All posts by Richie

Dharavi Slum tour with Balaiji – Mumbai Slum Tours.

What a truly humbling experience with Balaji, walking around the most crowded square KM in the world. Dharavi in Mumbai is a slum, in that it was created decades ago on reclaimed land around the railway-line.

Take a look at the film here below.

However it is a thriving area of business where communities from all over India have ended up and work in recycling, leather fabrication etc. I ended up having an extra day in Mumbai, so I visited this place and Balaji took me to places I would not have gone on my own, for fear of overstepping where it was polite of me to go. So many people in such a small place. Now with reflection it is easy to see how our first world problems can overcome us, when in actual fact, mainly in life, we have very small problems. It goes back to the needs of life, the main ones being, sustenance and shelter.

I took the train from Marine Lines station to Mahim Junction and met Balaiji outside the Third Wave Cafe just across the road. The train journey cost me 10 Rupees and took 25 Minutes, that’s about 11 Euro cent. He showed us some of the recycling companies. Dharavi Slum is the most densely populated place in the world. Balaji showed the small group around the slums for a couple of hours explaining what the many people get up to and how they live. We stopped around the circuit for some very fresh food for Brunch. Puri. Some of the alleyways are very narrow and low hanging wires have to be avoided as some of them are live. We moved on to a Leather Business. Dharavi is a very special place, many different people from all over India live here in small communities, all of these communities exist in harmony with each other. Dharavi has a one billion dollar per year turnover. The last visit was the pottery and glazing area.

Varanasi a World Apart

Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is a place where spirituality, culture, and history blend seamlessly. Situated on the banks of the sacred river Ganges, Varanasi, also known as Kashi or Benares, is a city of immense importance in Hinduism and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Watch the film in English or French Below, Enjoy

 

Here’s a short synopsis of the main things to see and do in Varanasi. Ganges River Ghats: The ghats, or steps leading down to the river, are the heart of Varanasi. There are around 84 ghats along the river, each with its own significance. Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the oldest and most vibrant, known for its evening Ganga Aarti ceremony, while Manikarnika Ghat is the main cremation ghat. Boat Ride on the Ganges: A boat ride along the Ganges River offers a unique perspective of the city. It allows you to see the ghats from the water and witness the daily activities of the locals, as well as the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony from the river. Ganga Aarti: Witnessing the Ganga Aarti ceremony is a must-do experience in Varanasi. The ceremony takes place every evening at Dashashwamedh Ghat and is a beautiful ritual where priests perform prayers with fire and incense, accompanied by chanting and ringing bells. Culinary Delights: Varanasi is a food lover’s paradise, with its wide range of street food and traditional dishes. Don’t miss trying the local specialties like chaat, kachori sabzi, and malaiyyo, a winter delicacy. Sarnath: Just a short drive from Varanasi, Sarnath is where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The site is home to several ancient Buddhist monuments and is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world. Silk Weaving Centers: Varanasi is famous for its Banarasi silk sarees, known for their intricate designs and rich colors. Visiting a silk weaving center gives you a glimpse into the artistry behind these beautiful sarees. Local Markets: The bustling markets of Varanasi are a treasure trove of traditional handicrafts, jewelry, and fabrics. Explore the narrow lanes of the old city to find unique souvenirs and immerse yourself in the local culture. Ramnagar Fort: Situated on the eastern bank of the Ganges River, Ramnagar Fort is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture. The fort houses a museum that displays vintage cars, royal costumes, and other artifacts. Banaras Hindu University (BHU): Founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, BHU is one of the largest residential universities in Asia. The campus is home to several museums and the Bharat Kala Bhavan, which houses a vast collection of artifacts. Varanasi is a city that overwhelms the senses with its spirituality, history, and culture. It’s a place where life and death are intertwined, and every corner has a story to tell. A visit to Varanasi is a journey into the heart of India’s spiritual and cultural heritage, an experience that will stay with you long after you leave.

A Street Car Named Kolkata – Calcutta tram, Bengal, India

A Street Car Named Kolkata – Calcutta tram, Bengal, India. The Kolkata tram system, one of the oldest operating tram networks in Asia, has been an integral part of the city’s identity and heritage since its inception. The story of the Kolkata tram system begins in the late 19th century, during the British colonial era, when horse-drawn trams first started running on the streets of Calcutta in 1873. These trams were initially operated by private companies, but in 1880, the Calcutta Tramways Company was formed to manage the entire network.

Watch in English or French Below, Enjoy

 

The early 20th century saw significant developments in the tram system, with the introduction of electric trams in 1902, replacing the horse-drawn ones. This transition marked a new era for the Kolkata tram system, making it more efficient and reliable. The network expanded rapidly, covering more areas of the city and becoming an essential mode of transport for Kolkata. The tram system reached its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, with over 300 trams operating on various routes across the city. However, with the advent of buses and other modern modes of transport, the tram system began to decline in popularity. Many tram routes were discontinued, and by the 1980s, the network had shrunk significantly. Despite these challenges, the Kolkata tram system has managed to survive and even thrive in recent years, thanks to efforts to modernize and preserve this iconic mode of transport. Today, the Kolkata tram system operates on a reduced network, covering important parts of the city. It continues to be a popular choice for many residents, offering a nostalgic and unique way to experience the charm of Kolkata’s streets. The Kolkata tram system is not just a mode of transport; it is a symbol of the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. It stands as a testament to Kolkata’s resilience and ability to preserve its past while embracing the future.