Carrie and I love music and concerts, so when we saw that the area between the Gateway of India and the Taj Hotel (a mere 5 blocks from our guesthouse) had been fenced off for a series of concerts we of course wanted to go. Tickets were free, but only available through authorized stores and in very limited quantity.

Our first night we were unable to get in but on night two, after walking away from the gate unsuccessful, a random Indian man came up to Carrie and showed three tickets. We, of course, asked how much and what the catch was, but it seemed like there was none so we went inside with him.

The finals for the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 in Bombay
The finals for the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 in Bombay

The concert was actually the finals for the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 game show. The guy who brought us in spoke very little English, but was obviously a big fan of the show as he, along with thousands of other Indians in the area, were standing on chairs, clapping, singing along and rooting for their favorite of the final three contestants. The acts were a mix of either singing or lip syncing (still not sure) and dancing with backup dancers, all to the latest Indian pop music. Check out a video here.

We stayed for nearly three hours but as there was no end in sight and we had to make plans for that night, we said thanks and goodbye too our gracious host. To this day we have no idea why he brought us in.

Maybe some friends never showed up or maybe he just got some extras to be nice to a random stranger. Regardless, he never asked for anything and was just so happy and smiley to be there that we fed off of his positive energy.

Gateway of India with a Sonu Niigaam concert
Gateway of India with a Sonu Niigaam concert

On our final night in Bombay we once again went ticketless to the concert area and I walked up to the guard and asked how we could get in. He said that there were no more tickets, but after I asked a few more questions and looked extremely disappointed, he decided to let Carrie and I in.

It’s amazing the treatment that we get just for being white in India and it really, at times, helps open doors. So, for nearly two hours we were treated to a performance by Sonu Niigaam, who was sort of a mix of Tom Jones and Wayne Newton. Check out a video here.

Sidenote: Sandwiched between the Taj Hotel (from the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks) and the Gateway of India (site of previous attacks), the entire concert series had the theme of fighting back terrorism by not being afraid and the location choice was a big F.U. to terrorism. Fighting back is a very big campaign in India where, sadly, terrorism has become a way of life.

We heard many stories from our new friends about being in Bombay on 26/11 and our guest house was right in the heart of the attacked area. Other than the Taj Hotel, the Leopold Cafe was down the street and the docks where the terrorists arrived in the city were a few blocks away.

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