Happy Birthday Sachin!

Hi Everyone

Today is a special day in the world of cricket! First of all the Chris Gayle, the monster batsman from West Indies scored a magnificent new run record in IPL. Yes, I say today, even if that was yesterday in India. That because I’m writing from Norway and here it is still yesterday. Got it? Ok, good!

What Mr. Gayle did was quite fitting as today (Indian time) is the birthday of the legendary “God of cricket” Mr. Sachin Tendulkar! I know that many people from Norway have no idea about who Sachin is, but I think that it is correct to say that he’s the most famous sportsman in the world! At least when it comes to the most number of people who supports him. Sachin is said to be the most spoken 6 letters word in English and that even if it’s not really an English word!

Sachin 40

Why is Sachin so special? Well, I think better writers than me have tried to describe him before. But I can try to write a few words. First of all, he’s a very good batsman, no doubt about that. He’s the leading run scorer of all times in international cricket. He holds the most records of any cricketer. So his quality as a player says it all.

But there is so much to Sachin. He’s a remarkable humble person. If you look him up on Wikipedia and look for controversies, there are hardly any. And in a game that is full of controversies and dark sides that in itself is an achievement. I have never had the opportunity to meet him, but everyone who has met him tells the same story about what a fantastic person he is.

It must also be said that he was the clearly best player on a quite average Indian team for a huge number of years. I think it is almost correct to say that he carried the whole Indian cricket on his own shoulders for all these years. In a country where cricket is considered as religion this is maybe his biggest achievement. No wonder that he’s called the God of cricket.

I will for always remember the day when Indian won the cricket world championship in Mumbai. It was the first time that any country won it at home soil. The match I watched at a bar in Mumbai. A lot of locals were there, painted in Indian colors. Many of them were shooting Ind-ia, Ind-ia, but just as much as they were shooting that they also screamed they favored phrase Sac-hin, Sac-hin. Instead of supporting their country they supported their favorite player! I will never forget the moment just after the match when I spotted a young man in a t-shirt. It said “Cricket is my religion, Sachin is my God”.  This young fellah was almost crying and had a fantastic expression in his face. So much it meant to him to see his God lifting the trophy.


So dear Sachin; I do wish you a very happy birthday! Welcome to the 40’ties. I know very well how it is to be there. Don’t worry; it’s not that bad at all. Happy Birthday Sachin!

Talk to you soon


Maha Shivaratri

Hi Everyone

Today is Maha Shivaratri, which is also known as the birthday of Lord Shiva, the most powerful of all the Hindu Gods. In the morning, cricketer Suresh Raina published this picture on his Twitter profile.

Raina_shiva 1

Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. It is also known as padmarajarathri. Alternate common names/spellings include Maha Sivaratri, Shivaratri, Sivarathri, and Shivaratri. Shivaratri literally means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva. It is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the Maagha month of the Hindu calender. Since many different calendars are followed by various ethno-linguistic groups of India, the month and the Tithi name are not uniform all over India and Nepal. Celebrated in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Maagha according to the Shalivahana or Gujarati Vikrama or Phalguna according to the Vikrama era. The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-long vigil. All through the day the devotees, chant the sacred Panchakshara mantra dedicated to Lord “Om Namah Shivaya”.

On Mahashivratri, Nishita Kala is the most perfect time to observe Shiva Pooja. On this day, in all Shiva temples, the most auspicious Lingodbhava puja is performed during this time. In Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple is very famous for celebration of Shivratri.

In the afternoon Raina published this picture. If I’m correct this shows himself and some friends celebrating the festival.

Raina_shiva 2

Talk to you soon


Kumbh Mela pictures

Hi Everyone

Some time ago I wrote about Kumbh Mela, the largest Hindu, and possibly even religious festival in the world. As I wrote that time, the festival will be this February. It has actually started now.

My very good friend Kaayy See have been there and he have taken these pictures. The pictures are great and I don’t think I will say more. Just look at them and try to feel the feeling of being there.

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Talk to you soon


A – Z of India 2012

Hi Everyone

With 2012 about to finish now, I decided to do a small A- Z of my experiences from India for 2012. Because I’m Norwegian and we have three more letters in our alphabet I did an A-Å actually. Since this is India, and we have a number of different calendars there I have given myself the freedom to choose events also from different years. And if I don’t find any word for the actual letter I have invented a word. That’s just the way it is…

A – Is for Alleppey. If there is any green heaven in India it must be this place. I went there once last year and twice this year and really want to come back again soon.

B – This could be for many things. But I choose B for Bombay Bollocks. A blog written by my very good friend Richard. Old chap; you really deserve a letter, but R is occupied so it had to be this one. Wishing you all the best for your new adventures in Goa. Ideally B should also be for Bollywood. According to Lonely Planet and other guides it is very easy to get a small background role in a movie if you are white and just show up in Mumbai. For me, after two years, it has still not happened. Maybe I will end up as a Bombay struggler?

C – Again the options are many. C is surely for Chai, the tea that everyone in India drinks. And it’s also for cricket. And talking about cricket, sorry all friends in Mumbai, C will always be for Chennai. Whistle podu with pride!

D – This should have been for Durga Pooja, the biggest festival of Western Bengal. But this year I was not in India during that festival, so I guess it has to be for Durgapur instead. Durgapur is the place where we went for the last of my four wedding ceremonies (see also W for wedding) and it was a fantastic place.

E – Is for Expatliv. That’s the name of Elis blog (another E there…) and also the kind of life I have lived for the last two years. Expat means someone living outside his/hers own society. Some people hate it, some people love it. I’m surely part of the second group. My two years in India have been filled with a lot of nice and interesting experiences.

F- This is an easy one; F for Friends! You know who you are and what you all mean for me.

G- Here I choose Garba. A traditional Indian dance that I really like. I still remember back in 2010 when my neighbors danced this and I got invited to my first local festival. G could also be for Goa.

H –This is for Hashing. When I first wrote a blog post about it people asked me if hash is actually legal in Norway! Ehhhrm. No. Not really. But it is not that kind of hash either. Bombay Hash Harriers is a group of people who gather together and run, and well, drink beer (see Ø for øl). I have made a lot of friends in that society.

I – here I choose an easy option. I is for India. The country where I have lived & loved for two years. Period.

J – Ehhm. Uhhm. Somehow I struggled a bit with this. I thought about Jainism or Jodhpur, but that was all things that happened more in 2011, so I ended up with Japanese. Another language that I know nothing about, but have been quite used to hear in Mumbai (see also L for Language confusion)

K – Kolkata for sure! Easy pick. As I said in my initial blog post about Kolkata, that is what I feel is the absolutely real India. And when coming there it didn’t disappoint me. I really want to go back there some time.

L – Language confusion. No jaar maaan. It’s not so bode simple to speak in India, boss. Ohh yeah. You have probably heard about Hinglish. The kind of English people speak in India. For me not being a native English speaker it is all wrong to try to make fun of how the Indians are speaking their English. But it is surely different from the way we speak it in Norway! And it has lead to a lot of confusions. Having got a lot of friends (see F) from different countries, I have ended up speaking a few words in a number of languages and mixing it all together in a way that I hardly know what language I speak anymore!

M – Marathon. Am I proud of this? Yes, for sure. I did two marathons in two weeks in two continents! Ok, we didn’t really run 42 kilometers, but well. Mumbai Marathon was more for charity than anything else the way we did it. Thanks a lot to Chintan, Kiran and everyone else at WeKare (sorry, W is taken) who put this together. And this quickly leads me to…

N –for Nanhi Kali. And this is when I get teary when I write. One of the reasons I went to India in the first place was to try to do more for that organization. And so many things we have achieved together! I honestly don’t know how many times I have visited Nanhi Kali homes, but every time it is just fantastic! Thanks a lot to Sheetal who runs this, everyone at Naandi and Nanhi Kali foundation. And a huge thank to Fiona and James who keep up the good work at Capgemini.

O – This is the only one where I choose something that is related to work. The reason why I came to India in the first place is Offshoring. But O is also O Saya, the Slumdog Millionaire hit that still is in my ears and reminds me of India.

P – This should have been for the camel fair in Puskhar. Sadly I missed that one. Some of my friends went there, and I guess I have to try again next year. So P is rather for Pune. Thanks to Pearl, Konrad and little Beth who have always been my hosts when I go there. I have really started to like the city and the area around it. P can also be for Powai, my home in India.

Q- This is for Quick. Something the service in Indian rarely is. Only exception is maybe Flipkart.com, who have delivered books to me on (or before) time every time I have ordered.

R – I can think about a number of things for R. But with the latest incident in Delhi it has to be for Rape. Sadly.

S – Self-drive! Getting my own car in Mumbai and be able to travel around wherever I wanted in Mumbai gave me a freedom that I didn’t had before. People still think I’m crazy when I tell them that I drive around in Mumbai, but I still love it!

T – Tiger! Ok. This happened in 2011, and somehow our planned tiger trip this summer didn’t happen. But for me it is still something I will always remember as very much part of India. Thanks to Del and the others who joined for that trip.

U – This is a funny one; U is for Urdu! No. I know nothing about (see J or L). But one of my colleagues actually told me that I speak Hindi with an Urdu accent! Well, I have no idea, so I can’t really disagree. Thanks a lot Anupama & Ayan for all the nice chats we have had. In Urdu, Bengali, Danish or any other language…

V – Varanasi. A must see for everyone who goes to India!

W- Finally! After having lived two years without being in any Wedding, I got to four wedding parties in six days in two states! Thanks a lot for the couples Shazneen & Erick and Abhisek & Puspita who invited me. Thanks a lot also to Orie, Elisabetta, Pearl and Konrad who joined me for these memorable events.

X- Is for Draw. Cheating you say? No. Back in the old days in Norway, when you were betting on a football match you filled 1 for home 2 for away and yes, x for a draw. So this is for the recent cricket match where England honestly trashed India. If I remember correct, England scored 600 and something, India 300 and something. And then, because it got a little bit dark or the players were thirsty and wanted some tea (see C for Chai) or something else, they stopped the match and declared it a draw. Stupid game…

Y – Young. India does have a very young generation that makes the future looking good for the country. Keep it up and make it count!

Z- Zliip. I’m sure the young Indians will use this word for sleep (see L for language confusion). Anyway. Sleep is something you hardly have time for in Mumbai….

Æ – Ærlig. Norwegian word. Meaning honestly. I have tried to always be honest. Both while writing this blog and in other situations. If I don’t succeed, sorry.

Ø – Øl Another Norwegian word. Most of you probably know that this means beer. I have been in Indian news twice, as far as I know. Once at TV for the Mumbai Marathon. Once in the newspaper for the Hashing. The title of the article was Blast with beer. Hmmm. Not sure if I liked that. But anyway; thanks a lot Libertad for being in the picture with me. You made it look good. And thanks a lot to Alok who clicked the photo.

Å – Åpen – Being open. In order to survive in India, you really have to be open to new experiences and impressions. Everything can happen in India…

Talk to you soon!


Parsee wedding

Hi Everyone

So today it is finally time for me to attend my first real Indian wedding!

And it is not just any wedding. It is one of my closest colleagues that are having her wedding today! In good Indian tradition, this wedding will last for a number of days. It is one ceremony today, and the main ceremony is on Saturday. And given that they are both Parsees I expect this to be something very different from a traditional Norwegian wedding, and maybe even different from many Indian weddings.

I wrote a little bit about the Parsee community when I wrote about their New Years Eve, which is off course not at the same time as the traditional Norwegian New Years Eve, but I guess it’s ok to tell more about this community.

The term Parsee literary means “from or related to Persia/Iran”. This is also where the Parsees came from. When the Arabs invaded Persia, many of them had to flee, and this was how they ended up in India. Parsee also means someone that follows the prophet Zoroaster and is of the Zoroastrianism religion. This means that Parsees are not Hindus, so the wedding is not a Hindu wedding as such. This also means that it will be wrong to say that the Parsees are of any specific caste. They are from a different religion. The main ceremony on Saturday will be in a church, which I think would not have happened if it was a Hindu wedding.

Today, there are only about 100.000 Parsees totally in the world. The absolute majority (more than 70.000) live in India and mostly in Mumbai and around that area. Even if they are few, the Parsees have made a significant contribution to the Indian society. Some of the largest family companies like the Godrej’s and the Tata’s are from the Parsee community.

So what is it that I can expect at today’s wedding? Honestly, I don’t have much of a clue. If I have understood things correctly, today it will be more of a family getting together session. There are people from all over the world coming to this wedding, so today will be a chance for all of them to meet. There are also some parts of the ceremony that is supposed to take part at the Fire temple. This is a place where only people who are born Parsees are allowed entrance, so I will not be part of that ceremony.

On Saturday, we will be in a church in downtown Mumbai, where the main ceremony will be. This I expect to be a quite very huge setting with a lot of people.

Off course I will update and tell more about my experience after the wedding.

Talk to you soon!


Some crazy trip for Indian weddings

Hi Everyone

So tomorrow it is time to go back to India again. No. I’m not moving (shifting) back to there. This time it is only for a short visit. But it is a very important visit. In 6 days I will attend 2 weddings in two different states with a total of 4 different wedding ceremonies. As some of you might know, in India it is common to have more than one ceremony for each wedding. In both cases there will be one typical wedding ceremony and there will be one of what is called a reception.

And to make the tour even better, it will be weddings in two different religions! On Thursday it will be the wedding reception for a Parsee colleague of mine. Honestly, I don’t know too much about what will happen there, but surely look forward to that. Then on Saturday they are having their formal wedding ceremony in a church in downtown Mumbai. Given that they are Parsees and that this is a comparable small society in India, I do expect a huge number of the Parsees in Mumbai to be there. It should be a lot of fun.

Then early Sunday morning it is off to Kolkata. This is a place I have never visited before, so that in itself is a reason to go there. But it is also even another wedding that take place there. This time it is a more traditional Hindu wedding. The groom is a colleague of a friend of mine, and I have got the invitation through them. They are also going to have a wedding reception. This will happen at his hometown which is the city Durgapur, just outside Kolkata.

With all these parties going on, I’m absolutely not sure if I will be able to update the blog in between. Will do my best, but no promises. Off course I will put up a number of posts when I’m done with the trip.

Talk to you soon!


What is Hinduism?

Hi Everyone

One of the main questions I get from people in Norway regarding India is about religion. It seems to be some kind of a perception that Indians are very religious and that this play a very important part of their daily life.

Like most other things in India, I don’t think there is really any black or white answer to this. The religious part of India is much more complex than such. First of all it is not the case that everyone in India is Hindus. India has the third largest population of Muslims, if my sources are correct. And there are also quite a few people of other religions too.

So what is Hinduism all about then? Even after two years in Mumbai, I think it is difficult to pinpoint. So during one of my trips to a local bookshop (I have quite many of those) I picked up a small book in Norwegian called Hva er Hinduisme (what is Hinduism). I found the book so good and interesting that I decide to translate parts of it. The book is written by Professor Knut A. Jacobsen, and I’m sure he knows exactly what he writes about. So any mistakes you might find here is due to my translation.

The word “Hinduism” was created by Europeans who wanted to understand the religion in India. The Christians used it first, but the Hindus later adopted it as a word for their religion. The word “Hindu” was created by the Iran is and meant “people living east of the river Indus”. The word “Hinduism” is then a construction as such, but it points to ancient old religious traditions.

Hinduism has a different perception of Gods than what there is in Christianity. The Vishnu its believes that Vishnu is the highest God while the Shiva its believe that Shiva is the highest God. But they still believe in the same. In Hinduism it is also possible that different Gods can act together. There is not only one superior God. Some people say that before the word Hinduism was created it was not seen as one but rather many different religions. Hinduism is not a religion where you have one founder or one holy book. And it is not a religion where you have one specific church or a set of doctrines. It is a mosaic that has been created with more and more areas have been integrated into a religious network.

The different regional versions of Hinduism are connected to a vast number of languages and cultures. This means that the same God or Goddess can have different names in different places but still be the same God, if you kind of understand what I mean.

Holy places and pilgrimage trips to those places are important part of the Hinduism. I have already written about Kumbh Mela, which is the biggest religious festival in the world. And you can also read more about some of the Holy places like Nasik and Varanasi

I hope this small blog post have given you some introduction to Hinduism. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask or comment. I will do my best to answer.

Talk to you soon!


Gangnam Garba style

Hi Everyone

It is probably not very often that you will find me writing blog posts based on something I have seen on YouTube. But today I had to make a difference. Right now the Navratri is being celebrated all over India. It is one of the absolutely funniest festivals, and highly celebrated in many areas of India. One of the main parts of this festival is the dance Garba. If you want to know how to NOT dance, well look at the person at the right hand side in this picture.

One way of doing it is to do the “Gangnam Garba” variant.

Not sure if this was the way the “founders of the dance” really planned it, but well, it  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBUwRvtdjUolooks good. If you want to learn Garba, look here.

(with comments in Hindglish, or maybe rather Gujaratlish)

Talk to you soon!


Navrathri Golu – A Nine night worship of Mother Goddess – A Tamilian celebration

Hi Everyone

One of the funniest things you can do as a blogger is perhaps to get someone to write on your blog. It saves you for work (joke). But more important, it gives you an opportunity to share the views of some more people also. In Capgemini, we have an internal blog where we write about world festivals. When I came across some really nice articles by Chandra Duraiswamy, I asked him to write about how Navrathri is celebrated in his area.

Here we go:

Idols of Hindu gods and goddesses made in clay adorn the madaveedhis (4 streets surrounding the temple) of Mylapore (an area in Chennai, India) two weeks prior to Navarathri (aka Golu in Tamil). During my Saturday visit to the temple, I stopped by a few stalls and scanned the dolls to look for new themes. Usually the dolls are miniature replicas of the idols of Hindu gods in various temples and these days they also have Ganesh (elephant God) holding iPads and iPhones. The artisans also depict a few scenes from the famous Hindu epics – Ramayana and Mahabaratha. And since Cricket is more than a religion in India, these days spotting a cricket field is common, yet Chennai Super Kings have not made their debut in the Mylapore Golu.

I got home from the temple last Saturday evening with some pictures of the new dolls that I spotted during my stroll, while my mother was ready with her list of things to-do for me. It is a tradition to start good things on New Moon day (aka Ammavasya) and since it fell on a Monday this year, Amma (mom) wanted me to clean the house, vacuum the sofas and set-up the stand for the dolls the day before. It was a working Sunday for me L. Some people also built Golu with themes and concepts, while we decided to keep it simple.

While I got busy bringing the dolls from the attic and building a stand for display, Amma was busy inviting all her women friends in the neighborhood to come home for Golu. On that same piece of paper she had also planned a high protein snack called as “Sundal” (boiled lentils sautéed with spice, salt and coconut) for each of the nine days to be offered to the Goddesses and then distributed to those who visit our home.

Women and girls visit our home during the nine days festival and they sing hymns in praise of the three incarnations of Mother Goddess – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. Women are dressed in traditional pattu (silk) saree and while girls dress-up in pattu paavadai (silk frock) and some of them also dress up as gods and goddess. This helps girls get over stage fear and also helps them to be a social butterfly.

In between the hymns, women discuss about water woes, power outages, cooking gas shortage, long queues at the public ration store, and also their shopping plans for Diwali. They also smack some neighborhood gossip, bash their mother-in-law in between the hymns along with some sundal. Along with sundal this year Amma decided to make Badham Kheer (ground almond boiled in sweetened milk and garnished with saffron) and Puttu (steamed ground rice sweetened with coconut and jiggery) for snack.

It is a tradition to give a thamboolam (coconut, betel leaf, betel nut, pieces of turmeric and sachet of vermillion) to all the women and girls who come home. Along with that Amma also gives useful and usable knick-knacks, thought most women prefer giving blouse material for sarees or a plastic container. Every year amma comes up with a new idea and I have to take her on a shopping trip to find something of utility value. One year Amma gave Tulsi plant, another year she gave people shopping bags made of cloth to discourage use of plastic. This year she gave a key chain that had colored plastic rings to help people differentiate house key, car key, cupboard key, etc. And these days it is almost a competition amongst women to find something unique and useful to give away.

Usually the male members play the role of a driver and drive their women and girls around the neighborhood. My dad usually engages them and all they talk about is politics! While women get something to take home, men get nothing and I have heard a few grinningly complain about this inequality. So this year we decided to give them a Soduku book.

Today is the fourth day of Dusshera and I can smell Amma cooking Chick-Pea Sundal in the kitchen. In another six days (on Vijayadashami day – 10th day) everything will get back to status quo – the dolls will return to the attic, kids will return back to school to collect their quarterly exam report cards, and women will get back to the grind.

Looking at our tradition and culture, our ancestors are super marketers – they weaved the social fabric through festivals in the era of no-Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. And even in the era of online social networking today these festivals and traditions find relevance and purpose.

I wish I could offer you some sundal snack and a small gift, but I guess you will have to come in person for that. For this year I leave you with just words, some pictures and some links for more reading. Hope you will be able to make it to my house next year. Catch you soon!

And please make sure you read Chandra’s blog.

Talk to you soon!


Differences in religious monuments in Norway and India

Hi Everyone

Last weekend, I did what most Norwegians like to do when the autumn is on its way and it starts to get cold; I went to do some trekking in the mountains.

On the way to our cabin we passed one of the most famous churches in Norway; Heddal Stavkyrkje. I can easily admit that religion is not my biggest interest, but I do think it is a bit interesting to compare different religious monuments from different times and religions. So when we stopped at this church, I got to think about the different churches and religious monuments that I have seen in India. The one that obviously came to my mind was Taj Mahal, and I will write more about that later. But it also strikes me that Hinduism doesn’t really have a lot of those huge monuments. And to be clear; this is not something I say out of disrespect to the Hinduism, maybe rather the opposite.

In the area where I used to live in Mumbai, there were a lot of mosques, which is off course not at all any Hinduism monuments, but rather Muslim. There is one temple for the Hindu God of Hanuman close to my former home, but even that one is quite small compared to the mosques that were around in that area. And yes, I have also been to some of the Hindu temples in places like Rishikesh. And in Chennai there were quite a few Hindu temples. In Mumbai I think the biggest Hindu temples are for the God Krishna (please correct me if I’m wrong). And during the Ganesh festival there are off course a lot of Ganesh Idols placed in mandals all around the city. But these are not really temples. And the same is the case during Navratri and Durga Poja. There are a lot of idols placed around in the city, but most of them are on open areas and removed after the festival is over.

So let me tell you more about the Stavkyrkje (stave church). The church we visited is about 800 years old, which makes it quite a bit older than for example Taj Mahal. It is said that the church was built by only five (5, not kidding) farmers! At that time around 1200 it was quite common to build churches in this way, by wood. This in itself is a big difference in how buildings are built in Norway and in India in general. Norway is recognized as a mostly Christian protestant country, which means that most of the religious building here are churches and not mosques or temples.

Taj Mahal at the other hand was built between 1631 and 1653. This is recognized as one of the finest examples of Mogul architecture. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan (I mean; it was ordered by him, I don’t think he did much himself). Due to the sheer size and the number of years it took to build it, I think it is quite obvious that it was more than five people involved in the building process. It was constructed in memory of his favorite wife Arjumand Banu Begum. Taj Mahal is now on the UNESCO list of world heritages and it is also recognized as one of the modern wonders of the world. There is also one stave church on this list, but that is not the one in Heddal, but Urnes Stavkirke.

If you have a chance, I can absolute recommend a visit to any of these places.

Thanks a lot!

Talk to you soon!