Still alive…

…no, really. As usual these days, it seems, we’ve been mad busy of late. Since I last posted, I’ve:

– Dressed up in silly yellow clothes and pretended to be a member of the Australian cricket team for a day for a 7up commercial that starred the Indian wicketkeeper;
– Helped Shantaram put up his letterbox;
– Gone flat-hunting in the wilds of Andheri (Mumbai’s equivalent of Oakleigh or somewhere like that);
– Shelled out $1000 for a computer;
– Traipsed halfway round town looking for a charger for said computer after the one we received short-circuited the first time we stuck it in a powerpoint (ah, India);
– Run into a dude from Melbourne whose band I once interviewed;
– Eaten myself into a state of near-paralysis several times;
– Met several fascinating people, including an artist from America who does beautiful drawings in hand-made ink on hand-made paper (you can see his work here);
– Seen Blood Diamond, which is well worth seeing; and
– Slept very little.

In the same time, Leila’s done a photo shoot for a friend that went really, really well (she’s doing another today), dressed up in a silly wig to do more extra work, gone out and availed herself of free Moet et Chandon for an evening, and pretty much everything else that I listed above… except for the cricket.

So it’s been a big week or so. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. I spent several years doing very little in Melbourne – this was entirely through choice, in a kind of reaction to the two years I spent working like a dog in London. But it’s only since coming to India that I’ve realised how much I’ve missed being busy. It’s nice to be doing things again. I think Bombay has a lot to do with it – Karl Marx once pointed out that “Environment determines consciousness”, and I think that when you spend time in a place with so many people, so much energy, so much excitement, it can’t help but rub off on you. In general, Indians seem very good at living in the moment, which is a skill that many in the West seem to have forgotten in their rush to worry about what’s happened in the past or what’s going to happen in the future.

As our flat-hunting probably indicates, we’re hoping to be able to stay here for a while. This will be entirely dependent on whether we can make enough money to support ourselves – but so long as we at least break even, it should be OK. If we can just be self-sufficient, we won’t need to keep digging into our Australian dollar savings, which can then be used elsewhere. Fingers crossed, it should be feasible – once you get past accomodation, the cost of living here is pretty low, especially if you have a place of your own where you can cook etc.

It’s also come to our attention that there’s quite a big ex-pat scene here – they’re mostly based around Bombay’s northern suburbs, as prices are a bit lower there than they are in Colaba and all the film studios are based out there somewhere. There are plenty of fascinating people – artists, filmmakers, writers, producers, etc etc – most of them seem to make a living doing the occasional bit of film / commercial work and spending the rest of their time pursuing their own creative work. Sounds like a good life if you ask me.

It’s a whole world of white Western guilt, though. You can be paid 5,000 rupees to be in an ad, or to tend a bar for a night, for one reason and one reason only: because you have white skin. For all that India is a world away from the Raj these days, there’s still a market for good-looking whiteys – a friend got paid 6,000 rupees the other day to dress up in a silly outfit and stand behind the bar at a party for rich businessmen and other middleclass muthafuckaz. 6,000 rupees is more than our friend Nasir’s daughter’s monthly salary as a PA. It’s crazy.

Still, you take opportunities as they come, I guess. So we’re hoping to be able to take a seat on the gravy train. Hopefully we can make enough from writing and photography to support ourselves anyway, but extra cash is always welcome. With this in mind, we’ve been looking for some accomodation – it’d be nice to be able to cook, watch TV, and just have a place of our own. The place where we looked at a flat was recommended to us by a friend – it’s not so bad if you don’t mind a 10-minute through the slums to get there, although it’s a bit far away for our liking. We’re going to let it ride for now (after all, you don’t want to look too eager), but if the price is right, we’ll take it.

Now we’ve got the computer, we should be able to post photos pretty regularly. In the meantime, must piss off and get some lunch.

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