Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Koi Jugaad hai!

Took these photographs of Jugaad at some place near Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh, India) on my way back from a trip to Rishikesh. These vehicles are quite popular - maybe nothing short of a legend - in rural northern India.

A Jugaad can cost around Rs. 40,000 ( that's less than US$1,000) and it can run up to a speed of 40 km/h. 

A proud owner. Man and the Machine.

Firing up the engine! 
The engine is actually a simple water pumpset that runs on diesel. This engine fitted onto a simple chassis and a basic body can average about Rs 25 per liter of diesel.

And it can carry a lot of luggage. Notice the awesome front lights. Now, that's a true Jugaad for how to waterproof headlights without glass.

Lot of space in there. Can transport men and material and woman.

In India, Jugaad is cool colloquial term that translates to "ingenious, out of box thinking, great but-maybe- -temporary fix that will do for now till we find another Jugaad" and much more if you are talking about woman.  More often than not one can meet a person in India who will exclaim, 'Bhai! India works on Jugaad.'

Now I know what it looks like thanks to a friend who pointed out the strange looking vehicle to me and said, 'There's your real Jugaad'

Uploaded one of the Images to the wiki page for Jugaad.

Berlin Bombay by Schiller

A friend of mine suggested this brilliant track called 'Berlin Bombay' by a German (he said it's 'ambient music') band Schiller. I checked it out at Youtube and the music certainly sounds very 'Bombay'.

Here's the live version of the track (performed in 2006) from their year 2005 album Tag Und Nacht (Day And Night).

You can check out some more of this band's awesome music at:

Bad Teeth Demon A sura and Lord Mickey Mouse.

In which Mickey Mouse drove his steam boat up the Ganges and arrived at the big green gate of Haridwar. After his many splendid adventures (including the oft-told one in which Mickeyji stole the lower jaw of a great demon named A sura and the one, often narrated to young children, in which he carried his injured Indian elephant friend on the back), many years late, good natives, as a mark of respect, inducted his image (taken from a private picnic album) in their great galley of great gods.

Didn't I say Haridwar is like Disneyland!

Maddening Indian Summer. Song. Rain.

Window and the Sky.
Took this photograph towards the end of May.


Since last few weeks, there's hardly any cloud in the sky. Sun is melting tar off the roads. It sticks to the sole. Monsoon is late. A bird living nearby has gone mad, everyday, sharp at 2:30 in the sharp afternoon, it starts chirping mad. It's not koel. Delusion. Cuckoo. Not even a cursory dust storm greets it in the evening. I saw an old woman walk straight, face first, into the cold glass wall of a cool mall. Disorientation. It broke her beak. I yay ya suku suku.


I am seeing a rise in queries leading to that old rain song: 'Allah Megh De'. Call it summer effect.

I am again listening to 'Lapak jhapak tu aa re badarwa' from Boot Polish (1954). Classic. [watch] . Yes, it's a funny song. Just wait for the song to end and for the rains to start. It turns tragic.

I am looking at photographs of rain clouds and then their video.

I am gazing at Bollywood water fairies.

Sridevi dancing in rain to song 'Lagi aaj sawan ki pir woh jhadi hai' from Chandni (1989). In Yash Chopra Chiffon Sari. In Yellow.
Dimple Kapadia frolicking in a swimming pool from Bobby (1973). A Raj Kapoor film. Bikini. Red.

I might as well think of Raveena Tandon from Mohra (1994) dancing to 'Tip Tip barsa pani'. Again wet and yellow.

And I am dreaming of snow capped mountains of Gulmarg in Kashmir.

Power went off seven times while I tried to finish this up.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, Illustrated pocket classic

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, Illustrated pocket classic

Found this buried in a corner of my old bookshelf.

Published in India but the art is definitely not Indian (except maybe the cover).

Rajkamal Kalamandir

Emblem of V. Shantaram's studio 'Rajkamal Kalamandir' that opened in 1943.
Sequence is from his famous film 'Do Aankhen Barah Haath' (1957) 

video link
V. Shantaram left Prabhat Film Company in 1942 and started Rajkamal Studios, where his maiden venture was Shakuntala which was screened at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1947.
Read more about the studio and V.Shantaram in an old article from The Hindu

'Mother and Child' by K K Hebbar

'Mother and Child' (1949) by K K Hebbar (1912-1996)

- Again stopped to look at this painting while browsing through June 2000 issue of Gentleman Magazine.

Firecracker Artwork, Zeenat Aman “atom bombs”

The Sixties belonged to Hindi film heroines, cover girls such as Mala Sinha and Meena Kumari, who smiled demurely from cracker boxes, the very image of the bharatiya nari. In the ’70s, they were replaced by Rekha, Mumtaz, Yogita Bali and popular south Indian actresses. The imagery too changed from the chubby-cheeked kids and goddesses of the ’50s and ’60s. Cracker labels now looked more like film posters. The quality was crude, mostly hand-drawn and the packaging was poor in quality. The ’80s and ’90s brought bikini-clad Westernised heroines to Hindi cinema. Thus, we see Zeenat Aman and Mandakini on cracker boxes of “atom bombs”, pun entirely intended. The “bomb” had clear sexual overtones. One marked distinction remained. The phooljhari packet labels which are mostly used by younger kids still carry images of the mother and child or an angelic girl. Other crackers like rockets and bullet-bombs, which are of fairly high intensity have “sex bomb” images of these popular heroines draped in diaphanous drapery, keeping in mind the youth and its fascination towards sex and violence. In the ’80s, George Lucas’s Star Wars embraced many covers of firecracker boxes.
Big Bang Art, by Siddhartha Tagore, Indian Express (Oct 26, 2008). The insightful details the journey of Indian firecracker box art and the transformation of its cover girls from demure to Atomic.

Image: Woman on left is Jayapradha. Rigth: Zeenat Aman.



Light of India by Warren Dotz, Awesome Indian Matchbox Art

'Light of India, A Conflagration of Indian Matchbox Art' by Warren Dotz (2007), has more than 300 vintage matchbox labels from India, some of them dating back to the turn of the century.

I was browsing through a preview of this colorful book at Google book
and here are some of the images that I liked:

I was particularly fascinated by this image of 'Flying Rani'. The book lists it as Kamdhenu or the divine 'Wish fulfilling  Cow'.

I was fascinated because the iconography of this seemingly Hindu image is quite similar to the South-Asian iconography of Burraq, celestial horse-like creature of Muslim lore that carried Prophet Muhammad to paradise. While one has the body of a flying cow and other has the body of a flying horse, both have the face of a beautiful woman.

Image of Burraq(right) via:

About the image used in the cover of the book: the scene probably depicts the Vaishnav tale about the tug of war between elephant Gajendra and crocodile Huhu in which the elephant was later saved by Vishnu.
Related post:
You can checkout some more images from this book at Hero Design Studio

Rikhi Ram Musical Instruments Shop, CP

June 2009
Rikhi Ram Musical Instruments MFG.Co
The famous music shop at Connaught Place, New Delhi.

I had mentioned this shop in my post about George Harrison's Kashmir visit.

In July 1966, The Beatles arrived at Delhi, it was The Fab Four's first, albeit brief, visit to India. During this trip George Harrison famously bought a Sitar from the Rikhi Ram music store at Cannaught Place. On the wall of this fine shop can still be found some great B&W photographs of 'When The Beatles visited the shop'.

Interestingly, the British started constructing Cannaught Place only in 1929 (name comes from the title of third son of Queen Victoria) and the work was completed in 1933; but the shop sign say's ' Established 1920'.

 In 1920, a music shop was set up in Lahore by Pandit Rikhi Ram and after partition, in 1948, he moved this very shop to Cannaught Place Delhi.

Haridwar is like Disneyland

Hang in there Brahma  ji! O, you have a white swan! My friend here has a black Thunderbird.

On weekends you can't easily get out of Rishikesh. The Traffic is terrible. The Jam starts just as one leaves Rishikesh and you are out of it only when driving well past Haridwar. That means eat fumes for five hours.
Once we were inside the city, to avoid the traffic, my friend drove the bike down the by-lanes of the city.

Took these photographs using his fancy Sony Ericsson Mobile while we got stuck on a road right next to a fancy temple that can offer to send the devotee back to the stony great Sat Yug .

 Blow Horn Please! 

O yes! Also always remember to buy those long lasting Alkaline batteries well before you even pick the travel destination because once there, the destination will always sell you genuine, same priced 'Made-in-China' stuff that won't even power up a fancy 'Made-in-China' pocket radio.

That makes me feel really good about myself. 

 Great Elephant god on top of the world and some ladies for company.

Got stuck in a thunderstorm just as we crossed the last Ganga ghat of Haridwar.
Stopped at a shop to buy water. Bought a big bottle. Paid the money. Rain, wind, thunder and hail. Hung around the shop waiting out the bad weather.
Locals don't like tourists too much. How can they? How can anyone?
The local, the young man behind the counter, claimed they now have no water, no electricity and on weekends the city, as you can see, is a hell.
What's that blond girl doing sticking her head out of the big window of the State transport bus. Why is she traveling in that bus. There is a long Jaam awaiting her if she's going to Rishikesh?
I thought the water bottle was too big and certainly not needed anymore. Our initial plan was to buy some snacks, some water and then drive back to the ghat, relax and bottle lot of  ganga jal in that water bottle. What can I say! My mother had asked for the holy water. But now, with this bad weather, it seemed like a bad idea. Had some potato chips. I asked the shopkeeper if he would take back the unopened bottle back; he didn't even hear me. How about not paying us anything, just take back the bottle and give us anything else that costs even half as much. Sounds great ha....? 'Nothing doing! Can't take anything back,' he kept chanting while playing with his little daughter. Blame Lakshmi Mata.  And I carried the bottle along.

Stopped at an empty Dhabba just before entering Muzaffarnagar . UPwallas don't like Dilliwallas, they think Delhi people drive like mad men. The man at the Dhabba was vivid. 'They drive to die! One man survived, three died. That man is so badly damaged, he better die. Competing with a 10 wheeler!' We had just passed the wreckage of a smashed up big car. 'A bus filled with children fell off the cliff in Nainital. Driver was drunk.' Vivid.

Our friends, traveling in a car, finally caught up with us. We had dinner at some restaurant that was buzzing with people.We then took the infamous short-cut but dangerous (criminal element infested, not safe for late night ) route from Muzaffarnagar to Delhi. It's a pitch dark road that runs parallel to the Ganga canal that feeds water to Delhi and originates near Haridwar. On way, my friend regaled me with terrible stories about such dark roads, stories in which terrible things befall poor woman. Someone had regaled him with these stories. Another police patrol car. High beam light. Momentary blindness. Darkness. Is that a tree or a man? 

The short route saved us three hours of traveling. That big bottle of water was empty by the time we entered Delhi and headed to our respective home. Felt sick for a couple of days.

Playing Tetris on 8 bit Media game console - 'It's Video Game'

Image: Google remembering Tetris
Sputnik burned up in the atmosphere, Berlin is now one city, but 25 years later, the Soviet-designed Tetris remains one of the most popular and ubiquitous video games ever created. It has sold over 125 million copies, been released for nearly every video-game platform of the past two decades and even been played on the side of a skyscraper. Yet creator Alexey Pajitnov almost never saw a ruble for his creation.

Check the complete story at Time

And I remember my Little Master (2) 8 bit game console from Media on which I played Tetris for hours and weeks. Tetris was one of the games that came in with 500-in-1 game cartridge, a complimentary cartridge   that actually had only 5 games, other games included were Mario (what good game cartridge would come without a version of the mad hopping plumber who loves mushrooms and a princess), Duck Hunt ( to play you needed to have that stupid gun not included free in the game console pack), Battle Tank and Galaxy).

Mario, a legend in itself was great, but it was Tetris that proved truly addictive. We used to hold Tetris showdowns just to see who will patch up more lines and these Tetris duels could go on for hours. I was once involved in a five hour duel that in the end I lost out to cousin sister.

The video game consoles by Media, costing around Rs 2500-3500 ( $50), were a rage in the '90s. Their Little Master series (1,2) was very popular and later they came out with a sleek smaller looking Game Boy (they came a TM) that proved equally potent. Probably the only completion they faced in the market was from SEGA who had similar 8 bit game consoles (I think their game cartridges were bigger and different). Shops, housing these video game machines, cropped up that allowed you to play these games for Rs.10 an hour. Exchanging cartridges with friends. More duels. Streetfighter. Chun Li. Ken. Contra. Pacman. 1942. Kungfu. Karateka.Legendary.Aladdin. B-wings. And more crazy names. Crazy music. Mad colors. Worn out keys of control pad. More games. 'You will lose your eyes!' Brain freeze. I actually had a 64-in-1 cartridge that had 60 different games. Prize possession.

That was the 8 bit  'Video Game' phenomena. My first experience with 'video games' was in later 1990, I was eight taking small steps, carefully planting bombs at secret locations, playing Bomberman on a colored horizontal screen arcade machine with a wobbly gear stick for direction control (Cost was princely Rs. 5 for 15 minutes). By the end of 90s the reign of 8-bit was almost over and kids were going crazy about a new phenomena - PS2 and 'Computer games'. India was catching up with the world. But Tetris survived and at the start of 2000, it got a new leash of life thanks to those cheap crazy little grey LCD screened 'Made-in-China' pocket Tetris consoles that offered 5000-in-1 games -all Tetris at various speed, levels and start combination. People again got busy at mad and furious bricklaying.

Life and Times of Kaliveer ji

A local god from Jammu region of the state Jammu & Kashmir.

Water Maharaja

Photograph: Roadside vendor selling water. June 5, 2009

I was around 16 years old when I first visited Delhi. I was a tourist, even took that guided tour bus ride that takes you to all the best spots (as listed on the brochure) in 5 hours flat, lunch excluded. It was during this trip that, for the first time, I saw a man working that mini-hand pump, drawing water from an invisible tank, and filling a glass. I learnt Delhi has roadside vendors who sell water for 50p/Rs.1 a glass. I was amused.


A couple of years ago, after moving to the Capital region, one late night, I injured my fingers, broke some nails, got a sore thumb, all while tying to open the air tight seal of my first ever can of bubble top 'Bisleri'. There is no looking back. I could have fared better at the finger numbing task, but I was distracted, I kept remembering the line ' Your maternal great grandmother was born in a house that had a small brook flowing right in the front yard.' If that wasn't enough, in the background, I kept hearing that gushing sound of water, like roar of an angry tiger - only this tiger took no pause to take breath. A constant roar. I had heard the sound many summers ago when one morning mother took me with her to the village school in which she taught, every subject. I noticed that white noise, approaching, just as we were approaching a small old crude footbridge built over a stream. I looked around alarmed, but the water of the steam, now underneath me, looked calm, it was in no hurry. Where is the sound coming from? 'It's just water,' mother assured me. 'Just open the can carefully!'


A couple of years ago, a journalist friend of mine asked me if I support privatization of a precious natural resource like water. You see, I had just told him about my traumatic bubble top 'Bisleri' can experience.

How does it feel to be just a spoke in a wheel? A proper metric question found in a useless job application form that they make you fill for a useless job that nobody else wants. Blacken 0 correctly (do not cross or tick mark) next to the right answer filling it with pencil (no pen please): Great. Good. Bad. I don't know. It is a such an ironic question, in fact the entire form is filled with so much iron that later no sad faced spoke dares to actually check those perfect answers and the wheel still rolls on. (The right answer is always: Great. A machine does read the answers.

"I just don't like heavy water." That's all I could manage.


Atlas Bicycles Vintage Poster

Atlas Bicycles Vintage Bicycle Poster (1971) 
Artist: Shree Des Raj

Found it at the Vintage poster galley at

Do check out their awesome galley having vintage posters of bicycle brands from around the world. The posters are from the book "100 Years of Bicycle Posters" by Jack Rennert (1973).

Du Crore ka taala

"A man in my village got made a talaab that cost him two Crore rupiya. " And a dark man, mid-thirties, with pencil thin mustache, cycled right next to the cycle-rickshaw I was being driven in. "2 Crore!"

It was a terribly hot dusty day and the time was well past four.

Sometimes people just want to talk. He was talking to me. I thought he said something about taala. A lock that costs two Crore! "Why?"

The man put his arm on the iron side-rest of the rickshaw and told me about the rich man of his village who order made a lake completed at the cost of Rs. 2 Crore and *** Lakh. Once complete, the rich man then donated the talaab to the villagers. "You see he was doing it all for his son who had no children. And lo! A year later his son got two boys! Blessing of all the villages worked for him. One must give. It's important. Money it goes around. Even one rupee. May be I have something to do with that one rupee."

"Yes, it goes around," I repeated. I was wearing: my father's leather chappal that cost Rs.300-700, a T-shirt that cost me around Rs. 500, a jeans that cost me around Rs. 900, an underwear that cost me around Rs. 200 and a silver taveez that I don't know the cost of. (Yes, I did check my wallet) "Which village?"

"Hhhkya?" He was still talking. "Saharsa, Bihar." For a second he seemed to be in some sad thought.

The day was just too hot.

The man moved his arm back to the front of his bicycle and started adding English words to his sentences. "Man should not worry too much about the past. Everything becomes okay. Everything fine. Work for future..." Talking."One has to be good."

We were at a crossroad. I asked the rickshaw wallah to take a left. The man on cycle kept going straight. I was loosing interest anyway.There's the Atlas logo.

Two hours later, the sun was a color white not befitting a sun.

Mario Miranda cartoon on Jingle jangles

An old cartoon by Mario Miranda on the world of ad Jingle makers

from 'Playback and Fast Forward' Magazine, November 1987

[Dug this up from Internet Archive:Wayback Machine]

Billoo Badshah Presents SMS Shayari

Billoo Badshah Presents Dard-e-Dil Shayari SMS
Published by Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd.

Found this masterpiece via Google Books A quick search revealed that they have also published similar other illustrious works like Mazedar Shayari SMS, Mahakati Shayari SMS and Shamiley SMS.

Sample these lines (and illustration) from the book:
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. If you choose to use this or any part of this post on your site please link back to this page.


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