Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!


Yes, I am still not over it [in case you missed]. I read an old reviewer praise her unbelievably 'elastic' kamar and bemoan her puffiness prone eyes.


Branded...Amjad Khan


Mademoiselle Diamond Newby

Since the beginning of our cinema history. Anglo Indian women proved they were heroine material. As more and more Hindu and Muslim women joined the fray, they were pushed to taking smaller roles. But, back to the '30s."The dance by Yonne Harroll was not well shot. The girl looks 'sexy'...but this element was not exploited in His Higness." a critic laments. Another moans, Mlle. Diamond Newby gave a beautiful Indianised dance, but too short!" However, all was not alas and alack for the brunette beauty."Pupil of Ripman's School of Dancing, London, Mademoiselle Diamond threatens to wrest the monopoly od Oriental Dances by her engagements on the Indian screen." She was "Grace with a vengeance of beauty and youth thrown in."

- Filmfare July 1-15, 1988 celebrating 75 years of Indian Cinema.

There is not a single bit of info. available online about these women.


Jaya Sharmila

Famous bed talk. Sharmila Tagore and Soumitra Chatterjee in Apur Sansar (1959)


"The wife of popular Bollywood movie star Amitabh Bachhan, Joya Vaduri, before marriage. The image on the cover of Film Fare magazine is of Sharmila Thakur. This image was taken while Joya Vaduri and her friend Sharmila Thakur were shooting in Satyajit Ray's movie ‘Mahanagar’ at Studio No l. The beard and moustache was painted on the face of Sharmila Thakur with pen. The Headline reads “The way I would like to see you.” – Joya. 1963."
above image via: Where Three Dreams Cross:150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan & Bangladesh,  (Kashmir too), more stuff from this 2010 exhibit.

Agra to Delhi. Stop.

Tough chance anyone of those is going to claim a seat. But the reservation for them remains in UP state roadway buses.

Gajendra Moksha symbolism at a Sikh Gurudwara in Agra.

Reached Delhi just before midnight. Got off at Badarpur border and hitched a ride in a cab onway to Gurgaon. The roads were still alive. Young boys on bikes, three on almost each one of them, all screaming, 'Nara-E-Takbeer' and answering their own calls with 'Allah-o-Akbar'. Men walking back home, waving at vehicles to stop, asking for destinations, hitching rides. It was Shab-e-Barat...the night of records, the night of assignment and the night of deliverance, the night of ancestors.


A woman, her head covered, like she was on her way to a temple, praying aloud for the welfare of her family, like at a temple, walked past me and entered the chamber that is believed to house the grave of Akbar. The unconventionally plain walled chamber in fact houses the cenotaph of Akbar the Great.

 The tainted spot where tourists test the 'Mughal Telephone'.

Completed in around 1613, the mausoleums built to Abkar's syncratic taste, is believed to be the first Indian monument to have included the 'four minaret' design today associated with Taj Mahal.

In most of the images of the mausoleum drawn by early western visitors to this site, the minarets look damaged with the top part missing in all minarets, even as late as 1875. [ref.  images at]

by William Hodges, 1783

The mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra, shown both in plan and in elevation; Jaipur style, c. 1780-1800*

According to 'A Handbook to Agra and the Taj, Sikandra, Fatehpur-Sikri and the Neighbourhood' by E. B. Havell, the minarets were believed to have been broken by Jats. In the popular narrative of Indian History, British looted the golden bird that was India, no mention is made of the facts like it was Jat chieftains who looted the silver gates of Taj Mahal in 1764. Maybe the reasoning being, that loot at least stayed and circulated in India. The local Muslim guides of Agra do mention this history to casual visitors but the history books in schools continue to quarantine parallel narratives, dissolving all little details.

Looking at the photographs,old and new, of the minarets, I wondered when and who got them re-built.

Repaired minarets in 1908.
In around 1906, Lord Curzon, of the great Indian famine fame, as one of his last acts in India,, had the minarets of Sikandra re-built and got rid of what he called an 'aesthetic eyesore'.


Fatehpur Sikri

Male Grave

Female Grave

And what about the middle.

A guy put a chaddar over my head and starting chanting something about banishing 'Kala Saitan'. 'No, No, not the Kala Shaitan. Not the Chaddar,' I wanted to shout. The poet Guide repeated for the nth time: AKBAR THREE WIFE. ONE HINDU. ONE CHRISTIAN. ONE MISLIM. NO SON. AKBAR GOT SALIM ONLY BECAUSE OF SALIM CHISTI. NO SALIM CHISTI. NO SALIM. NO FATEHPUR SIKRI. NO TAJ MAHAL. In that instant, I realized what had happened. One moment, I was checking out a Chaddar portfolio with pictures of Tina Ambani, Shahid Kapoor and likes, and the next moment I was owner of a Chaddar sold in the name of poor women, not necessarily Muslim ( I was promisingly informed) who can't afford to get married.


The dark spot on the wall is proof of years spent demonstrating 'Akbar's Drum'.

Getting ready for Namaaz at Jama Masjid

Vendors running away with their ware in hands as policemen arrive just at the end of Namaaz to enforce protection.

A young kid offers to jump down from a 50 feet wall down into the water tank, just for Rs 20. And then offers to recite Sher-o-Shayeri. He has a scar running down from his left temple down to his jaw line.

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