Friday, September 30, 2011

In the name of Shower, give Bathroom its Freedom!!!

 Now in my humble opinion Bathrooms are supposed to be a little dirty. Its in their destiny to be dirty, God meant it that way or else why would they be Bathrooms? Wouldn't they be a living room in some shining penthouse in Pansheel Park if they were supposed to be spic and span?
And pray why should bathrooms be dry? Remember they have taps and shower and tubs, and remember all these things are supposed to have water in them so that one can take bath and remember when you take a bath the bathroom is supposed to get wet. Yes WET! not dry because they is no such thing as dry shower.
And toilet seat, why should they be down all the time? Its not as if they are open manholes and somebody would fall in them. Also, can somebody please explain why you cannot read books and newspaper in the toilet, its not as if we are using them as toilet papers and then putting them back on the shelf!
And the towel! Now why cant the towel be left hanging in the Bathroom to dry. The objective is that is has to dry, period! Now whether it drys on the clothes stand in the Balcony, in the bathroom or on the chair in the bedroom what difference does it make? Unless off course you tell me that the main source of rain in Delhi is the water that evaporates from my towel when I hang in in the balcony.
Also, why cant you flush the cigarette butt in the Toilet ? It takes a lot of crap any which ways, what difference can a tini winie ciggy butt make in the entire sewage system? Its bio- degradable and hell it might even help in creation of compost, who knows?
Paintings, Yes Sire! paintings in the Bathrooms. " Come dahling, I just bought a new painting thats hanging in my Bathroom, lets sip our wines and appreciate the painting in the Bathroom"
So ladies and Gentleman , in the name of Bathroomity, I urge you to let the Bathroom be.. err..just that... BATHROOM!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Delhi Rewind- Growing up in “Government Delhi”

Think Delhi and one immediately conjures the images of the regality of the Old Delhi and the Grandeur of the Lutyen's Delhi. But there lies another Delhi, a less romantic Delhi. This Delhi has been largely ignored by those who write about Delhi and those who tour Delhi. This Delhi does not have grand buildings but almost mass produced, identical, dull yellow colored houses, the people who live here are not royals but the proverbial Nine to Fivers. This is the “Government Delhi”, the government colonies, the likes of Sarojini Nagar, RK Purum, and Lodhi Road etc.

I was born in the year 1979 in the Government Colony of Sarojini Nagar (or SN as it is called now) and lived there till 2000. Sarojini Nagar is a colony for Junior Officers of Government of India in South Delhi and in this post and few others to follow I have tried to relive my childhood and also give you the first hand account of how the life used to be in “Government Delhi” around fifteen to twenty years back.
Like most of the government colonies built immediately post Independence, Sarojini Nagar is well laid out colony with houses on the either side of a lawn. Life in Sarojini Nagar revolved around this lawn which was called “Ground” by the younger generation and sker (Punjabi Pronunciation for square) by the old timer’s .During my growing up days; this square was used of variety of purposes. The most common was of course as a playground for Cricket, Football, Badminton, Hockey and also Indian homegrown games like Pittho , Pala, Unch Neech ka Papada( more on these later) among others. The other uses were that during the summer, the residents used to put out folding beds or Charpies in the night so that the families could sleep out in the open. With one bedroom flats ( I am tempted to call them apartments but somehow apartment and Sarojini Nagar does not go hand in hand. Quarters is what we used to call them and I think I will upgrade them to flats in my post), Coolers being a luxury and air conditioners unheard of, this was a perfect solution for a good night sleep. This also gave the kids opportunity to play out as late in the night as we wanted to. However, this concept of sleeping outside was pretty much over after the 1984 Riots of Delhi. Another very important use was in case of any big party (the only big party that people threw in those days was marriage) one used to put a tent or a shamina and voila you had a perfect setting for a marriage. No need to book expensive banquet halls and hotels. Although, 2 Banquet halls were available within half a km radius at a much discounted rates for Government employees. There were other ancillary usage as well, you could put all your furniture out in the open in case you were painting your house rather than keep re arranging and moving them inside the house, during Karva Chauth( Hindu festival observed by the wives for the long life of their husbands) the women folks could sit comfortable in the circular row and rotate plates or Thalis. Of course this was also the place where Aunties could gather and walk from one end of the square to another in their nighties till it was time to cook Dinner or till their husbands or kids shouted for them. You see, this square was just an extension of the house, where the aunties could stroll in their nighties; the uncles could come out and chat in their lungies and vests, where the small kids just came out running, full monty!

These days of course the square is used for car parking purposes with each house having at least one car each. In those days, parking was not such a big problem. Only Mr Badhwar had a car ( a fiat) .Most of the folks had Bajaj Chetak scooters, with the exception of my father who had a scooter named “Girnar”. Till date I have not seen the second scooter of the same brand.

The houses in Sarojini Nagar had a small courtyard in the front, a small drawing room, a verandah, a toilet with Indian seat and a huge bathroom (trust me the size of bathroom can give complex to some of the penthouse in Gurgoan), one bedroom and a backyard. The one on the first floor also had the same specification, but instead of Courtyard they had a balcony and instead of backyard they had a terrace. Pretty much everything you needed was available within a kilometer radius-Schools, Clinic, Markets, Bus Stop, Theater, Hospital and really you need not move out within that Km radius for the rest of your lives if you didn’t want to and still you would still have everything you need.

The concept of “private space” and “privacy” was largely unheard of. Your Neighborhood Aunty had all the right to lecture you if one did not perform in the exams, the uncle could slap you on the middle of the road if he saw you smoking. The Somaiya Aunty always sent fresh Idli’s on Sunday Morning and filter coffee in the evening whenever she saw me studying in backyard. Mahajan Uncle who stayed opposite us was always a door bell away in case of any math or a science problem being a University Gold Medalist. If you were getting bored, you could just walk into the neighbor’s house for a chat not really caring that they could be doing something else and not really looking forward to your company. Privacy was really an unheard concept, after all what’s private between neighbors.
Now you could assume that such close proximity is a perfect setting for a budding romance, but in reality it was quiet different. The immediate neighbors, whether you like it or not were brothers and sisters by default much to the disappointment of the guys of the colony at least! But of course the option was open to try your luck at the residents of neighboring square. However most of the romance I witnessed was one sided, with the guy watching every move of girl eyes and the girl having no inclination of the intentions of “Manu Bhaiya”( Brother Manu). Invariably, the “Manu Bhaiya” ended up setting the chairs up in the Shamiyana( Tents put up for marriage ceremony) of the marriage of the girl!

Another very common concept in the middles class colonies of Sarojini Nagar and other government colonies was the concept of Pet Name. Invariably every kid had a pet name and most of the times his real name was not known to most of the people in the colony. Sonu, Monu, Manu, Golu, Mintu were probably the most common pet name in Sarojini Nagar and in case you went and shouted Sonu outside any of the squares rest assured at lest 3 kids will walk out. So there were always “Bada” Sonu( Elder Sonu) and “Chota” Sonu ( Younger Sonu)or “615 wala” sonu( Sonu staying in house number 615) and “720” wala sonu( Sonu staying in hopuse number 720). We even had Ganja( Bald Guy) and Takli( Bald Girl) in our Colony, named so because their mother was half bald. Before you criticize us for being in- sensitive I want to let you know that even their parents called them with the same names!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Broom and the Tomb- Only in Delhi

Looks like the witch just paid a visit to this Tomb. Seen at Dadi Poti Tomb at Green Park.

Once a king now a saint

The tomb of Ghiyas us din Balban is located at Merauli Archaelogy Park. He was a ruler of Delhi from 1266-1287. The tomb is in complete ruins, however going by the number of incense sticks, Diyas and offering of rose water on grave suggests that he is now worshipped as a saint.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Cursed Tomb

I don't expect many to remember Adham Khan from history books. History books, after all are like mistresses, you are all over them till your purpose is achieved and then you never look back at them again. However you might remember him from Magnum Opus Jodha Akbar. He was the foster brother of Akbar and the son of Akbar's wet nurse Maham Anga. He was a complete rogue and was famous was kidnapping the wives of the kings he defeated in the wars and adding them to his harem. However he chewed more than he could swallow when he killed Atgah Khan at Agra fort. Atgah Khan was husband of another wet nurse of Akbar, Jiji Anga. Atgah Khan was very close to Akbar and an able administrator. The moment Akbar heard that Adham had murdered Atgah, he ordered Adham Khan to be thrown from the terrace of the fort till the time he was dead. He was thrown once but since he was not completely dead , he was bought back and thrown again.
Legend is that the tomb is cursed by Rani Roopmati. Rani Roopmati was the wife of Baaz Bahadur, the King of Manda. Baaz Bahadhur was killed by Adham Khan and before he could set his eyes on Rani Roopmati she commit ed suicide and cursed Adham Khan that no women will ever set foot in his tomb.

However, when I visited the tomb on a foggy Delhi afternoon, I could see many women sitting outside the tomb. Maybe they cared more about a good winter afternoon sun than the curse of Rani Roopmati. The Tomb is situated right next to Mehruli Bus Terminal. You can take a metro till Qutab Minar Metro Station and then walk or take an auto to the Bus Terminal.
The tomb is not exactly in ruins, however the surroundings are unkept and dirty. The care taker told me that since the tomb is right in the middle of a very busy area, the residents here treat the tomb as the backyard and any resistance by him to stop them from dirtying the place is usually met with violent resistance. There were people there playing cards, children cycling , Aunties cutting vegetables and an entire herd of goats happily loitering around.

Even the goats at Adham Khan tomb are rogue. This huge buck( male goat) with evil looking eyes, salivating mouth and big sharp horns had nothing but evil intentions for a sweet, innocent doe( female goat). Time and again he was trying to mount her and she trying to escape from his evil grip. The moment she saw me, she starting following me , thinking that Iam her knight in shinning armour( probably she had a poster of Bollywood movie for lunch). I could hear her screaming BAAH BAAH BACHAO. But Alas! I was just not man enough to save her, those big horns giving me the shivers..
Guess the curse is true, for the goats at least!

Mehrauli's Contribution to World War 1

A plaque outside Primary Healthcare center at Mehrauli.

United Colors of Delhi

Rajasthani Kathputli( string marionette) at Delhi Haat

Bangles at Delhi Haat

More Bangles