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Showing posts from May, 2009

House, Woman

Some place near Rishikesh.
May 2009.

Idol factory

Jai-Maa-Kali Pratima Centre

c1/12, Sector 31 Noida (U.P.)









The end product is supposed to look something like this - Durga, the goddess who rides Lion (or tiger).
















But here the goddess (or is that a god) is sitting on an Elephant. That could mean the deity is either Indra or Laxmi. Chances of that are bleak.

The deity here could simply be riding the Elephant of Mayawati's BSP.

Pandit Nehru by Homai Vyarawalla

27th May, 2009

Remembering Jawaharlal Nehru (14 November 1889 –27 May 1964) with some photographs of Pandit Nehru taken by Homai Vyarawalla 'Dalda 13', India's first woman professional photographer.



Pandit Nehru besides a 'Photography Strictly Prohibited by order' signboard at Delhi's Palam airport.


Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru greets American first lady Jacqueline Kennedy at his residence with the traditional 'tilak' (vermilion mark) on the forehead. In 1969 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy was on a private nine day visit to India and stayed with Nehru-Gandhi family at Teen Murti.

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Credit: Found these amazing photographs of Jawaharlal Nehru in a Catalogue for a Photo Exhibition organized in year1999 by Press Trust of India celebrating  50 years of its existence. So, Thank you PTI!

The Goat who Stood for Bagpipes

Here's an interesting image from LIFE magazine  photo archive.
According to the caption:
Taken in Kashmir on December 1951 by photographer Howard Sochurek.

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 "Kashmir has been wrongly looked upon a prize for India or Pakistan. People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future. It is here today that a struggle is being fought, not in the battlefield but in the minds of men."

- Jawaharlal Nehru in New Delhi on June 11, 1951.

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A Story: Happenings of 1951 as recalled by a Kashmiri Goat

{India}N Graffiti{S}, Rishikesh

Found this (these) interesting graffiti (s) painted (carved) on a wall near a wire bridge that lead to a riverside beach camp some 35 Kms past Rishikesh.

Together they present a sharp contrasting mix of two different styles of Graffiti art. One comes from the west and the other comes from India. One believes in bright aerosol paint and the other in plain engraving. One is all about style, the other is all about content. In one, the artist believes in anonymity and in the other, anonymous believes in names - good, bad and profane. Both forms see  artists expressing their inner thoughts through graphic cryptic messages. One is all about...

Oh hell! I could go on; the Hindi carving on the wall are usual and a common sight in India, but the truth is that I took that photographs thinking that colorful graffiti (does that read M (i,b,l) PUB? ) to be a gang signal spray painted as a territory marker.

Hammer and the Sickle of Mehboob Productions.

Mudai Laakh Bura Chahay To Kya Hota Hai,Wohi Hota Hai Jo Manzoor-e-Khuda Hota Hai



Mehboob Productions founded by Mehboob Khan in 1943. This one is from his classic film Mother India (1957).


video link

famous Gemini Twins of Gemini Studios

`When the bugles blow, there's a good show!'

Reminds me of late afternoon Sunday movies of Doordarshan. this one from Gemini Studio Chandralekha (1948).

In 1941, S. S. Vasan bought a studio on Mount Road, Madras, in `court auction' and re-named it Gemini Studio. The Studio never made too many films but its powerful logo of 'Gemini Twins' instantly remind people of old black and white big buget movies.

Read more about S.S. Vasan and Gemini Studio here at a fine article from The Hindu.



video link

Ads from Times of India of 1930s

An Ad for Valet Auto-Strop Safety Razor
From Times of India Annual, 1930.
Artwork by W S Bagdatopulos.

Found it thanks to an awesome gallery of  vintage ads set up by Phil Beard

There are some other old ads from Times of India that can be found in the gallery. Some of these include:
Horlicks, 1930Wright's Coal Tar Soap, 1931555, 1931Lux, 1935Pears, 1935
Do check it out!

Sharbat Rooh Afza - Nourisher of Soul

Summer. Summer. Summer. Bottles of Rooh Afza. Sweet and syrupy. Red of rose and life. But it doesn't smell just of roses.

  Sharbat from Hamdard. Available and popular also in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The ingredients. Names impress that it may be an elixir. Sugar syrup. Pineapple juice, Dhania, Gajar, Khurfa, Tarbooz, Palak, Pudina, Hara Ghia, Kasni, Muaqqa, Sandal Sufed, Khas Hindi, Chharila, Gul Nilofar, Berg Gawzaban, Keora, Orange Juice and Rosa damascena.
 The summer drink since 1907.

Completely friendly. Completely Natural.
An ad for Rooh Afza, June 2000, Gentleman Magazine.

Laloo Mud Pack

Make Laloo look good.
Give him a mud-pack.

- An ad from year 2000 for a popular game at Indiagames.com

It was the year he went to jail in connection with a 'disproportionate assets ' case. The scribes were not yet endorsing the Laloo Brand Socialism. That started only after year 2006 when Laloo and his wife were acquitted in the assets case.

Guitar Shop in Noida - "On Stage"

A friend of mine recently somehow got the idea into his head that he's the re-incarnation of great god Hendrix himself.  I first started seeing the Purple Haze around his head when, one day, out of the blue, he started talking like, 'Do you know how Blues was born? O you know! Tell me. You don't know. You know. So tell me.You don't know.'  I knew he picked up all this cool stuff from a North-East guy. Apparently my friend picked up too much. Now he says, "Led Zeppelin is cool. Have you heard Black Dog?" And I remembered his God'e'smack days of college.
Quite a spirited fellow, this friend of mine.
'Have you heard XYZ?' This went on for months.

'I can't be Hendrix if I can't play guitar! Can I be?'', my friend must have rightly told himself. So, one day, not many days ago, he got himself an old broken down guitar from a cousin of his (who, after some training, can now easily strum the great number 'My heart will Go…

Snake Oil Salesmen

Tribal Medicine Camp on the outskirts of Delhi.

A  tape runs constantly in the background, the voice cheerfully and continuously advertises the miraculous cures on offer. And they claim to have a cure for ever illness under the sky. And its all natural. Who designed the hoardings?

These tents move from one place to another. Travel all over the North. They come from far off places. This one is from a tribal belt in Orissa. I was told you need a government license to run this business. Inside there are bottles filled with dark liquids, dried up tree barks, leaves, roots and wild fruits. Photographs of Gods. Glassy gems and Stones. Dark men. And of course, there is Shilajit - a crystal fruit born of rocks.

303 Innuendos

from Gentleman Magazine (that really was the name)
dated January 1999

Bandook Ke Peeche Kya Hai?
Nuts. Really Nuts.

Garmiyon may Kashmir Jannat hai

Garmiyon may Kashmir jannat hai

In summer Kashmir is a paradise- from "A dictionary of hindustani proverbs: including many Marwari, Panjabi, Maggah, Bhojpuri, and Tirhuti proverbs, sayings, emblems, aphorisms, maxims, and similes" by S. W. Fallon, Richard Carnac Temple, Dihlavi Fakir Chand. Originally published: Benares : E.J. Lazarus & Co., 1886.


Photograph taken by me in June 2008.: View from a Shikara floating on Dal Lake.

What's wrong with this picture?
An old photograph by James Burke.
Is the frame upside down?

Gandhiji's NCERT Talisman

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”- Mahatma Gandhi [Last Phase, Vol. II (1958), P. 65].

Lines could be found on the first page of every school text book printed by NCERT (National Council of Education Research and Training). Hindi text books had a translation of the lines.


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Photograph: A child on the outskirts of Delhi. 14th May 2009.

Unrelated post from my Kashmir blog: Bhookha Nanga Hindustan

An Indian Army Bagpipe Band

We fight and our formation never wavers.
Orders we obey and this is right.
At a word from our commander fathers
We ride out to cut and thrust and fight.
- An old cossack song. Came across these lines, many years ago, in a short story by Mikhail Sholokhov.

And we create music.


Photographs taken at Jammu in April 2009.

Right, the Army Band: Bagpipers of The 18 Grenadiers of Indian Army.

Silver Elephant in Blue

Silver molded into a scene depicting a colorful Elephant ride

Cost: around Rs.12000
Where: Jewel Emporium (since 1841),
Rambagh Palace Hotel, Jaipur


An elder cousin bought it as a present for my sister.

Before and After

Men and problems. Before and After.

Illustrations of Hindu Deities (1774-81) by Pierre Sonnerat

Pierre Sonnerat (1748-1814), a French naturalist and explorer, between 1769 and 1781 traveled deep into southeast Asia and documented the religious practices, sciences, arts (and birds) of the places he visited.

In 1782 the account of his travels was published in two volumes under the title (french) 'Voyage aux Indes Orientales et a la Chine, fait par ordre du roi, depuis 1774 jusqu'en 1781. Dans lequel on traite des mÅ“urs de la religion, des sciences & des arts des Indiens, des Chinois, des Pégouins & des Madégasses' ( Journey to the East Indies and China, Undertaken at the King's Command, from 1774 until 1781: In Which the Religious Mores, Sciences, and Arts of the Indians, the Chinese, the Pegouins, and the Madegasse are Discussed. )

Volume 1 was completely dedicated to India and Volume 2 covered the far east including China, Burma, Madagascar, the Maldives, Mauritius, Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), Indonesia, and the Philippines.Volume 1 has some wonde…

Rabindranath Tagore, Lyrics, Moscow, 1967

7 May, 2009

A ball-pen Sketch

Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)


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Page 36

Resin, viscous and heavy, endeavours to ooze out in frangrance,
which would like to be locked forever in resion form.

And melody calls for movement and searches a cadence,
while rhythm pushes on into melody back to transform.
Vagueness wants to acquire both form and definite facets,
whereas form fades in fog and dissolves in amorphous dream.
Things unbounded long to be squeezed in straitjackets,
with the limits eroded afresh by the boundless stream.
Who hath laid for eternity laws of the primeval quarrel - Death engenders creation, quiesence foreshadows a tamult?
When restrained, all and everything seek to any corral,
When as liberty looks for abode and a final result.
Page 71

The silly mind, it's looking for a way
To see itself in history in vain.
It roams aimlessly, from room into the open,
And further to the distant fields ahead,
And to the forest dense
It stamps its feet, and raises dust, …

Indian Coffee Machine

The Coffee machine used to be a star at marriage functions.
It had big knobs and bigger switches, a (dead) steam gauge meter, and an angry exhaust pipe.
Instant Coffee powder, usually Nescafe, some steam and some chocolate powder later, you had your sweet coffee.

Baba Lakha Da Daata

Baba Lakha Da Daata would probably translate as Baba Blesser of Millions.

Found the image hanging high on a wall near the kitchen of a banquet hall in Jammu. Seemed really interesting. Had to climb up on chairs to photograph it.


I didn't know anything about Baba Lakha Da Daata whose followers are spread all over Punjab, Himachal and Jammu region.

Looking around the net, I also realized Punjab may be having more than one Lakh Da Daata as people may have given this honorific title has also been appended to some other pirs of undivided Punjab. There is one shrine in Punjab of Pakistan, one in Himachal and one in Tarn Taran district of Indian Punjab. Or maybe these shrines belong to the same person.

Here's what I found in a piece by W. Crooke, author of The Popular Religion and Folk-lore of Northern India (1896). ( Came across it in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (Part 21)  By James Hastings(originally published in 1935)[Google books, 2003])

Possibly the oldest tale of Lakh…

A Curious Case of Indian Bosom Serpent

"O, 'tis a mere nothing! A snake! A snake! The commonest thing in the world. A snake in the bosom — that's all" 
- Egotism; or, The Bosom-Serpent by Nathaniel Hawthorne [Google books link]

On the morning of 24th April, I reached Jammu to attend the wedding festivities of a cousin sister.

Since it was still morning, ritually, I had a cup of tea and opened the local newspaper- Daily Excelsior, the most widely read newspaper of the city. It offered usual unusual dose of death and mayhem. Sad, sad news. Mini-wars and min-conquests. National dailies have got nothing on them. Farther you get from the center, near the edges, grimmer the picture gets.

But on that particular day the paper, on its front page no-less, offered something bizarrely, slitheringly different.

While reading the News piece, please do keep in mind: this is the region where in ancient times the cult of Snake, Naga worship flourished. In fact, in Bhaderwah district of J&K people still perform ancien…

Pandit Manto Ki Famous Obscene Kahaniyan

Are they using pictures of Mozelle to sell stories of Saadat Hassan Manto? No, the women doesn't look Jewish. She looks like Raj Kapoor's Mandakini, only brunette, or may be she is a  chubbier version of some nymphet from any page of Amar Chitra Katha. The person lured into buying is sure to be disappointed. Or may be not. A case of 'Never Judge A Book By Its Cover'. Or may be not.


These thoughts went through my mind as my gaze settled on the cover of Manto Ki Prasidh Kahaniyan. Well, not actually. I just had one thought, 'Is that Manto?'

So a book-stall at Jammu Railway Station sells work of Manto like it was some raunchy Hindi pulp.

Actually this is nothing new, Manto has been treated like this for quite some time now.
Several suits have already been filed against me on charges of obscenity. But look at the injustice that in Delhi, right under your nose, a publisher brings out the collection of my stories and calls it The Obscene Stories of Manto. I wrote the …