Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror


When it rains, there is nothing better than sitting by the window, sipping tea in the company of a friend.

Kettle Couple

These kettles seem to mirror that thought – as well as my hand!


For other reflective imagery, bounce over to this week’s photo challenge.

Grainy phone image edited on the Befunky Android App

If winter is here…


Delhi’s winters used to be chilly*, with icy weather in the peak season of mid December to mid January. But over the past few years, the winter season has become shorter and shorter – no thanks to global warming. This year was a huge disappointment. The New Year was exceptionally warm with many people giving woollens a pass.

The harvest festivals (Lohri/Makar Sankranti/Pongal etc), which usually fall on the 13th-15th of January every year, mark the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. Even as we prepared to celebrate, the lack of a proper winter was a bit sad.

Perhaps the thick air carried our dejection, and precisely one day prior to the ‘official’ beginning of spring, winter finally showed up in full swing. The cold wave has been here for well over two weeks now, and seems in no mood to leave in a hurry!

Meanwhile, the bougainvillea plant in our balcony seems to follow a different calendar altogether. Even as the other plants geared up to brace the winter chill, this plant began flowering for the first time in our home last autumn. Throughout the season, there hasn’t been a single day without a shade of pink amid the grey haze and fog.


On a lazy Sunday morning, I peep out from under the rajaai**. The curtains are only half drawn – there’s no need for them. The fog and frosted glass guarantee privacy. And the sun hasn’t been showing up for work for a few days. I coerce myself to get up, if only to wish my friend. I walk up to the balcony door. It’s all white and grey. A few plants are struggling to keep warm. Most of their leaves have dried and fallen. But one thorny plant stands there defiantly. I step out gingerly and wish her a good morning.

She wishes me in her own way. It’s cold for both of us and she doesn’t mind me going back inside. As I turn around, she smiles knowingly.

If winter is here, can spring be far behind?

bougainvillea
Hope ‘springs’ eternal – even at 5 degrees C!

* No, we don’t have snowfall or blizzards but day time temperatures of 7 degrees C are quite ‘normal’

** a thick blanket, usually stuffed with cotton

For more optimistic pictures, gather around the cozy fireplace of The Daily Post.

Weight(less)


This week’s weighty photo challenge had me jumping with delight. A perfect excuse to share this picture I took at Anandagram last month.

Anandagram offers a beautiful and serene environment to visitors. It houses 3 private museums housing traditional Indian household objects, terracotta and textiles from across the country. The buildings, styled like traditional houses, are surrounded by vast manicured lawns with discarded objects turned into art installations! Kept spotlessly clean, this leaf was about the only item which ‘littered’ the place – and it too was pretty 🙂

leaf_on_the_ground

Incoherent poetry


No matter how late it might get
No matter where I am,
I’ve learnt the hard way;
It’s wise to take public transit
And avoid the traffic jam.


I knew the traffic was bad. But I never expected the roads of Delhi to be so bad. Today it took me two hours to travel a distance that should have been 15 minutes. But coming to think of it, traffic has its place in levelling the field. In a city that likes to flaunt its premium wheels, public transport actually ends up being a better option. And a pedestrian can actually be faster than the fastest car on the road!

The traffic isn’t doing any good to my blogging or writing skills, though.


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #26 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

The locked house


Colonial Building

A Colonial building in a Mughal Garden Complex, living amid ruins of the Revolt of 1857, locked and forgotten, except by park officials and evening joggers.

For whom was it built? Why is it locked away? What lies behind those red stone walls?


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #3 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Thanks a bunch to all the cheering peppers who have been tweeting and liking posts across WordPress 🙂

WPC – From Every Angle: Spiral Staircase


A few months back, we paid a visit to an old bungalow in Old Delhi, and I couldn’t take my camera off this beautiful spiral staircase!

And here’s yet another angle beneath my feet.

Many thanks to the kind landlady for tolerating this shutter-bug 🙂

More angles of everything under the sun over at the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: From Every Angle

The Earth Beneath


Cracks on the skin
Resisting a throat parched

Dense eyelashes
Streaming rivers of life

The internal inferno
And tremors of rage.

Does such great power
Lie beneath my feet?

‘Tis such privilege
Upon which I stand.

‘Tis such divinity
Due to which I live.


Spiral beneath my feet
Spiral beneath my feet – staircase in an old bungalow in Delhi

This post was inspired by this week’s photo challenge by the Daily Post

Broken


My grandmother often says that of the several artistic abilities our family possesses, the ability to throw, is the one that we need the most! At our home, when things break, our instinctive reaction is that of fixing them. So for this week’s photo challenge, broken, I had quite a few options at home! Except, of course, they had mostly been fixed, or have become something else. For instance, the beads from several broken bracelets and necklaces have now become a gypsy-style garland. And all the broken seashells from our collections have now become a decorative wall hanging.

* * *

We were in Old Delhi to meet relatives and decided to explore Qudsia Bagh in the evening. Clean jogging tracks surrounded by palm trees and Laburnums in full bloom, the park was a sight for sore eyes and sun-drained explorers like us. Large pots of water and benches with bird feed attracted birds by the dozen.

“What are you waiting for? Take out the camera!” It took me a little while to react. My brother nudged me as I stared at a kite sitting atop the earthen pot. Before I could take a clean shot, it flew above us and onto a tree branch. Another one swooped down and flew low, before joining its friend on the branch. They didn’t seem to mind the people around them — little children swinging on monkey bars and groups of evening walkers.

We continued walking, and it wasn’t long before we spotted a wall behind a few trees. An old building! After several months, we discovered something old in Delhi. An entrance gate of some sort, with a staircase on the side leading up to the roof; an old locked up lodge that seemed appropriate for some mystery novel; and a mosque under renovation — we hopped from one building to another, trying to cover as much ground as possible in the little time we had left in the day. But with daylight fading and our stomachs grumbling, we had to head back.

As we were returning, I noticed this minaret-like structure. It turned out to be at the exact same place we saw the kites earlier. In our excitement of seeing the kites, I’d missed this one entirely.

Minaret at Qudsia Bagh
Minaret at Qudsia Bagh

I clicked a few more photographs of the park just as a peacock came out for its evening walk.

We may go and visit Qudsia Bagh again. We might climb the gate, inspect that old house more closely, and perhaps, find more treasures.


From Wikipedia: Qudsia Bagh is an 18th-century garden complex and palace located in Old Delhi, India. Constructed in 1748 for Qudsia Begum, this complex was largely destroyed during the Indian rebellion of 1857.

For more broken images, visit the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

Vote’s up!


This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Scale. Today, the Capital of India went to polls. My vote—a small drop in the big ocean of voters—is my interpretation of the challenge.


On my way back home after work, a colleague asked me whom I was going to vote for. I thought for a little while, and replied “I don’t know.” And to be honest, I wasn’t sure even at the time I actually pressed the button.

Voted

In the run up to the Delhi Elections, several thoughts—all disconnected, but deeply disturbing—have been going around in my head. Facts and perceptions created by different media, rampant hypocrisy and boot-licking…

One party has ruled for decades and divided the country ruthlessly, making hideous amount of money at the expense of taxpayer’s money. And the other party which has replaced it, drips with arrogance and testosterone (not to mention more criminals).

Indian politics is brutal, and severely patriarchal. Those who work for the welfare of the people often end up being penalised. A Chief Minister who transformed Delhi and was re-elected twice, became a sacrificial lamb as her own party let her down miserably. The mismanagement of the head of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games was entirely forgotten, as a certain bureaucrat singled out the CM for a smear campaign. In case I haven’t said it before, the Commonwealth Games in 2010 were a huge success—those who focus on scams probably never saw the Opening Ceremony, nor attended any sporting event of the Games. And Delhi is just about as unsafe, as any other part of the country. It’s just that other places don’t get so much media attention. After a 49-day stint, the muffler man hopefully realised that making tall claims and staging protests against corruption is one thing, running a Government is quite another.

Two thousand kilometres away, a similar story unfolded. Within a few months of emerging as the third largest party in the general elections, the party head was handed out an exemplary punishment, effectively ending her political career. Scams and scandals of Members of Parliament of the previous Government, of course, have been completely forgotten.

While the Congress is still living in a son-inherits-father’s-throne mentality, the royal son-in-law’s shady businesses are blindly ignored (anyone else noticing a pattern here?). The BJP, on the other hand, is trying to paint a false reality by glossing over women empowerment to please the American President. Their Chief Ministerial candidate admittedly commands a superstar presence. At least she used to. But by exploiting her popularity for political mileage, her image has probably taken a dip, and I only wonder if she is going to become another sacrificial lamb.

In such a scenario, is there anyone worth voting for? The enthusiasm with which Delhi voted 14 months ago faded by the time the General Elections came. A glimmer of hope vanished within months. And today, it seems, Delhi is back to its old ways, with voters becoming indifferent.

With these thoughts in my head, I went out to vote. Neither this blog post, nor my opinion is probably going to make much of a difference to anyone. And my vote is definitely not going to change Indian politics… But a tiny part of me (0.000001% to be precise) has a little bit of hope. A hope that the collective power of votes may shift attitudes. Whether or not that happens, we will soon find out.

Update: It turns out, I was quite wrong about voter indifference. The people of Delhi came out in large numbers to vote. More than 8.9 million people voted—the largest number of Delhiites to have ever voted for any election in Delhi. And the verdict was an unprecedented sweep by a party wielding a broom!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are entirely personal. I am not affiliated to any political party, nor is this post intended to spread any form of hatred directed towards any one person/party.

Further reading:
Meet India’s newly elected
Sheila Dixit’s letter to PM
Women’s political representation lagging in India

Happy Independence Day


Connaught place, now named Rajiv Chowk, was constructed by the British around the same time other structures including the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the Parliament building were being constructed. Together, these structures were a symbol of Imperialism. It was a show of strength for the colonists, and many people were displaced to make way for the construction.

However, soon after the completion of buildings, the second World War broke out, followed by the Indian Independence movement.

Today, CP, as it is fondly called, is a hub of commercial activity and a favourite hang-out place for thousands of people, including yours truly. 

Last month, on a cool cloudy day, I went to meet a friend at CP. The breeze was strong and little drops of monsoon rain were beginning to fall. We looked at the center of the circle. 

Flying high overshadowing the past, and looking over our shoulders, the Indian tricolour was at its finest.

Wishing you a very Happy Independence Day.

Jai Hind!