Living at a friends place definitely has it’s upsides

cats

The Broom that sweeps the city

Wearing white caps and armed with brooms, supporters of India’s youngest party are out in strength across the capital.

They are not part of a neighbourhood clean-up campaign. The broom is the election symbol of the Aam Admi Party (AAP), or common man’s party. They promise to sweep the system clean of corruption and introduce governance with people’s participation at the lowest level.

Delhi is going to the polls on Wednesday, and the fledgling party, born out of an anti-corruption campaign barely a year ago, is set to make a mark.

Polls predict that neither the incumbent Indian National Congress party nor it’s main contender, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will get the majority of votes. Then a coalition with the broom wielders would be unavoidable.

Aam Aadmi party members

Even if the new party doesn’t make it into power – many young Delhiites feel the Aam Admi Party is their last hope for the political system. Corruption is endemic in India and neither of the two main national parties seem to be part of any clean-up act.

Even though the party is fighting elections on a shoestring budget, no other party is so visible these days in the capital. Many auto-rickshaws sport the broom symbol, little trucks are blaring through the neighbourhoods and everywhere are caps to be seen, emblazoned with “Mei aam admi hu (I am a common man)” and “mujhe chahiye swaraj (I want self-rule)”.

Some political observers believe a good performance in Delhi might well have some impact on the general elections, due in April or May next year. Others feel it may take some time for the AAP to make an impact on national politics. Maybe it even remains an  a one-election phenomenon in a small, cohesive urban constituency.

In Delhi, autum is the new spring

little trees

Advertisement pushing the boundaries

condom ad

In an archconservative country where the word “sex” is hardly ever uttered, the biggest Englisch newspaper runs a condom ad on the front page.

Is someone fighting for more liberalism here or does the “Times of India” do everything as long as enough money is involved?

Bharatanatyam recital

Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form, usually expressed by a female single dancer, through a mix of body movements, facial expressions, hand gestures, footwork, costumes, music, repertoire, and themes of performances.

Shashikala RaviThe basic postures and movements of which the dance is built are geometrical, but at the same moment full of dynamic and energetic. The basic postures center the weight of the dancer, and there is little use of the hips or off-balance positions.

Characteristic movements are the rhythmic stamping of the feet – audible through ankle bells -jumps, pirouettes, and positions where the knees contact the floor. An exceptional feature is the expressive movement of the eyes – accentuated through heavy lines that are drawn around, extending outwards past the eyes.

Unfortunately only a couple of dozen people watched Shashikala Ravi’s performance. Even though it was the only dance or theater performance I could find on this monday winter night.

Witchcraft

My housemaid came to me, crying. The health of her sister deteriorated further. She was repeatedly waking up at night, sweating profusely, the body convulsing, her eyes staring like she was posessed, my maid explained, visibly horrified.

Pagan believes are widespread in India, and often the local, traditional believes are fused with Hinduism, Christianity, Islam or any other religion. My maid’s family – all Christians – decided the doctor’s in Delhi can’t cure the disease of her sister. She was in hospital for weeks weeks, but her condition didn’t stabilise.

Instead the girl was sent back home to Mapaokeilthelmanpi in Manipur. To be treated by a local whitchcraft doctor.

Happy LOL-Diwali

rangoli

Trying to understand Diwali

On Diwali – one of the most important festival for Hindus – gifts like sweets and dry fruits are exchanged, and often the employers double the salary or at least give something extra. This leads to guards being especially attentive in the weeks prior to Diwali, cleaners being particularly thoroughly, taxi drivers demanding extra cash, and everybody greeting each other.

I actually enjoyed looking for gifts – but had problems with giving them away. Who should get one – even the guy who brings the newspapers? What do I say when presenting them? Do they need an accompanying card? A wrapping maybe?

With some people I got the timing wrong. I wanted to wait for the day itself or the friday before it – and then I didn’t meet them. When I wanted to hand the basked full of european sweets over to my landlord, he also wasn’t there. But his son opened the door – and told me the grandfather had died two days earlier. So they couldn’t accept presents.

My gardener on the other hand wanted everything. A day before the festival, I was about to bring back the big gas cylinder I don’t need anymore, when he saw me and asked if he could have the bottle. As the cylinder is worth 4000 rupees, and his salary is 1500, I told him he could have it as a Diwali present. Nonetheless he asked for Diwali money the next day.

The guard from my house – whom I actually never see guarding – acted especially weird.  After giving him an expensive box of dry fruits and 500 rupees, he came to my door and told me he wanted to give the money back to me: His explanation: He feels dumped as the tenant before me used to give him 2000 rupees. I was so flabbergasted I just shut the door in front of his nose.

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