Global Citizen Festival India – Coldplay

img_5967So, this was one of the most awaited days for thousands of people in Mumbai who waited for 16 years to watch their favourite band live. At this moment, I wasn’t feeling too bad about missing out on Coldplay in London.

fullsizerender-3And, it wasn’t only Coldplay that everyone was thrilled about, Global Citizen has a lineup that had something for everyone to be excited about. International performances like Pop star Demi Lovato, the king of rap Jay-Z, all the Bollywood stars like Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachan, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar and much more putting up various acts and even giving singing a shot which you don’t get to see often. It doesn’t end here there were political leaders, business tycoons making appearances to talk about sustainable development and how all of us can be involved in being global citizens.

The Prime Mister couldn’t be physically present but he made sure to give us a shout out virtually, and the crowd couldn’t stop chanting “Modi, Modi, Modi” but Chris Martin and the band stole the show.

fullsizerender-5I mean, Coldplay is one of the best bands in the world and their concerts are like a dream, I should say the band has been very generous to do their entire show here in India along with Global Citizen.

fullsizerender-1Coldplay was definitely the highlight of the evening, and surely worth waiting for 6 hours and more over 16 years. The band’s lead singer Chris Martin won all our hearts by collaborating with A R Rehman and singing ‘Vande Mataram’ (India’s National Song) and then jamming up a Bollywood song ‘Channa Mareya’ with Sky Full Of Stars. Coldplay created a magical paradise with their set up which, was full of colours, confetti and balloons. Words can’t even describe the feeling and the experience while the band performed, I really wish I could just rewind that evening just to hear ‘Fix You’ all over again. This was undoubtedly one of the best evenings of my life so far.

fullsizerenderAbout Global Citizen, I love the concept of merging a festival with a cause, here in India Global Citizen focused on three Sustainable Development Actions out of 19. And I personally believe those are very much required in India. Bollywood stars, Cricketers and Ministers addressed the crowd on – Gender Equality, Quality Education and Water and Sanitation.

fullsizerender-6Seeing, the response of the crowd and people of Mumbai I am sure everyone’s hoping for the festival to come back to India very soon and see the youth of India become Global Citizens by taking actions towards sustainable development.

Lastly, Chris Martin if you ever happen to read this or stumble upon this article, thank you for coming to Mumbai and giving us the best 2 hours of our lives and I believe the millions of fans in India would love to have Coldplay tour here in India with the kaleidoscope EP.
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Let’s Talk About My City

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So for today’s post, I decided to talk to about my city Mumbai. Most of you’ll know this where I have been born and brought up in South Mumbai, so I thought why not give you’ll an insight about this magnificent city. Mumbai isn’t your average big city; it’s very different from any other big city. It is definitely the city of dreams in India; it’s the city where the magic happens. This dynamic multi-cultured city that never sleeps, all year round you can experience different festivals being celebrated from various regions and cultures across India.

This city is has got something in store for everyone, no kidding! From the famous starry Bollywood industry to millionaire slums (however ironic this sounds, it’s pretty damn true) this is not it, if you’re a finance brainchild or a creative media person, Mumbai has it all for you. For a foodie, there are endless options, from the famous street food like our vada pav and chaats to some of the best fine dine restaurants. But for food, I think India itself has so much to offer like literally, every state in India has it’s own cuisine and speciality. Read more about Mumbai’s street eats here.

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But, apart from all this what makes this city so special, it’s the PEOPLE that make this city what it is. I have never come across people that are so humble, helpful and they just don’t fail to make you feel comfortable. If you tend to interact with people in the city, there is story everyone will have on how they made a living in Mumbai. Everyone here is so approachable and friendly, language, age barrier isn’t even a problem to ask someone for help here, cause irrespective of that people will always offer a helping hand. One thing I have noticed over the years is that most people in the city are extremely energetic and passionate about what they do, A story of a driver coming to Mumbai with absolutely nothing, he even spent nights on the railway station taking up odd jobs, soon he got employed as a taxi driver and he noticed he was catering to a lot of foreigners as he used to work near the airport. He felt the need to learn basic English, which he did, thereafter he could communicate with a lot of people and this expanded his horizons. Little did he know, in a years time he bought his own car and started a personalised tourist taxi service in Mumbai and couple of years later he even opened his own Indian fast food restaurant in the city. This was pretty inspirational that from having nothing to owning a company and restaurant, for this he had to say “this was possible for me to do only in Mumbai as in a smaller city, he wouldn’t have the aspirations to become big”.  Well, that being said I believe that if you are truly passionate about something, there’s nothing that can stop you in life.

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This was a little glimpse into my city Mumbai,  which is the fourth most populated city in the world and on of the fastest growing cities, and the city of dreams in India. And it’s the only city that gives me the feeling of home.I would love to know about your city and what makes it special.

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Stereotypes and misconceptions about India 

Stereotypes & Misconceptions about India

Recently at a bar in Mumbai, I had a strange encounter with these white guys from Europe traveling across India for a month. Well, it was strange cause, I was surprised what they though of India and us Indians to be, and it made me realise how every white person who comes to visits India or even interacts with us, has a few preconceived thoughts and stereotypes about India. This wasn’t my first experience, while living in the UK I’ve had people ask me questions like “are you allowed to date?”, “why don’t you have an Indian accent?” and the list could go on. I had to keep explaining that India is not what they see in movies or they hear about. It’s really big and diverse, and they’d be so surprised with what I would tell them. Not everything you’d hear about is false, but there is a lot of stuff that’s exaggerated and has just created a bizarre image about India, which is why explaining myself about India, that it’s not what you may think it is.

Indian isn’t a language:

So a lot of foreigners, assume Indian to be a language, and it isn’t that’s our nationality. I was communicating with a taxi driver in Hindi (our national language) and I was asked by one a foreigner, if I was talking to them in “Indian” well they meant Hindi which obviously I corrected. So, a fun fact here, Hindi is our national language, besides this there are 28 official languages spoken across India and over 200 dialects. Yes, this would be probably one of the most diverse nation in the world.

Curry isn’t the only Indian food and not every Indian eats spicy:

India has mastered the art of making curries, but there are debates and conflicts about curry being originated from England (does England like taking credit for everything we do?) non the less, if you’re visiting India, curry isn’t the only thing you should be trying, there is a variety of dishes such as South Indian food like idlis, dosas or chaats like bhel, aloo vada and there’s lot more you could find here. Now getting to our spice tolerance level, for the record not everyone in India can eat spicy, example myself, I have tears streaming down my face if my food has too much chilli. So next time you’re hanging with an Indian, don’t assume they’re spice superman, you’d be surprised to see that you could probably eat spicier food than your Indian mate.

Dating is a taboo:

So, I encountered this experience twice once in London and in Mumbai when I met these blokes from Amsterdam, who tried flirting, but I wasn’t responsive and the next thing they said to me was, “Oh you’re not allowed to date right, you’ll have an arrange marriage.” To he honest, this really pissed me off, cause you know nothing about my life to comment and coming back to our culture, arrange marriages do exist, but as time has passed by, everyone’s allowed to date find who they like and this doesn’t mean if someone’s flirting, I need to give them what they’re looking for. Times have changed, and arrange marriages exist in the rural areas of India and those marriages seem to be lasting a lifetime so I don’t see what’s wrong in that. Guys, honestly watch out before passing comments like this, it is quite personal and offensive.

Every woman would be in a Sari:

When I was a part of an exchange program in college, while talking to these students they told me they didn’t carry their normal clothes as it would be “too revealing” for India and most girls and women would be dressed in saris is what they heard. This has been one of the most false statements I’ve heard, like my mum doesn’t even know how to drape a Sari forget wearing it everyday. Saris are beautiful and elegant, they are worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals, not on everyday basis. In big cities like Mumbai and Delhi girls would be dressed in normal jeans and tops, or even dresses for night outs. And working women wearing indo-western clothes to work which would be wearing a scarf along with your jeans, or a longer top known as “kurta”. We live a pretty updated fashion world, so please get this mindset off and Saris are beautiful.

The Indian Accent:

So every white person thinks the Indian accents in very think and loud, how they mimic us in all the American tv shows saying “what are you doing?” I’m sure you’re imaging the accent while reading this. Now, open up your mind, not every Indian has that accent, we are very well spoken and let me repeat myself about the diversity in languages in India. Literally accents in English change from city to city, people in UK were pretty surprised by my accent as it wasn’t the thick accept you’d have imagined and wouldn’t guess that I was Indian. I’ve been fortunate enough to get the best education which allows me to speak well, but seriously that accent you’d very rarely find across India, maybe if you go down to south India (which is also the most literate part of the country).

These are a few stereotypes I’ve come across, and what people thought about India and sometimes I found it really frustrating about having to explain my about things like this, and such stereotypes did exist but but everything has evolved over time, and sometimes a lot of things could be offensive if you have failed to be opened minded about a country and its culture. So, if you’re visiting India with an open mind I can assure having a life changing experiencing the culture here, seeing two sides to India and be mind boggled with diversity in one country its self.

High Tea At The Taj Falaknuma Palace

The Falaknuma Palace represents the luxurious lifestyle of the late Nizam, this palace was built-in the 1890’s with Italian marble, timeless architectural design is spread over 93,971 square metres.
What are truly admire about palaces in India is the intricate details to everything even in those times, this palace was no exception to this. Located up hill in Hyderabad, this iconic palace is now taken over by the Taj Group and converted into one of India’s luxury hotels giving you a Nizam style living experience.

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Reception area at the Taj Falaknuma Palace with Italian marble interiors 

While I was visiting the palace I happen to meet a couple of people staying at the hotel and I really wanted to know what it was like living in this fabulous crib, and they told me its an experience that comes with the hefty price tag, but is truly worth it if you can afford paying £350 a night.

Well, what comes with that price is a king size stay with butler services, spas, breakfast in bed and all the prince and princess pampering that you’d imagine of.

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Stairs that lead you to the ballrooms 

But, don’t be disappointed you can get an essence of the luxuries at the palace by opting for high-tea or dinner with a guided tour around the palace just for £30 this is the fair deal I opted for, and this the only way you would be able to get into the palace. I must say they are quite stringent on rules to let people come visit ever since the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel, which is understandable.

So my evening started by being warmly greeted and taken to the palace in a chariot (how I wish that was true), but as you go up, there is a chariot right outside the palace for visitors to take pictures. After strolling around for a bit, we were all called in to take the palace tour, I got to be honest here I felt like I was in school doing this with another bunch of tourists or locals coming to dine here. This tour comes free along with high-tea or dinner.

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Chariot at the entrance of the palace 

As the tour starts, I noticed the high ceilings at the reception and the grand staircases going up, and now it was time to absorb all the facts and figures of this beauty. So, to begin with the palace consists of 22 halls and 60 rooms lavishly furnished and decorated with paintings, artifacts, one of kind master pieces and chandeliers. Falaknuma is known for its largest Vientiane chandler collection with 40 being only in the hall. It’s also known for its unique jade collections and paintings of well-known personalities.

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Crystal Ballroom with an infinite chandler reflection 

Thereafter, we arrived in the Nizam’s games/activity room, this room was where he would spend most of this time with friends playing chess, billiards on the one of a kind billiards table which is designed by Burroughs and Watts who designed two identical billiards tables out of which one being in the Buckingham Palace and the other at Falaknuma. Then, I noticed this massive hookah pot which had five pipes and was probably two feet tall. Wow, the Nizam could smoke quite a bit I must say.

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Burroughs & Watts Billiards table 

Now, we moved to the ballrooms, it’s absolutely magical with beautiful tapestry and glittering chandeliers, imagine having your party or wedding in one of these ballrooms it would be a complete fairytale. Moving on to the dining hall where the worlds longest table is with 100 guests can be seated on the table at once, here the chairs are made of carved rosewood and green leather upholstery and the tableware is made of gold and crystal. This is open to guests with a minimum booking of 20 guests.

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100 seater dining table – worlds biggest dining table 

The tour was about to end, and I almost lost my way around wandering in the palace, the only bit that was left was the bedrooms and library which was a replica from the Windsor Castle having the best Quran collection here. Going back to the reception, it was time for tea at the coffee shop.

 

I was really excited and hungry about by this time, after a day of work, walking around the palace I needed this to fuel me. There are two types of high-tea that you can choose from The Nizam Special – this has a variety of arabic teas and indian snacks along side or The English Tea – you can choose from a variety of green & black teas which are served with sandwiches, scones and parties. Knowing my palette I chose the English Tea.

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High-tea with a view

I have to talk about the great hospitality I was provided here, at first my tea was served indoors and it was about evening time. I noticed there was a terrace area and requested to be shifted there to enjoy the city view while the sun goes down and I sip on my tea. Though there was dinner setting being laid out outside, the staff made arrangements for my tea to be shifted there, which I thought was nice, they ensured all the guests were provided with first class service.

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And finally, managed to get someone to take my picture (even though its unclear)

This was definitely a blissful experience and of the best ways to spend my evening in Hyderabad. Whenever you would be visiting this city, a visit to the Taj Falaknuma would be a must. Make sure, you call the restaurant and make reservations as they could deny you entry at the palace if your name is not at the entrance.

And if you’re staying here, I am pretty sure you’d have a once in a life time king size experience.