Monday Window

This photograph was taken in a slum area of North Delhi called Bhalswa. The architecture is “ambitious brickwork. The loudspeakers on the roof suggest that it is a mosque. The lady in the yellow shawl peeks out from behind the heavy curtain, observing the health education event we are running in the open courtyard beneath… Continue reading Monday Window

The Law of Unintended Consequences*

It is now over a month since the government of India withdrew the validity of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in order to stamp out “black money” – cash obtained through bribes or illegal activity. This amounted to 87% of the cash on the streets. The government redesigned the 500 note and issued a new… Continue reading The Law of Unintended Consequences*

There’s no city like Delhi

William Dalrymple at the Times LitFest This weekend the Times of India has arranged a festival of talks about art, politics, music, film and literature at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. William Dalrymple is my favourite author at the moment (“City of Djinns” is my bedtime reading). He was scheduled to speak at… Continue reading There’s no city like Delhi

A Night at the Opera

The Durga Puja Committee of Matri Mandir in Safdarjung Enclave has been putting cash aside for the golden jubilee celebration for the past eight years. They wanted to create something special to celebrate the Super Warrior Goddess breathing life into her image for five days. Following the horrific, murderous, terrorist attacks in Paris last November,… Continue reading A Night at the Opera

Barber’s Tomb

Mirza Nasir ud-din Baig Muhammad Khan Humayun (Humayun, for short) was the second Mughal Emperor who ruled Northern India in the early part of the 16th century. He so trusted his barber that, when he died, a mausoleum was built for him in Dinpanah (“Refuge of the Faithful”), now called Delhi. The layers of marble… Continue reading Barber’s Tomb

The Home of God on Earth

Akshardham means “God’s House” in Hindi. On the west bank of the Yamuna, I visited a massive new Hindu temple called Swaminarayan Akshardham. It just opened in 2005. It was very easy to get to because it has its own Metro stop on the Delhi underground. The 100 acre complex of temples and gardens is… Continue reading The Home of God on Earth

Independence Day

Sixty nine years ago today, India became independent. I remember being captivated while reading “Freedom at Midnight”, Collins and Lapierre’s book of the events leading up to the 15th of August 1947. I was hoping to go to the Red Fort in Delhi to witness the celebrations, but the whole area has been cordoned off… Continue reading Independence Day