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04/02/2014

The chawls of Mumbai

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls are typical dwellings in Mumbai, built in the 19th and 20th centuries (especially between 1920 and 1956) by landlords and industrialists to accomodate immigrant labor.

 Chawls are “buildings with one room or two room units of not more than two hundred square feet attached by a common corridor with shared toilets on each floor”. Living conditions are quite sordid in the chawls, most of which being about to collapse. ‘Legally’ they do not qualify as slums which refer to jodapattis, squatter hoursings on unused land and pavements dwellings, tents and huts, “shanties built on footpaths alongside roads/pavements, close to workplace”. The families who live in chawls refuse to vacate the premises. On one hand because of the low rent for places in the heart of the city, and on the other hand because the social networking that exists in these structures.

 The Bombay Rent Act of 1947, enacted at the time of Partition, froze the rents at the level of 1St September  1940, to protect tenants. This freeze lasted for more than 50 years (the Maharashtra Rent Control Act in 1999  took over the Bombay Rent Act (twenty times renewed) and allowed a 5% rent increase the first year and then 4%) and caused the ruin of the buildings – at this level of rent, the owners could not invest in maintenance or repairs. As a consequence of all this, living in a chawl costs 250 rupees per month to former tenants and one can find offers on the Internet for 1,000 rupees. To give an idea, renting a 700 square feet apartment (thrice the surface) costs in the same area minimum 25,000 Rs (100 times more!).

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls of Girgaum - one can note the Mercedes on the left side (contrasts of India!)

Sources: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=281... ; http://www.mcgm.gov.in/irj/go/km/docs/documents/MCGM%20Department%20List/City%20Engineer/Deputy%20City%20Engineer%20%28Planning%20and%20Design%29/City%20Development%20Plan/Urban%20Basic%20Services%20in%20Slums.pdf

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-05/mumbais-boom-turns-renters-into-millionaires

http://www.mahim.com/et/epage61.htm

03/28/2014

Fake cow milk!

india,milk,buffalo milk,cow milk,packaged milk,cow,packagingThe discovery of the century! I’ve been drinking buffalo milk for years!

I didn’t believe it at first... But it is true: in India is not mandatory to mention the source of the milk on the packaging so when manufacturers do not indicate the source it means it is not cow milk. And I trusted Nestlé to give me “proper” milk like at home (I gave up milk in plastic bag the day when after learning that I had to boil it, I forget it on the stove and I burnt everything).

Cow milk and buffalo milk are not the same! Even if it is so much pasteurized that it tastes almost the same. First of all, since my cat discovered cow milk, he snubs buffalo milk, the best proof ever!

Secondly, buffalo milk has twice more fat than cow milk (hence it is less digestible). And it contains less cholesterol and more energy. I don’t  know what is best for health – Indian websites praise buffalo milk (well of course, 50% of the world buffalo population live in India) – but whatever said and done, it's cheating to sell packaged milk without saying it's buffalo milk!

And I like milk. Even though nowadays we keep hearing that adults should not drink milk (because it is not so digestible). And in India when you see what garbage cows eat, you’d rather stop drinking milk at all (apparently some people cut buffalo milk with water to lower the fat content and claim it is cow milk – cow milk has good reputation because foreigners only drink this one).

 

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Sources: http://profwaqarhussain.blogspot.in/2012/08/comparison-of-buffalo-milk-ND-cow-milk.html; http://www.nddb.org/English/statistics/pages/population-India-species.aspx; http://www.fiapo.org/downloads/dairyreport.PDF; http://www.aavinmilk.com/dairyprofile.html; http://www.fssai.gov.in/portals/0/PDF/food%20Safety%20and%20standards%20%28Packaging%20and%20Labelling%29%20regulation, %202011.pdf; http://www.caiindia.org/PDFs/MILKEnglish.PDF; http://Lite.ePaper.timesofindia.com/mobile.aspx?article=Yes & pageid = 2 & sectid = edid = & edlabel = TOICH & mydateHid = 13-10-2011 & pubname = Times + of + India +- + Chennai & edname = & articleid = Ar00200 & publabel = you

03/06/2014

The 5 essential items to travel in India

A website contacted me with an original idea: a post on what to carry (the 5 essential items) when traveling to India! And since their staff is very nice, I got quickly convinced. So here is what I prepared...

india,traveling,what to carry,articles

1.     Large cotton scarf

Essential: can be used as a scarf to protect you from the cold in air-conditioned places, as a sheet (to lie on or to cover yourself) for an impromptu nap anywhere, as a skirt to hide your legs before entering a mosque, as a burka to get protected from the sun, as a towel to wash your face, blow your nose etc. Alternatively, an Indian dupatta can also do...

2.   Sarouel

Very convenient: it hides your legs away from hungry eyes and the sun, very comfortable and very airy (you don’t sweat much in it, even under 35 degrees!). It is in the same spirit as the Indian salwar (a kind of baggy pants, very light, to be worn under a tunic).

3.   Sandals

Flip-flops/chappals are very nice but not very easy to walk with and when you hit a stone, or a hole, while wearing them, you can really hurt your feet very very bad. Spartan sandals are comfortable, good to walk and they are easy to remove (a must in India where you spend your time removing your shoes to enter temples).

4.     Gavroche cap or Stetson Hat

When you love hats... The simple cap to avoid sunstroke, or the Stetson hat to be the star of the day ;)

5.    Ray Bans

Because good luck trying to walk around under the Indian sun without good sunglasses...

6.     1969 Denim Jacket by Gap

Just because I love it!

 

And we could add (though it is less fashion-oriented):

  • a camera,
  • mosquito repellant,
  • visa,
  • a good sense of humour,
  • sunscreen,
  • patience,
  • deodorant (a lot of deodorant) and double-skin bandages for blisters,
  • an Indian SIM (useful for air ticket booking (and time change, cancellation) and GoogleMap),
  • medicine to stop diarrhoea and medicine to stop constipation (which generally follows the stop of diarrhoea),
  • foam earplugs,
  • and for those who are not prepared to cross certain hygienic limits: wipes, tissues, anti-bacterial and tampons with applicator (for amateurs).