.  Every experience is magnified a hundred times - Mumbai, it’s always in your face! Life is fast paced; this is no place for the slow and laid back! Sights – seas of people, sounds – every driver is honking for no damn reason, even smells – you know you are in Mumbai the moment you step off that plane/train. Everything is extreme, to the max! If you are a tourist, there are too few places for sightseeing; but there are infinite unique experiences to be relished here. We love our city this way, we were born and raised this way and we don’t want it any other way. But what about foreigners who are planning to move to Mumbai? How must they handle the intensity and extremity of this city?
With this question in mind we set out in search of expats who have recently moved to Mumbai. As luck would have it, we didn’t need to travel far - we found some in blogosphere. Before long we were in a coffee shop having conversation with a British expat couple, Paul andJulia Smith. Paul has been managing a consumer magazine here since February and Julia joined him in June after giving up an accounting job in London. We were very excited to learn about their experiences of Mumbai so far.
Kids trying to make a human pyramid (all pictures are from Julia's blog - BombayJules)
Paul had first visited India in June 2011, on a weeklong business trip slap bang in the middle of monsoon. The heavy and unending downpour did not impress him and he looked forward to the day of his departure. Happily back at his home in London, Julia surprised him with a question, “What if your company asks you to move to India?” But that is exactly what happened - after a few more business trips to Mumbai, his company finally asked him to move to India for a yearlong project. By this point he had already grown to appreciate the city and its people and had started to really enjoy doing business here.  Paul and Julia discussed the move in depth and as they were seeking new life experiences, decided that they would take the plunge.
The first task was for Paul to find accommodation in a nice locality in Mumbai (as Julia was still back home in the UK finishing her contract). After having seen over 80 properties he finally settled for one in Bandra – a neighbourhood that came highly recommended. Even though there are many expats to be found in Bandra it was not this that was the deciding factor. Instead, it was the cosmopolitan atmosphere with the area’s many restaurants and services and the foods to be found on Pali Market that would help them mix a western lifestyle with the Indian experience. After Julia joined her husband in June on a spousal visa, she was determined that she did not want to spend her time dwelling only in the expat community.  So prior to coming out, she arranged a placement with an NGO that works to improve mother and child health and nutrition in underprivileged parts of the city. Julia admits that she doesn’t have any ‘save the world’ ambitions, but working for the NGO provides her with the opportunity to explore the city better, meet local people, understand Indian culture and traditions, whilst also giving something back to the community. “This gives me an insight into aspects of Indian life that you would not otherwise get”.
As a tourist there is not much to see in Mumbai. In London you could go to a new place every day of the year! I was worried that Julia would get bored in Mumbai if she did not work”, says Paul.  Both are very frank to admit that Mumbai was not the first place in the world that sprung to mind for places to relocate to. Maybe they would have preferred New York, Tokyo or Barcelona. However, they had been living in London for a long time and things were becoming a bit predictable. They were seeking change and that was the time that the opportunity to move to Mumbai came along. They did have some worries about climate and sanitation but they were nonetheless very excited to move to Mumbai.  Not only that, they have no regrets.
We were interested in knowing what perceptions they had about Mumbai prior to living here and so we put forth this question to them. “Horrendous!” was the prompt reply that came from Julia. A lot of western perceptions are borne out of the film ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, (wrongly or rightly). When her friends learnt that she was moving to India, some were impressed but most thought she was crazy! But having been here for two months, she now realizes how wrong some of her perceptions and those of her counterparts back in London were. She now writes a blog called ‘BombayJules’ to change these perceptions. Through the blog she wants to let friends and family back home know about life in India. She says “Every day has something new to write about.  Every day I hear of something fascinating about Indian life or I see a hundred interesting things on the street as I pass by.  Really there is not enough time to write about all of it!”
For Julia, the abrupt change from being a Financial Controller in private sector to a volunteer at an NGO has been a very challenging transition.  The pace of work is different and there are many decision making processes that can delay progress.  However, she still enjoys every minute of it and has great respect for the people surrounding her.  Julia never thought that she would visit a slum after coming to Mumbai, yet due to her work at the NGO, she ended up on a tour of Dharavi on just her third day in the city! Calling it an eye-opener would be an understatement. The experience had a deep effect on her and helped her to realise and communicate to friends and family that Dharavi is a huge enterprise, not just an impoverished home for many thousands of people.
Paul on the other hand has had a completely different experience of work life:  a more modern, corporate and fast paced side of the city. Most of his time is spent at the office or travelling to meetings. Unlike his wife, he has had little time to explore the underbelly of the city and see how the majority lives.  Concerning corporate life, Paul remarks “The management structure here is so vertical, back in UK organizations tend to be more flat. Even though both countries are English speaking, some of the terms, phrases have a completely different meaning in India”. He opines that one has to be very sensitive about religion as it is such a big part of life here and people are so very sensitive about their faiths. Till now they have experienced only one festival – Janmashtmi . They found the experience truly enthralling and they are looking forward to the numerous other festivals lined up in the coming months.
Julia and Paul both already loved Indian food. “Being from Britain we are very much used to Indian food. In fact these days, Indian food is almost the national cuisine of Britain!” One thing that they have noted is that whenever they go out with locals, they will recommend dishes they feel will be suitable for the expat couple, the less spicy ones. “They don’t think we can take it!” says Julia. One of the things Julia loves is the way people come together during their lunch break and share their tiffin. “At lunch time in the UK I tended to go out, grab a sandwich, sit at my computer, have the food and carry on working” says Julia.  However, there is one thing about our eating habits that troubles them a little. They feel it can be difficult to host a dinner party for a group of Indians due to the many eating preferences that we have. “Some eat beef, some don’t. Some eat egg, some don’t. Some are strictly vegetarian. It seems the best thing to do is only eat with one couple at a time!
The fact that a large chunk of population in Mumbai speaks English makes their life a lot easier. However, they admit that is has made them lazy in trying to learn the local languages Hindi and Marathi. Instead they have read quite a few books about the city and Indian life, such as Maximum City, Shantaram, and A Fine Balance. “Mumbai is a very complex city. And I have decided that I will just enjoy it for what it is rather than trying to figure the city out!” says Paul. “It’s such an exciting place, there is so much happening contrary to my initial beliefs”, adds Julia.
Now that they have grown to love the city (the bad and the good parts) they are hoping that they can stay here for a longer duration than originally envisaged. In the meantime, they have plans to do as much travelling as possible, visiting places like Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and at least one tiger reserve. Paul is very keen to see the varied wildlife that India has to offer. They say that having spent time in Mumbai they now feel happy that they are here rather than in New York.  We too hope the couple gets to stay here longer so that they can explore and discover more of Mumbai and India.
You can follow Julia and Paul's journey on her blog - BombayJules

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Young Guns

Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, is a city that gives birth to a many entrepreneurs and successful businessmen. The spirit of entrepreneurship in Mumbai is definitely stronger than any other city in this country; even young graduates from the city dream of and work towards creating successful businesses and companies. The youth of this city is driven by the attitude of creating jobs rather than doing jobs. This is what sets Mumbaikar’s apart from the rest of the country. Today we feature two young Mumbaikar’s who are carrying forward this tradition of entrepreneurship. Supratim Dam and Ria Chauhan, the founders of a creative and innovative media company by the name APWIG.
APWIG – A Place Where Ideas Grow is an end to end media house doing Corporate Films, Design, Digital Media etc. Supratim and Ria came together as a team when they were in college. While working together on several college projects they realized that they made a great team. However, the two come from very different backgrounds. Supratim is from Guwahati whereas Ria is a true Mumbaikar. Supratim is into documentary films and parallel cinema, he is the one who comes up with an idea and also devises the strategies and execution. Ria on the other hand is a painter and visual aesthetics are her prime focus area. Together the two make up a great team, their diverse backgrounds helps in bringing out a lot of different ideas to the table.




APWIG was born out of the need for a job that would justify their skill sets. Both Supratim and Ria have interned at media houses but it was difficult finding a good job after graduation. They felt that they were over-qualified and underpaid for the work that they were doing. The spark that ignited the fire was a call by Supratim, when Ria told him that she wanted a job where she could put all her skills to work, Supratim replied to her with “Create one”. “Our country has the second largest population in the world. There are so many people competing with each other for that one opportunity. The solution we saw was not in wining this competition but in creating more opportunities for ourselves as well as others”, says Ria. Thus was sowed the seed of entrepreneurship which germinated and grew into a full-fledged start-up – APWIG.
Having an idea and even will is one thing, but going out and executing the same requires a lot of hard work and courage. And these guys have had their fair share of challenges like every other start-up. Right from looking for an office, bringing people on board to arranging for logistics, everything was a monumental task. Their biggest challenge, however, was the issue that given their age no one considered them seriously. From CA’s to attorney’s and the initial clients that they approached, all smirked at their age. But the guys kept on working with perseverance, their faith in their abilities and work never dented. They would regularly seek advice from friends and families; every bit of criticism was invited. Professional guidance was avoided as they believe that creativity should not be confined in a set business model.
On the marketing front the team decided to let their work do all the talking. They presented their unique ideas of personalized comic book and videos to a few people, some turned down their ideas; some on the other hand felt that these were the best gifting option ever! They made some videos and put them up on YouTube and there was no looking back afterwards! They use social media diligently for the purpose of visibility, “After all you need people to know that there is a company called APWIG”.
The products which make APWIG unique are ‘personalized comic books’ and ‘gift a video’. For these personalized products they conduct interviews with their clients and try to capture every bit of detail possible. These two products have been receiving great response from customers. People love the idea of having their lives imprinted in a comic book. The videos too are doing well. The personalized touch is the heart of these gifts. A video is a great way to convey your feelings for someone. The good part about these gifting options is that they have a long shelf life. Even after a few years you can pull out that DVD or comic and go through those good old memories. These gifts are eternal and filled with memories which hold a special place in your life. This is what makes these gifts so unique.
There are a lot of plans in the pipeline, but for the time being Supratim and Ria want to take one step at a time. However, they did admit that they visualize themselves making some great documentary films, winning film festivals and having their films aired on BBC. The duo doesn’t let the tag of ‘Entrepreneur’ get to their heads. They know that it’s a big word with a fancy meaning. For them entrepreneurship is much more, it is a path to future leadership. These young entrepreneurs are a motivation for other young graduates to start off their own businesses without worrying about age and experience. “Everyone who tells you it is impossible, or you are too young and in-experienced, prove them wrong. Even 10 years of doing a job does not give you any experience at being an entrepreneur. It’s never too early.” We definitely agree with them! So what the two think about Mumbai – the city that has given them the opportunity to put their ideas into action; “Mumbai is the city of blinding lights, sleepless nights and space crunch fights”.
You can follow APWIG on their Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/smapwig
or their Tumblr page - http://apwig.tumblr.com/
You can also check out their website for the full range of services that APWIG offers - www.apwig.com

Thursday, 16 August 2012

In Chat: Mumbai Tips - Vipul Sodha

You have heard the term ‘Mumbaikar’ being thrown around by almost everyone from politicians to the common man. But what is the definition of ‘Mumbaikar’, who is this ‘Mumbaikar’? Have you ever wondered what makes a person a ‘Mumbaikar’? Well, you don’t need to put on your thinking cap to come up with an answer. Just head to Facebook and look up the page called ‘Mumbai Tips’. There could be no better explanation of a Mumbaikar’s characteristics. ‘Mumbai Tips’ defines the traits that are unique to a ‘Mumbaikar’ in a humorous manner. This amazing page was started by Vipul Sodha, an engineering student and resident of Mumbai with the objective of spreading some smiles among Mumbaikars. Within a short span of time the page has seen a meteoric rise to fame. ‘Discovering Mumbai’ caught with Vipul to talk about his fabulous creation. Here is our brief chat with Vipul Sodha – ‘Mumbai Tips’ -
Hello Vipul, please tell us something about yourself?
I am Vipul Sodha, currently doing my B.Tech From Mukesh Patel  School Of Technology and Management.
Why Mumbai Tips? Whats the objective behind Mumbai tips?
Nothing like objective, it was just started by me to have fun and to spread Smiles.
 
So how did the idea to start Mumbai tips occur to you?
It was 4th April, 2012 at around 11.45 pm. I finished with my studies for the day and was surfing on Facebook and found that many communities and cities have their own tips page, so I thought of creating Mumbai Tips. People in Mumbai are so busy with their daily schedule that they don’t get a moment to smile. So the main objective behind this page is to display Mumbaikars their own activities in a humorous way. Majority of Mumbaikars on an average use Facebook at least once a day so after reading my tips they get a chance to be proud Mumbaikars!!!
Are these tips your own creations? What makes these tips so popular?
I am born and brought up in Mumbai, so I have experienced each and every tip I publish. Every tip is not my own creation, majority of them are suggested to me by fans of “Mumbai Tips”. You can notice that we give credits to the person who suggested the tip by writing the name of the person at the right hand corner of the tip post. What makes my tips so popular is that it is Mumbaikars own daily activities which I publish in my tips in a humorous way.
What were the initial responses and what is feedback that you receive now?
Frankly speaking, initially in the first two days I didn’t get any response I hardly got around 200 likes in two days but after people started sharing and liking my tips my likes increased to around 1000 likes per day and in 32 days we crossed 30000 fans!
How does it feel having created something so popular?
I never thought that I would get such a huge response. But now that it’s a big hit I feel proud to say that it’s my own creation.

So what are the next steps for Mumbai Tips?
Next step is I am thinking to come out with t-shirts printed with Mumbai tips. I got many offers for advertisements on my page too. But my aim is not to make money through Mumbai tips but to spread smiles.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Just want to convey the message to all Mumbaikars to keep smiling and keep sharing my page.


You can check more tips on the 'Mumbai Tips' Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/mumbai.tips or their Twitter account @MumbaiTips

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Rocking the Radio Waves

The vast, lush green expanse of IIT Bombay campus is definitely a place where you can expect to run into great minds. The campus brimming with young minds, best and sharpest of the nation, churns out lots of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial talent is nurtured here and allowed to bloom. The result is students who leave the campus not looking for jobs but for creating jobs. The IIT’s have given India some great minds, leaders and personalities. Keeping this torch burning bright are four students who have recently launched an online radio ‘BC Radio’ or ‘Be the Change Radio’. BC Radio is platform whose vision is to promote Independent music and bands. As of now the radio has an outreach of 750 awesome Indian bands! Discovering Mumbai proudly presents the boys from IIT Bombay who are doing commendable work to popularize Indie music.
Team BC Radio

BC Radio is the creation of a rebel group of musicians from IIT Bombay. These rebels are spread across the country. Music is the common string that binds these creative souls. Having been part of music bands themselves they clearly understand the problems faced by their clientele – the bands; and thus are poised to guide them in a better way. The aim of this group is to bring about a paradigm shift in the way things work in the Indian music scene as of now. Music comes first for these guys, “All of us here at BC Radio are Musicians first, and then engineers”. The guys found each other in college by playing together in various bands. Over the course of time they realized that to listen to good music one need not obsess over the West.  The entrepreneurial culture of the campus, that teaches to ‘create jobs’ rather than ‘getting a job’, ensured that the guys would make a career out of their passion for music.

Having composed their own songs, playing at many gigs and having won at many events the guys began contemplating about their future - "Were we going to live our lives being thinkers, or do something (through what we're good at - technology) that brings the plethora of Indian music to the masses". The answer to this question was a no-brainer. BC Radio was initially unstructured, but it was an idea the team held very close to their hearts, and as more people joined, the idea became more concrete and thus was born BC Radio. “There is so much good music out there in the country and we're just doing what should be done, to give it the platform it has deserved all along”.

The vision of BC Radio is to become a pioneering change agent in the Indian music scene. The independent music scene is very successful, if one looks at it musically. However it suffers at the hands of contracts, as bands have very little knowledge of existing laws and even the nature of these laws is not very conducive for the growth of Indie music. There are very few avenues online to put up your music for sale and if you want to go in for offline distribution then again you have to go through exclusive contracts. The guys at BC Radio believe that the independent music scene needs access to multi-distribution channels and this can be achieved through non-exclusivity. BC radio is not fighting for exclusivity over artists like labels, channels and studios do. They do not stop artists associated with them, to search for other avenues for promoting their music or even earn from them. BC Radio has no exclusivity contracts, no hidden clauses and no ‘terms and conditions applied’. Everything at BC radio is upfront and honest; this is what makes it so fun to work with for bands. The primary objective at BC radio is to provide listeners with a no-nonsense stellar audio visual experience around band’s music; everything else comes later.

Setting up BC Radio was a tough task and the guys went around planning everything meticulously. The team defined their roles based on what they saw as their core strengths, took up time bound responsibilities and steered them to completion. The work done by BC Radio can be summarized into following – Artist Relations, Brand Management, Social Media Engagement, Publicity, Marketing, Tie-ups, Band Affiliations, Parties, Live Shows and Artist Provision. The group didn’t want to limit themselves to online media for promoting their platform and thus ensuring regular features in popular print media was one of the big tasks for the team. So far, BC Radio has been featured in The Hindustan Times, Forbes magazine and Rolling Stones India; with many other prominent publications like The Indian Express and The Tribune in the pipeline

BC Radio’s core team has a vast experience of handing big events and this strength came to their help in the initial days of setting up the radio. The team has organized many concerts like Porcupine Tree, Parikrama, Karnivool, Katatonia, Zero, Thermal and Quarter. They have also handled the very popular Livewire at Mood Indigo and Desh Raag, a unique original patriotic song competition organized by US based NGO ‘Rakshak Foundation’. Their journey took them across the country in search of bands that were just breaking onto the scene. They are very excited about what they came across; the country has many amazing bands and they hope they can have all them on BC Radio! One more important lesson the team learnt was to focus on your goals both in long term and short term.

BC Radio is still in beta phase and the team is looking to roll out some major technical releases this year. The plan is to make BC Radio a cool, no non-sense music discovery platform. Social media integration is another major work in the pipeline; so is the feature to create your own playlists. One of the most popular shows on the radio is the ‘The Pirate Mixtape’ which is a collaboration with the Delhi based BoomBox project. The show airs every Sunday from 3 to 5 PM. Someday down the line they also plan to conduct live events and parties where bands will get an opportunity to perform live.

Team BC Radio is on a high right now. People have found the platform unique and are appreciating the quality of music featured. Biggies of Indian music scene like Parikrama, Demonic Resurrection, Cactus, Theme Clones, Something Relevant and many others have loved the concept and have contributed their material free of cost. The team envisions BC Radio to be a pioneering music – tech platform for independent bands to get featured alongside established names, while maintain their legal rights and non-exclusivity. “Creating and showcasing music should be free of hassles to the musicians and we will make sure it is as smooth as possible”, say the team at BC Radio. Future holds a lot for BC Radio and we will see them featuring into actual radio broadcasting phase and live events. Thanks to BC Radio many good bands will be able to reach out to a larger audience; the audience in turn will be able to discover more independent music; a win-win situation for both. We wish team BC Radio all the best in their endeavours. For now it’s time to listen to some cool music, see you on BC Radio!