A multi-million dollar Bollywood movie – an Indian remake of The Italian Job – is being filmed in Wellington, by IFC films– and I am an extra here in my new home city – one of about 600 needed!
My role? I am a tourist taking photos of my (real) grandson, we are right beside the “Albatross” fountain on the waterfront when suddenly three minis race around the fountain – followed by many motorcycles – making me have to quickly move out-of-the-way wondering “what’s happening?” as they race by. This extra-role meant I had my camera on set.
Playersfeatures A-list Indian actors Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor, and brother directors duo, Abbas and Mustan. They are often called as the ‘Men In White’ and have always been associated with many a super-hit Bollywood films.
The chase sequence of the British original of The Italian Job (Michael Caine) featured robbers driving Mini cars and was filmed in Turin, and a 2003 American remake was shot on location in Venice and Los Angeles – it’s now set in Wellington – the capital of New Zealand.
Wellington is said to be “playing itself” in the Indian version and the varied terrain of the central city with its steep streets, leafy suburbs, dramatic coast and natural harbour will be on show to the world.
“It’s going to be huge. It’s not just the billion population in India back home, but also the Indian diaspora which is all over the world,” said Nirang Desai, the film’s line producer.
It is estimated that up to NZ$4 million of Bollywood money will be spent during filming in New Zealand, and Players could pave the way for even more films.
“I already have a few proposals lined up, people wanting to come,” said Desai.
The film is due to be released first in India in October 2011. See more here on TV1 News
The new picture book ‘Birds of Khijadiya’ says there are 257 species here, and with brackish, sea, and fresh water within its 600 ha, it certainly provides a diversity of conditions for both resident birds and the migrants along the Indo-Asian Fly-way.
Created in 1988, this sanctuary is in the city of Porbandar ( which also birthplace of Gandhi) This is a popular destination for local ornithologists with both resident, nesting and migratory birds. Contact local bird-man / photographer Bharat Rughani for more info.
On a bird migration route and near the Gulf of Kutch, this sanctuary provides an important feeding, breeding and roosting habitat for about 70,000-75,000 birds who nest in the 250 acres. On the list as a possible UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a remarkable and unique landscape that becomes a coastal wetland for about a month after the annual monsoon rains.
I have just returned from my second trip to Gujarat, India – this time for three weeks – and where I joined about 500 others for the Global Bird Watchers Conference (GBWC) in Jamnagar.
As someone who enjoys nature and birds, but knows very little, it was interesting to be surrounded by a flock of people from all over the world keen to see India’s special birds – evidently Gujarat has some 40% of India’s birds.
It also provides a variety of habitats for them: desert, sea, rivers, lakes, rural and cites – there is somewhere special for all birds whether migratory or resident.
Ted Floyd of the American Birding Association said in one of his blogs “Gujarat was the ideal venue for the GBWC. Yes, the birding was wonderful, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Rather, Gujarat was ideal in a socio-cultural sense. The people of the state of Gujarat are fantastically diverse. The myriad languages, religions, and ethnicities of Gujarat stretch back through the millennia. Think of somewhere like Brooklyn or Los Angeles—and then add to the mix several thousand years of cultural diversification. That’s Gujarat. That’s Jamnagar.” Well said Ted!
So, bookmark this page and come back and follow my travels, and not just birds, but also Gandhi’s birthplace, his ashram, the people of the salt-pans, the wild ass, the food and the people and many other topics.
Each district in New Zealand has different rules about freedom camping and parking of campervans. Sometime places it’s permitted, and in others it will result in a fine and you being moved on.
The best place to find information about where you can camp and what rules to follow is from those who know the area. Ask locals for information:
Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centres and offices
The impact of freedom camping on our environment, as well as safety concerns, means Tourism New Zealand does not recommend freedom camping in New Zealand. Use the camping grounds unless you are in a fully equipped campervan with its own toilet.
Note: these on-board toilets can only be legally emptied from motorhomes into Dump Stations, which are normally found in holiday parks: these are free to use even if you’re not staying in that camping ground. See more tips here about travelling in a campervan – Loved my time in the Backpacker van I travelled in recently.
What happens you move to another city, know very few people, feel down after a bout of giardia (an unwanted souvenir from India) and are sick of the still unopened cartons in the office-cum-spare-room.
Well, if you have just moved to the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ according to Lonely Planet in the country that’s second on CNN’s list of the world top destinations for 2011, you put the blues away and go for a walk – after all, ‘you can’t beat Wellington on a good day’, and it’s a good day today.
It takes only minutes to walk down Cuba St (and Mall) to arrive at the Civic Centre and there, in the sunshine, a message awaits me from Lauris Edmonds, one of this cities favourite adopted daughters.
It seems appropriate as I once had a poem published – A Message to Lauris and now, standing on the over-bridge, leading to the waterfront, I read her words as selected for a plaque on the Wellington Writers Walk
“It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb – ” . From ‘Scenes from a small city’ 1994
There’s my answer – be active: after all I’m a travel writer so must travel around this city and write. Already I have a list of Wellington places and events to write about (starting with Zealandia and the Carter Observatory; so there is some of the action I need to do: thanks Lauris, I’m ready to become an active Wellingtonian – 1st January 2011