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The mela scores thousands in Mumbai

At the heart of ‘Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities’ is the Indo-German Urban Mela, a travelling festival that saw thousands of visitors flocking to the venue at Cross Maidan Garden in Mumbai – the first stop of the tour. 


The Indo-German Urban Mela was officially inaugurated by Dr. Peter Ramsauer, Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Germany, on April 13. The venue offered the picture-perfect backdrop for the 15 attractive pavilions that showcased a vibrant selection of interactive presentations, conferences and cultural performances that were introduced by German corporations and organisations. Cord Meier-Klodt, Germany’s acting Ambassador in India, Dr Martin Brudermuller, Representative (APA) and Vice Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors at BASF, Subodh Kumar, Municipal Commissioner, Mumbai, and other dignitaries were also present at the inauguration.  


The pavilions have been designed with the aim to touch upon the implications of rapid urbanisation and challenges posed by the pace of change in German and Indian cities. Described as large gemstones, these pavilions were not only marvelled at for their looks, but they also entertained, challenged and engaged Mumbai residents, lending a festive atmosphere in the heart of the city.

The project has been initiated by The German Federal Foreign Office, the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Goethe-Institut.


 Sick Brass Band 

The Cologne-based music group enthralled the audience

The opening day at the Indo German Urban Mela Mumbai featured a concert by Schäl Sick Brass Band, the Cologne-based world music group, whose tunes span a wide variety of music traditions, from Afrobeat to Balkan music and jazz. The group also staged another gig the next day (April 14) and had events especially for kids: a musical theatre performance for two days, as well as a workshop at the Conference Pavilion.

Photo exhibition

The photo exhibition by photographer and travel writer Aneesh Bhasin displayed a collection of images of Berlin and Mumbai that were amusing commonalities and contrasts between the two cities. The exhibition, mounted on the fencing and walls of the festival venue, included a few “mash-up” cityscapes in which pictures from both places are combined to create a seamless single image.

Guided Mela tour

Markus Heinsdorff, the artist behind the Indo-German Urban Mela, took visitors on a guided tour

German architect and installation artist Markus Heinsdorff conducted a guided tour of the Mela, the centrepiece of which is a set of multi-purpose gemstone-shaped pavilions which “reflect the symbiosis of Indian design and German innovation”.

Parada Narrnia

Berlin-based experimental street theatre company Grotest Maru also staged a performance of their production Parada Narrnia. The company’s half-hour performance, which featured stilt walkers and characters like the big white bird, the magic gardener, the sad prince and unicorn princess, was described as a “fairy tale” parade.

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

An introductory German “teaser” class at the Goethe studio for those who were fond of the language, and the table football tournament for sporty visitors in front of the Open Air Stage also had many enthusiastic visitors participate.

Time to disco

The 10-day gala hosted prominent German artistes as well as India’s biggest electronica acts, a series of music workshops, a showcase of emerging music practices and the highlight of the event was silent disco – an outdoor gig with wireless headsets. At “India goes 3D", internationally renowned artists like Daniel Haaksman from Berlin, Coma from Cologne and Ada from Hamburg, with their diverse music styles, performed alongside highly regarded Indian musicians like Nucleya, Arjun Vagale and Jitter.

Another buzz at the event was Cyperholic – the Break Dance Jam, where German and Indian B-boys, DJs and Rappers came together to show their moves and spread the word on street art forms. Rounding off the presence of the hip hop movement, the Hip Hop Academy from Hamburg held a workshop, with the purpose of creating dance theatre pieces, CDs and shows with its participants in order to perform them at stage across Germany and world.

Sound of music

The Stop Gaps Choir mesmerised audiences at the closing event of the Indo-German Urban Mela . The programme included selected pieces from the choir repertoire, including "Freude schoener Goetterfunken", German songs like "Wochenend' und Sonnenschein". "Muss I den zum Stadtele hinaus" and others. Incidentally, the choir performed at the inauguration of the India Week and Indian Film Festival at Stuttgart to standing ovations and also won the Bronze Award at the 7th International Choir Competition in Miltenberg, Germany.

Pecha Kucha

At the ‘Pecha Kucha night’, 20 slides in 20 seconds were presented to the public in a laidback and casual gathering and people could get together and share their ideas on all kinds of subjects.  

Clowning around

Jockel, the clown from Germany and Giggles, the clown from Bangalore, kept the kids entertained

To keep the children entertained for the last two days at the Mela, fun acts were performed by clown Jockel (Josef Bogenfuerst) from Germany and clown Giggles from Bangalore. While Jockel uses clowning to educate slum children around the world, Giggles performs at hospitals for therapeutic values, and he has previously worked as a graphic designer under the name Sanjay Balsavar. 


People soaked into the atmosphere of the Mela with a tempting range of German & Indian food

During the ten-day fiesta, the visitors had the opportunity to gorge on German delicacies like curry sausage with French fries, German beef meat balls with potato salad, cabbage rolls, apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and many others.

With a promising kick off in the Mumbai metropolis, the unique tour that is the Indo-German Urban Mela, is all set to draw in crowds next in Bangalore, with lots to look forward to, followed by Chennai, Delhi and Pune subsequently.