Featured

Udaipur, 2015

(PART-1/2)

This is the first place I have picked to add in my travel diaries. I am more of an explorer than a traveler. Udaipur is one of the big cities in Rajasthan, India. It was a study trip while I was pursuing my bachelors. Though, we enjoyed it more like a vacation than a study project. We visited the city in late spring, by then the city started being super hot during daytime. It feels somewhat like an adventure when you travel with your grad family for the first time. I have always felt that travelling together makes us stronger as a group. The most amazing part of my trip was that I got a chance of exploration and exposure I got. I have always loved to explore cultural ethnicity of a place. The food, the architecture and the lifestyle are the biggest attractions for me when I visit any place.

Here is a collection of the memories I have of this city and the trip:

The city of lakes

There are four main lakes in the city, which are Lake Pichola, Udai-sagar lake, Dhebar lake and Fateh-Sagar lake. We visited Pichola and Fateh-Sager lake. These are all atrificial fresh water lakes and the concept behind these lakes was to achieve a comfortable micro climate for the city during summers. These lakes were created with the help of dams and palaces were placed in between these lakes. These structures were established in 14th century, under the rule of Mewar dynasty. The lakes were gradually filled over time in accordance with the comfort levels of kings and queens.

I watched sunset, standing on the banks of Pichola, overlooking the Jag Mandir (the lake palace). It was one of the most spectacular moments of my life.

Here, is one interesting facts which was told to me by a vendor at lakeside (I always try to engage with locals because I love to know their stories and how they perceive the city they live in), that the lake is cursed. This curse is known as Natini’s curse. Apparently, she was some tight-rope walkers and was challenged by the king to cross the lake on a tight rope and was promised half of the king’s kingdom. But, she fell because of some trickery played by the king and before she could reach the end while falling, she cursed the royal family; which later came true for the generations which came next. I remember imagining this girl on a tight rope and there is a setting sun in the background and all the eyes are on her. The amount of confidence, this rope-walker must have possessed to challenge the royals. It made me ponder the whole day.

The city of artists

Rajasthan is a home to many forms of artistry in terms of handicrafts. Udaipur is specifically known for its stone sculptures, terracotta, blue pottery and ivory works. As amused as I was to find these facts while visiting museums, I also wanted to catch all the colorful vibes the city introduced me to. The bazaars were full of handmade clothing items designed with ‘Bandani’ techniques. The fresh fragrance of leather coming filling the streets. Tonnes and tonnes of pottery items, all blue. It all painted the old city as a never-ending fair. I vividly remember buying a pair of very cute small diaries with leather cover, as a souvenir. A very dear friend of mine, got me this leather band as a token of friendship and I still cherish that memory. We wore that band almost everyday, till we were in the city. I like how these little things you get from a place can make you feel as if you are a part of it.

For me this trip was not just about friends or the place settings but it was an awakening which planted a bud in me to explore as much as I can and never settle.

Featured

Point of Origin-Paradox!

You won’t believe, my friend, but it’s true; we all have days we cherish and some which we rue…

Laughter and sorrow are easy to be found and to these patterns we are bound…

They say, “what goes around, comes around” and we often ask ourselves what are the vibes that will be put and would we even feel when it comes back?

Deep down are buried those things which we don’t want to encounter and to fate we ultimately surrender…

In all of this conundrum life moves on and all we do is wonder…

“The forests look more green when far”; but aren’t they all green in their own way?

The answers we need lie within; which some find and some can not even seek…

We all have visions which play innumerously in backgrounds and all we do is wish that the lost ends may someday be found…

We all are lost and we all keep some flaws which are tangarine but the truth, my friend, is that it all starts with a point and that point is you; whenever you go on a search of answers; you will always circle back your path to the ‘point of origin’ and the most beautiful irony is you won’t be able to find it and once again you’ll be fine and you’ll get back to your hide…

“You have always had the key, you just didn’t know when and how to turn it”

Featured

I saw you there..

I saw you there, I wondered how is it going to be to know you.

I held your hand, I wondered how come it is this satisfying even when it’s new.

I realised I can sit in one place doing nothing but staring at you for hours.

I know this is not what I wanted it to be but it feels like spring with bloom into flowers.

I ponder whether these feelings will grow or get lost in chills.

But till the time that moment comes, I’m going to enjoy these feels.

I feel distracted and this was never a part of my “plan”. Though there can be chances that universe is directing my steps while it can.

I believe whatever it is we are going to grow in each other’s arms with all the happiness and charms.

Featured

Phases of life!

One anticipates the meaning of life according to their own experiences and the perception they develope over the course of their life. Everyone assumes that their life has had the most challenges but what I perceive of this connation is “it’s like an exam paper” and it has a equal amount of sad and happy times which might not coincide with any other person. Maybe there are some events which turn out to be same in one aspect or other but we can not figure that out unless we are out of that phase.

Life unfolds as these ‘phases’ pass and we can not get a clear picture during any of these, so we have to wait till end.

Some phases might seem like it itself is an end but it’s just a mirage because there’s a notion that endings are always happy.

Now, maybe this assumption is a bluff to give you hope, but having hope is better than quitting, right? Surviving is any day better than believing that you deserve a sad end while that may actually not be an end.

Can you feel how delusional these phases are ?

You’ll read many quotations like “JUST KEEP BREATHING” and cinicals might think ‘wow, like we don’t know that, as if we don’t do that already’ but these three words give power to many who have forgot that as long as you are breathing and able to breathe, it’s alright.

Speaking of three words, there is a pair of other three words which are as powerful and more famous than these. Though I won’t say them because frankly I’m afraid of it by now. ( see, that’s because of my experiences and I accept that :))

I would just suggest that these three words doesn’t contain the end too, whatever it seems like good or bad.

I’ve always said just be happy with yourself and yea, of course keep breathing :))

Shahjahanabaad: Then and Now.

Delhi, 2020. The capital state of India is known for its new innovative ways and old settlements. It has been a historic power centre and a veteran to reigns of various monarchies. This past makes Delhi a hub of various monuments and historic places, which are from different eras and have distinguished architectural styles. One of such places with great historic significance is the old city of Delhi, Shahjahanabad. This blog contains facts about Shahjahanabadi settlement and its current situations.

Shahjahanabad (also known as the walled city) is the seventh city of Delhi (out of seven). The city is named after a Mughal monarch Shahjahan, one of the sons of Akbar, who shifted from Agra to Delhi in 1638 AD. The city of Shahjahanabad was initially planned organically and was designed to accommodate 60,000 population. It spread over 569 hectares approximately.


The settlement’s geometry was influenced by ‘Vastu Shastra’ and attains the shape of a bow and an arrow shaping like a semi-ellipse. The city was planned on the basis of analogies of a human. The wall acts as a skin, chandni chowk stretch is the spine, streets are ribs, the fort as head, Jama Masjid as heart and Sarai (rest houses) as organs (Datmann, 1969). The city was designed with a concept based on identification of usage of the spine to take place. Commodities as jewellery, clothing and accessories were the main attraction.

The main streets connecting the bazaar were primarily for original layout of this Mughal city, drastically altered in British era. The introduction of railway line transformed and enhanced commerce sector. This attracted population for job opportunities. In-migration resulted in densely populated areas around industries and trade centres.

At present, more than 1500 persons reside per hectare in this area. Once, Shahjahanabad acted as a central core of the city and 42 thousands people lived there in 1961, which decreased to 35 thousands in 1981 and then 23.5 thousands in 2001. This out-migration is because of exhaustive use of infrastructure which led to irreversible dilapidation. The image of Shahjahanabad (also commonly known as Chandni Chowk, now) has varied from ancient fort and settlements of a Mughal emperor to a distinctive wholesale and retail markets of modern days.

Shahjahanabad is immensely rich in cultural heritage, with all kinds of architecturally beautiful structures varying from palaces, mosques, bazaars, havelis, katras to streets and layers of architectural elements. Despite of all the richness, in public memory, Shahjahanabad is a mess of chocked traffic movement, intense commerce, a maze of dark narrow alleyways and a great tangle of billboards and electric cables. The walled city is plagued with issues like congestion, infrastructural dilapidation, unauthorized construction, deteriorated housing conditions and unthoughtful conversion of residential premises to non- residential/commercial uses.

After so many urban renewal projects being planned and the issues remain intact. Urban renewal, in terms of the walled city is more of a gentrification process; but since Shahjahanabad comes under ‘special zone’ section in Master Plan of Delhi (MPD, 2001; MPD, 2011), the area cannot be touched, eradicated or changed. The urban renewal projects have intended to change the face of the area but due to residential leases and willingness of residents to be a part of the area, it makes it difficult for the government to intervene and authorize any project in Shahjahanabad. All these conflicts doesn’t leave much rooms for tourism in the area.

The special zone in master plan pertains to the areas which are the part of the walled city as built by Shahjahan. Today, more area than walled city is under heritage privileges and possess a great value for being adjacent to the old city. Residents of the area within the walled city have also capitalised on surroundings which has increased the possibilities of trade and commerce for them.

It has always been a struggle for people from old city to survive in such dilapidated conditions but they have surely enjoyed the perks which came with the identity of this area. Shahjahanabad has been one of the more integral parts of Delhi’s past and present.

Kali Peeli : It’s all’bout the journey.

Mumbai, 2019; Whenever, we talk about Mumbai, Kali Peeli (the signature Mumbain taxi), always be in that conversation. This blog is based on my experiences with the Kali Peelis of Mumbai. I’ll start with a little background of these taxis and then move to my encounter.

Mumbai: the city of dreams, hub to one of the most loved talkies’ industries of the world – Bollywood, the city that never sleeps and with distinguished attributes to offer when one is travelling. All the high-rises and low lying coasts are perfectly seamed with an amazing network of Kali Peelis.

Designated Kali Peelis are the Padmini cabs released by Fiat in 1964, these cars shook the market of already existing Ambassador cars. There numbers increased exponentially during ’70s and ’80s. The authorities preferred Padmini over the bulkier Hindustan Motors’ Ambassador (which was the only other car widely available in India at the time) Approximately, 65,000 Padminis plied Mumbai regularly at their peak in the mid-1990s but they gradually made their way out in favor of newer, more environment friendly vehicles. In commensuration with these events, demand of Padminis kept declining in Mumbai and finally the production of these taxi cabs was stopped in the year, 2000. In association with the rules pertaining to vehicular usage the last batch of Padminis had a life span of 20 years and are permanently discontinued from June, 2020. There were less than 50 Padminis left in the city while RTO decided to scrap these taxis. The emotions and significance associated with these cabs are way deep for any visitor to understand. 

When I landed in Mumbai (visiting for a conference), all I had in my mind was to capture the essence of this amazing place in my memories, be it the lifestyle, the community or the commute. The best way to understand a city is to understand the movement of its population. I meticulously searched for a Kali Peeli to take me to my accommodation for the trip. I loved how caring and polite these people were to me. Travelling solo, has its own perks. One can capture the true essence of a place in their own way.

I found a kaali peeli standing outside the airport and I booked it. The driver warned me that it might cost me more than a regular cab and it had no air conditioning system. I asked why does it cost more? He said because it runs on diesel and mileage is less. It got me curious about these cabs and I started digging more; I questioned “Dada, kaali peeli kaise chala rahe hai? Cab par shift nhi kiye?….”

This one question took him back fifty years when he came to the city for work. This guy was seventy years old and he started driving taxi after his retirement. He started telling how the city has undergone changes. He came to Mumbai to take a job in a post office. He showed his place of work (the oldest postal building of the city now). It is so bizarre how a place undergo so many variances and all we have left are with layers of memories. We took the Bandra-Worli sea link to reach our destination and I was quite amused with this coastline bridge. Dada narrated how the construction work started and how they all were excited for it to be completed. He is from Nashik and his family used to live there only when he came to city and he worked really hard to get them all here in Mumbai. They live in a chawl but he seemed content with what he has. He showed me around, the Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Station, Landmarks is South Bombay and many more. Finally, we stopped at Girgaon Chowpati and had the famous Pav Bhaji for dinner together. Maybe we liked each other’s company too much. He thanked me for listening to him and I was just thankful that we met.

Twinned with nostalgia and astonishment, I reached my destination….

इश्क़ जिस्मानी नहीं, बड़ी रूहानी चीज़ है।।

There are many definitions and notions associated to love, all over the world. Some claim to understand it while some run away from it. This piece is one of the several attempts I have made to capture the essence of this beautiful emotion.

जैसे छूटा हुआ पन्ना कोई हाथ आया,
तुझ से मिलकर वो करार आया।
इश्क़ जिस्मानी नहीं, बड़ी रूहानी चीज़ है।।
ज़रूरी नहीं ये सबके नसीब में हो,
ना ही ये ज़रूरी है कि ये हर नाचीज़ समझें।
किसी की ज़िद है ये और किसी की आदत,
हमसे पूछो तो ये है एक हसीं आयत।
तालाश से न मिले, न नसीब से,
जिस वक़्त हमने करवट बदली तुमको पाया,
जैसे छूटा हुआ कोई पन्ना हाथ आया।।
जब किसी पर ऐतबार आ जाये वो प्यार है,
अब के हम बिछड़े तो शायद ख्वाब में मिले,
जिस तरह सूखे फूल किताबो में मिले,
किसी की याद है ये,
किसी का इंतज़ार है ये,
किसी की दोस्ती है ये,
तो किसी का सफर है,
इश्क़ जिस्मानी नहीं, बड़ी रूहानी चीज़ है।।

Chittor Fort, 2015

This place will always be one of the closest to my heart. While travelling to Udaipur, I saw a silhouette of Kirti Stambh (Victory Tower) from the window of my train and that image still is one of the best memories I have from travelling. This blog post is a tribute the Rajputana courage and valor.

It has always been fascinating to know about the historic places and stories and the ones which associate with gallantry, politics and strategical influences are my favorite. These are the stories which lead us to decipher the decisions made by those rulers and to finally understand and co-relate the aspects we see today while travelling to a place. History can not be judged, as we will never truly understand the circumstances they had back then but it teaches you a thing or two. Personally, I find it fun to relate things and vibes, I feel in a city, to its evolutionary tales.

I have visited Chittor fort only once but those memories are still intact. Everyone knows the story of Rani Padmini and her massive Jauhar. I knew the crudest version of this story when I visited this fort. It is next to impossible to even imagine that kind of determination and sense of commitment, which those ladies portrayed in 1300s. The fort (when I visited) appeared ill-maintained and not a lot a tourists seemed visiting. It was actually heart-breaking. The appearance of this place does not do justice to the significance it has, not only for the locals but for the Rajput lineage of Rajasthan state.

The Chittor fort is the largest fort in India. It was constructed in seventh century during the rule of Mauryans. Later, Bappa Rawal, founder of Mewar dynasty shifted his administrative capital to Chittor. The fort can also be considered as founding stone of the emerging Rajputs’ dynasty and they ruled from Chittor for over three centuries, not consecutively though. The fort has faced three major battles in years 1303, 1535 and 1567-1568. The first siege was led by Alauddin Khilji. He defeated Rana Ratan Singh and the first jauhar happened, led by Rani Padmini. The second seize (1535) had massive repercussions and was led by Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, who defeated Bikramjeet Singh. Inspired by Rani Padmini, Rani Karnavati led the second Jauhar. It was believed that if/when the warriors die during the war, it is better for their spouses to burn themselves, so that, they do not have to surrender to the terms of victorious sultanate forces. The last and final war held among forces of Akbar and Maharana Udai Singh. After his defeat, the maharana shifted his capital from Chittor to Udaipur City Palace where his lineage has survived and is still living.

The fort is constructed at an altitude of 180 meters. Its surroundings and geographic conditions has always given it an advantage during attacks but these attributes have also painted it as a target too. The continuous tension between Rajputs and Mughals led them to agree on a treaty in 1616 in which Jahangir offered the fort to Amar Singh as peace offering. So, in a way the fort has always belonged to Rajputs and will be.

There are many stories associated with the origin of the fort. One interesting story which I came across was that the mighty Bhima owned this fort in the beginning of origin of Chittor settlement and he struck the ground here to make an artificial water body to suffice the needs of residents of the settlement at that time. It is mentioned in the museum as well. There were supposedly 84 water bodies in the premises and only 22 can be seen now. These water bodies are all artificial and seasonal. When I visited, mostly all of them were dry.

The museum gave a very dusty and dilapidated vibe and it was not very welcoming to the visitors. Though, if you observe closely, they have models to explain the areas of the fort which were very interesting. I am attaching some pictures of the fort to give you guys a sense of the space.

View of Gomukh Kund
The place where Jauhar happened.
Meera Bai Temple.
Neelkanth Temple
Padmini Mahal
Rana Kumbha Palace
Eastern Pol (Entry)
Victory Tower

Life and Emotions

What’s life if you don’t let yourself feel a little dizzy in emotional poison?

Ever felt hungover after being emotionally spent in an episode of your life. When these series of episodes start changing, you start feeling different too. Whether it’s love, childbirth, happy times, sad times, all the things you feel on daily basis, starts fading at some point and that’s when you start realizing it was not the people or situations who decided for you but your emotions was in control of your decisiveness. At any given point of time, you have choices and these lead to events which later become the moments that define you. Often, during the times of self-realization, you question your choices but have you ever thought that what you chose was the best of your knowledge at that time. What really is the point of shutting yourself down and being hard on yourself over the things you know can never change. Emotions can serve as both, a boon and a curse. You just have to accept that you need to live and move on.

Udaipur, 2015

(Part 2/2)
A Visit to City Palace
A quick sketch to highlight the essence of Jharokha

Being one of the main attractions in the city, the palace offers a variety of experiences. Personally, the design, stories and style of the palace was the most appealing. Every common man wonders at least once, what would his life be if he were a king for a day. While visiting palaces one always imagines being a part of the royal routine.

This city palace was built around 400 years ago and is now maintained by the government of India in association with the royal family. Though, there is a democracy in our country but the local people still look up to the legacy of royals.

I am not a native of this place but it is always exciting to know about the characteristics while visiting a place. Here are bits of facts I remember from my visit :

The palace is basically the patrimony of Rajputs, who have been ruling and taking care of the city since generations. This particular structure was constructed during the reign of Maharana Udai Singh. It is one of the largest and magnificent palaces constructed by Rajputs in Rajasthan state. This palace was the administrative hub for the Maharanas from where they commanded their reign.

Another interesting fact about the palace is that some parts of the premises are still reserved to the royal family, which increases its value. The Maharana family voluntarily signed the treaty to share the rights of palace with British Government in the year of 1818. This was to ensure their protection from constant attacks of Marathas and Mughals.

City palace has been in this family for over 22 generations and has undergone many transformations starting from the year of 1559. It possesses a well amalgamated homogeneous architectural characteristics and features which compliments each other. The premises comprise of a total of 11 various sized separate palaces. Some of which are restricted for visitation while others are either turned into hotels or museums. Zenana (Ladies) mahal is the one turned into a museum and is open to general public. Udai Vilas Palace and Fatehprakash Palce are the ones turned into hotels.

It is not just the residential areas in a palace which holds importance but the exploration starts right from the gateway of the premises. The gateways are commonly known by the locals as ‘Pol’ and the ‘Badi Pol’ is the one which lets public enter for visitation. This pol takes you from mor chowk to the landscaped area of the Zenana Mahal (palace) where the tour begins.

Unfortunately, they did not allow us to take camera phones inside so I do not have any pictures to share. The museum is well organised and maintained for the visitors. It was a true treat to go through all the bits and facts they offered during the tour.

Flames

Some desires keep you awake; they keep reminding you what’s on stake.

The emotions attached are often hard to waive; even though, you keep telling yourself how your emotions are making you naive.

It is hard to move ahead when all you feel is your insides burning; and what’s life without a little churning.

You keep looking for a way out; deep down you know till you don’t achieve what you desire for, you won’t be able to pause.

There is no one who can do this for you; You will never be able to find yourself out of this zoo.

It is a vicious circle which keeps going; it might budge sometimes but its not letting you keep your sane. You won’t even know what hit you; all you will feel is the pain.

When you feel this; ask yourself its worth. When you seek it, ask yourself about its birth.

When you are satisfied with the answers you have; trust me it is the best time to put off the fire and get back to cave.

Delusions

You know exactly what happened and you often assume the rest. The facts that you know and the story you make outta them is always according to your perspective. People believe the things they want to believe. It is not your job to control those stories. You might be a star in someone stories without even knowing or a villain in someone’s head for whom you care a lot. The bottom line is you can’t control it. Then why waste all your time to be the star all the time. The things you do matters and you shall do them as you please. Why not shift your focus on whatever makes you happy rather doing things that ‘would’ make ‘someone’ happy for once. Everyone is important to themselves but everybody can not be the most important person for everyone. This is the delusion we often have that everyone and everything revolves around us and us only, but it doesn’t. If you have done good to someone, doesn’t mean it will come back from the same person. As much as you hate it, as long as you want to wait and as lost or betrayed as you feel, that is your perspective and ultimately your delusion.

Anchors

Ask yourself what holds you down when you want to sail off. Then ask yourself whether its holding you down because it just happens to be there or you sub-consciously allow it or even plant it yourself. Its easy to blame others for your falls but you always need to accept the fact that you allowed them. Everything which happens with you is because you let it happen. My anchors associates with my demons. I know that I plant my anchors to keep me from doing things which I know I might regret. I’ve always known I’m an extremist. All my demons relates to me being emotional and care all the time, for literally everyone I know and all my anchors are to direct my emotions and get rid of them. I’m writing my story of anchors to remind myself that all the time I waste blaming others for screwing me up, I’ve let them. We don’t control how are we raised but once we start figuring ourselves, our choices are only ours. You might not know what’s the right time to cut your anchors loose, but gotta start facing your own self at some time. I’ve realized I might not ever be ready to set my main sail but I gotta start somewhere if I don’t wanna regret it. I already know what’s holding me down. All I’m afraid of is somewhere down the lane when I won’t find anyone to blame, I might blame myself.

“I think its time to let the anchors go”