Kashish: Mumbai’s Queer Film Festival

Author: , May 29th, 2015

Kashish Film Festival Director

One of the most eagerly awaited events in the city’s (and indeed, the country’s) queer calendar is the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, which will take place from May 27, simultaneously at the capacious art deco Liberty Cinema at Marine Lines, and the cosier Alliance Francaise headquarters at Theosophy Hall, barely a stone’s throw away.

Spanning five days, the sixth edition adds the Max Mueller Bhavan in Kala Ghoda as its latest venue, in part to accommodate a ‘biggest ever’ haul of 180 films from 44 countries that fill up an expansive itinerary of films that promises to keep even the most inveterate festival-goers on their toes.

While cinema remains the primary focus, there will be some intriguing sidelights. For instance, the limited programme at the Max Mueller Bhavan will be flagged off with a reading (on May 29) of Don’t Let Him Know, the compelling first novel by Sandip Roy, released by Bloomsbury Publishing in January this year.

By Vikram Phukan – Full Story at Mid-Day | India Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events

Gay Travel in India – Glorious and Intimidating

Author: , May 28th, 2014

Gay Travel in IndiaTraveling to India is both glorious and, well, a little intimidating. For even the most seasoned adventurer, this vibrant nation teeming with people, flavors and energy can seem more complex than other destinations, especially when it comes to trip planning. But even though cultural, religious and plain old logistical differences abound, a passage to India can be the most exciting journey you’ll ever take.

Having traveled to northern India in 2010, I gained a good sense of just how helpful both patience and flexibility can be upon booking a flight to this country of 1.2 billion souls. One learns very quickly that in India everything from transportation and lodging, to dining and attractions sometimes can be not just confusing, but bewildering – especially for a solo traveler, and perhaps more so for a solo lesbian.

Not one to be easily daunted, this year I was called back for a second visit to this exotic land, this time to Mumbai with a side trip to the state of Goa. Both locales have tourist-friendly reputations, and because I have a pair of queer friends in Mumbai I was especially eager to check out this city rapidly emerging as a world capital, complete with a burgeoning gay scene.

By Kelsy Chauvin – Edge Boston | India Gay Travel Resources

Mumbai’s Gay Pride March Has Record Turn-Out in Wake of Anti Gay Decision

Author: , February 3rd, 2014

Mumbai Gay Pride 2014

Photo: Artist At Work Productions – AAW via Facebook

It was a record turnout for Mumbai’s seventh gay pride parade where some 5,000 people marched from August Kranti Marg to Girgaum Chowpatty on Saturday afternoon, according to organisers.

Pallav Patankar, co-organiser of the parade and director of HIV services at Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based LGBT community organisation, told Gay Star News that “Mumbai has woken up to the fact that it has LGBTcitizens” and that members of the LGBT community are now more “hopeful and willing to fight it out by interfacing with politicians and speaking about queer rights” than before.

In 2009 the Delhi High Court declared section 377, a law which criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and widely interpreted to refer to gay sex, to be unconstitutional. Violation of the law can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.

Authored By Sylvia Tan – See the Full Story at Gay Star News

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

India: Mumbai Film Festival Begins Tomorrow

Author: , October 16th, 2013

India

from Google News

Although the International Film Festival of India is often touted as the country’s biggest cinematic event, the one held in Mumbai every October is by far the most impressive. The 15th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival — which begins its roll on October 17 — has been for some years now lining up brilliant movies, both in its competition section and sidebars.

This year, the Festival with its large canvas of 200 films from 65 countries, will open with Lee Daniels’ The Butler. An inspiring story of an American southerner who served no less than seven Presidents in the White House — from Eisenhower to Reagan — the work is a touching journey of a man who began his life in the cotton fields of Georgia and ended up as a White House staffer, played by Forest Whitaker. The movie marks the return of Oprah Winfrey, who co-stars with Whitaker. She was last seen in the 1998 Beloved.

Authored By Gautaman Bhaskaran – See the Full Story at the Gulf Times

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

Mumbai: Thousands March for Gay Pride

Author: , February 6th, 2013

IndiaMumbai was colored rainbow on Saturday for the fifth Queer Azaadi Mumbai pride march.

Two-thousand people marched for LGBT rights urging the Indian government not to overturn the 2009 Delhi High Court decision to decriminalize gay sex.

‘Today we March ! Pride is here!’ said one of the organizers Pallav Patankar on Facebook on Saturday.

Authored By – See the Full Story at Gay Star News

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

 

India: Is There a Market in Mumbai for a Gay Hotel?

Author: , April 8th, 2012

The Out NYC recently opened its doors to cater to gay tourists, but is also welcoming straight couples. We look at whether there is a market here for hotels specially targeting same sex couples.

Over the years, pink money has contributed to the success of different sectors, including hospitality, retail, fashion, beauty and travel across the globe, and has seen a considerable contribution to businesses everywhere. In keeping with the growing demands of this community, New York recently got it’s first gay hotel, The Out NYC. Is it time we got one in Mumbai too?

Film director Onir says, “Lots of hotels have reservations about letting out rooms to gay couples. Hence, it would be nice to have a gay-friendly hotel in Mumbai.” However, Vikram Doctor of Gay Bombay, an organisation that creates safe spaces for gay people, believes the concept serves no purpose. He says, “The standards of hospitality are very good and professional in India, so they are not likely to frown upon gay couples who book a room together. Also, I don’t like the idea of having a separate hotel for the gay community. Why can’t we have one hotel for everyone? The New York hotel targetting a gay clientele sounds like a gimmick.”

Full Story from the Times of India

Click here for gay wedding resources in India.

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India: 2,500 Attend Gay Pride in Mumbai

Author: , February 3rd, 2012

A little more than two years after the decriminalization of homosexuality in India, and the country’s LGBT community is taking huge strides forward: Some 2,500 marchers participated in the fourth Mumbai Queer Pride Walk on Saturday, reports Gay Star News.

The procession was the culmination of the weeklong Queer Azaadi Mumbai and spanned from the center of the city to the beach. “People really started dancing once the drums went off,” said parade co-organizer Pallav Patankar, who noticed how much more supportive authorities were than in past years.

Full Story from Gay Cities

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

Mumbai’s Second Gay Film Festival To Be Bigger and Bolder

Author: , May 5th, 2011

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2011, the second edition of India’s only mainstream LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) film fest will be held from May 25-29, 2011, at two venues in Mumbai – a multiplex theater and Alliance Francaise – will show case more than 125 films from over 22 countries. This year, Kashish promotes short films and their filmmakers. Apart from film screenings, the fest will also feature panel discussions with filmmakers, interaction with celebrities and much more…

For further information, please visit website www.mumbaiqueerfest.com

Continuing KASHISH’s mission of showcasing and promoting queer films and their filmmakers, this year too would see some exciting short film packages.

Full Story from

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

Inside Gay Mubai, India

Author: , November 12th, 2010

Gay MumbaiLast year’s reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code effectively decriminalized homosexuality in India — a momentous reversal of 149-year-old British colonial legislation.

A veritable explosion of more visible queer expression followed, with Mumbai quickly emerging as the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) capital of India. Shops, books, talks, films, blogs and personalities together created an exciting network of news.

Now that we’re cruising the last leg of 2010 here’s a list of 10 important voices coming out of Mumbai’s LGBT community, the majority of them in very recent years.

Full Story from CNN Go

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

From Athens to Singapore 10 of 12: India

Author: , November 12th, 2010

by Mike Shaughnessy, Traveler

Email Mike

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

Purple Roofs is happy to welcome back an old friend. Last time, Mike regaled us with tales of his trip through South America. This time, he brings us details from his two month trip from Greece to Singapore. Enjoy!

Conchin, India

The Indian Prime Minister was recently in the US for the President’s State Dinner (I was not the one that crashed that State Dinner as I was on my way to India).  It was just one year ago today that Mumbai was under a major terrorist attack of their train station, famous hotel and a hospital.  Mumbai is more or less back to normal one year later and the locals remember the terror killings and destruction.  The grand Taj Palace Hotel that was under siege and badly burned is still undergoing restoration of the historical wing.

Neighboring Pakistan was once part of the country of India.  This area was originally ruled by Hindu Rajahs until the Muslin Sultans took over.  They in turn were conquered by the superior forces of the Portuguese with Vasco da Gama in command.

When a Portuguese Princess married a British King then the British became the ruler of India.  During this time the British built many Victorian buildings, the railway, colleges, government buildings, art galleries, the port and other nice buildings which are still the pride of India today.

The British changed the name of Mumbai to Bombay and when British rule ended some of their culture, language and customs stayed behind; such as still driving on the left side of the road.

Although I am told that the birth rate has been substantially reduced, India as a country still expands at the rate of 16 million people per year, but some of this is due to immigration.

India is the second largest country in terms of population, after China, but India has all these people occupying only 2% of the world’s land surface.

MUMBAI or BOMBAY

Mumbai, IndiaTake your pick; this city is still referred to by both names.  Mumbai is a city of amazing contrasts of old and new existing side by side, both feeling perfectly normal, and full of wonderful, warm and smiling people.

Some of the statistics of this city of Bombay are staggering:  It is India’s largest city with a nighttime population of 18 million that swells to 21 million during a work day.  There are over 4,000 public buses, more than 57,000 taxis, add to that 100,000 plus auto rickshaws… then add to this the three million that commute by train each day into the city and no wonder the sidewalks are crowded, the streets have chocking traffic and the air is full of pollution.

Mumbai, IndiaEach train is designed to carry about 1,000 passengers but no less than 5,000 people cram into each train.  For this reason there are certain trains that are designated for ladies only.

The main train terminal is Victoria Station, built by the British.  Only 10% of the population owns a car, the rest use public transportation.

I found the following number hard to believe so I had to ask to have it repeated;  58% of the population of Mumbai, IndiaMumbai live on the streets or in shanty towns with no running water and no restroom facilities.  If you saw the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” it was filmed here in Mumbai in one of the shantytowns near the airport.  When it was repeated for me they said that 58% is conservative as it may be over 60%.

In the center of Mumbai there is a large open air laundry facility where about 700 concrete basins are filled with river water.  Men stand barefoot in these basins and slap the wet clothing against the concrete sides to do the laundry.  Since this is hard labor the laundry is done mostly by men, not women; it is then hung on long lines in the sun to dry.  Somehow all the correct clean and dry clothes get returned to the correct people a few days later.

Unfortunately the beautiful Victorian apartment buildings are in terrible disrepair.  This is the result of sixty plus years of rent control in Mumbai.  Many families still pay only $10 per month for their apartment so the landlord cannot afford to maintain the building.  The apartment has passed from generation to generation for sixty years, sometimes the renter ‘sells’ the right to live in the apartment to another renting person but none of this money goes to the building owner.

Near the port and across the street from the Taj Hotel (which was bombed by terrorists one year ago) is the big arch called “Gateway to India”.  This stone archway was built in 1911 to commemorate the visit to India of Queen Mary and King George V of England. This huge stone arch has become the symbol of Bombay.

Mumbai, India

I also paid a visit to the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India; the visit entrance came with a free audio guide so it was easy to enjoy their large collection of historical art and artifacts.

One evening I was on the open air roof top bar of the Intercontinental Hotel overlooking Marine Drive and the bay.  (At night this drive circling the bay is referred to as the Queen’s Necklace because of the street lights).  While at the roof top bar I met several people working for Bill Clinton’s Charitable Foundation in New York City.  They were in Bombay trying to convince local authorities, with Clinton’s charitable support, to invest in a solar initiative to reduce burning of fossil fuels.

Since I was not able to see the skyline of Mumbai during my visit due to the polluted air I certainly hope that they seriously consider Clinton’s help to introduce the use of solar for some of their needs.

In the center of Marine Drive along the bay is a very large nice sandy beach called Chowpatty Beach; this beach is totally vacant during the day because the last thing an Indian wants is any sun that would make their skin darker.  The beach only comes alive at night after the sun goes down. Then the street markets, food stalls, clothing and textile stands, etc. are all pulsating with many people until very late at night.

Mumbai, India

As a light skinned westerner I garnered lots of curious looks everywhere I walked, but a smile would always be returned with a huge smile.  I was told it was not proper to take pictures of any women (I managed a few anyway) but that it is OK to take pictures of men.  Actually the men always wanted their pictures taken and would request it just so they could see themselves on the digital screen.  I never at anytime felt uncomfortable or threatened.

Even though the streets were very crowded everyone was very nice.  Many of these people may not have much in the way of material things but they all have a warm and friendly attitude.

Mumbai/Bombay is both the commercial and entertainment center of India.  After India’s Independence in 1947 Calcutta/Kolkata was the country’s largest city.  However during the 1970s boom Mumbai/Bombay became and retains the largest city designation in India.

I was told that most weddings here are still arranged marriages; they feel it works out better in the long run that way instead of marrying for fleeting love.

Mumbai, India

Weddings are a huge and expensive affair here.  When I say huge a common person would invite 1,200 of their friends to a wedding.  A better off person would invite 3000 to 5000 people to a wedding.

Since the indoor spaces are not large enough to accommodate this many people, weddings are held in outdoor spaces specially made for this purpose, and booked every night for over a year in advance.  Yes, weddings are held at night outside under bright lights, not during the heat of the day, and with thousands of flowers.  There are many of these large specially designed outdoor wedding spaces, one right after the other along a main road in Mumbai.

Bollywood is the name given to the Indian film industry which actually makes more films per year than does Hollywood.  I was told that 80% of their films though are rubbish, made in Hindi language for the locals, with some love, some action and some comedy all thrown in to appeal to as many as possible.

Mumbai, India

One night just for fun I went to a Bollywood movie called “Da Danna Dan”, it was in Hindi language, and I was told the title means something like “Come on Let’s Go”… which is what I did half way thru the movie.  You could get most of the jist of the story just from the visuals, not that the story was award winning.

It is hot and humid here in Mumbai, even now during the cooler winter months.  This city has a razzle-dazzle Indian style that is intense and amazing.  It has both affluence and lots of poverty.  At night it was disturbing for me to see so many people and young children sleeping on the sidewalks and along the train tracks.  I just had to reflect back on their warm smiles earlier in the day.

MORMUGAO or GOA, India

Goa, IndiaSouth of Mumbai by 375 miles is the town called Goa located in the southern Indian state also called Goa.  This area had been settled in the 16th century by the Portuguese so there are many more Christians here than in Bombay.

Goa, IndiaAbout 60% of Goans are Hinduism, 35% Roman Catholic and the rest other:  they practice equal respect for all religions.

One thing for sure about this area of India; it is hilly, there are lots of rivers running into the ocean and the hills are forested and very, very green.  With a minimum four months a year of monsoon rains and very high humidity (May thru September) it is no wonder that things are very green here.

Goa, IndiaWe visited both a very old Hindu Temple and a 16th century Catholic Basilica of Bom Jesus and across the street the Cathedral.  We also walked some of the streets of Old Goa town where the colonial Portuguese architecture buildings are preserved by law.  Being a major port area their staple food here includes fish and seafood as well as rice.

Goa, IndiaAfter 450 years Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule in 1961 and finally attained Indian statehood in 1987.  The country of India contains the second largest railroad network of any country on earth, Russia has the largest, but with the rate that the Chinese are laying tracks they may overtake India.

In terms of number of employees the India Railroad Company is the largest employer in the world.  (Portuguese) Goa has two main train stations connecting it to (British) northern Mumbai India and to the rest of their country.

MANGALORE, India

Mangalore, IndiaStill further south on the west coast of India is the main port city of Mangalore where you see the local people wearing everything from burkhas to blue jeans.  This is mainly a farming and industrial area.  Through this port is exported 75% of India’s coffee, teak lumber, the bulk of its cashew nuts, iron ore and fertilizer.

In addition to the industrial plants the area is characterized by rivers and streams flowing into the sea, red tiled roof buildings made from the Mangalore red clay, rolling green hills and lots of coconut palm trees.

Mangalore, IndiaThere are very few homeless people in this town of about 500,000.  Most everyone is well educated and holds a good job.  The married women perform the role of housewife and seldom leave the home.  It is the men that hold the jobs in commerce, industry and government.

Mangalore, IndiaWith the youngest generation of girls now being educated this will slowly change as they start to enter the work force too.  Also the younger generation generally does not wear the typical sari dresses favoring instead western blue jeans and typical tops or shirts.  They all are a very gentle and nice people with beautiful smiles.

Mangalore, IndiaMangalore is a little more cosmopolitan with a blend of new and old and is one of the fastest growing cities in India because of the influx of students plus many of the outsourcing technology companies have chosen to locate here.  So when you call the help line for your local bank in the USA, the phone may ring here in Mangalore:  “Hello, David speaking, how can I help you” – his real Indian name will be something totally different, of course.

We strolled through the streets and markets and once again I was struck mainly about how rare it is for them to see western ‘white’ tourists here and also how quickly they would break into a big warm smile.  I was frequently asked my name and where I was from; on giving where I live they would say ‘Obama’ and give a hands-up gesture indicating they approve.

There are also supposed to be some nice beach resorts here but we did not have time to visit or see any of them.  It is time to say Happy Hanukkah; wow only about one week left on this cruise and less than two weeks until Christmas!  Where does the time go?

COCHIN or KOCHI, India

Coachin, IndiaCochin located in the Indian state of Kerala is sometimes referred to as “The Queen of the Arabian Sea”.  Cochin is made up of six or so islands and also is likened to the Hawaiian Islands, as it is very tropical with lots of palm trees.

India has, if I remember, 28 different states and each state has a different local language.  It is important to note that these are not different dialects of the same language but they are totally different languages.  So Indians when they travel to different states in India are like foreigners in their own country and may have to use English to speak to each other as English is the one common language in all of their states.  Even the Indian money, the Indian Rupee note, has seventeen different “official” languages printed on it.

I liked Cochin very much, at least now in their ‘winter’ month when it is only hot and slightly humid.  Their only seasons here are hot, hotter and hottest with the most rain and humidity in the summer.

Coachin, India

Cochin is located toward the south western tip of India.  It certainly is the most affluent area of the four places that I have visited in India.  Prior to independence it was ruled at times by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.  After independence this state became the most progressive, literate and highly educated of all the states in India, hence also the most expensive one in which to live.  Cochin is the most important commercial city in the state of Kerala, in fact the second most important city on the entire west coast of India after Mumbai.   The tag line used by the Kerala State Tourism is “God’s Own Country”.

Cochin also is known as spice city and literally tons of Indian spices are exported from here.  There is old town on Fort Cochin Island and the new town on another island that has the high rise apartments and shopping malls.  Under current construction is a high rise Internet City or Silicon Valley as they like to call it, in hopes of attracting in the future more of the out sourcing technology companies and new jobs to come here.  The population of the main city is about 700,000.

In the old town area we visited The Dutch Palace, one of the oldest buildings in the city with amazing hand carved wooden teak ceilings (no photos allowed).  The palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting Hindu scenes.  Like the Mona Lisa, no matter from which angle you look at the paintings the eyes are always looking at you and the feet are pointed toward you, when you move, they move with you.

Conchin, India

We also visited an old Jewish Synagogue, again no photos were allowed inside, when one guy sneaked a photo of the hand-painted, willow patterned tile floor, he was caught by the guard and carted off to the nearby police station!  I was told that only about ten Jews are left living here as they all moved to Israel after that state was created.  In addition to the magnificent Chinese tiles this old synagogue also contains Belgian chandeliers from 1568.

On the way walking toward this synagogue is a nice local market type shopping street called Jew Street with many small stores full of treasures that you must buy.  I bought a silver necklace.

Another interesting place visited was the unique-in-all-of-India “Chinese Fishing Nets”, which are huge nets lowered into the sea by long wooden poles and pulled back out by a rope.  This is actually very easy to do as the weight of the huge net is counter weighted by large stones fixed to the ropes.

All Indian foods are very hot and very spicy and the quantity and nature of the spices used changes from region to region.

Conchin, India

Most public transportation is provided by privately owned buses and the auto rickshaws.  The narrow winding roads make for interesting congestion.

A fun time to be here I think would be during the last ten days of December for the Cochin Carnival, a big merry fest that I will just miss as we leaved before it begins.

We also visited the Christian Catholic Church, the oldest European church in India, Church of St. Francis, where the wooden ceiling looks like and upside down boat.  Inside this church is where Vasco da Gama was first buried before his body was later removed and shipped off to Lisbon for re-burial there.  There is still a tomb stone for him here in the floor of the church.

Most schools and colleges are government run but there are also some privately operated ones for a fee all of which have to be government certified.  English is the medium for instruction in the schools, the first ten years is primary school and then when starting secondary school students must choose one of three main tracts:  arts, commerce or science.

After completing this required education students may optionally enroll in a professional degree program.  Following our sightseeing at the end of the day we took a very relaxing boat cruise in the harbor and backwaters with refreshments including locally grown Indian cashew nuts washed down with coca cola.

Conchin, India

This is my last stop in the country of India.  My most lasting memory of India will always be the warm, welcoming, friendly people with their great big smiles.

Unfortunately for some of our people their visit to India may be best remembered by the bribes and corruption of the local officials.  I had noticed in the port this large blue sign that said “Do not pay bribes” but a lot of good that sign did.  Some people that decided to take a taxi on their own to town instead of the group tour were instead driven to the country where the taxi was turned off and they were refused to be taken to the town unless they first paid the driver a bribe of $100 cash.

Another example, in Goa some of our Indian crew members on our ship had finished their contract term and the Indian crew were disembarking with their luggage to return to their home in India.  The local custom official told each of them that there was something illegal in their luggage and they would be taken to the police station unless they each paid him $100.  They said check my luggage, there is nothing illegal in it but the Indian government custom official said you do not understand, I will find something illegal and you will go to jail instead of home if you do not pay me $100.

The final bribery that I heard about concerned our ship.  In order to leave a port the ship must first have a signed document from the local port official indicating that the ship has been cleared to depart.  Without that signed clearance document the ship is not allowed to arrive and dock at its next port (Thailand).  The Indian port official told our ship officer that his wife needed to throw a large party and she needed $10,000 cash.  The ship called to complain about this bribe, another Indian official arrived and screamed in local language at the port official and then turned to the ship officer and said “OK, he is taken care of but now you pay me the $10,000”.

Conchin, India

I understand that is what our ship had to pay in cash to get our signed clearance to depart India.  The corrupt officials probably split the bribe, who knows.  No wonder so few ships stop in India.

Next year our ship will go to Sri Lanka and other ports and skip India because of the corruption and bribery.  The local Indian people, who I still think are wonderful people, will be the ones that will lose out with future reduction in tourism.

The next stop after crossing the Indian Ocean is Phuket, Thailand.