Monthly Archives: May 2005

An ode

In the sweltering summer heat,
when even the roads are asweat,

I feel my legs are liquefied so,
this summer heat is going to make my body flow,

Like a tired old flower I wilt,
I try collecting myself together before I melt,

Cool cool icy water is a respite to my body,
but what about my eyes which feel so groggy,

Before I can liquesce any further, I spot you standing there,
Without meaning to, I begin to unabashedly stare,

You look so inviting, you are a pleasure to my eyes,
I feel as if for endurance of this heat, you are the prize,

Aah, looking at you makes me feel so fresh,
I peer futher into that yellow mesh,

‘Cause yellower than mustard and brighter than brass,
are your pretty petals – Amaltas.

Coming soon in a theatre near you

… is a bomb blast. Last night 2 cinema halls in Delhi had bomb blasts during the show of ‘Jo Bole So Nihaal’. One person is reported dead and several injured. I was quite surprised to note that a bomb blast happened in cinema halls in the first place since the security is very strict (almost to the point of being bugging) and all necessary gadgets are available with the security checking personnel. One of the halls is Satyam Cineplex. Surprising again, since once, with just 10 minutes to the show, I had to go back home to keep my handbag, since they were not allowing even that inside. When detailed news reports came in, it became clearer that the bomb was placed in the toilet of the Subway joint right next to the main hall. It’s in fact so easy to take just about anything and leave it in any loo as long as it is outside the hall. That is a lesson to learn for Cinema managers. The other movie hall and the more affected one is Liberty in Karol Bagh. The bomb here was inside the hall.

It is concluded that the blasts had something to do with the show going on in both these movie halls. I have no idea what the movie is about and if it really is offensive. Definitely something can not be *this* offensive that people now start blasting people *watching* it! As if we already dont have enough of militant organisations to tackle, here comes another one with a chemical plastic bomb that goes undetected. We don’t even need outsiders to destroy our peace. All major multiplexes stopped screening any movies yesterday and evacuated people after this incident occured.

It would have sounded good in an ad but in this context it’s just too bad. The movie going experience is never gonna be the same ever.

City of Djinns

The “City of Djinns” doesn’t need any introduction. Neither the book nor the mystical city. William Dalrymple, born in Scotland, visited India around 1989 and stayed for 4 years during which he penned the book – ‘City of Djinns’. This book won the Thomas Cook travel book award. This is the story of one year in our very own city – Delhi, the city of Djinns. Djinns are supposedly another race like us, fashioned from fire, spirits invisible to the naked eye – one needs to fast and pray to see them.

William Dalrymple describes Delhi as “Full of riches and heroes, a labyrinth city of palaces, open gutters, filtered light through filigree lattices, choke of fumes and whiff of spices”. He unveils the ‘seven dead cities’ of Delhi in his book, the current being the 8th. Some even count the number as 15. These are nothing but a representation of the number of times Delhi has been destroyed and rebuilt. There are pieces of history lingering in every such city. Different areas of Delhi, preserve different centuries, even different millennia. Punjabi immigrants (form the recent day Delhi), old majors in Lodhi garden, old city eunuchs speaking courtly Urdu, Sadhus at Nigambodh ghat (depicting Indraprastha – first Delhi from Mahabharat) all form Delhi. Indraprastha was invaded & burned and yet it rose like a phoenix from fire, like hindus believe.

WD’s landlady for these 4 years was Mrs. Puri, a sikh from Lahore, expelled during partition, lost everything, rebuilt from scratch (like most punjabi immigrants). Her husband who was intermittently senile (he went crazy since 1984 Sikh riots), firmly believed that Mr. William had kept some mules ‘upstairs’. WD’s book talks about his experiences as a foreigner in this city – unused to domestic help and traffic snarls, his trysts with MTNL (which he called ‘an empire dedicated to beuracratic obfuscation), Delhi marriages which go on throughout the night, festivals like Holi, Diwali, Id, Dussehra and the fervour with which these are celebrated. WD goes on to talk about the 1984 riots, the partition and how these incidents affected people. The account is interspersed with amusing wit where his sikh driver – Balwinder Singh – points out ‘eye candy’ on the streets (clearly something WD is totally unused to) or tries communicating in his limited english resulting in some humourous misunderstandings. WD describes Shahjehanabad – the city established by Shah Jehan. He also visits Karachi where they asked him about certain ‘gullis’, or whether the streets still looked the same as before partition, (through whatever was left of them in their memory). There he meets the author of the book ‘Twilight in Delhi’ – a very good and accurate account of Delhi before the partition. Karachi itself looked very similar to Delhi – reconstructed.

People in Delhi believe in a certain prophecy that whosoever builds a new city, consequently loses it. History vouches for the same. Pandavas, Prithviraj Chauhan, Feroz Shah Tughlak, Shah Jahan are all examples of that. WD moves on to describe Lutyens Delhi and specifically its architecture. He gives accounts of someone who had seen it being built as a child. Events like the persian massacres of 1739 and the British recapture of 1857 are woven into his historical account. He writes about Nadir Shah and the British Resident – Sir David Ochterlony – who lived like a Moghul. He beautifully highlights the cultural amalgamation that followed in terms of the architecture in this era in ‘Dehlee’ and ‘Hurriyana’. Till date, the British residency supposedly retains some part of the mughal architecture (the moghul ruins on which it was built). WD also happens to read the letters from one particular British Resident – 183 years later at the same desk at which the resident wrote them. He writes about Angloindians, who suffer the worst racial prejudices of Indians and the British Both.

His culturally rich, amply researched and historically lush account mentions a lot of aspects of all cultures that Delhi has seen – for eg. Kabootar Baazi – a sport prevalent in old Delhi, Eunuchs and the way they exist. He talks about historical figures like Shah Jehan, Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb, Roshanara Begum, their related history and their associated establishments – Shahjehanabad, Aurangabad, Roshanara Bagh, Shalimar Bagh etc. He writes about how Aurangzeb ousted his favoured brother Dara Shikoh and crowned himself in Shalimar Bagh, beheaded Dara Shikoh and sent his head on a platter to an imprisoned Shah Jehan just before his prison meal. The barbaric nature of the Moghuls is clearly evident through several tales.

This book also brings to light several interesting things to the unaware reader. Apart from the cultural, historical, architectural narratives, it contains things which I am sure many of us never knew. He mentions that the Britishers are to blame for diverting the ‘Jumna’ and laying in its place a main road so that the Mughal pavillions in Red Fort look out not to a source of water but onto a road – MG Road, one of the most noisy and polluted stretch of the Ring Road! WD also interviews Fakeerah Sultan Begum – the great grand daughter of Aurangzeb(!) who’s still alive and talks about Delhi as “her” city.

A ‘must read’ is a mild description for this book. More than a book, it is a time travel machine which takes you back several years and several centuries without never really leaving the present. It makes you realise that you were unaware of such treasures in your own backyard all this while. This enriching and informative book makes history look like an interesting dream where some bits are still fresh in my mind, bits where I experience the thrill of discovering something, some bits are sadly erased permanently and I am unable to recollect them and then there are still some, which I am trying to recollect, by digging deep through my memory. I want to know more by exploring whatever I have today. Something that textbook history could never achieve. Go ahead and read this book for accounts of Ibn Batuta’s travel adventures, Yunani medicine, Hakims, Hindi Gaalis!, Nizamuddin saints, Elusive eunuchs, Djinns which got captured, Kaurav’s capital – Hastinapur and many more interesting things while I take a copy with me to revisit Shalilmar Bagh, Roshanara Bagh, and Begumpur (On way to Mehrauli) where Mohd. Bin Tughlak had his palace. Not every city has a spirit of its own, but djinns or no djinns, Delhi does.

Blogger Quiz

For the DBM this time, Ajay and I prepared a blogger quiz. Here it is in case you want to find out how well you know “delhi bloggers”. Of course some of you might not have any clue about the answers because the questions were made on the state that the blog was in a few days before the DBM i.e. some questions pertain to the posts and hence are temporal. Some other questions pertain to general characteristics of blogs or may be the bloggers themselves. The main idea was to accumulate some little bit of trivia about the people who were attending the DBM so that we get down to breaking the ice and of course some questions about other non-delhi bloggers were also thrown in for “general knowledge”.

The answers are also under the questions themselves. I have written them in white so that you can see them by selecting the area.

1. Whose blog title is technically incorrect i.e the alias is not valid anymore because of change in status?
Answer – Deepan (Mind of an unmarried man)

2. Name one blogger couple who have a combined blog. Hint [can be outside DBM]
Answer – Sid/Tan – chronicled life

3. Which blogger has dates in Hindi on the blog?
Answer – Amit Ken

4. Which blogs name means “plucked flower” in Native American?
Answer – Mansi (Author – Priya)

5. Name 1 blogger who has a fotolog and a blog.
Answer – Simple Simon, Twilight Fairy, Netahoy, Chris sordid

6. Name 1 blogger who studies at MDI Gurgaon.
Answer – Ajay, Saurabh garg

7. Whose blog has 4 back to back posts on Holi itself?
Answer – Mohit Maheshwari

8. Who has recently woken up after 10 months hibernation in blogland?
Answer – Diya (could be many but it was Diya AFA attending members of DBM are concerned)

9. Which blogger has attended a blogger meet in another city as well and where?
Answer – Newton’s apple : Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore;
Adi : Hyderabad (That’s another thing Adi mahashya never turned up for DBM so technically the answer is incorrect)

10. Whose blog has a photo of the author in wedding gear?
Answer – Ajay (Married Single)

11. Who is the author of a cricket website and whose blog – India Uncut won the Best New IndiBlog 04?
Answer – Amit Varma.

12. Whose blog is so ‘comfortably numb’ that it’s dead since a year?
Answer – Piyush gupta (Phantasmic)

13. Whose blog has a space travel feel or at least it was intended to look like that?
Answer – Twilight Fairy .. :p..ahem

14. Name a food blog.
Answer – tancancook, madman’s shiok

15. Which former journalist writes “just a little something”, and has won at the Indiblog awards?
Answer – Anita Bora

16. Which blogger has been responsible for selecting the “sizzling blogs” on rediffblogs?
Answer – Toinks (Toinkdom1)

17. Which blogger’s fav song has to be: “Objects in the rear view mirror, may appear closer than they are”?
Answer – Prashant (post specific question)

18. Which blogger’s job involves inserting bugs into perfectly normal code?
Answer – Ankur (bugman).

19. Name one blogger whose blogging alias is also another valid Indian name?
Answer – Ajay (married single), Adi (sporadic thoughts)

All old timers were barred from answering the obvious questions. The new DBM bloggers who earn mention for answering 2 questions (each) correctly are Diya and Sruthijith.

PS. With so much of HTML for coloring text, “html-challenged me” can barely get myself to link all the ppl mentioned here, so please make do.