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Between mythology and reality: how much violence!

It’s Tuesday. It's Dussehra. A sweet festival celebrating the victory of the god Ram over the Demon Ravan, who had kidnapped Ram’s wife, Sita. Our society had organized a small commemoration for the occasion. We arrived during the battle of Hanuman, the monkey God, painted in red, terrifying, as much as his comrades or enemies with giant moustaches, all of them fighting. I took baby Samurai close to the stage (the only place where there was a little room to sit) but with these monstrous costumes and super loud music, he got scared and I couldn’t blame him. What an explosion of violence!

image1.JPGThen we moved away from the speakers and their noise pollution and patiently waited for the ‘highlight’ of the show: they were to set fire to a giant demon (at least five meters high), and to his brother and son! We sat on the grass, the ground was a quite sloppy. I was holding Baby Samurai tight in my arms. The demons were on our right, a few metres away, behind a safety rope. I was looking at the crowd on my left, quite absorbed in studying all these people who never get out of their luxurious villas. And then, all of a sudden, a massive explosion. I turn my head and see this giant statue on fire, burning debris flying everywhere, people running, and, to add to the confusion, bombs continue to explode. I panicked. Completely. I grabbed my little one and tried to get up. Failing to do so, I fell, and started to get out of there crawling. When I finally spotted my favourite Indian! I yelled at him to take the baby, used his help to get up, took my son back, and while sobbing of terror, I run for our lives!

Once we reached a safe place, the last demon was going in flames and crackers and it was still so loud, I had to block the ears of Baby Samurai. And this circus was finally over. It is only the presence of the nanny (one can not be weak in front of the staff, right, Madam) that kept me from screaming and crying my distress. Half an hour later I finally stopped shaking, took a look at my injured knee and started to relax.

8 years ago, during my first Diwali in Mumbai, a jerk had exploded me a firecracker thirty centimetres from me, leaving me almost deaf in one ear, and so vaccinating me against Diwali in a big city. Since then, I have always made sure I would be in a remote area of India during that time of the year. And now it is going to be the same during Dussehra!

The scene shot by my neighbors (not busy fleeing it):


The difference between French & Indian photobooths?

Samourai au photomaton.jpgAnswer: the French photobooth does not tell you you look ugly!           
Let me explain... In reality, there are no photobooths in India, or only at the Visa Office of embassies. Therefore, you go to the photographer. Or at least to the shop which prints pictures in which you will find a man and a DSLR camera. The photographer, who can only be called so because of his camera. Because the cover actually makes the book. Some times.   

A few months ago, in Mumbai, I went to a tiny photo lab in a slum-y area. Very professional, the "photographer" was quite annoyed because I was wearing a white t-shirt. It would not work. Even if the sheet used as a background he had chosen was not white but gray (thus contrasting) – I really don’t understand why they do this every time, put a colored background and then photoshop the picture so that the background appears white? That day, as often, I wasn't in the mood to put up with non-senses and above all I didn't have time to go change. Checking out the small room I was in, I spotted a dark blue piece of cloth and grabbed it. And that’s how, under the flabbergasted eyes of the photographer, I wrapped myself in his dusty 'blue-starry-night’ background which really had small stars (Indians are fans of cheesy stuff) and posed!               

Last week I again needed photos. The photographer took 2-3 shots and when he proudly showed me his selection for my approval, I had a reality-check!! Double chin, acne-like red cheeks, messy hair! To be honest, I don’t really care about how I look on identity photos since they are intended for others. I therefore gave my go-ahead for the printing when his colleague came to the rescue. Seeing the selected portrait he sent his buddy away, handed me a handkerchief with a nice compliment “wipe your face, you have oily skin” (Oh hey it’s more than 48 degrees outside and I’m just sweating a bit), made some adjustments and gave me some cute pics. With hardly any photoshopping! Because be aware that in India, they won’t let go with photos where you have a wild strand of hair or a fat pimple. And usually I have both, when not worse! To tell you, once they even insisted to make my favorite Indian look fairer!    

Photoboothing in India is definitely an experience! (Especially since 20 photos will cost you less than 1.5€ :-) ).


Helen's pearls 1

I love the sense of humor of the Baby Samurai’s nanny.

For example at 6 o'clock this morning:

  • Her: Madam the lawn of the park is all wet, dogs must have peed everywhere.
  • Me: Helen...
  • Her: Oh! So it is dew then?
  • Me: …

In addition to putting me in a good mood in the morning, sometimes she makes me laugh so much.

That day I was in the pool, and Baby on the deck.

  • She: “Baby, go pee on the lawn”. Then to me: “I’ve been teaching him to pee on the lawn, instead of the pool deck. But he doesn’t really know how to make the difference between peeing and pooping”. To him: “Baby, hey you, since you seem to be pushing, trying to aim well and make caca on the floorboard so that it does not get stuck between two boards!
  • Me: What will my parents think when they come visit and my son goes on the lawn to shit!
  • Her: Don’t worry, we will tell them that the train station is too far...

 india,toilet,public defecation,shitting in public(If you don’t get the ‘joke’, the surroundings of train stations and highways as well as beaches, at least in Mumbai, are usually packed with jolly shitters in the morning.) And she said it, not me!

By the way, one day we had a debate. As she had mentioned with quite some despite all these “dirty people” who defecate in the street, I tried to defend them by pleading that more than half of the population still does not have access to toilets (source). But her, daughter of the slums herself, is convinced that it is their choice: they are the ones who don’t want to use toilets and prefer to have company while pooing.