Bahubali Thali At Ardor 2.1

Bahubali Thali at Ardor 2.1

I have been reading about this thali, on various platforms. So, last night my friends and I head out to try the Bahubali thali at Ardor 2.1. We ordered the non veg one but the three of us couldn’t finish it. Not because it was delectable but due to the number of dishes, which included, Butter chicken, Tandoori chicken, Malai tikka, Dal makhani, Kadhi, Palak, Paneer, Korma, Rohan Josh, Biryani etc.

It’s definitely not for four people, as the number of dishes are a lot but the helpings are tiny. At three grand, you would expect the food to be more appetising but one found the thali overrated. If you are vegetarian, you might enjoy the food. But for just the experience and the fact that the restraunt donates food to an ngo, people should put it on a bucket list.

Ghalib and I

Zulmat kaday mein meray shab-e-ghamm ka josh hai: ik shama hai daleel-e- sahar, so khamosh hai.’
Self portrait for my final portfolio in college ( 2003).
The inspiration for the entire project was Ghalib.

Yesterday, was Ghalib’s birthday and all the heritage walk leaders/ historians, I know shared nuggets from his life. Today I saw a lovely video by Aditya Pathak, about Ghalib and seeing that I thought I should write something about the man, who other than Harivansh Rai, Kaifi Azmi and Javed Akhtar and much later, Pablo Neruda, got me through many turbulent nights.

Bikhre huwo ki aah, he Ghalib.

Ghalib was in another league, of course. One does suffer from existential angst, for unrequited love, separation and heartbreak, one found solace in Mirza Asadullah Beig’s poetry. Hum bikhre hue, bigde hue, sharab peene wallo ko, jo khudda he woh to mante he, magar duniya aur mazahb me nahin, unke liye Ghalib mian, ek humnawa he. Ek humsafar, jo Janat ki hakeekat jaanta he. Ghalib, may be a passing fascination for the pious, religious lot but for us cynics, he’s our fellow traveller, who has experienced unbearable loss and who died without an offspring. Unke baare me padh kar lagta he, yeh jee liye to hum bhi, jee hi lenge!

‘Shama bujhti hai tho uss mein se dhuuan uththa hai: Sholaa-e-ishq seaah posh hua meray baad.’ Self Portrait 2003.
‘Nafas na anjuman-e- arzoo se baahir khainch: agar sharab naheen intezaar-e- saghar khainch’ . (Final college portfolio/ 2003)
‘Naghmaa-hua-ghamm ko bhi ae dil ghaneemat jaaniay: be-sadaa ho jae ga yeh saaz-e hastee ek din.’ (2003)

The Fine Lads of Delhi

Delhi and its fine lads

With their turbans and twisted beards

Openly drinking lovers’ blood

while secretly sipping wine.

Wilful and full of airs

they pay no heed to anyone.

So close to the heart, they rob

your soul and tuck it safely away.

When they are out for a stroll

rosebushes bloom in the street.

When the breeze strikes them from behind,

See how the turbans topple from their heads.

When they walk, the lovers follow,

Blood gushing from their eyes.

Their heads puffed up with beauty’s pride,

Their admirer’s hearts are gone with the wind.

These cheeky, simple Indian lads have made

Muslims into worshipers of the sun.

Those fair Hindu boys

Have led me to drunken ruin.

Trapped in the coils of their curly locks

Khusrau is a dog on a leash.

Poem by Amir Khusrau translated by Sunil Sharma

Sair- E- Dilli

Qudsia Bagh, Heritage Walk.
Syed Yusuf Shahab, in Nizammudin
The Lost Sufis of Delhi by Syed Yusuf Shahab

Just received my copy of The Lost Sufis of Delhi, Syed Yusuf’s book, about the saints buried in Delhi, which is an abode of Sufism. Yusuf who is graduate in Political Science and has a Post Graduate’s degree in Tourism and Travel from Jamia, has dedicated the book to Late Eshan Alam.

I spent the weekend, walking around Delhi with this direct descendant of a Sufi Saint, belonging to the Chishti order. Of course, his knowledge of Sufism, was on point but that only an expert can verify. With my limited understanding of the topic, my occasional flirtation with the Sufi way of life, I found the walks to Qudsia Bagh and Nizamuddin quite interesting.The bagh and the cemetery, one had never visited neither had I been to the Chilla and Patti Sahab’s Dargah but Chausath Kambha, the Nizammudin Dargah, Ghalib’s tomb and Sunder Nursery, I took my students to last year. On a Sunday afternoon, these were packed so I refused to walk towards the Dargah, during this pandemic, hence I left early.

Each heritage walk leader, has his own distinct style. Syed Yusuf, began by saying, ‘ I’m more a storyteller than a historian‘. That just means, you have to discount them factual discrepancies, if there are any. Though, he spoke in Hindustani, his language was more casual and his mannerism a bit stern. But the information seemed on point, plus there were a number of team members, who kept an eye on everyone, to make sure no one got lost in the crowd. What I did like though was, they seem quite driven and organised. The walks are conducted quite frequently (which considering they only have six months a year to have these events, should be the case) and in various parts of Delhi. If money is a constraint, they are lighter on the pocket. I would recommend Sair- e- Dilli’s walks on or about Sufism. Somebody should start doing a fifteen minute zikr session before or after the walks ( but unfortunately men and women aren’t encouraged to do so together. They are made to sit separately, therefore, only non Muslims, I find, organise the mixed sessions) I would definitely go for all of those.

Lessons learnt in 2020

Twice a year, one sits down to take stock of one’s existence. Once on or around my birthday and at the end of the year. The Wall will be here then , I doubt I will get the time. Since one’s at home today, might as well, go through the horror, na! just kidding.

First things first, this has been a terrible year for all of us. People have lost family members, homes, livelihoods and the worst is, some have died all alone. Therefore, for you to read this maybe a futile exercise, you must have plenty of your own experiences to dwell on. I write this primarily for myself, as a reminder for the days, when I feel weaker, when I need a pep talk to get me through my existence and for my future kids and especially my daughters ( who drive most of my decisions in life) for days when they won’t be able to navigate through society.

Self Love Is Absolutely Essential– I grew up masochistic, with an equally masochistic mother and a father, who told my mother and I day in and day out, how worthless we were and that we were the cause of his misery. He has his own issues, embedded in his own childhood. Self worth, love and respect, is something, I have always struggled with. But never in my life, have I felt prouder of myself, as I do, today. For getting through, not only my entire life but especially the past nine months, I give myself a few pats on my back. Taking a leaf from Snoop Dog, I shall say, ‘ I want to thank myself for believing in my own worth. I want to thank myself for having the courage to not buckle under pressure. I want to thank myself for healing my relationship with my mother. I want to thank myself for managing, while people betrayed me left right and centre. I want to thank myself for not letting anyone convince me that by respecting my Mum’s wishes and not signing away my legal rights, I’m being bad, spoilt or privileged. I want to thank myself for not jumping into the arms of a man, by marrying one, hoping he will solve all my problems. I want to thank myself for not having or adopting a child to fill a void, or give my father a male heir. I want to thank myself for rejecting such regressive ideas. I want to thank myself for wiping my own tears, lifting myself and being my own damn hero.’

Whatever Shall Be, Shall Be- Years after my brother died, I felt guilty I wasn’t home the night he passed away. ‘ If only’, haunted me for a long time. After, Mum, thankfully I had my relatives to do the deed for me. So, my mind took over, my emotions, which reduced the long term psychological damage it would have done. Due to the fact that I was cornered ( in a way I hope I can flush out of my system someday) I had to go through everything, video recordings of my mother’s death, prescriptions everything at a time, when I should have been weeping. What does that do a person, at that time? Makes you hate the entire world and its mother, let me be honest but now, nine months later, it’s something I’m very grateful for. It really drove home, the point, that the religious, pretending to be holier than thou, read day and night in their books but have not an ounce of understanding of – Whatever shall be, shall be, you can do what you want! Spend crores of rupees in a fancy hospital, to stroke your own ego and show the world, the end result will be what is written. Not you, nor all the money and power in the world can change that, otherwise Steve Jobs, would still be alive.

Pretending to be good and actually being good are two very different things- Since one is the quintessential, rebel without a cause, a bad girl getting worse with age, one does get fooled by ‘niceness’. I’m beginning to understand, that people have agendas and in my situation, I got to not get swayed, by anything. But one is human, one wants to believe that if someone is around, they are there out of genuineness and not with ill intentions. This one is tough, to get used to.

Stay Away From People Who Are Frustrated With Their Own Lives– The advice and the judgements of a person, who is unhappy with their own choices, should not matter to me. But my anger and my hyper sensitivity are my Achilles heels. Till I don’t learn to deal with other humans better, for the time being I should just stay away from anyone, who is going to dump their frustrations on me.

Keep Away From Other People’s Issues- The other day my Dad, was yelling at me. ‘ Why do you have to argue with your brother’s for the sake of your sisters? How did your sisters behave when your Mum passed away? Why do you care, whether they get something from their parents or not or whether their husbands treat them, well or not? None of them stand by your side, it’s only your brothers you’ll be able to count on, for anything, when I won’t be there!’ It may sound terrible but it’s a fact. The same people, I side with, are the ones who were justifying the drama, that was taking place, in fact they were pleased as punch. This might sound misogynistic but let me tell you the background. My relatives and females friends, got married because they were supposed to. Some married at 19 and other’s even as late, as they thought was 26. Some of them gave up their work and part of their identity is being the daughter of so and so and the wife of so and so. Some of them have and the others will get pittance compared to their brothers, who they will begrudgingly sign away everything to because society has convinced them that, it makes them good and women you know, na should always be good.

This despite the fact, that all the women I know are smarter and more hardworking than their male siblings and myself. When they look at my life, they see someone who has always done as she pleased and unfortunately, will reap the benefits inspite of being bad and rebellious, which frustrates them. Now, they aren’t going to fight with their parents, brothers or husbands or whoever they think is making them miserable, so other women, such as myself, their friends, their mothers in law, sisters in law etc become an easy target. It’s a total crab mentality, pull the one who is crawling out because we can’t get out of the bucket, ourselves. The worst thing, though, was I know someone who got out, someone whose parents gave everything to her who was the first person to tell me, I should do what my mum’s relatives want. I was physically sickened by the hypocrisy, of it. So, I’m going to just mind my own business and not get into other people’s problem because it ain’t worth it!

‘Sometimes you have to be a lion, so that you can be the sheep you truly, are!’– This is Chappelle’s line but it’s a very important lesson. Though, one is naturally like a porcupine, one’s quite open about one’s life and mistakes. But now, one needs to be more careful. The more aggressive, don’t fuck with me personality needs to always be dominant. The other one, can come out to play, when one is alone or with the few, she trusts.

Stop judging people according to your life and background– I’m terribly judgemental of other people. Now, I won’t care about the more superficial things, like what are they wearing, wealth etc. But lack of courage, that I’m brutal about. This is something I will have to learn and I keep reminding myself off, these days. Especially, with men, I shit you not, most of the time they’re beating around the bush, playing safe and in my head on a loop is playing, ‘coward!’ That’s terrible, to judge people by your standards or even the standards of your family.

My mum forty three years ago, had a secret marriage with my father and though, her brother’s had actual guns and they warned my father, to stay away from her, my Amma, was stubborn as an ox. I also have a few uncles and cousins who have eloped and have been through the drama, of threats, even court cases but they were unflinching lovers. Having said that, it’s not fair that I go through life, being so harsh on regular men. Just because I come from a family, that’s driven by passion and a touch of madness, doesn’t mean everyone will be like that. I better accept this sooner, rather than later.

The kind of man I want- One doesn’t have any particular taste in men, other than the fact that most of them have been quite tall, there’s barely any similarity between the men I’ve been with. Intelligence, money and creativity haven’t been a common thread, either. If I try to break it down, before 25, they were older and after I turned 25, they’ve all been younger. The ‘good ones’, ‘channge munde’ with stable minds, moods and professions were the one’s who stayed longer, one did get more serious about them. The more creative, moody types, not so much. ‘There’s only so much room for crazy in this relationship and I got that shit covered!’ is on a poster I love. But recently a boy I know, made me realize that, I need someone who listens to me. This person was being sarcastic but it’s actually spot on. Look at it logically, I’m someone whose alone most of the times, in all probability, unless God and Death are kind enough to take me before my Dad, I will be the only surviving member of my family, with nothing to hold on to. If I end up with someone, narcissistic and moody like myself, God help us both. So, yes, it’s absolutely correct I do need someone who I can talk to endlessly, otherwise I’ll be very lonely. Now, if that makes a man, a ‘joru ka gulaam’ like this person was insinuating, well I don’t blame men, who have seen their father’s enslaving their mothers, thinking that. My mum was the Alpha, of the house, so for a man to assume, I’ll be able to play second fiddle, well, that’s having high hopes in hell.

Anger and depression are my superpower and my Archille’s heels- The other day, I was watching something on FB- some person called Sandeep was giving these young people a talk on how to use their anger positively. It’s something that Greg, my photography teacher and mentor, would tell me too. ‘Work with your hands and just work a lot because you need to control your mind.’ Anupam, my tutor, believed in astrology, so he would say, ‘ you are a number 9 and number nines are ruled by Mars- the planet of war and destruction. Used positively, it’s your strength, otherwise it will destroy you!’. Some, people call my anger, my uncontrolled passion. I’m learning, to but I don’t know whether I’m succeeding. But photography, writing, dancing and driving do hep me channel it and control my upward and downward swings better.

Karma, Matters Most– I’ve fucked up, many things in life, especially my relationships with men. Someone, said to me recently that maybe I haven’t met the right man. That’s not true. Let it be on record, that I have been with really nice men, they were a little weird, that they chose to be with me but they were all very nice. Being with me is just like a roller coaster ride, how long can someone be on it? So, I was an adventure trip for some and a transforming mission for others. Most of them treated me better than I deserved to be treated, some not so much but that’s okay. It all got equalised in the end some broke my heart and I broke my fair share, too. But I don’t want anyone to think, badly of any of them, especially the last one, who spent a decade dealing with moi, trust me, which is impossible.

Having said that, karma has been kinder to me than my reputation. Which is quite a relief honestly, makes me worry less about what the future holds. Many a times, when my actions haven’t been great, my intentions have saved me. So, though one frets many a nights, one knows somehow things will work out. My angelic brother and my incredibly naughty mother, watch over me and God and the Devil both have my back!

Dear Love

Dear Love,

Woke up missing you, desperately. Maybe, it’s because the father is freaking me out a bit. Yesterday, he got damn emotional. Ever since The Wall, has landed in India, he’s been going on and on about marriage. Last night, he was trying to convince me again, with these reasons, ‘ This is India, women can’t live all alone in this society.’ My reply to which was pointing out all the women we know of, who are unmarried. To which his reply was, ‘they all have siblings’. Obviously, I hate being reminded of that.

As far as the boy is concerned, I think because the Father knows how difficult I am, he likes the fact that this one is even tempered and not perturbed by me (at all) Plus he argues, ‘ you’re not speaking to anyone in the family since you’re mum has passed away. I worry no one will be there for you, if I fall ill or if something happens to me! How will you manage, everything? There’s too much to take care off!’

‘ I’ll manage’, I lie through my teeth. Some nights I get anxious thinking about it. It scares me too but you know I don’t let fear dictate my life choices. Other than marriage of course, which I fear more than death, itself. For the rest of my life, I will have to sleep in the same bed and look at the same face, every single day and you know, how I am in love- a clever man can make me do anything . How long will I fool , someone with SB and you know how clingy SC, is? Thanks but no thanks!

Let me just shift the blame on you, please na, for one minute. You guys have spoilt me rotten, you and our mother. First of all, no man looks at me like you did, second no one is going to be smiling, singing, dancing nor kissing me, when I enter the house, like you and our mother did. I’m not going to get enough hugs and looking at married people, I’m guessing I’m not going to get laid enough. I can’t tell people this, na, that once I hit menopause, maybe then? The prudes will just faint!!! Those Brahmakumaris were trying to convince me, a few years ago, that women don’t feel the need to do it after a certain age. High hopes! As far as how things will be managed, we survived our very interesting childhood, heartbreaks, you died I learnt to live with that, mum died and I am still managing! So, let’s see. Baki Khudda to hai hi, each time someone leaves, he sends someone to help me deal with it. Whatever shall be, shall be!

Delhi Karavan

I attended my first walk, with Delhi Karavan, today. What’s interesting about these walks is, that each reteller of history brings into the tale, their own personalities. The founder of Delhi Karavan- Asif Khan Dehlvi, is like the rockstar of the heritage walk circuit. A tall man with bulging muscles and a deep voice, who speaks the language of love, his key audience no wonder, comprises mostly of women.

Asif is more a storyteller, than a historian and Delhi Karavan is more like a family than a company. It’s not the best place to get your facts but it’s a great place to make friends, have a good time and explore the city. The Hindustani, the stories, the narration, make him an obvious charmer, his tales of unrequited love do have a way with the ladies and it seems with men, as well. I have never been for a walk, where the attendees are more interested in taking pictures of the leader and other attendees than the place they are visiting, which is a bit distracting. It’s also the reason why, one has been unable to get a picture, it’s like shooting a sports event from a booth. Everyone gets the same thing. After taking two, I just stopped. Having said that, it’s great for anyone, who wants free pictures of themselves, attending these walks, as they upload them on the Delhi Karavan, Facebook Page, regularly.

One is a bit charmed by him, too, so one will do a proper feature, at some point, after attending a few more, as and when they happen. If you’re fun loving and looking to hear some stories in Urdu, you’ll love this, check out the page, I’ve mentioned.

Tere Bin

Tere bin sano soniya, huar koyo nahi labna..Jo de ruh nu sakoon chuke jo nakhra mera.

Dear Love,

Sunshine, happy now? This year must be better, with mum by your side. If we actually buy the story about heaven and hell, I seriously doubt our extremely adventurous Mother, would have landed up in the same place as you. Is God as forgiving to women as he is to men or does he too hold them by the same standard as society does? Is God a woman? If so she might have been kinder to our Mum or maybe worse. I wish you could tell me.

But I worry less about you. Do I love you less/ miss you less? Hell no! Itna cute koi aur nahin he na iss duniya mein, now that our Mother has gone, too. You know, how I would sometimes joke that my soulmate took one look at me and told God, ‘ hunne hi chukk le menu, ae dene di jagaah!’ . Maybe, our soul mates are not our lovers, maybe you were my twin soul. Who knows? Dil ko behlane ke liye, yeh sarre khyaal acche he! No man/boy still looks at me, the way you did, with a little bit of amusement and a lot of love. That doesn’t stop them from claiming it and it doesn’t stop me from not believing it. Eyes never lie.

Life, unfortunately, goes on without you. Suddenly, like you I find myself, wanting to go out all the time. Human contact has never been my style of escapism but it’s a new experiment. Meet people, listen to the good stuff, listen to the bullshit and not get hassled by any of it. Neither by the brick backs nor by the contempt. I better learn now or forever be misanthropic, which suddenly, seems like a waste of energy and an opportunity to tap on another aspect of oneself.

Jess took me out today and she was saying, ‘Diya I know you, since we were little…you’re not going to start meeting random people.’ Well, from one minute to another, I don’t know myself. Who am I in any case? The person who drives or dances with complete abandon, ecstatic some days. The person who some times can’t bear the idea of living one more day? The girl you loved or the woman the various lovers did? They all too will vouch for different versions of me! Tu bata de! Tujhe pata he? Tell me in my dreams, someday.

Delhi Through Sohail Hashmi’s Eyes

Sohail Hashmi, is a history buff, heritage walk leader, filmmaker and the keeper of Delhi’s heritage.
Sohail, studied Geography but became interested in history, thanks to his father. Over here, he can be can seen on one of his walks, following the COVID protocols.

Who would not like to spend a morning with an academician, historian and filmmaker, exploring Hazrat-e-Dilli? Sohail Hashmi, is all that and more. Went for one of his walks, yesterday. The walk itself was not just about our lost heritage, the forgotten city- Tuqhlaqabad but also about botany and Roman architecture juxtaposed with his political views. For those of us whose political views are centric, his comments on the current government, his family ( he’s the brother of Safdar Hashmi and Shabnam Hashmi) and his views on women’s rights make his walks, something you got to wake up for on a Sunday morning.

In the company of remarkable men- Sohail Hashmi

I’m not a big fan of man made structures but people fascinate me. The one thing I like are all the lovers, hanging around, these spots. While we were there, I saw a man lying on his lover’s lap, whispering sweet nothings to her, while she, very unromantically fiddled with her phone. Love in 2020. Though, one loves traversing the country by oneself but this ongoing pandemic, is making one long for company. So, to combat that, one wants to explore Delhi, through the eyes of the people who view it differently from me- historians, storytellers, poets, a few broken people and hopefully some crazy chicks. Dilli walleh, jo humme Dilli dikha sakhe, people who consider it home. For I don’t know where my home is, here (Delhi), there ( Kashmir/Pushkar) or nowhere!

When you attend his walks, you get many points of view and the most interesting are his, which are embroiled in logic, rather than hearsay.

Sohail, tells the group about the Dhatua plant, shows us the mason’s markings, takes us to the Baoli, the Hamam and the Mausoleum. What fascinates me, is the relationship between the father and the daughter ( Sania Hashmi) his energy ( we walked for 4 hours and he barely sat, while the rest of us were panting) and his sense of humour. One can not wait to go back for more. His walks begin from mid September and go on till the beginning of March. Considering the ongoing pandemic, has made our lives a bit dull, soak in the the sun, walk a bit and see the city through Sohail’s eyes!

At the Kund
With his daughter

Check Out- Delhi Heritage Walks By Sohail Hashmi, on Fb, to book a slot.

Yaro ne mere waaste

Back to the grind. After spending a week, giving instructions to the labour ( trying to stop the seepage at home) in the day and partying every single night, one’s a bit exhausted. The workers are kind of used to my fickle nature, one day I’m in the factory, next day I’m shooting, third day I’m traveling and it goes on. My multi tasking ways, keep me entertained, otherwise, ask me to do one thing for the rest of my life ( even if it’s as lovely as photography) my mind will get fried.

Have you noticed, doing one thing at a time, is the privilege that only men (especially Indian men) have? ‘ I’m going to work!’ they say and head off, to do some one task that they would have been doing for over a decade. While a woman works, cooks, cleans, takes care of the kids and takes care of all his relationships,for him. Before you give me this bs that everyone has domestic help, tell the men to manage them. The day women start doing one thing at time, I’m convinced the world will stop.

The one man who doesn’t seem as spoilt to me as most, left today. He’ll spend a couple of weeks at home and hopefully will stop over for a few days before he heads back to the city of gold. The week flew past quickly. ‘ We’ll do whatever you want, as long as it makes you happy!’ he said when he arrived. So of course, there was lots of eating ( that’s why the boys call me Khappu) wherever there was music, drinking ( he doesn’t, so the servers would be taken aback, each time they would place the alcohol in front of him and he would shift it to my side) hysterical laughing and of course so much crying. Chuck therapy, find someone who can be by your side while you cry for a few hours straight. My two closest buddies, unfortunately are men , they start having palpitations, when they see tears. One just starts saying, baby please don’t on repeat. This one just went ‘ Slap me yaar, abuse me yaar, yell..just please don’t cry yaar!’ It was cathartic for me, traumatising for him, I think.

‘ Marry him! Just do it, he’s such a good boy. I don’t know how long, I’ll live!’ said my Father, the other day, after spending an hour chatting with the Wall. ‘ Dad, I have decided to only listen to you when you’re sober and in that state, you’ve told me, you’re convinced I can’t live with one man. Baap ho aap, baap ko sab pata hota he. Why will I ruin my life today, out of the fear of being alone, tomorrow? ‘ I replied. Dad goes, ‘ Phir tu kabhi mat kar!’. ‘ Agar aap bologe, mat kar phir to karni padegi na!’ I burst out laughing. This is what happens when father and daughter, sit and drink together. My poor mum would, get totally exasperated by the two of us. Thankfully, the boy had returned to the hotel and was not privy to our back and forth banter. But I’m thinking, BJP is giving me a good bait these days. The day marriage becomes illegal, (marrying a Muslim man is becoming harder day by day) I’m definitely signing that damn paper, with whom is inconsequential! Just kidding.