Monday, January 30, 2017



Latin is much better, see? 

When people do things they love..

When someone is doing what they love doing best, all the veils on their heart fall away. All the layers of paint worn to be who they should appear to be, are washed out.

To see someone doing what they truly love doing, is like seeing their soul naked.

Things to do in Shimla #1- The Himachal State Museum

Getting there:
In front of the Oberoi Cecil hotel, is one road that goes to the Viceregal Lodge. The other, smaller road that goes up to the Doordarshan Kendra, is the one you need to take. There are no signboards. Go right up to the end of that road. You will reach the Himachal Pradesh State Museum.
Tell the driver that the car goes right up and there is enough parking there.
Once inside, feel free to lose yourself entirely and completely.

Things to do:
If you have young children, they will enjoy the Indian Army section a lot. I went to see rare examples of the Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art, and was suitably rewarded.

There is a real palki of the goddess for the famous Kullu Ka Dashahra, and there is a model of the Himachali temple - whose architectural style varies considerably from temples elsewhere in the country. There is a room dedicated to local murals and the Chamba Rumaal - beautiful embroidery that looks the same on both sides.

There is a section with the traditional dresses of all regions of Himachal. It was pure delight!
The biggest surprise was the sculpture from the Himachal school. I had no idea! It was a total learning experience.

There is also a coins gallery. Though not as good as the Coins gallery at the National Museum, Delhi, it is, nonetheless, a great resource for children who have never been exposed to the coin heritage of India. If you are accompanying a child, please do take the time to read, and then explain to the child.
One of the things that I cannot get out of my head - is a coin of a bull with inscription in Kharoshthi. The bull is shaped exactly like the bulls found on the Indus Valley seals, but the inscription is in Kharoshthi.

If you are an IVC fan (and I am), that coin is remarkable. It provides, to my knowledge, the only evidence of continuity from the IVC to the later Indic civilisations.

The other things of note are the miniature paintings and murals depicting women. In these late 18th century paintings, women can be seen writing, reading, playing with a top, smoking a hookah, and drinking wine. These are all solo portraits (meaning no need for a male subject in the picture). This was the India of over a 100 years ago. I think we need to pay attention to these pictures and understand what we are missing in our "modern" world.

In short, this museum is your window to the heritage that is Himachal. The clothes, the crafts (there are wooden masks too), the instruments, the jewelry, miniature art and the manuscripts, the coins and the sculptures, the embroidery and the murals. This is a treasure trove, if you have the time to invest.

The staircase that greets you as soon as you enter the building. Amazing!

Traditional Himachali jewelry. What are these pieces used for?

Lady playing with a  traditional Indian toy - lattu

Lady drinking wine - Guler School of Pahadi Miniature Art

Lady writing letter - Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

Hookah Time. Pahadi School of Miniature Art - Guler

A Gurudwara from 2 centuries ago. Guler, Pahadi School of Miniature Art

Model of the Shiva temple - Notice that large reception area and the Kalasham that is unlike anywhere else. Also notice the almost 100% wood construction.

The famous Chamba Rumaal

Traditional Himachali instruments

Vishnu - Himachal Sculpture style

Surya - HImachal Sculpture Style

Details about the Himachal Sculpture

This cute British era letter box in front of the museum

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Because i am Sherlock and must break everything down to logical bits and definitions..

He: Do you miss me?

She: I don't miss you. I remember you. The frequency at which we meet, is called "memories". Memories are not missed. They are remembered. Habits, are missed. When we remember, we think of you fondly, but we don't want you to be around. Its nice, and its in the past. When we miss, we want you around. Right Then. As if it would somehow make us more alive.

People don't realise that the only variable that moves the pointer from "remembering" to "missing" is the frequency at which our subconscious minds expect an association. In short, "Being There."

So there, now you know, why I don't miss you. I can't.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review - Bheeshm Sahni - Sankalit Kahaniyaan

Bheeshma Sahni - Sankalit Kahaniyaan

आजकल, किताब पढ़ना यूँ भी आसान होता है, क्योंकि ज़्यादातर किताबें घड़े पर पानी सी होती हैं।  पर कुछ किताबें, चिपक सी जाती हैं. चाह कर भी उन से हाथ या आँखें हटाई नहीं जा सकती. ऐसी पुस्तकों के बारे में लिखने का मन करता है.  

किताब के पीछे लिखा है - "इस में कहानी की यात्रा में ही हम रस लेते हैं" ये ऐसी ही किताब है - एक एक शब्द में रस लेने वाली. हर कहानी अपने आप में एक अलग , नया संसार है. इस में जितना हुनर लेखक का है, उतना ही कौशल संकलनकर्ता का भी है. 

ये अलग वक़्तों की कहानियां भी हैं, और आज की भी. कहानी का अपना रस - जैसे "डायन" में मिलता है, वैसा शायद किसी और में नहीं. एक रोमांटिक कहानी... बस, पढ़ी जा सकती है, रुक्मणी की कल्पना की जा सकती है. उसके बारे में बताया नहीं जा सकता. कुछ कहानियों का बस, अनुभव ही अनिवार्य है. 

"साग मीट" एक और कहानी है, जिस में कितनी और कहानियां छिपी मिलती हैं. हंसी भी आती है, रोष भी होता है, दुःख भी. 

जो लोग अभी उम्र में छोटे हैं, उन्हें ४ साल तक स्कूटर खरीदन का इंतज़ार, या दंगों में बिछड़े बच्चों की खोज के किस्से, जाने पहचाने नहीं लगेंगे. और फिर मन में आता है, जो मेरे देश की जीत है, तो ये है, की ४० साल बाद, हमें ४ साल स्कूटर के इंतज़ार के बारे में कुछ भी याद नहीं. और जो मेरे मुल्क की हार है, तो ये है, कि जिस मुए हिन्दू-मुसलमान के फसाद में "पाली" और "वीरो" की कहानियां बनी , ७० साल बाद भी, उस फसाद में कोई बदलाव नहीं. मौलवी साहब कुछ और कट्टर हो गए हैं, समाज सेवक कुछ और निर्भीक।

ये कहानियां कुछ कुछ ऐसी हैं, जैसे कोई मोहल्ले में बीच में बैठा हो, और हर घर का कुछ कुछ झरोखा दीखता हो. और ऐसी भी, कि जैसे कोई माया महल में घुसे, और कोई शीशा किसी दुसरे शीशे सा न हो. हर शीशा बिलकुल अलग, पर बेहद मज़ेदार. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

कतरनें / kataranein

अगर वो कभी जुबां खोले, तो मैं उस के जीवन का सारा विष नीलकंठ बन कर पी जाऊं.

पर ऐसा कभी नहीं होता. कितने साल बीत गए.. वो चुप है, और मैं तृष्णा ग्रस्त।

Monday, January 16, 2017

Zaroorat / Need

बहुत ज़रूरी है। 

मोहल्ले में हो
एक ही ऊंची सीढ़ी
तो दीवार चढ़ने के लिए
अहम् की दीवार
लांघनी भी पड़ती है

जब डिनर सेट
शर्मा जी के यहां से
और कुर्सियां
वर्मा जी के यहां से हो
तो मेहमान नवाज़ी
सांझी हो जाती है। 
दुःख सुख भी

हलकी सी गोंद है 
जो सब को जोड़े रखती है 

बहुत ज़रूरी है। 

Update: This post made it to the Tangy Tuesday Picks of Blogadda! Am so surprised! 


Book Review: Detective Ben

I love detective fiction. Everything from Sherlock to Nancy Drew to James Patterson to Mary Higgins Clark.. u get the idea.

So it was with some excitement that I picked up this Detective Ben - my first in the series.


The plot was thin, if at all. The absence of spellings might work for some people, it was a torture for me.

And in short, I usually do not review books and movies that I don't like. But this was begging that we should warn other readers.

Please avoid.

Book Review: Itvaar Chhota Pad Gaya by Pratap Somvanshi

बड़े दिन बाद, एक ऐसी किताब जिस के हर शेर पर वाह! निकलती है.

कविता, बड़ी अजीब चीज़ होती है. बिलकुल माया के जैसी. जिसे लग जाए, उसे लग ही जाती है. पर आज भी हम ५० साल पुरानी किताबें पढ़ते हैं. इस लिए, जब कोई नयी किताब आती है, तो उस से बड़ी उम्मीदें बंधती हैं. इस बार, एक किताब है जो उन सब उम्मीदों पर  खरी उतरती है. बार बार किताब के पन्ने आँखों में मिश्री घोलते हैं. बार बार मुस्कान स्वयं ही आती है. ऐसी कविता, काम ही पायी जाती है.

ज़रूर पढ़ें.

Poetry is like Maya... once you are in its grasp, you cannot escape. You will always thirst for good poetry. But we still read poetry that is half a century old. So when a new book of poetry is released, one views it with much anticipation. This is that rare book that meets the expectation. On every page, there is a smile. Almost every sher makes you go "Wah!" in your head. This is awesome poetry. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lohri Traditions

Makar Sankranti is a festival that is celebrated all over the country. Sharing here, the Lohri/Maghi traditions of Punjab. Please share the traditions of your own culture. It will be great to have a compendium.

1. Til Mooli
In the morning, before we eat anything else, every member of the family takes a small piece of radish, and a pinch of black sesame seeds. They sit with another member of the family (usually someone older) and take 5 resolutions for the coming year. These are the things they value in life. The person sitting with them confirms each resolution verbally. It is a very beautiful exchange. Usually, they go something like:
Til mooli chakhaan? (Should i taste this Til mooli?)
Response: Chakho ji. (Please do)
Ghar Parivar rakhaan? (May i value my family this year)
Response: Rakho Ji. (Please do)
Vyapaar Maan Rakhan? (May i value my trade and my prestigs?)
Response: Rakho ji.
Deh Rogta Rakhaan? (Wellness)
Rakho Ji.
Yaar Dost Rakhaan? (My friendships)
Rakho Ji.
I love the Til Mooli tradition. It forces us to focus on the 5 things that matter most in life, and provide a verbal affirmation to value them in the year.

2. Mai De Lohri
Small batches of girls and boys go from house to house, singing traditional Lohri songs and collecting goodies from every household. This is the Indian Trick or Treat. There is a song for girls and one for boys.
You can get them here:

3. The Bonfire
Perhaps the best known tradition of Lohri is the bon fire. At this time, the Rabi crop is either just harvested, or near there. People take this corn, rabri, gajak, peanuts and other winter goodies. They light a bon fire and circle it (almos always,this is a community bon fire, around which there is much singing and dancing and fun). Once you have circumambulated the fire, your Lohri basket becomes "prasad" and you must share it with the other families, also partaking of theirs.

4. The song and dance
Self explanatory.

5. The "Bai Khichdi"
On the night of Lohri, the family makes chana dal khichdi and keeps it overnight. The next morning, the whole family eats only bai khichdi. That old khichdi is symbolic of everything that the previous year stood for. With that breakfast, we bid adieu to every resentment and happiness of the previous year. With that breakfast, our association with the previous year is over.

6. The "First Lohri"
The first Lohri of a couple, or of a newborn, is considered very special. There is much celebration, and people travel to be with their families for the First Lohri of a special arrival in the family.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


When a pebble sinks
it makes
no noise.
It is the same
with people.

कंकड़ डूबता है
तो आवाज़ नहीं होती
लोगों का भी
ऐसा ही है.