Museum of Illusions

‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.’ This famous quote by Albert Einstein can be found on the walls of the newest museum in town- The Museum Of Illusions. Situated in the heart of Delhi- Connaught Place, right above the iconic Wenger’s.

The concept is highly unusual-to teach you more about your brain. About how we perceive things, and how easy it is to miss the tiniest details. From Visual Illusions, that play with your retinal sensitivity, to size illusions, to Kaleidoscopes, to 3 D images, to Upside down rooms, the tricks will leave you bewildered. The 50 illusions that are part of the exhibit have been studied by some notable physicists and psychologists like Ehrenstein and Jastrow. Hence, they would be of great interest to anybody with an inclination towards science or the arts. For six hundred and ninety rupees, you get an hour of brain twisters and fabulous imagery.

Since, one navigates the city, primarily by oneself, as soon as I entered the space, for a fraction of a second I regretted going alone. But the staff was so attentive, that they immediately figured out I would need some assistance, as selfies don’t work with the tricks. So, all my pictures were taken by the crew: mostly by Neeraj who accompanied and took pictures of me, while giving me a guided tour. Since, the cases are spiking, the museum is very strict about COVID protocols and the only time people are allowed to remove their masks is when pictures are being taken. So take your kids, a date or just yourself without hesitation.

The museum in Delhi, is the first of its kind in India. The backgrounds used here, have local references- from a picture of Gandhi to a backdrop of CP. Initially, it opened up in Zagreb, Croatia in the year 2015 and now there are around thirty such museums around the world in – Athens, New York , Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Riyadh etc. I hear, Bangalore and Bombay, too, will be getting their very own Museums of Illusions.

Delhi Through Their Eyes- Aman Tomer

What can you do during a pandemic? Explore the city with wonderful company.
Aman Tomer, is the co founder of Sair e Dilli
Anang Pal II, built the strongly fortified town of Lal Kot.

This Sunday, I left a couple hours early from work to participate in a heritage walk, led by Aman Tomer. Since one has taken a break from oneself, there are no solo dates, I take myself on, these days. Though, technically, hanging out with strangers, could be considered solo dating. Anyhow, what do you do when you’re working like everything is hunky dory and most of your friends are still not venturing out? Explore the city.

Aman Tomer

Aman, who led the walk, is the co- founder of Sair e Dilli and a graduate from the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia. He lead us through the lush green plantations of Sanjay Van, towards the walls of Lal Kot/ Qila Rai Pithora to the Dargah of Khwaja Shihabiddin (which we only saw from the outside). He spoke in Hindi and very casually interspersed into the historical fables, stories about Chudails and Snakes, that run rampant in this area. His manner was easy going and friendly, something that was much appreciated, trekking up and down the rocky terrain.

Since, it was a Sunday, one saw couples and families everywhere, soaking up the sun. The participants seemed to enjoy the experience, as did I. Don’t know about the kid in the pictures below, though, who kept telling her dad, ‘ yeh bacho ke liye jagah nahi he!’ and he kept trying to convince her, that she’s not a kid anymore. Of course, that led to clinging to the mother. Aren’t mum’s so comforting? I would have paid money, just to see that very cute father, daughter banter. Not to take away from the fabulousness of the walk and the leader, at all.

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.

Dilli Ki Diwali

Growing up, irrespective of how sick my mum was festivals, were huge. My brother’s passing has sucked the fun out of everything. Once in a while, we make a half hearted attempt to celebrate a festival and yet we seem to be stuck in limbo. ‘ If you would just get married or make some babies, it would change everything!’ I am told. ‘Char din ki chandni aur phir andheri raat!’ is my view. Thanks but no thanks!

The festival of light maybe a celebration of light over darkness but for some it can be a lonely experience. I wouldn’t be surprised, if in a few decades we begin to hear how the festivities have triggered depression and suicide amongst people, like Christmas does in the West.

With more and more people choosing to work away from their families, or choosing to remain single, how do you celebrate when everybody is busy with their loved ones? That’s what you have friends for and now you also have something else to do- go for Delhi Ki Diwali!

For the past five years (ever since…) one doesn’t know what to do with oneself and my Sufi group is kind enough to celebrate the evening with me. So while most people I know are busy doing Puja and playing cards, we roam around the streets of Delhi, looking for something to do. Khali sadke napte he aur kuch khaane ke liye dhondte he.

It’s damn difficult to find a restraunt that is open on Diwali, FYI. We head to any eatery which has a Muslim name and hog away to glory. To have them by my side is a blessing. As is the fabulous programme organised by AAP. Four days of festivities, where you can listen to fabulous music, watch a laser show in the middle of CP and that too free of cost!

For the first time, the celebrations were beyond anything I have experienced on Diwali. Thousands of people, came together to celebrate a festival not all of them, would normally. Foreigners were dressed up in Indian attire, women in hijabs roamed excitedly around with their families, while students from north east sat on the grass grooving to the music. The fabulousness of this country was on display, on the streets of Delhi that night and even if you were alone in that one moment, you would feel as if you belonged!