Blessing the Chariot

I went out to buy some milk this evening, taking the shortcut down the alley past the Hindu Temple. A pandit (priest wearing the Nehru jacket) was chanting prayers while he anointed a couple’s new scooter with sandalwood paste. Using his index finger, he painted a swastika design below the headlamp, putting a dot in each… Continue reading Blessing the Chariot


Recently, at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, there was a three-day extravaganza rejoicing in the “spirit and eloquence, the beauty and versatility of Urdu”. The festival celebrated everything Urdu – art, poetry, drama, music, cinema and literature. The ancient name for Urdu is Rekhta (which means scattered and mixed). Most people who… Continue reading Jashn-e-Rekhta

Vintage and Classic Car Rally

The Statesman is holding the 51st Classic Car Rally in Delhi this weekend. In the words of the advertising poster, “Let these beauties charm you one more time, For, these are classic and sublime.” I happened to be walking past Modern School, just off Connaught Place early this afternoon when a poster grabbed my attention.… Continue reading Vintage and Classic Car Rally

Cycling Through the Galis of Old Delhi

It was pitch black when we emerged from Chawri Bazar metro station at 6:15am on a Sunday morning. There are no street lights in the Walled City of Shahjahanabad. But people were awake, huddling around braziers to get some warmth into their bodies before starting the day’s toil. I led my intrepid colleagues down the… Continue reading Cycling Through the Galis of Old Delhi

Red Fort

“Lal Quila” means Red Fort, because of the magnificent red sandstone walls. When it was constructed in the early 17th Century, it was known as the “Lal Mubarak”, or Blessed Fort. The Moghuls ruled their diminishing Indian Empire from the Fort for two hundred years before the disaster of the Mutiny in 1857 (known here… Continue reading Red Fort

Jain Festival

There are about seven million followers of the Jain Dharma (religion) in India. It has been in decline since the 6th century AD. The central tenets are non-violence and respect for all creatures. To avoid stepping on ants, Jain monks and nuns sweep the street with fallen peacock feathers; to avoid inadvertently killing or eating bugs,… Continue reading Jain Festival