vlog entry

VloMo08 : day22 - drupal cms as a blog

VloMo08 : day22 - drupal cms as a blog

I recorded this in reply to Rupert's rant about the inadequacies of blog format for posting videos online. every time I tried to upload it though my net connection in the hotel dropped out. so uploading now that I'm home

I think drupal / CMS is good for posting videos and highlighting promoted videos / content. it's great for collaborative projects too and the taxonomy / categories is one of it's best features

VloMo08 day 22


blog post :

VloMo08 : day22 - drupal cms as a blog from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day21 - bubbles of nothing

zooming in on my glass of coke - the bubbles look like streams of leds or laser pulses


mumbai / bombay


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VloMo08 : day21 - kids & kites

in January if you look at the sky in Delhi (& likely other parts of India) you'll see the kids on the roof of the apartment buildings flying kites. they do this in the festival season

this evening as we were leaving I saw a boy on a roof near the road flying a kite so I grabbed the camera

sorry I probably didn't explain it properly and the guys I was with didn't want to speak on camera

in january there's a kite festival - in delhi on this day there's more kites than birds in the sky and children on the flat roofs of the apartment blocks flying the kites. so I always look out for them now. but there seems to be less other times of the year. so this was a nice surprise across the road from the office as we were leaving work this afternoon - to see a boy flying a kite and a few others in the sky.

this video was taken in mumbai but I've spent more time in delhi - so it's always interesting to see the similarities / differences in the different cities, as the languages, religions and some customs are different in different regions in india.

from :

Kite Festival
14 January is celebrated in India as Makar Sankranti - heralding the transition of the sun into the Northern hemisphere. It is also a big kite day in most parts of India when children from 6 to 60 can be seen with their heads turned to the sky. In Jaipur kites virtually blot out the sky. Everyone joins in this riotous celebration and shouts of " Woh Kata Hai !" reverberate from rooftops to the accompaniment of drums as adversaries’ kites are cut down. And everyone’s an adversary! Any kite in the sky is fair game.


mumbai / bombay

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VloMo08 : day21 - street stories

I think there's at least a couple of hundred stories & characters to be written from any street scene.

this one's zoomed in on my Nokia N95 - the video quality isn't that good when you zoom in to record video, but it's good enough for a reminder for me. I'm playing it at 1/2 speed - not sure if that saves or not.

I didn't capture the women in black unfortunately - will try again next week.

mumbai / bombay

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NaVloPoMo - National Videoblog Posting Month 2007

NaVloPoMo - National Vlog Posting Month 2007 is a project where people from around the world posted one video each day in November

the videos were hosted on ning.com.

mefeedia also collated the navlopomo07 videos

my videos from this project are on this site (aliak.com) using the navlopomo07 tag / category


my 2008 VloMo08 videos are on aliak.com using the VloMo08 category / tag

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VloMo08 : day20 - blue meter cab

in Mumbai they have black and yellow cabs and powder blue cabs. I love the seats and the old steering wheels & gear shift control on the steering wheel, single front bench seat, door handles & windown winders. they remind me of a cross between the old Holden cars (Mum had one whilst growing up - I've seen the photo) and the old Hilman Hunter car Mum had when we were growing up. though it had split seats in the front. these cars have new motors - they're just built in the old shape - ambassador car style as the tourists and locals like them this way.

in other cities the cabs are similar but different colours - eg they're white in delhi, and there's a 'cool cab' variation which means it's got air conditioning, and costs slightly more.

this ride cost Rs50 but I gave him 100 since he didn't try to rip me off like the other driver. the meter is on the outside of the cab but it didn't work. it's probably been broken whilst driving at some stage. I think it'd be safer to put it inside like in the rickshaws.

if I was a writer I think India would the perfect place to come to be inspired for creating stories and characters. whenever I drive past the little stores and street stalls and people walking around I imagine their lives and stories. I wish I could capture it with the camera, though I don't like zooming in on people much and it's impossible to capture the essence properly whilst driving past anyway. plus the roads are so bad, that it's hard to even hold the camera stable. I like reading books by local authors, especially if they talk about street / urban stories. Rohinton Mistry is a great author for these things. the books & stories I've bought recently have been great too but they seem to be more middle class stories. I'd like to hear more from the poorer people to see what they're thinking.



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VloMo08 : day20 - empowerment and laundry

my laundry is back - this trip I had bad luck with laundry - it's taken 3 days to wash my clothes, which meant I ran out this morning. it's my own fault really - I should have asked for the form on the first day, and I should have either brought more underwear or put the clothes in to be washed sooner.

the first day the form was missing so when I came home in the evening there was a note saying they couldn't do the laundry as I hadn't completed the form. fair enough - I was half expecting this to happen but thought I might be lucky. they left forms and I filled one in and submitted the laundry again yesterday.

the second day, yesterday, I came back in the evening one of my shirts was on the bed with a 'customer confirmation' note asking me to confirm that there was a hole in my shirt. it's an old shirt, so yes there was a hole. I called them and said it was ok / confirmed and they collected the shirt, but said this had held up the whole wash. so instead of washing the other clothes and leaving this shirt out, none of my clothes were washed.

which meant I'd run out of clothes for today! so I was washing underwear out this morning in the sink and drying it with the hairdryer. a fun way to spend the morning!

in thinking about this - it is similar to many other things that happen here. people don't seem to be as empowered to make small decisions. I've seen it at work in various departments and also whilst out & about & at the hotels in many visits to india. there seems to be one person to do one small task in the chain of an overall task, and they can't complete their step without approval. which means there's delays further down the line or something is passed on without being checked / worked on. at least the hotel notified me of the problem! I read similar behaviours / scenarios in the "Globality" book as I was flying to India so I don't think my experiences are unique. it sounds like it's a common experience for many companies doing business here. some people get really annoyed & angry about it. I think it's best to understand the reasons for it and try to anticipate what might happen, then give the people the empowerment to allow them to complete their tasks. otherwise, the business might end up 'drying their underwear with a hairdryer' as a work around (so to speak) too!

tonight I arrived home and my laundry was there - all beautifully, if not, redundantly (!!) individually wrapped and hung. beautiful presentation.



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VloMo08 : day19 #2 - lunch time rick

lunch time rickshaw ride to the restaurant. there wasn't too much traffic, so there's not crazy driving like you can see sometimes. the fumes from the rickshaws are pretty strong so they're best for short rides / distances only - they use CNG / compressed natural gas. it cost Rs1.40 - so cheap!!



VloMo08 : day19 - lunch time rick from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day19 - taxi drive to work

this is the drive to work in a local taxi. I should have kept the camera running as he overcharged me and wanted me to use him every day to & from work. the drivers always ask this. they ask how long you're here for then tell me they'll give me their number so I can call them. the previous 2 nights it's cost Rs50 to drive home - in peak hour traffic in a local taxi. this ride cost me Rs250. but I got a handwritten receipt from him. I forgot to ask / check that the meter was running. usually if the driver doesn't try to rip me off I give them more money, just for being nice. I shouldn't complain too much, Rs50 is about $1.50 and $250 is $7.75 so both are very cheap, it's just the multiplication factor - this morning's taxi driver was 5 times as expensive!

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VloMo08 : day18 #2 - hotel quirks + (hare) krsna consciousness

a quick look at my mumbai hotel room, plus one of the quirks of Indian hotels - I'm not really complaining about them, it's almost a 'game' to work out / discover what's missing each night (yes, small things amuse me - sometimes there's not a lot to do in hotel rooms on business trips :)

I stayed in india for almost a year in 2006 then lived in other countries and forgot some of the quirks, or rather differences here compared to home, so this video just mentions a couple so I can trigger my memory again - notes to self really. I know I shouldn't think these sorts of things are a big deal & i don't really, especially when I think about how some of the people are living outside, and here I am talking about missing towels... & most of these things are very stereotypical. if I was reading them on someone else's blog I'd wonder what the big deal is. so perhaps in writing them down / videoing them it's like therapy for myself to enforce that things are just different - no better, or no worse in than home. I'm hoping they'll be a future reminder / wake up call for me to remember how lucky I am and what a priviledged life I lead and to try stop being so consumer centric when I get home and get comfy in home life again and these memories fade. the people here are really nice - some of the nicest I've ever met, and that's more important than these quirks in the end.

things like crossing the road and almost getting hit by cars every time - at least for the first couple of weeks till you get used to it then you don't notice any more and have no fear and walk in between cars & rickshaws & their traffic tetris driving skills - every day could be your last here! you get used to it and don't notice after a while, until you go away then come back. the pace is different, the value of life is different. things happen here that don't happen elsewhere.

today we had lunch at a hotel restaurant (they have better hygene standards so there's less chance of getting sick afterwards). I had a toasted cheese & tomato sandwich and some chips (thin french fries). they put tomato sauce in a little container on the table, so I spooned some onto my plate to dip. after we'd finished, I noticed they cleared the plates, but put the tomato sauce container into the cupboard where the menus are kept - I think they might reuse it for other people! this isn't probably the end of the world, but then I remembered I sacrificed my tomato sauce & mustard containers to a family of flies during lunch at the hotel pool on the weekend. there were too many flies around as I was outside and it was really hot. so I pushed the sauces over to the edge of the table and the flies went for them instead of my food (obviously I wasn't having the sauces). so I remembered this and thought "oh no, I hope they don't reuse the sauces at the hotel I'm staying at or someone's (possibly me!) is going to be dipping in sauces that flies have been walking in & eating from" - & u never know where the flies have been before that as there's plenty of horrid things for them to crawl in by the side of the road!! I had sauce tonight, but I gave it a good checking over first. I'm sure it's not reused, but when you see things like that it brings out the worst thoughts in your mind!

it's just the little things in life.

back to the video - then I show the books found in the drawers here - the Gideon Holy Bible which is pretty standard in most hotels, except those I stayed in Jerusalem which had the Torah / Tanhk instead. and the Bhagavad-gita - which is the Hare Krishna book on krsna consciousness - this is the 'as it is' version ie non-interpreted Indian version, presented 'as is'. I like the pictures :) I've been reading this out loud and recording it tonight. it's strange reading out loud - I hardly ever hear my voice, only the voice in my head reading. my pronounciations are shocking! especially of the sanskrit words (or perhaps they're hindi? I'm not sure) I thought reading out loud might help with that.

and yes, I do understand and can see the irony in posting about quirks here and then reading the krsna consciousness writings & philosophy

VloMo08 : day18 - hotel quirks + (hare) krsna consciousness


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VloMo08 : day18 - on chai (tea)

the guys in the office explained chai (tea), one of the most popular drinks in India. the spices (masala) are different in different regions so chai tastes different wherever you are. for 3Rs a pop, it's a bargain too! mmm masala

when I was in Turkey/Istanbul, tea was called cay & pronounced the same as chai. so it's interesting to see the commonalities in language / phonetics too.

VloMo08 : day18 - on chai (tea)


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VloMo08 : day17 - book purchases whilst in India

I actually recorded this video on 09/11/2008 but it was a large file and my computer's been playing up during exporting so I've only had time to compress it tonight.

these are the books I purchased at Mid Land Book store whilst in Delhi. I always buy the annual Sarai Reader - a collection of research papers & project documentation from India and around the world. they always have something that I'm not familiar with - different issues are covered - urban issues, social issues, resettlements, voices of local people, keeping or documenting traditional methods in art & social / community circles + more. the books are available online as pdfs so I've read some of the chapters but I like to have a paper copy as I find them easier to read.

the bookstore owner recommended other books for me to try - mostly feminist books & topics! there were so many that looked really interesting & informative, but I chose one from each publishing house so I can buy more later. some were part of a series on varying topics.

I have a blog post on my site about (some) women in india links + details on the books in case anyone would like to find out more or read them too :

I'm not speaking very clearly in the video - I'm not used to talking & filming at the same time and I should have collected my thoughts a bit more before I started, but I don't have the energy to redo it so it is what it is :) & pulp fiction is different to the graphic novels (both were talked about at sarai i-fellows conference - but it's not clear from what I said in the video). the book "Delhi" is written by Khushwant Singh - sorry! I forgot his name whilst recording the video :(

I'm part way reading through the interviews with women writers & the short stories & the tamil pulp fiction books. yet to start the others - it might take me a while to finish. so far they're all great purchase choices! the interview book is especially interesting as it seems there were many topics that women were 'not meant to write about' in india up until, say the 1990s. I might have to find a collection of younger writers to compare with - though I note there's been quite a few younger Indian writers winning or being nominated for various international writing prizes.

VloMo08 : day17 - book purchases whilst in India



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VloMo08 : day16 - Patta Chitra Katha - traditional folk art of storytelling using visual language

today I watched a video Senthil Kumar posted a video on WADI facebook group called "Arjuna the Archer : AD 2008" - it was based on the techniques of Patta Chitra Katha

I wanted to find out more about this artform and technique, so I googled (without much luck, due to googling the wrong things) and asked the Sarai reader list and received lots of helpful information from many people. after reading about it, it reminds me a bit of the multi-media of a few hundred years ago. multiple paintings / panels on scrolls are read and music played whilst they're read, so there's a mixture of images, music, text, written / spoken word. the artists travel to different villages - equivalent to the communication methods / networks of today transmitting the multimedia messages & works. originally the works were made on cloth using vegetable based paints but these days modern paints are used and most works are done on paper. I hope the traditional methods are not lost completely! the style of painting comes from Orissa and West Bengal. modern artists use both traditional, classical topics as well as current topics & stories - they are trying out new variations of the art too, to keep the method alive and to learn new techniques & skills.

I wrote a blog post (ongoing) about Patta Chitra Katha @ http://www.aliak.com/content/patta-chitra-katha-traditional-folk-art-sto...

VloMo08 - day16


VloMo08 : day16 - Patta Chitra Katha - traditional folk art of storytelling using visual language from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day15 - Dhobi Ghat Mumbai - public laundry

Dhobi Ghat is a public outdoor laundry where clothes of the local people and hospital & school laundry is done. it's cool to watch - hard work. I asked if the women do this too and he mentioned they wash on other days but that it's heavy duty work so is mostly done by men. it's one of the icons of Mumbai. it's next to a train station where you can see the old trains with people hanging out the doors on weekdays - another iconic image of Mumbai.

VloMo08 : day15 - Dhobi Ghat Mumbai - public laundry


blog entry :


VloMo08 : day15 - Dhobi Ghat Mumbai - public laundry from kath on Vimeo.

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VloMo08 : day14 - Mumbai clear skies & hotel

the only place I've seen clear skies whilst in India this trip has been whilst flying above the clouds. often when you're above the clouds you can still see glimpses of the ground whislt there's still light - but the Delhi - Mumbai flight I took 14/11/2008 had a constant thick blanket of smog.

another thing to be lucky for - back home the skies are so clear and blue. this is going into winter in India so there's usually less blue skies, but the smog seems heavier than I remember from 2006 - perhaps I've been away too long.

Mumbai airport is really nice - I thought I'd taken a video but can't find the clip. the hotel I'm staying at is not far from the airport and has an amazing, grandiose foyer - each room opens to the foyer. it's the Intercontinental "The Grand" Hotel. owned by a wealthy, prominent Indian family / company - when you turn on the tv you see a documentary about the owner's life & the story of how he built hotels, and manufactured cars + more.



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