gay pride

At Mumbai's gay pride march, parents come out to support their queer children

Rainbow photographs from Saturday's event.

In 2008, when Mumbai held its first Gay Pride Parade ‒ billed as the Queer Azadi March ‒ about a 1,000 people showed up. On Saturday, as members of the LGBTQ community await the outcome of a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the legalisation of gay sex, the ninth edition of the march gathered almost 6,000 participants.

As they walked in a loop from August Kranti Maidan to the end of Kennedy Bridge and back again, one feature stood out: the encouragingly large number of parents standing shouder-to-shoulder with their queer children. Among them was Pradeep Divgikar, who posed proudly for photographs with his son Sushant, who had been crowned Mr Gay India in 2014.

All along the route, the marchers, accompanied by drummers, drew curious stares and amusement (especially when men with women's clothes and high heels tottered by) but nothing resembling hostility.

After the end of every pride march, participants release multicoloured balloons in the hues of the queer flag into the sky. This year, though, several bunches of balloons had been appropriated by street kids. So the event concluded with only red and green balloons soaring into the clouds.

Activist Harish Iyer speaks to the crowd before the start of the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday.
Activist Harish Iyer speaks to the crowd before the start of the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday.
A participant of the Gay Pride Parade strikes a pose.
A participant of the Gay Pride Parade strikes a pose.
Participants at the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade greet each other enthusiastically.
Participants at the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade greet each other enthusiastically.
Posters are painted before the start of the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade.
Posters are painted before the start of the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade.
One of the participants wore his support on his chin.
One of the participants wore his support on his chin.
The rainbow flag is unfurled.
The rainbow flag is unfurled.
The marchers make their way across Mumbai's Nana Chowk.
The marchers make their way across Mumbai's Nana Chowk.
There were cool hats and floral wristbands at the march.
There were cool hats and floral wristbands at the march.
Participants pose for photographs.
Participants pose for photographs.
Sushant Divgikar, Gay Mr India 2014 and his father Pratap, at the parade.
Sushant Divgikar, Gay Mr India 2014 and his father Pratap, at the parade.
A participant ensures his voice is heard.
A participant ensures his voice is heard.
A quick make-up check.
A quick make-up check.
Puppies marched for pride too.
Puppies marched for pride too.
Sending off selfies as the event progresses.
Sending off selfies as the event progresses.
Gaurav Joshi waves a home-made flag.
Gaurav Joshi waves a home-made flag.
Giving it a whirl.
Giving it a whirl.
A reminder that being queer is still illegal in India.
A reminder that being queer is still illegal in India.
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.