Cold foggy day in the capital. Something known as smog, when the air pollution mixes with the fog and creates an unpleasant blanket. The best part today was undoubtedly the sighting of a flock of black winged stilts, which seemed to have found an oasis in a collection of water in a nearby park. This park was earlier the only piece of green in the concrete around and very recent. So its interesting that these birds have found some use of the otherwise unused patch. Morning walkers still amble around maintaining the same unfriendly faces that is now a hallmark of all cities developing into big. Chauffers of thier sedans wait outside the park with a smug expression as if comparing notes on whose boss’s car is bigger. Why do people drive for a walk?
Delhi is the city I grew up in, so a holiday break here after years of staying away was something to look forward to. The first thing we encountered early morning was a thick layer of fog. The train as many others on that route got delayed by three hours, which is common.
Delhi is also known as a city of thugs. The average delhite or “dilliwala” as they are known, has learnt to live with this reality among other disadvantages. So, the porter thug asked for only Rs 100 to carry a bag till the exit, which was best refused. Next challenge was to reach my destination. Had it been Mumbai, there would be no concern to travel and the amount would be resonable, but in Delhi even that is a challenge. More so, as a crowd of protesters in the central India gate area had given the police the chance to close all arterial roads around, so we took some peripary road and after some permutations and combinations reached after a couple of hours. The only other hold up was the crossing of the mayor or one of the other many govt officials, with a cavalcade and a beeping red light on top of the car, that delhietes have began to dread. These hold ups generally last around 15 to 20 min. The higher the hierarchy, the longer the hold up and the more the traffic piles up.
We finaly move on. All around is like a blanket of dust and dirt. Whether the buildings or the flyovers or the hoardings. It sometimes feels that you are looking through a screen of smoke. The cars have quadrupled over last decade, with the typical “delliwala” nonchalant attitude, of couldnt-care -less about the city as far as the luxury sedan was comfy inside.
The mind drifts back to Goa, no one seems to be in a hurry, everyone is warm and courteous to each other. The sky is actually blue and not smoky. The trees are green and fresh. Then I remember also the vivid image of a kindergarten techer sweeping off hay from the stage, where we practiced for a nursery play. And wonder how many people living in the so called cities find it below thier dignity to hold and use a broom in public. Ofcourse, Goa is not India, its someplace else.
Delhi also has a great number of consumers with GDP figures to envy the rest of the country. One visit to the group of malls at vasant kunj is enough to get a glimpse of the buying behaviour. There are three malls here arranged in order of thier affordability. The premium mall has an entry fee to keep away windowshoppers. Thats where you can get your LVs, Dior and other global brands.
All in all, it a culture I cant identify with anylonger. Delhi has transformed into this giant mass of unknown faces, each wanting to outdo the other, pushing, elbowing, treading on others spaces and encroaching on whatever is possible. It lacks the beauty of a city, the culture of a civilisation and human concern, which is so basic to existence. It makes up by being a center of power, authority and decision making being a capital city, but sadly nothing more looks attractive.
Last few weeks has been unbearably cold for me. After a couple of years in the coastal belt of India and now in the opposite temperature . From hot and humid, its now cold and dry. My smart phone camera was just so inappropriate for this journey, but it did allow me to document a glimpse of the fresh snow on the hills on this early morning drive.
Indian Miniature Art is treasured all over the world because of its beauty and inherent delicacy. Of all the north Indian styles, Kangra school of Painting has a great deal of detail and depth by which it is executed. Above are some pictures of a documentation at a time when I did not have a suitable camera to record this beautiful art, but nevertheless you can appreciate the painstaking ways the artists use. A few bristles of a special brush to create exquisite paintings. Sometimes the work is so minute that a high powered lens is used. Presently this art is in languishing stage with only a handful of artists surviving to take ahead this historic legacy.
Being in the wild often makes one wonder what was being missed while in the city. While city life does have its own share of parks and green areas, a place which is cut away from human population, the road lesser taken; can lead you to some beautiful and invigorating experiences.
Like this Nature trail above. I was surprised to find this parallel road to a lesser known intercity road near Sujanpur. Some parts of this area were converted into a wasteland, but most of the stretch was peaceful n calm, with a variety of birds, some of them water birds as there is a canal on another side.
What makes something delicate, soft, fine or fragile? While the immediate reaction would be the material, maybe there are more things that make something delicate. A spider’s web may look delicate, but its one of the strongest materials in the world. A leaf maybe delicate, but only so if it is proportion to another thing which is not as fragile, not as delicate.
Then, imagine an ant. An ant crawling up an expanse of the leaf, may not find it delicate, but a large area to be covered. Thus delicacy, itself is a subjective trait, to be measured by size, proportion, material, maybe the colour.
There are some places when you visit, that you simply feel that you would be visiting again. Dharamshala seemed to be that place for me. (Now that its proven after I visited it for the second time last month.) On that bright sunny day , almost 5 years back, In McLeodganj the shops were few and life looked simpler. We found a wonderful rooftop place for having breakfast with a magnificent view of the street below. When we took this snap of what appeared like a dilapidated intercity bus, It seemed that those inside the bus, probably a tourist group also had the same thing in mind with us as the subjects! Wonder whether we’ll ever be able to cross paths again. Its also very coincidental that this bus was traveling to Pathankot, which is where destiny has brought me over last few months.