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Alex, put your dress on… you’re moving to India!

A couple of days ago while site seeing during a business trip to Mumbai, India I witnessed my first authentic Indian Tranny. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked since out of the 5 trips I’ve now made to India, I had never once seen a Tranny- nor would I have expected to given the gay climate of the country. As shocked as I was I actually had to turn to my local friend and confirm that I was indeed seeing a man, dressed as a woman begging for money (those queens are always lookin’ for coin… right Alex?! Just kiddin’ Lady- you know I love ya!). My friend of course confirmed that I was indeed seeing what I thought I was seeing, so I started to pepper him with questions.

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At first I was surprised to see all this because it was literally the middle of the day and I worried for their safety. My friend indicated, however, that there isn’t any real violence against these Gurls and they have a pretty tight-knit community- so that’s a good thing. The most shocking thing I learned though (and I can’t believe how awesome this is)- is that there are some groups in India who consider it good luck for a Tranny to come to your home and bless your newly born children! Seriously, they actually have people at the hospital that will let the Ladies know where to go and who to visit after a child is born… totally random, but kinda awesome, hey?

This conversation then moved on to the climate of the country towards homosexuality and I was pleased to learn that things have really changed over the last few years. While there still aren’t any “gay bars” in Mumbai per se (or at least, none that are advertised and certainly not any that I would consider “touristy”), homosexuality has become substantially more accepted than it has been in the past. Just a few years ago when I was there I had conversations with colleagues about how it (being gay) was really underground- and now it’s openly discussed and accepted (at least in general terms), which is obviously fantastic.

I’ve had other various ups and downs with trips to India over the last 6 years, including having my luggage lost, getting kidnapped and being swindled (all in one night- which is a story for another article) but all in all, I truly love spending time there. It probably helps that Indian food is arguably my favourite type of food, but the rich culture that is present there also makes it a great place to visit.

Mumbai is literally PACKED with people. No matter what time it is, there are basically people EVERYWHERE, and it’s all sorts of different economic classes crammed in next to each other. Often you’ll see a really nice block with an adjacent wall to a “slum”- it’s quite interesting really. It’s also fascinating to experience a culture like there is in India in terms of religion. With mostly Hindu, Muslim and Christians, there almost seems to be something religious going on every single day- whether it’s an actual holy day, or just people going to temple to worship. Speaking of which, my friend was kind enough to take me to a Hindu temple the other day, which was also a really neat experience.

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I also was able to get to the Gateway of India and historic Taj Mahal hotel again, which was the target of the November 2009 terrorist attacks and only recently reopened. I spent 8 weeks staying at that hotel back in 2005 and was really glad to see that it has been full restored. It’s an amazing hotel with such authenticity about it… In fact- random trivia fact, it was actually built backwards by accident! The intended “front” of the hotel was supposed to face the water and ended up facing the other way. The Architect was so distraught over it that he ended up killing himself.

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Mumbai can also border on sensory overload at times. With that many people swarming around the city it’s always a blur of bright colours and activity. Women in bright saris walk down the road with their loads balanced on their heads, ox carts pull produce down the side of the road while cows roam freely through the city. There are a myriad of smells in the city as well that range from the gorgeous smells of Indian cooking to the less savory smells of garbage and drying fish.

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Oh, and the driving situation is absolutely ridiculous. There is no concept of actual lanes- everyone just sort of pushes in and out where ever they can and it’s non-stop honking and lights flashing to tell each other to move, but done in a very non-offensive way. It was hard for me to take at first because usually if you honk in North America, it’s because you’re pissed off and it usually accompanies an choice finger gesture but these guy’s it’s just their basic way of communicating while on the road.

At any rate, it was another great trip and I was happy to be back after nearly 2 years. I’m also really happy with some of the pictures I was able to get! Now it’s off to the Philippines for a couple of weeks. First stop is Cebu for 5 days and then to Manila for a 1.5 weeks- followed up with 2 days back in Vancouver to catch up with everyone! I swear, sometimes I feel like I didn’t really “move” to Toronto, I just sort of had all my things put there in this awesome apartment where I sometimes get to visit. Thankfully I’ve met a super great group of guys in Toronto who have reserved my spot in the group whilst I’m away (thanks guys!)

Until next time, over and out.