Historical Wonders / , ,

Murder, Incest, and Fratricide led to The Taj Mahal?

Well, we made it to the Taj Mahal last weekend. Huge. Overwhelming. Magnificent. I wiped away a tear or two.

taj-mahal2

Shah Jahan built it in memory of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. That’s like the awesomest romantic gesture, ever.

But I was also reading William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi at the time. It’s a great book. And according to it, Shah Jahan wasn’t just a mad romantic. He was also the head of one seriously fucked-up family — a generation plagued by incest, murder, harems, fratricide, sororicide and even patricide. It’s less Shakespeare than it is Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 9 Comments
Holy Curiosities / ,

Another Little Bangalore Boat Church

53 weeks ago, I posted about my first boat church. The other day — deep in Bangalore’s Austin Town — I found another.

So what does this represent? St Thomas coming to Kerala? Or Jesus and Mary coming to India? Is the boat a little Fisher of Men? Or the stormy trip to Gerasenes?

How many of these boat churches are there? And when will I find one that’s not empty?

/ by Dean Pickles / 4 Comments
Excellent Products / ,

Damn Strong Tarps

I love this hand-painted ad for Bhadra Tarps. You know they’re tough if even this mustached hunk can’t rip them!

bhadra-tarps

(Then compare to their rather lackluster website. Oh….)

/ by Dean Pickles / 4 Comments
Other Obscura / , ,

Antilia: The Most Gratuitous House in Mumbai

When you’re in Bombay, a great way to get some context is start in the alleyways of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. About a million people live here, crammed into 0.67 square miles.

“It’s like mainlining gratitude for how much we have to be thankful for,” said my old pal Chris.

I couldn’t agree more. But there’s no time to ponder that — hop in a Premier Padmini cab, and zip the few miles downtown to Mukesh Ambani’s 27-floor, 40-storey, $1bn single-family house Antilia,

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/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Shameless Promotion / ,

Happy Holi!

A few days late, but I was pretty drenched.

happy-holi

/ by Dean Pickles / 11 Comments
Great Posters, Sweet Movies and Wild Books / , ,

Amazing Old Bollywood Poster Shops

Somewhere on Mutton Street, in Bombay’s Chor Bazaar, sits a cave of musty sweetness. It’s filled with old movie posters, piled almost six feet high.

poster-stuff

Bollywood Posters (Paperback)


List Price: $34.95 USD
New From: $15.00 USD In Stock
Used from: $4.57 USD In Stock

“You know V. Shataram, yes?” says the pint-sized operator, Khalim, who looks to be about twelve years old. “He’s fantastic, amazing,” he says, flailing his arms. “You must see his movies.” He dives into the center of a thousand posters, and flips through four before he lands on a Shantaram poster. “You must buy this. It’s beautiful!”

Do-Ankhen-Barah-Haath-Bollywood-movie-poster

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/ by Dean Pickles / 61 Comments
Shameless Promotion, The Zombie Files /

On Making Trash Movies

Sorry that I’ve been so lousy about updating the blog… work in India has gone from regular to quite mad. However, expect a couple of good updates coming soon!

In the meantime, I did have time for my first PechaKucha talk, on a lifetime dream that turned out to be more of a nightmare. (PechaKucha: 20 slides for 20 seconds each. Like TEDtalk gone spazzo.) It’s a fun short story… Watch, and let me know what you think!

(The audio guy f’ed up the recording, so I re-recorded most of it on my laptop.)

/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Offbeat Museums / ,

The Quirk of Bangalore Palace

bangalore-palace1-636x310

The old Tudor-style castle in the middle of Bangalore is touted as a tourist must-see. It’s not. But there are three reasons you might want to go… See them at BangBangBangalore.com

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Holy Curiosities /

So this guy walks into a bar…

mela

(Thanks to Julie for the lovely pic of Woo at the Kumbh Mela.)

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Devoted Obsession / ,

Noel Wilson’s Awesome Soccer-Themed House

In a street filled with single-storey houses, Noel Wilson’s juts up like a skinny football-worshipping minaret. It’s bizarrchitecture!

noel-wilson-football-house

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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Holy Curiosities / ,

Hindus Are Buried…?!

I didn’t know Hindus were buried. Like, they’re always cremated, right?

And then we stumbled on our local Hindu graveyard. And realized how wrong we were.

graveyard1_zps09ce07ef

The Bangalore architect laughed at me when I asked him about it later.

“That’s the great white myth,” he said. “You Westerners still like to romanticize us Indians like the colonialists. But it’s not true. These days, most of us Hindus prefer to be buried.”

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/ by Dean Pickles / 12 Comments
Great Posters, Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

Great New Indian Sidewalk Movie Posters

First, does anyone know where in Bangalore, or perhaps India, I can get cardboard mailing tubes for posters? They just don’t seem to be available. What is this nonsense!!!

Second, if you missed these posts about the grand outsider Ramachandraiah sidewalk posters, see them now!

Batch 1:
harry potter
Original sidewalk posters for Harry Potter, Tintin and more
Batch 2:
moogamudiMore real work, including American and Indian superheroes!
Batch 3:

Custom-made posters including M, The Third Man, Suspiria, Wild at Heart, and Sixteen Candles.

Third, here’s the new batch of Bangalore-style sidewalk posters Ramachandraiah did for some more of my favorite movies…

My Neighbour Totoro

ganesh-talkies-totoro

I’d really wanted to see how they’d handle a Ghibli film… we’ve been doing Miyazaki marathons here at the Husainabad apartment building, and I thought they’d pair perfectly with his style. Sure enough, they did. The Kannada title of this film translated to something like “Nice Monster Friend!” Cute, huh?

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/ by Dean Pickles / 24 Comments
Pretty Pictures / , ,

Beautiful Thanaka

It’s Woo’s birthday today. Whoohoo! She took this dazzling picture in Burma. It reminds me of the Diane Arbus girls from so many years ago…

Wish her Happy Birthday at her (way un-updated) blog, TheWooLand Hotel.

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

A Lovely Moment from Ghungroo

Standing alone, so desperately alone, she waits outside the Odeon. Will he come? Oh, will he ever come?

 photo indian-film-still_zps73bc414c.jpg

This lobby card for Rajendra Jain’s Ghungroo, which I pulled ripped and bent from a stack at Balaji’s Rare Antiques, reminds me of college. Although I didn’t wear a sari.

 photo indian-film-still-detail_zpsca9608be.jpg

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Extraordinary Eats, Top Stories / ,

21 Amazing Bangalore Breakfast Dishes

The first time I saw the menu, I was lost. Sure, I knew dosas and idlis, but that was as far as it went. The other items were utterly alien to me.

indian-menu

And so I did the only thing I could: I decided to eat them all.

Norpro Nonstick Cast Aluminum Danish Aebleskiver Filled Pancake Pastry Pan New (Kitchen)


List Price: $29.99 USD
New From: $19.20 USD In Stock
Used from: $21.62 USD In Stock

It took longer than expected. Tasted better than expected. And added more pounds than I would have thought possible. But here they are…

Pongal

Poongal

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/ by Dean Pickles / 94 Comments
Nazis Nazis Nazis / ,

Hitler Loves Metropolis

But do you really need to promote it that way?

metropolis-dvd-2

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

The Great Poster Contest

So yesterday I got up to some dark nonsense… I ordered 600 more Bangalore sidewalk posters. You know, like these….

But not any of those. Chronologically, the movie’s leads were Buster, Louise, Glenn, Lloyd, Hayao, Johnny. Hint: might be directors. Hint: four are Americans. Hint: If you know my taste in film, and my obsessions, you should be able to work it out, right? Right??? Okay, here are two giveaway clues:

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/ by Dean Pickles / 7 Comments
Great Posters, Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

A Huge Pile of Gorgeous Old Thai Movie Posters

It was the Singapore Agent who told me about the poster guy on Rambuttri. “Rambuttri like Rambutan,” he said. “But with a tree at the end. Look for the restaurant with the good pad thai, next to the massage place. That’s where you’ll find the poster guy.”

The pad thai restaurant next to a massage parlor? In Bangkok, this means nothing at all — on the restaurant-and-massage-filled Thanon Rambutri, doubly-so. But it made for a treasure hunt. And, as you know, I LOVE treasure hunts.

[If I had taken a photo of the guy selling posters, I would have put it here. But my breath was wrenched away when I saw him. I forgot my camera. I forgot this blog. I only saw amazeballs.]

His folding table on the sidewalk, nestled between a jewelry stall and a t-shirt vendor, was piled high with old Thai posters for 80s American action movies, Chinese porn, and Japanese yakuza deliciousness. They were ripped, frayed, stained with water or coffee or blood. They were just $10 a sheet. They were gorgeous.

“Michelle, can you get me a coffee and a pack of cigarettes?” I licked my leafing finger, and started sorting. Holy shit — is this Nikkatsu Noir?

thai-poster-drifters

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/ by Dean Pickles / 13 Comments
Strange Tourism / ,

Shhhhhhhh

calypso

From a night out at Asiatique’s Calypso in Bangkok.

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

Amitabh Bachchan: Comic Superhero

I’m a huge fan of Amitabh Bachchan. But then again, who isn’t? He’s the king of Bollywood. BBC readers chose him as the greatest star of stage or screen of the last thousand years. I’m sure you’ve seen him as the angry young man in Sholay, or the angry old man in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Or, if not, as the randy boa-wearing letch in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna? Oh, you really should. (I’m sure you’ll see him in The Great Gatsby when it finally hits screens.)

And then you should read his comics.

Yep, Amitabh, the superhero.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments