Thursday, November 26, 2015

26/11 - Never the same...

Mumbai, a city, which I've visited but once or twice. Mumbai is not a city which tugs at my heart. There is something about the place, which makes me want to look for an escape. It is too crowded, too many people all the time and that does mean - all the time. I recall my shock when I saw the local train teeming with people at 1:00 am in the night!!! Instead of feeling liberated, I had felt disoriented. Mumbai - never called out to me until 26/11 connected us.

26/11 was never going to be the same ever again in my life. Each year as I wake up to family and friends wishing me a happy birthday, I am reminded of what transpired in Mumbai that day. The horror of it always come back. For me, a spectator who is affected because of the date, the horror is just a damp feeling. I think of all those people who were there and then weren't there again. And today, the same gnawing feeling is back because of Paris.

Paris - another city, different feelings. Paris of the lovely bridges, the cafes and bistros, the romance in the air, the sights and sounds, the fashionable, and the ancient....so many memories, so many feelings. And then, a lock down. With just one blow, Mumbai and Paris stand at the same place - equal now in their darkest hour.

The darkness grows
like the ink that spreads on a blank sheet
Except what the ink had power to cover
this darkness takes over asphyxiatingly slowly

You and I continue the blame
Why Paris? Why not Beirut?
Why not Mumbai?
Each one - alone in their sorrows and miseries
Each one - lost and a loser
Each one - taking one small step each day
Will that not bring Paris and Mumbai on the same step
But in sunshine...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Discovering Delhi - Baolis and Bawra Man

Literal translation: Discovering the baolis of Delhi with a crazy heart

Saturday had been a crazy working day with unusual timing of ending at 9 pm. I wasn’t sure if I would have the energy to make it to the walk by Delhi by Foot. The walk was to start at 8 am on a Sunday. Who wakes up so early on a Sun?! Well, apparently loads of people do. I confirmed with V and we decided to wake each other up. So, Sun dawned bright and fresh and off I started towards the Metro.

Met V enroute and we reached Barakhamba all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ramit Mitra, the host and master of ceremonies for all things Delhi by Foot was right there. We waited for the other fellow walkers to join in and the Sun morning calmness of Barakhamba hit us. We saw some bikers standing just across and thought how cool that was! Little did we know that they would be our friends on this walk.

The next surprise for me was to see a familiar face…Monsieur Madavane. And all of my JNU years came back to me. I never thought that I would run into him and that too as part of a DBF walk. It was such a great start and I was sure that the day would unfold many pleasant surprises.

A note about Ramit Mitra: He sure is passionate about Delhi and that is clear in all that he does to curate the walks. The other things is the way that he drops in and out of animated conversations. I guess this is because he is preoccupied with getting everyone and everything together. But that adds to his personality as well. I know V would agree. :)

So, off we set to find our very first baoli, in the heart of CP – Agrasen ki baoli. This one has recently been made famous due to its movie appearance but was always on my to-do list. I just had never found it and it was so close. Lovely baoli, well maintained and the restoration work is still going on. Finding the Agrasen ki baoli on Hailey Lane is exactly the kind of reason that I love the city of Delhi.
From here, we wandered off to Firoz Shah Kotla and the lovely baoli there was beautiful too. Even better were the several trees in the premises and the story of the djinns. Or should I say the faith of the people in the djinns made this place more enchanting. Ramit did a great job of explaining the seven cities of Delhi using the tickets to the premises and of course, the Qutub Minar, which kept toppling over. And in the background, the leaves swept up closer to hear the tale.

While a baoli is to be expected inside historical premises such as Firoz Shah Kotla, the next one was a big surprise! This was the R K Puram complex of baolis in the middle of Sector 5. I’ve been in and out of R K Puram for all of my growing years but never did I even dream of this place. Ramit mentioned that it was part of the Wazirabad complex. The baoli overlooked a series of tombs, very much alike to the Lodi Garden tombs. Lovely time here, exploring the place, climbing down, listening to Ramit’s stories, and imagining the life of yore.

Thank you Delhi by foot for a fab walk and for introducing us to such hidden treasures of Delhi. I will be going back to all of these for sure!