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.

Raghav Chadha

The AAP candidate from South Delhi, was present at the Phool Walon Ki Sair, last year, where I shot him. Gul Panag and Prakash Raj, were present at a rally on Tuesday, to support him, the youngest candidate from AAP. Chadha, a Modernite, is a 30 year old, Chartered Accountant, who is pitched against Bidhuri ( BJP) and Vijender Singh (Congress).

Wadali Brothers at the 5th edition of Urdu Festival

The Wadali Brothers of Amritsar, have sung many a legendary tracks. This year, the younger brother-Pyarelal Wadali passed away due to a cardiac arrest. Puran Chand , was joined by his son -Lakhwinder Wadali, who filled in for his uncle. The duo had the audience in a state of trance at the 5th edition of Jashn-e-Rekhta.

Araz and Yaseem

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Araz and Yaseem

I met Araz and Yaseem at Jama Masjid.

Araz and Yaseem are 17  year olds who reside near the Jama Masjid. ”Dada ke zamaane se reh rahen yahan par.” I know this area like the back of my head. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I used to climb on the minar of the Masjid. Yaseem, was not interested in talking, though.

Ashwin

 

Ashwin Bharti, founder of Zorba the Buddha.

Ashwin Bharti, founder of Zorba the Buddha.

The thing that strikes one about Ashwin Bharti is his unusual mane and the beard that he keeps fiddling with, while chatting. But this is not the first time I’m meeting this eccentric, Osho Sannyasi. I met him close to a decade ago while flirting with the idea of spirituality. At that time, he was the Director of Global Arts Village.

Much has changed over time. Global Arts Village has been reincarnated into Zorba the Buddha and the space has become more of a spiritual hub than an artist’s retreat. My life has come  a full circle to exactly where I was a decade ago- lost and disillusioned. So I flirt again with the idea of spirituality and I find myself in the company of mad men (Osho-for mad men only).

Over the years, Ashwin hasn’t changed. He’s still somber, insightful, celebratory, lost and totally mad, all at the same time- akin a Zorba the Buddha.

 How does a 19 year old decide to turn into an Osho Sannyasi?

I got introduced to Osho through my aunt, when I was 17 years old. During the summer vacations she would take her daughter to Pune and she invited me to go with her. I went there and immediately took sannyas, meaning initiation as a disciple. Whenever I would hear Osho speak I would feel like he’s the one. Maybe it’s a connection from a past life.

Did you live at the Ashram?

No, I never lived at the Ashram. After taking sanyaas I was more interested in society and in becoming rich and famous. In our sanyaas we don’t have to renounce anything. This kind of sannyas includes the celebration of life and the world. Osho says that if you meditate for an hour a day, slowly unnecessary things will start melting away. You’ll start to drop them and that’s what happened.

Zorba the Buddha, was initially a space for artists called the Global Arts Village. I remember being granted a residency from here. How come you changed it to Zorba the Buddha, which is obviously a namesake of Osho’s book?

My interest for creativity and arts was very dominant. When we named the space Global arts village we became about art. That was not the vision, the vision was to get happiness and bliss in our lives. The name has a great significance, which I realized only later. That’s why we changed the name to Zorba the Buddha- where creativity meets consciousness. Our focus these days is towards bringing happiness, bliss to our lives. We now use art as a form of therapy, as a form of release and understanding. Yes! the name comes from Osho, it is a termed coined by him. Zorba was a character from a film called Zorba the Greek. He was a man who enjoyed life to the fullest. Buddha of course was a spiritual guru. But neither celebration nor meditation is complete without the other. That’s why Osho coined this term.

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Ashwin Bharti, in his classic pose.

So would you consider this to be a kind of Osho Ashram?

It is a place, which is inspired by Osho’s vision. But I can’t really call it his ashram. It’s like a hub, an epicenter of consciousness. There are people who belong to various fields who are attracted to this place. Like you- you as an artist come from the path of beauty- from the Sundaram category. Then people who belong to the way of Shivam- for example ngo’s, are also visitors here.

Do you think you’re anywhere close to being enlightened?

First of all, I’ve never been enlightened so I don’t know how far I’ve reached. But there is no magic pill- no quick answer to enlightenment. If I become enlightened that’s great but I don’t think it will happen in this lifetime.

You have spiritual teachers visiting from all over the world. From teachings about Sufism, to Tantra to talks on Kabir etc, you are surrounded by beautiful, inspiring, positive words. What happens when a person like you feels low and disillusioned? Do you ever feel like all of this is futile in some way?

We are one of the largest centres in the country and one of the largest centres in the world. We create more than 200 workshops in a year and there’s so much operational work that goes on behind the scenes. I find it challenging but my whole life is about serving people. It’s all very challenging, sometimes.

That’s why I ask, what is your personal mantra for handling the stress?

I do Osho’s Dynamic Maditation and Naad Brahma. These keep me sane.

 

 

Ambrose

 

The Silent Protestor

The Silent Protestor also known as Amrita

 

He doesn’t know where he was born or who his parents were but that doesn’t distress this man. Ambrose is disturbed by the commercialisation of water and in response to that he has fought in silence for ten  years. For ten long years he hasn’t spoken a word because he believes that water is essential, a gift of nature that is being used to make profits. Ambrose also known as Amrita, stopped speaking after an incident in Bangalore-he went to people’s houses in the summer asking for water for construction workers. But he perpetually got this reply, “Go and buy water bottles from a shop.” This troubled him so much that he decided to create awareness about this by not speaking. Cardboard boxes are his bed and he sells books on non-violence, secularism and unity to make a living. This M.A from Bangalore university has given everything up to help the poor.

DO THEY LOOK LIKE CRIMINALS?

Global Rage Day- No Going Back! 15th December 2013-18 cities around the globe protested against the reinstatement of Criminality of Homosexuality In India. These pictures are from the protests at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

This is a very important post because it’s a campaign which is pro LGBT rights. It’s a campaign against the way in which the Indian state decriminalized homosexuality in 2009 and then reinstated the criminalization in 2013.

Protests At Jantar Mantar on the 15th of December 2013

Protests At Jantar Mantar on the 15th of December 2013

Protests At Jantar Mantar on the 15th of December 2013

Protests At Jantar Mantar on the 15th of December 2013

Does He Look Like A Criminal?

Does He Look Like A Criminal?

No Going Back!

Protests By the LGBT Community in New Delhi

Protests By the LGBT Community in New Delhi

Protests By the LGBT Community in New Delhi

Protests By the LGBT Community in New Delhi

Jaswin

Happy Birthday

”Nafas na anjuman-e arzoo se baahir khainch:
Agarr sharaab naheen intezaar-e saghar khainch.” Ghalib

Dustu2

You departed from the tavern of life in haste…I guess all that I can do now is wait.

You were the adhesive that held all the broken pieces of me together. Now I’m just splattered all over the floor. You were my Achilles’ heel even when you were alive…now that you’re not there what should I say?

The world is a harsh place my love…it’s eyes are too cold and it’s tongue too bitter. It won’t even spare the memory of you!

I’m lost and splattered with nothing that holds me together. Forgive me, if I don’t speak of you again. For now I will take all 100 pieces of me and sweep them into a corner…never to be seen and never to be touched.