Monday, January 25, 2010

Delhi Traditions: In the fog

60 years of tradition says the morning of 26th January in Delhi will be either wet and cold or foggy. Just to make the Republic Day parade a cold, damp affair. Then as the parade ends, around mid-day, so too will the weather improve. Becoming bright and sunny by afternoon.

Well, the fogs here. after two lovely bright clear mornings. That's the lamppost about 50 yards across the road from my balcony. The houses and park behind are just slightly darker whispers of reality. Almost not there at all.

Now waiting for the sun...
Happy Republic Day folks :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The joys of a custom built Calendar

Across northern India each season is harsh and extreme.
Summers are hot and long. Monsoons sultry and very wet. While winters (my choice for worst time of the year) are bone chillingly cold. Its pretty much a fight to somehow see through each phase of the year.

(The magestic Surya at the City Palace, Udaipur)

Luckily we have the Hindu Solar calendar for solace.
It's like having a a custom built coat. Snug where it should fit, yet loose and comfortable when u reach your arm out. The Hindu Calendar, created centuries ago, fits the changing north Indian weather as beautifully.

Yesterday was grey and cold. A miserable dark day in a string of many  dark grey day. Yet in the evening people sat out around bon-fires. Celebrating Lohri. The end of winter.

The end of winter? No way! Specially when today dawned really foggy.

Then the change came by noon. It had too. Because today was Makar Shankranti, the day the sun moves into Capricorn. The winter grey had to go. And it went. Leaving us a beautiful  sun lit afternoon.

:-) Warmth and light returns.
Happy Lohri People! Happy Makar Shankranti!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dilli mein Hauz Khas (Hauz Khas in Delhi)

winter on the pond

In the heart of what is now a upmarket residential colony and art boutiques is a large park with forests, rose gardens, a deer park and some medieval ruins. 'Hauz Khas' or the special water reservoir.
In the dark winter evening, the water tank with it's fallen trees and ducks looked far away from anything urban...

winter on the pond

For me, this is one of the reasons why I love Delhi. It's many layers of history, present and different destinies for the future.

This water tank is one which inspires hope. As the residential colony and markets grew, the inlets to the reservoir were blocked and the lake dried up. Then in 2004 as the cities water levels sank alarmingly plans were made to revive the lost water storage systems. The Hauz (reservoir)came alive again, storm water generated at the southern ridge of Delhi behind an embankment was diverted into the lake. Other water sources were developed.

Hauz Khas ... Khas (special)also for the hope there will be other projects like this successfully implemented.

More about Hauz Khas on Wikipedia

Photography details: Carry a tripod and a torch. Tripod to hold the camera steady in low light. Torch to stay steady on your course as there are steps to climb along the way.

winter on the pond

Friday, October 30, 2009

WOW! The new National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi

Ok I'm way late in checking out the new wing at the NGMA, Delhi. It was inaugurated much earlier in the year and yesterday was my first visit. Surprised is not the word.. proud would be more apt. The building spread across multiple floors, with lavish use of space, finally does justice to the Gallery's extensive collection and the wealth of Indian art.

It's fully disable-friendly (a rare feature in India), well lit and well catalogued. I do so like comprehensive info readily available right next to each art work!

Nicely too the warmth of the old staff remains. Another visit is due and another and another :-)

Now the reason why I actually made the trek from Gurgaon to India Gate (took me two an a half hours first by car to Dwarka , then an hour in the Metro to Central Secretariat and finally an hour's dusty walk from one end of Raj path to the other) was to see the exhibition "European Traveller Artists" put up in collaboration with the V&A, London.

The paintings were delightful. Some well known old friends by William Carpenter and the Daniels and lots of new ones to admire.Comprehensively catalogued as well. Nice little descriptions for each. Surprisingly with such frequent typos I think perhaps it was a new fanged style statement!! lol

Not whats expected from the NGMA, the V&A or the British Council that sponsored it.

My recommendations: Definitely go see it if you're in Delhi or read up more at

Photography tip: none really. The one photograph I did take (above) was discreet with my camera phone and I oh-so-do-not condone a flash being used in museums. Paintings are best experienced in original :-)
I do have an earlier photograph of the building taken from outside...

Monday, October 12, 2009

7 days in Ladakh: Tso Moriri

Very isolated. Very basic, Very beautiful.
That's Tso Moriri.

If nomads call any place home, for Ladakhi nomads it would be the wild open spaces around this lake. We got there at September end, when the wild grass was already golden. Large herds of sheep, goats, yaks and horses quickly munching away as much as they can before the snows come down.

(a pretty lake along the way shunned by locals for it's 'rotten water')

Getting to the lake is not a problem. A pleasant drive from Leh on a very pretty almost empty road along the Indus, that is till the last 20 kilometers. When the 'road' is tyre marks from the previous vehicle across open grasslands or stones.

(Golden Marmots are easy to spot right on the roadside)

Accomodation is however extremely basic. Our original booking almost made us head back to Leh immediately. Luckily we managed to get two cottages at a newly opened tent and cottage setup instead.

(Livestock has right of way pretty much all the time)

As the sun disappeared behind the western mountains, the cold winds made being outdoors almost impossible. Sunset photography was through the windscreen of our Qualis.

Don't know what it was that made the sky alight in rosy bands. That too behind the eastern mountains.

:-) Very strange. Very un-understandable. Very stunning
That's Tso Moriri.

Photography tip: Select a comfortable spot where you can wait however long it takes to get your shots. If with non-photographer companions carry snacks and drinks to keep them happy as you wait!

Best Buy Souvenir: The 101 Moments CD Ladakh, endless discoveries containing interactive tours of this beautiful land. The CD is available online and through select bookstores.