Tag Archives: Mumbai

Khallaas: An A-Z Guide to the Underworld

If you hear me speaking like some sort of a gangster from Bollywood, I’d like you to know it’s because I’ve just finished reading this book by J. Dey.

As a crime reporter, Jyotirmoy  Dey amassed a wealth of information by talking to police officers, police informants, members of gangs, and even dons. Readers will be flabbergasted by the illegal activities that occur beneath the reach of the law. Throughout this book, the author stresses on the importance of rules and ethics in this business and how it governs the drive to attain maximum profits and gain a competitive edge over rivals. In Khallaas: An A to Z Guide To The Underworld, Dey also presents an exhaustive list of words that are part of the underworld language code. The list was designed to outsmart their enemies, especially law enforcement officials.

Basically, a whole new language is created to foil people who don’t understand the lingo. It took me some time to get through the book, but only because of work pressures I wasn’t spending as much time on reading as I should have.

I got this book from the Duty Free at Delhi airport a couple of years back. I’ve seen it here in Nairobi at Savani’s Book Centre as well.

Get it for the sheer curiosity, or that you want to speak ‘gangsta’ Indian ‘eshtyle’.



How much is too much? 

I’ve always been accused of tipping ‘too much’. There’s no such thing. People, in especially the service industry, slog a lot. I have got this receipt from when I was in Mumbai in 2008. My total was Rs. 311 & I put down a Rs. 500 note and asked him to keep the change. 

He came back with this note written, and a sweet for me. 

It made my day. I kept the receipt. It makes me happy to read it every once in a while. 

India – The first impressions

Last week I wrote about my encounter with cows on Linking Road in Mumbai and I was asked what my first impression of the country really was as a Kenyan in India for the first time. I’ve often said I have no known relatives in India. For my family and me, India is just another holiday destination to tick off from the places to see on the Bucket List.

I was in my twenties when I went for the first time. The India I knew was only from Bollywood films and the anecdotes my Mum told us from her very recent trips to India when she had gone for pilgrimages. My eyes would widen and my mind would race in delight as I imagined everything she related to us – from the beautiful temples she visited with historical value right down to Roshan Di Kulfi in the narrow alleys of Delhi, the wonderful tales of shopping in little boutiques and stalls and haggling away until one was satisfied that one had landed a bargain.


I went with the determination to see Mumbai, I wanted to go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and maybe go to Amritsar, my Mum’s ancestral town and Jallandhar too, my Dad’s family town. Along with that, I had dreams of shopping for Indian outfits, lots of bangles, anklets and a big supply of Lakme eyeliner, which I’d seen in Indian film magazines. Of course, the need to catch up with my favourite Bollywood stars was also on the list.

Lakme Kajal

So here’s what actually happened. I landed in Mumbai and someone ran his trolley on the back of my foot and tore off a chunk with the sharp edge and I hobbled to catch a taxi to get to my hotel. I cheered up to know that the designer Anna Singh who only ever dealt with the colour purple had her boutique opposite my hotel. Later, after a rest, I walked over to Chowpatty beach and watched monkeys do tricks and dared eat a samosa and pani puri from the beach stalls. I survived that! I didn’t get to see Amitabh Bachchan but I did pass by his house and that was sort enough for me to go back home and boast about.

chopatty beach

Hyderabad was an experience and a half. I checked into a palace that was converted into a hotel. It sounded grand when the travel agent talked about it but it had rats in the courtyard! I quickly got into a taxi and went to a more upmarket ‘known’ hotel and finally relaxed. I got myself some pretty pearl necklaces and bracelets from the City of Pearls and then headed towards Punjab.


Seeing the Golden Temple has been one of my most memorable moments in life – for some reason I just couldn’t stop crying. I loved being there and loved seeing the places within the Temple that had been narrated to me during religion classes, by my Grandma and Mum too.  I didn’t get to go to Jallandhar but I did visit Ludhiana and also the most beautiful city in India, Chandigarh. I fell in love with the place as soon as I was driven through it and was very impressed at how clean and organised it was.

I will be lying that in this fortnight when I first went to India I didn’t fall ill with horrendous food poisoning. It wasn’t even food I might have eaten from roadsides because after eating at the beach I was warned by the hotel people not to do that or I’d fall ill. I have no idea what triggered my food poisoning but I do know that I was at least three kilos lighter by the time I came back.

Honestly speaking, seeing India for the first time was a culture shock for me. I didn’t speak like them even though I spoke my mother tongue Punjabi and a little bit of Hindi. They laughed at my pronunciation and the way I spoke and I kept telling myself ‘We don’t speak like that!’ and wanted to come back home and say ‘sufuria’ and ‘kisu’ as if they’re Punjabi words. True story. We don’t think twice when we speak a mixture of Punjabi and Swahili and everyone at home understands what we are saying.

India is beautiful, no doubt, but there’s no place like home.

First ever trip to India


This might end up sounding like one of those school trip reports we used to write back in the day after a field trip to some educational centre but bear with me. I was watching some random Bollywood movie and saw Linking Road in one of these scenes and that brought back a flood of memories for me. Linking Road is in Mumbai, India, and from when I visited it, it was quite the place to be at if you wanted to get some shopping done. This was before the era of huge shopping malls and Jimmy Choo coming up in Mumbai and I was very happy walking in and out of the shops, indulging in retail therapy.

Linking Road

This was my first ever trip to India. I’d never been before and I don’t think that I have any known close relatives living there. The India I knew was from the Bollywood movies I watched and I suppose it was the same for my parents and siblings.  We never packed bags for a two week holiday to India to go visit relatives so that was one part of the world we had written off as a holiday destination at some point, like Disney World.

So, coming back to Linking Road, it was the most memorable part of my trip because of one single incidence that I had there. I’d spent most of the day walking in and out of shops, marveling at my haggling skills (which are nil, by the way) and managed to get royally conned because the shopkeepers could tell I was a foreigner and even the limited Hindi and Punjabi I can speak was nothing like what they spoke in India. I apparently spoke like a ‘foreigner’.

India taxi

I was sitting in a cab to go back to the hotel after a long day of retail therapy and hopped into one of those yellow and black cabs that I’d loved seeing in the movies. No air conditioning and no ‘hi-funda’ stereo system in the car but I loved every second of piling my shopping bags next to me and giving the address to the taxi driver like they do in the movies. I think I saw him shake his head but we moved on nevertheless. After a few minutes we came to a standstill and I asked the driver what was going on and he mumbled something that I didn’t quite understand because he had a mouthful of betel nut leaves. Instead of asking him to repeat himself (I was quite intimidated by his large body in the khaki uniform and red stained mouth) I looked out of the window and to my delight I realized that the traffic was being caused by cows that were crossing the road! Cows are considered very sacred in India so when they cross the roads, they’re given the right of way. I was really taken with this and kept trying to look in front and didn’t notice that some cows had wandered to my side of the taxi and because my window was down I guess I literally invited a cow to stick it’s head into the car. I screamed my head off in fright, the cow got frightened, the taxi driver muttered something and put his hands together to bow down to the cow and I tried to muffle my screaming.  Eventually the cow wandered back to where the rest of the herd was and traffic started moving eventually but I was left quite shaken and was worried the taxi driver might ask me to get out so I concentrated on trying to roll the window back up to avoid further incidences.

Cows in Mumbai

After that trip, I think I visited India after almost 13 years with my friends Sam and Devna and at no point did I leave the car windows down. Just in case.

Do they need a diving board?!

This is an incredible picture of a futuristic apartment building coming up in Mumbai. It is known as Aquaria Grande and the 37-storey skyscrapers were the result of a collaboration between Hong Kong-based architect James Law and Indian real estate company Wadhwa Group. The complex would have 200 apartments, three levels of car parking, a gym and sauna.

With my fear of heights and fear of drowning I’ve just got curled up toes for all the wrong reasons. Beautiful to look at, though…!


Do they need a diving board?!

Check out the whole story and more pictures by clicking here ->  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2124576/Just-dont-add-diving-board-Architects-make-splash-skyscrapers-swimming-pools-instead-balconies.html