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The other night I was deep into my new favourite activity – namely checking out rats from window – when we heard a wedding band playing from the slum. And here we were, at midnight, my friend and I, getting down to the slum to check out a wedding! I agreed to go on the one condition that if we saw a rat we would turn back. And I am not talking about mice, but these gigantic rats (called Bandicoot rats) that measure 30-40 cms with an equally long tail and weigh up to 1.5 kilos*! The only thing that equals my fascination for me is the disgust and fright they inspire… 

I even put on my rain boots (just in case) but thought they might feel insulted – a foreigner wandering at night in the slum with big blue plastic boots because she is disgusted (they wouldn't think my disgust would be of the vermine)… 

I grabbed my friends’ arm and could not look at anything but my feet – exindia,mumbai,rats,bandicoot rats,rats killerspecting one of these GMO modified animals to come out from nowhere at any point of time. My friend did not understand and thought I was scared of people! Well, if I was scared of people I would have never agreed to stroll in the narrow alleys in the dark… Coz people slice throats and rats, well, they just behave erratically. Ahem, theoretically at least. Because if you see the Pest Control Site of India, they are “large, aggressive animals that erect their guard hairs on their backs and emit grunts when disturbed. If caged with other bandicoots, it is likely to fight to death within a few hours. […] Like its smaller cousin, it is also a carrier for many diseases [including leptospirosis].” 

So no need to tell me non-senses like “it is not the small animal that will eat the big one” or “they won’t do anything to you”!!

You may have heard of these heroes, the “rat killers”? These 44 guys roam around at night, a spear in hand, to put rats on a spit… 

india,mumbai,rats,bandicoot rats,rats killersBasically each guy will catch their quota of 30 rats per night (hence in total 400 000 rats per year would die like this). And the city will pay them about 8 rupees per rat so 240 rupees (less than 4 euros) per night. The killers put the dead bodies in a bag and get them counted in the morning. Some sampling will be done and checked for diseases by a city laboratory because “Black Death or Bubonic Plague, officially declared as wiped out nearly 30 years ago by the Indian government, still poses a real threat to the country and to Bombay (Mumbai) in particular. 






* PCI:



Elephant polo

 Did you know it?? 

“Polo was probably introduced to India from Persia by the early Mohammedan invaders in the 13th century. From India, the game spread to England through mostly military channels. The first recorded game in England was played in 1869.”


Then, since apparently the British military stationed in India was pretty bored, they developed a variant to spice up the sport: At the turn of the 20th century they launched the elephant polo in India.


Speaking of (Asian) elephants, its natural habitat is tropical forests rather than the desert of Rajasthan. The first traces of domestication date back to the third millennium BC on the engraved seals of the civilization of the Indus Valley. But the Asian elephants (of which 50% live in India today) have difficulties (and take it as an understatement) to reproduce in captivity so the elephants found today in Rajasthan come from the capture of wild elephants in other regions of India and Asia.


That said, I tried in Jaipur  (apparently the only place in the world where the novice can practice) elephant polo (a still too little known sport;)) for you and it is not easy at all! The stick is very heavy and it is difficult to calculate the distance to the ball as well as the strength required to guide the ball in a certain direction. 

Fortunately, the elephants are ready to help and when you need a hand they don’t hesitate to shoot themselves in the ball! (True)




 Sources :



Welcome in Khar, Mumbai

I managed to find a place a few days before flying back to Mumbai for good and after coming back, I quickly settled in. As you cannot have it all, I have an incredible view of the sea and the slums, a great ventilation in the apartment and no vis-a- vis. But I also have smells of fish drying coming from the adjacent fishing village (though to be honest it is not worse than anywhere else in Mumbai - see my post) and the noise of the rickhsaws that rattle all day long and the bells of temples of Hanuman that ring here and then. Incredible but true I have quite accommodated to the noise and smells. I just need to have a look through the window and be okay with everything...


I can even walk through the slum, reach the beach and walk up to my office – but only at low tide! 


I just hope that the day where I will smell of dried fish someone will have the kindness to let me know... 


I have Indian friends who are not so enthusiastic about my neighbourhood, to say the least. But I love the “popular” side of it, somewhere between a fishing village and a slum. There is not a day when nothing happens. Not need of TV, there is always something happening down the window. 


The French bourgeois girl of a Paris fancy neighbourhood that watching Indians going to the public urinal at the bottom of her building makes ecstatic...!