Qasim Ali, a resident of Daryaganj in Old Delhi, a trainee journalist with Hindustan Times, an occasional photographer and my friend died on March 29, 2009, aged 25. Early this month he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Thereafter he was admitted in Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, Rohini, from where he was not able to return home. Read more
It’s such happiness when good people get together — and they always should. Everyone — young and not-so-young, straight and not-so-straight, single and not-so-single — should be invited to join the Jane Austen Society club. The only condition being that you must have read all six of Austen novels at least six times each. Read more
Mayank Austen Soofi, the gifted writer and blogger whose quartet of Delhi novels, including his blog The Delhi Walla, highlighted a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism so diverse and lyrical as to place him in the first rank of South Asian authors, killed himself at his home in Nizamuddin Basti, according to a statement by Penguin Books India, his publisher. Read more
One afternoon I went knocking around houses at Matia Mahal in Old Delhi asking the residents, “May I please climb to your rooftop?” I was refused. Folks thought I was crazy. But I had my reason. I wanted to see how Jama Masjid looks from rooftops.
While thak-thaking around, I met a paan-walla who claimed that his terrace faced Jama Masjid’s Gate’s no. 1. Bingo. We became fast friends and after discussing girls, sex and politics, I asked him, “Can I see Dilli from your terrace?” Read more
The place: Polka Club, Kailash Colony, South Delhi. The time: Saturday, 12.36am. Section 377, which criminalizes gay sex, may be well and alive in Indian society, but that doesn’t stop gay men in the Indian capital from putting on their dancing shoes. Read more
This month I traveled to six places and did six things which I had never done in Delhi.
No book browsing in Surat
I was in this pretty Gujarati city for three days and did not browse in any bookshop. I had no choice. There is no Khan Market in Surat. A fellow booklover who spent his childhood there told me that he had left the town as soon as he turned 18 because… there were no bookshops. Perhaps he was exaggerating. There are actually two bookstores in Surat but they are, in the words of a friend, good for nothing. Read more
I’m standing in the middle of the railway track. The Rewari Passenger will not be coming for another half hour. But I can listen to a distant roar. It’s a shrill sound gradually picking up speed. Hear, hear. It is approaching fast. It is getting thicker. It is close. Closer. It is right here. Above me. Grrrrrrrrr. Above us. Grrrrrrrrr. We look up. Me. Villagers. MBA students (from a local management institute). The kulfi walla. The chaat walla. We all see a giant steel ship floating up in the air. Magnificent scene. Wah wah. Read more
She is known as Surat’s Phoolan Devi, that gutsy bandit queen who carried guns in her hands and gaalis on her lips in the jungles of central India during the 80s.
Ms Asmita Dinesh Bhai Makwana deserves that kind of reputation. Her back is straight, her head unbowed, her eyes fiery. In a conservative town like Surat where most women sport bangles and managalsutras, her accessories include a long, sharp butcher’s knife. Read more
Delhi is like The Complete Works of Shakespeare. You may read just that book and nothing else in your whole life and you would still be wiser. But if go to other cities, walk in their alleys, talk to their dwellers, you would realize that how enlightening it is to read other books.
In other words: Shakespeare is great but not everything; Delhi is great but not everything. Read more
The sufi shrine of Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed in Old Delhi, shaded by a large Neem tree and lying opposite the eastern gate of Jama Masjid, is a bubble of serenity in the otherwise chaotic district. The noisy biryani sellers and quarrelsome Bangladeshi beggars in the alley outside are unable to disturb the quiet that lurks inside the shrine. Read more