Loosing is never fun

Hi everyone. This is a blog post that I have kind of drafted in my head for a long time. This is where I was supposed to write about Arsenal Football Club winning its first trophy in too many years. But. But. But. In sport, things do not always go according to plan. Especially if you are Arsenal Football Club. So the match was lost in the dying minutes due to some extremely poor mistakes. The match itself is surely written a lot about other places, so I’ll just do a quick round up of how it was to see it in Mumbai.

To be a supporter of English football in India is not that easy. Most matches are played late in the evening, or even at the nights. Champions League matches are usually finished around 3 am in the morning. And mostly pubs around here show cricket instead of football. But this time, Arsenal Mumbai, the local supporter club here had done tremendously to host the match. Supporters from all over Mumbai were together at one place, and the atmosphere was fantastic! People was singing and cheering for the team all over the place. Really cool to be there. At least almost to the end then… So thanks a lot to Nick and the team for putting this together in such a good manner.

The other sporting event that has been around here today is the cricket world cup match between India and England. And I must admit that more people were probably interested in that game than in the football match. The legendary Indian batch man Sachin Tendulkar scored 120 runs, and India was set to win the match, with a total run of 338. But in some way, England managed to score exactly the same, so the match ended in a draw! For me, who am still not that much into cricket, I must admit that the funniest thing was maybe that the match was supposed to maybe not be played at all! This due to rain! The weather forecast was not so good, so it was predicted that the match should not be played! I know that cricket is a match for gentlemen, but come on! This is a world cup. How difficult can it be to play even if it is some rain? Maybe I can suggest using a towel, if the players are worried that the ball might be wet. The Stoke player Rory Delap uses a towel all the time during a football match, even if it is not raining… According to the cricket rules, the match would have ended a draw if it had not been played. And a draw is always a respectable result, and no one would have been upset with losing a game. Fair and square. Everyone can go home happy and say that they have had a fair game. But that’s cricket. Football does not really work that way.

Ok. Enough for now. Let’s hope Arsenal can take revenge of the loss against Birmingham by beating Barcelona. Even if it most probably would have been easier to do it the other way around!

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Internations party + officially living in India

Hi Everyone

Yesterday was a hue get together party, hosted by Internations Mumbai.  Internation is a social networks for expats, and locals who like to be part of the international community. I do really like these parties! It is a very good opportunity to meet a mix of people. Where else can you end up speaking with a film producer, a wedding planner, a fashion designer, and also a person who works with integrating solutions for optimizing 21st century urban living? All at one party! Being at places like this really make me feel that I work and live in a global world. Most people at these parties have really seen and experienced a lot. The foreigners are in kind of the same situation as me, living away from their own, “safe” world, and in the urban, global jungle. The locals are mostly people who have travelled a lot and have experienced other places with their Indian background. And it is very easy to get to talk to people, as everyone is very open to others, and like to share experiences. Really nice, and well worth a slight hangover after coming home around 4 am this morning..

Today there was a lady ringing may door bell. She told me that she was working with the official counting of people in India. And off course, she was not that really good in English. I tried to tell her gently that I only live here for one year, and that the Norwegian tax authority have decided that I official still live in Norway. Just because they want my tax money I guess. But that did not work, and she insisted to count me! So we off course had to fill out a huge form, where she did write in Hindi, my name, age, how I travelled to the office and things like that. She also asked about my mother tongue, which is off course is Norwegian. When she asked about what other languages I speak, I said English and “chotti Hindi”, which means a little bit Hindi. I do think that she registered that as I speak English and Hindi. So now it is official: I do live in India, speaks Norwegian, English and Hindi, and also have no car, but uses auto to get to the office! Can’t argue with this, as it is decided by the government of India…

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

Preview of 2011 cricket world cup

Hi everyone

It is said that cricket is religion in India. And with the cricket world cup being hosted by India, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh this year, you can expect the people here to be crazy about it! What more is, the final will be played in Mumbai, hometown of Sachin Tendulkar, maybe the most iconic and best player India ever have had. The tournament will be from the 19th of February to the 2nd of April (isn’t that a bit too much for a tournament with only 16 teams?). The 2nd of April is just 22 days before Sachin turns 37, and quite a few people have predicted that this will be his last chance to win a world championship. Next time it is hosted he will be 41. What better than to do it in the city where you are born and raised!

So how are India’s chances of success in this championship? Australia is the most successful team, with 4 championships already. The West Indies has won twice, while India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have one title each. If we look at the current ranking, India is number one, with South Africa and England in second and third position respectively. The four times champions Australia is ranked as number four. It is no doubt that India have a quite good team this time, and with MS Dhoni being the captain, that has maybe taken some of the burden of the scolders of Tendulkar. But let’s see when the championship starts! I’m quite a bit worried that the pressure might be too much for the locals to handle… In most newspapers here, India is clearly the favorite. Maybe not too surprisingly. In their second last warm up match before the world cup, they even trashed Australia quite well.

If the technical things work well here, you should have a chance to tip what team you think will win in a poll. Must admit that it is the very first time that I have tried to add a poll to my blog, so hopefully it will work. Off course I will try to keep the blog updated with what happen during this world championship.

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

Republic day and…… Wembley!

Hi everyone

Today is a very fine day in Mumbai! It is nice and sunny, and not to warm. And it is nice for some other reasons also. First of all, I think I must say, it is the Republic Day today. This is the day when the constitution came in place in 1950. I must admit that when I first got to know about this I got a little bit confused, as the Independence Day is the 15th of August. But what that happened in 1947 when India got its independence, was that there was no real constitution in place. There was a Government Act from 1935 that was used, and the constitution only came in place in 1950. You might think that this is quite weird, but I think this is because of the circumstances around the independence in 1947. It all happened so quickly, that it was hardly any time to make a real constitution by then.

So how is this celebrated in India? First of all, I think it is fair to say that this is much bigger in Delhi than in any other places. Here in Mumbai there are some flag hosting ceremonies at official buildings, but not that much. But it is actually a bit more than what I had expected. I have seen some people in parades and also heard some drums playing. There are also a lot of people who are wearing the Indian flag, and I seen a group of ladies wearing saries in the national flag. But for most people this is mostly a day to relax, be with your family or do a game of cricket. In most open places I have seen folks playing some cricket games.

And talking about sport. Yesterday Arsenal qualified for their first ever cup final since 2005, when they crunched Manchester United in the FA-Cup! Because India is five and a half hours ahead of UK, the match actually started around 1 am in the night. As I knew it was a holiday today I decided to join a friend to try to see the match on a pub. But just because it is a public holiday, most pubs closed early. So we went from place to place without being able to see the match. But it gave me an opportunity to see an area of Mumbai which I have hardly been to before, namely Malad. We left the last pub around 3.30 in the night, and it is actually quite interesting to see Mumbai at that time of the day. It is very quiet, and almost no traffic. I found an auto wallah who was driving like crazy! It was almost a bit scary, but I came home in no time. The tour should have costed me 160 rupees, but well, I was in a good mood, so there was no problem to give 200 and not ask for any money back. He got so happy that he almost went out of the auto to hug me!

So a nice ending of the day, and two good reasons to celebrate today.

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Honest VIP auto wallah

Hi everyone

Today, I had not really planned to update the blog, but I had one such a very good experience this morning, that I just have to do an update. After having complained a lot about the auto drivers in Mumbai, I think it is just correct that I honor one of them today.

When I came out of my building this morning, one of the drivers came by. He actually stopped, waited to I had bought my newspaper and just drove me directly to the office! I did not have to ask him anything or tell him where to go. Surely I have used him before, nut still I really appreciate a service like that. I felt a bit like I was a VIP person and had my own private auto driver just for me!

And if that was not enough, when we arrived, I should pay him 40 INR. For some reason I managed to give him three 10 rupee notes and one 50 rupee note. I was a bit stressed and did not realize that I had done it wrong. He refused to take the money and told me that this was wrong! He gave me back me three 10 rupee notes and even one more, so that I actually paid the right price. Do you think I easily will pay him some extra next time? Sure I will!

So a very good start of the day!

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Preparing for Christmas

Hi Everyone

It almost seems a bit weird, but now it is soon Christmas! After having been through so many Indian festivals, like Ganesh, Navrati, Diwali, and probably a few that I have forgot, we are now heading into the festival that is more common for me than for the Indians. One of the most important traditions with Christmas back in Norway is the backing of Christmas cookies. Luckily there is a Swedish colleague also working here, so we went together yesterday and made the dough.

Today we are planning to team up with some Indian colleagues and get the cookies done. And we also have got a Christmas tree in office. Not sure, but it is maybe the first time some of the colleagues have had a Christmas tree.

Will let you know soon how the baking today went. We just have to bake first…

Karsten

Reflections after another terror attack

Hi everyone

Yesterday I did see quite a few of my Indian colleagues surfing on news sites (yes that happens also here). Mostly I think they are surfing on information about local stuff, or off course cricket. But yesterday they were looking at news on a suicide bomber. In Stockholm! In Sweden! And Sweden is the neighbor country to Norway.

I don’t think I can say that it is interesting to read about a potential terror attack in my neighbor country; scary is probably a better word. But is surely also give me some thoughts. When I moved to India, my dad was asking me if it is really safe to live here. Last time I travelled to Sweden, he really did not ask anything about the same…

All over the places we can read articles about the new “flat” world order, and I do think that what happened in Stockholm is also another result of that. No countries are anymore immune to this kind of attacks. It can happen in Mumbai or Delhi, or New York or Los Angeles, or even also in Stockholm or Oslo.

The other main news here in Mumbai right now is that it is starting to get what people here call cold, or winter. It is just that winter in Mumbai is not really the same as winter in Norway… While we have about -20 Celsius in Norway the temperature here has just dropped below 20, and I mean +20. But it is really a bit more chilled, and it is quite comfortable. This morning I even had to wear a thin jacket, because the wind in the rickshaw is a bit cold. But when I see kids with thick woolen jackets and hats it seems like a bit too much. Another consequence of the lower temperature is that those who live on the street are starting to make fires. So the smell in the city is a bit different. Instead of the regular Mumbai smell and I will not try to describe it, you can now smell smoke many places. Not sure if it is better or worse, but it is surely a difference.

Talk to you soon

Karsten

M-time and P-time

Hi everyone
Today I will try to discuss some about time, which I think interests everyone who come to India. A few days back I read an article about Monocrome (M-time) and Polycrome (P-time), which I found quite interesting. You will find the definitions here:

“M-time emphasizes schedules, segmentation and promptness. P-time systems are characterized by several things happening at once. They stress involvement of people and completion of transactions rather than adherence to present schedules” See ET Hall, Beyond culture, Ancor books New York (1981).

As you probably already have guessed, countries like Norway and Germany are denoted by working in M-time, while countries like India are denoted to be in P-time. So I have now moved from an M-time country to a P-time country. According to the article people in the P-time does things one by one, and then moves on to the next task, while people in M-time does more things at once, and they are not too worried about when to complete one task. At first when you move from one “time zone” to another, this can be quite confusing and frustrating. People will never be in meetings at time, and they will probably do other things even while they are in the meeting. Right now when I’m writing I’m supposed to be at a training session. The session should have started some five minutes ago, but not even the instructor is here…

After having been here in India for a few months now, I’m really starting to get adjusted to this, and it does not bother me that much. People in Mumbai usually tell me that life is so stressful here, but I really don’t find it that. In Norway, if you are late to a meeting, or not able to complete your things within your planned time, then you get stressed. A few days back I was in a shopping mall and the cash register had broken down. Everything had to be done manually. If this had been in Norway, people would have been stressed and shown their frustration. This did not happen in Mumbai. People were just waiting. Here, well, things will happen. At some time.

I don’t think it is correct to say that the one time zone is better than the other. In western countries I think it is a perception that Indians always deliver things too late and don’t stick to their given deadlines. That might be true to some extent, but you can be quite sure that Indians have done a lot of other things in the meantime.

You can read more about the differences in this article

What do you think? Is this observation correct or is it different?

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

Back in Mumbai

Hi everyone. Then I’m back home, if I can say so, in Mumbai. Being with friends and family in Norway was off course very nice, but it was way too cold. At the plane I found an American newspaper, where the weather forecast is in Fahrenheit. That was quite cool, and showed the difference between Mumbai and Oslo even more clear that when you compare it in Celsius. In Mumbai we have about 90 degrees, while in Norway, there are, well, no degrees at all…

So how is it to be back? One thing is for sure, and that is that it really feels like coming home. On my way from the airport I was getting an auto (this rickshaw thing). After driving some 50 meters I told the driver that the meter was not on and insisted that he should use it. He then stopped the auto and suggested 350 rupees as the price. On my way to the airport I paid about 50, but I also know that it is more expensive at night, so I knew it would be more. Bu 350 is way out! So it gave me an immediate chance to use my favorite Hindi word, which is pagal (or if you say it with an American-Gujrati accent it sounds more like paggøll, or something like that). Anyway, it means crazy, mad or something not really nice. I was very tempted to yell to the driver and ask if I looked like some stupid white tourist, but off course I know the answer to that question. So off we went! From the airport he immediately took left. I was quite sure that he should have gone right. When I then see the first traffic sign, I could understand that he was driving wrong! So I told him (with some nice Norwegian words also) that he was useless and pagal! He then actually turned and continued the way I suggested. But not for long. Again he went on to take another route, and I told him that my home is right, he should not go straight. He did not say anything. When we came to a huge building not that far from my place, he tried to indicate the he was on the right track. But I know that building very well, so you know what I told him…

When we finally came home, he showed me the standard meter conversion chart that I know too well, and suggested what price I should pay. I off course pretended understand nothing and paid him some lower price. Welcome home!

But it is really good to be back! I really feel Mumbai a bit relaxing compared to Oslo. Yesterday I did my shopping and walked home. Even if I was walking at a slow pace to be a Norwegian I was the one walking fastest. No one was stressing. And outside my house there were some music and probably a new festival coming up. Is it possible not to enjoy when you have it like that? And did I mention the weather? Nice sun and actually also some chilly breeze. Just lovely!

Talk to you soon!
Karsten

Mumbai terror attack (26/11)!

It is a quiet night at the Chowpatty beach in Mumbai. A few fishermen are sleeping at the beach and everything is quiet. Then two boats enter the beach with a total of 10 people onboard. They are all dressed in black and have a huge amount on weapons with them. The men split in different groups and travels by taxis to different places in Mumbai. Two of them move to Leopold Café where they open fire. Mumbai is under attack! The 10 terrorist held the city hostage for more than three days. At least 175 people got killed and more than 308 were injured. Most of you have probably seen the scenes from Taj Hotel that was broadcasted on television all over the world.

Today it is exactly two years since the terror attack on Mumbai. I have now visited most of the places that was under attack. Mumbaians are quite extraordinary people, and they very soon decided that the attack should not disturb their daily life and ruin their lives.

How did the attack affect the city? Well, one thing is surely that the security has been tightened quite a bit. At places like the Taj hotel or CST (Victoria train station) you now have to go through quite a few security barriers to enter. I must admit that the security at the hotel seems quite much better than then one at the railway station. At the railway they don’t have any bomb detection equipment, just some police people sitting there. But at the hotel the security seems very good and very tight. I actually visited the hotel at the 9th of September with an American colleague, which was off course quite a strange feeling.

Café Leopold is maybe the place that has gained the most of the terror attack, if it is possible to use such a word. The attach, and the book Shantaram made the café even more popular among foreign tourists, and it is almost always full of people.

Of the terrorists, only one of them was captured alive. He is now in jail in Mumbai, and they have tried to get his trial done for some time now, but it seems like it is quite difficult to give him a fair trial. The attack off course made the relation between India and Pakistan, a relationship that have not been that good, even worse. India very soon pointed on Pakistan as the place where the terrorists came from. And the fact that this is even highlighted in the news in India today probably says something about this.

Ok. I will go back to Mumbai tomorrow. Talk to you soon.

Karsten