Thursday, May 25, 2006

still goin....

the trip through old delhi isnt over yet..... so... where was i???
oh yeah.. i forgot...
before getting to the kullewala n my house, we went to see the temple of Shri Chitragupt- the scribe of Yama, the god of death... he is the patron deity of Kayasthas.. infact accordibg to the stories that expalin formation of castes... Kayasthas emerged from the body of this divine scribe... which is why the traditional occupations of Kayasthas, n Mathurs have been accounting, bookkeeping, law etc..
okay... now.. we had lunch at Bagichi.. Bedmi-aloo..n raita(dahi- curd with boondi in it) .. the uhm.. 'traditional' dish of dilliwala mathurs... though Kadhi-chawal were missed..
after the lunch break we went hrough to the Haveli where the great Mirza Ghalib spent his last few years.. to get to this haveli we went through this little lane called the "patli gali"..so named.. coz the lane is only wide enough for one nice fat person to go through at one time... so when two of my frenz decided that they wanted to take a picture of our whole group walkin along like a nice bunch of schoolkids, we inevitably created a traffic jam coz there were a lot more ppl waiting for their turn to cross over to the other side... before Mirza ghalib's old home we came across the building which ahd houssed the hindustani Dawakhana... an oooooold hospital... since we didnt stop to read the plaque i cant tell u what happened to it...

all through the trip we talked of the cultural history of the area and the architechtural changes.... in the havelis that we visited, the bickwork was specially pointed out to us... the small, thinner bricks belonging to the Mughal era interspersed with the bigger, wider bricks introduced by the British... the houses also used slabs of sandstone for rooofing, and at the base of the walls, and the stairs..at johnny bahiya's house we saw how the terraces of almost all houses are linked or atleast close enough for anyone to jump over from one house to another... he was telling us how kids run all over the neighbourhood via the terraces chasing after kites..
coming back to my narrative...
from mirza ghalib's haveli we went to Ballimaran.. this is another quarter of chandni chowk.. the name comes from the oooooold time colony of the fishermen and boatmen who used to live here.. they werre called Balli- marne wale- coz they used ballis- sticks is bamboo to row their boats, so their quarters came to be known as Ballimaran.. though now there is no boatman or even a waterway anywhere near the palce... the name, like most of old delhi, is a carryover from the time of Shahjahanabad as the city where the Mughal kings lived...

one thing that was a discordant note in the entire trip was our entry into Ballimaran.. in the british period, the entire area was divided into Hindu and muslim areas, and before u get to ballimaran from the other side, there is a gate, a metal structure clearly delineating the Hindu and the Muslim sections.. painted saffron and white on the hindu side and Green on the muslim side.... it felt like all the things said bou unity and equality to us mean nothing... there was no visible change in the scenery, but there was a psychological difference in the atmosphere of the two sections.. plus there were a lot more burqa- clad women on this side...i felt like asking someone whether we were still in Delhi.. but then, that is the old delhi which hasnt changed much in the hundreds of years of its existance..

from Bllimaran we went to a place called Katra Neel, where a number of freedom fighters were shot during the civil disobedience movement in 1942.. paradoxically, the biggest Haveli there, calledd Chunnamal ki haveli is one that was given as reward to a family for helping the British during the 1857 revolt...
we saw the Haveli too.. it is a massive place, with 135 rooms and a front sitting room decorated with a mix of Roman china figurines, british style photographs and sketches and Mughal- Rajputana style carvings.. it felt as if we had walked to through the portals of time.. exept for the new photographs of the family that were kept on the mantlepiece.. the cieling had a canpy-covering of rajasthani-print cloth, and beautiful painted- glass chandeliers.... even as we admired the place, the unfairness of it was stark... the beautiful Haveli gifted to the traitor was the backdrop of the killing of freedom fighters...

thereon was a short drinks break where we sampled the famous Kanchewali botal, or Banta as it is also known as... it is lemon juice and water mixed with a special masala which gives it a lovely refreshing taste.. two drinks eachand all of us found enrgy enoughto walk all the way through Kinari bazaar to Dariba Kalan- the the jewellery market... all through the way we must have passed a few hundered sari shops... mostly bridal and wedding wear... n there was a whole long lane of footwear shops. we passed through the famous Paranthe wali gali- where there are shops selling.. paranthas(wat else) and other things to eat.. but already being stuffed, we passed them by... we walked past the Central Baptist Church, and the Gurudwara Seesganj, both within 50 meteres of each other.. and then.. exhausted by the loooooooong day... we had Rasgullas at Annapurna and then sat down at Haldiram's restaurant to realx.... Kavita, Bhavika n Bhumika all bought Samosas n Kachoris to take home... i got Rasgullas from Annapurna...
after about 10minutes of rest time, it being almost 6 PM, we piled into autos to go back home....
the trip had begun at 1030 AM.

trippin through the past....

The trip to old delhi was a lot of fun... bout 20 of us squeezed into an auto n two cars... to get to the metro station.... n then frm the Chawri Bazaar station in 7 rickshws to the Indraprastha School for girls...
that's the oldest girls' school in Delhi... started in 1904 by a group of ppl including Annie Besant. it is in this really old... really beautiful haveli.. but we could'nt see a lot of it coz theere was repairwork goin on there... but it was nice being in the place where my grandmother studied... and the grandmothers, aunts etc of a lot of pll who went on this trip... it was mostly ppl frm my society n a coupla cousins etc.. the board there displaying the names of teb topppers in class 12th examz had the name of one of my Aunts... my cousin brother n sister were there n they were pretty excited at seeing her name there...
from there we went to this shop which sells typical Mathur accessories.. bindis, chunris, bangles etc that are used by brides n married women at all ritual occasions... it was fun.... plus our mothers had told almost all of us to get them bindis... shopping from the old traditional spot... from there we went through the myriad Galis.. lanes n bylanes.. of chandni chowk to a place called Kaccha Katra... where there was an old Mathur haveli which, at some point of time has housed a temple of Radha-Krishna moulded with gold and studded with diamonds.. the riches are now gone... but the temple remains... and the house now belongs to the family of the panditji who officiated at the temple... right next to that house was the house belonging to a cousin of my chachi.. my sister.. who was part of the group wanted to meet her cousin brother n her mausi... so we went.. n therein we discovered the crossties of relationships that abound between all mathur families of old delhi.... relationships of one family to another via bloood and marriage..... i cant possibly get into the details here coz i run the risk of writing on forever......
from there we went to a gali called Gali Kayasthan... which, till a few years after independence was an area with almost 100%kayastha population.... the city of old delhi was a city divided into zones... n we were looking at the areas which had beenn the quarters of the Kayastha families.. of which Mathurs are a branch...
in this gali we went to the house that belongs to a family which lives in our society... n the two scions of that family- Johnny bhaiya n Tanu ( formally Ashish n Abhishek) were acting as our tour-guides coz they were practically the only ones of our generation living in our society who had actually lived in old delhi.... the rest of us had only heard from parents and grandparents of the fun they had had running across the terraces n galis of Sheher.... these two had actually done it themselves.. and they have kept the ties strong by visiting the old house, where their grandmother and uncle still live... very frequently... the house is 4 stories high.. built as a block aorund a central courtyard.. which we saw, was pretty much the standard design of all houses that we went to.. we saw 4 of the havelis that still belong to Mathur families... my family's house included... where i have visited my relatives about 4-5v times in my entire 18 year old lifetime... we then went to this chaatshop that also specialises in making Kullas- i told u bout those in my last post i think... they're carved out potatoes stuffed with chanas, Anar seeds, mashed potato, dal n spices... loads of spices.. sprinkled with lemon juice, not for someone who cant take too much spice... they can make your mouth feel like its been set on fire...
after this we went to my house... er... the house belonging to my family.... its called Bagichi, n was at one point of time a nice big haveli spread across what is now an entire lane of shops.... most of the house has been sold or leased off to shops... saris n chaat etc is sold from rooms where my ancestors once slept n played... but we still have a nice large part left for the family.... cousins still live there... being about 130 odd years old.. this house is the joint property of my grandfather's generatin... i.e My grandpa and his brothers.. upto HIS second cousins... so if there is a family get together, there are about 80 odd family units who are part of this joint family...only 5 of those still live there... the rest of us have moved out and scattered all over...
walking through the lanes in a large group had its own charm... 20 of us... ages8- about 28.. walking along in the crowded streets.. n god they were CROWDED.. rickshaws and scooters and PEOPLE... the sheer numbers!!
i took a whole roll of pictures... mostly keeping the numbers as a subject... the people, the vehicles, the house, even the tangled masses of electrical wires....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Heritage

my sister is doin her MA in cultural studies... n she's doin a project on the history of Mathurs in Delhi.. which obviously includes our own family... family history n stories of important ppl of our caste.... Mathurs are a subcaste belonging to the Kayastha caste.... not that i have more than a very vague idea of what it all means.... but this project is giving me a lot of insight into the history of my family n society....
we live in a cooperative society which has 116 flats.... bout 100 of them are owned by Mathur families from old Delhi... we are from there too.... our ancestoral house still stands... still belongs in our family... some cousins still live there... in the heart of Chandni chowk... near the Jama Masjid...
its wierd how despite living here... i have very little knowledge of my heritage n my family's past... or the "Mathur Culture" of old Delhi.." sheher" as its called.. long ago the citadel of shahjahanabad, the Red fort- Chandni chowk area is still caleed sheher by my community... "Sheher"- the city.we are going for a walk around Chandni chowk tomorrow... to visit the places that are significant in the Cultural history of Mathurs.. the temple of Shri Chitragupt... the patron deity, from whose body the Kayasthas are supposed to have been created... the age old shops selling our typical jewellery and other things like the Chunri- a sari given to married daughters and daughters- in law on special occasions such as different pujas etc..., the special bindis- cahumpbindi worn by the married women on special occasions, shops specialising in foodstuffs that are part and parcel of our culture- Kulle- a snack made from potatoes hollowed out and stuffed with chana and spices etc; bedmi aloo- a dish of spicy potatoes stuffed inside a poori made of atta mixed with ground urad dal.. and a few of the old houses , havelis actually, that are still owned and occupied by mathur families, ours includeeed.. the wierd part is.... i havent been to that house more than bot 4 times in my entire 18 yr lifespan, despite the fact that some of our relatives still live there...
we are also going to participate in the age old activity of flying kites there... one of our relatives is to give us a demonstration of his prowess, and then we might give it a try..... i have flown kites before... its one thing thats always done almost as a ritual on Independence day.. kite flying contests all over the place...
we had an informal meeting -cum orientation for the ppl who are goin for the walk... mostly kids my age frm the society... n i felt like i didnt know a thng bout my past.... a couple of my frenz knew sooooooo much bout the Sheher n our cultural history...
but thats what this walk is for.... to educate ignorant "modern" brats like me bout our old culture....


see my sister's project blog... www.mathurbuilding.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Madness in reserve....

49.5%reservation in educational institutions at grad n postgrad level for SC/ST/OBC candidates... have these politicians gone CRAZY????? higher education should be based SOLELY on merit.... n how the hell can u ask a student who can barely speak english to take the same exam as the other kids in IITs?????what this country desperately needs is more schols- primary , secondary n higher...... reserving seats will just create problems
what i ask is... if the oppression has been unfair on the backward classes.... isnt his large scale reservation at these levels unfair towards the general students???? besides that... the concept of the "creamy layer" absorbing all benefits has already been discussed ad nauseum by journalists n general public alike...
if someone is rich enough to put their child through school... and the child intelligent enough to aspire for a seat at IIT or IIM or AIIMS etc... then they can DEFINITELY compete with the general category students in the merit based examz... n if someone simply is'nt bright enough.. they don't deserve a seat in the first place....

there has been a hunger strike on by students of medical colleges in delhi for the past 100 hours ... the news doing the rounds is that 94 students have collapsed due to hunger n heat... there was also a demnstartion by DU students today at India Gate... strikes and demonstrations... mostly by medical students have been goin on all over the country since these reservations were announced....

some people may argue that these reservations are necesary for the upliftment of the downtrodden... to giv ethe ones who have been cut out of society for centuries a level palying field.... but really... does a 'level' playing field mean giving the right of way to those who can't even use it???? most reserved seats in colleges according to news reports go unfilled... specially in the high standard institutions such as the IITs n IIMs etc.... most of those students who do join these colleges... even the regular BA Honours courses at "normal" colleges.. have to face numerous problems... and a large number simply drop out after a yr or two.. or worse... fail.. isnt that a total waste of time, effort and money??? both for the govt and the student??? and what about the general catewgory students who belong to economically weak families???? how are they supposed to compete with the rich students who can pay their way through private colleges AND the reserved category ones who just get in to the college without their merit being of consideration...

to empower these sections of society what we need is rise in quality and availability of basic school education... without that, these reservations are totally useless..

the govt is now announcing its intention of increasing the number of seats available in the various institutions... despite the ground realities that the student:teacher ratio in most colleges is already very high.. infrastructure such as hostels, books, computers, funds for research etc are already low...increasing the number of seats will drastically cut down the quality of education in these colleges.. all this has been pointed out in numerous articles, by various academicians, administrators of the colleges as well as journalists.. hasnt the govt noticed yet???

shouldnt the level of acheivement depend on the amount of work u put in???? merit should be the sloe consideration for admittance into an educational institution... and to enable that.. we need more schools and schoolteachers who actually teach... reservation is not the right way to change their fortunes...

Monday, May 15, 2006

u can never go home again...

i went to school on tuesday... met most of the teachers... hung out in the bandroom... it really felt like comin home.. i cant tell u how it felt to be back... u know... so much has changed.. n yet everything is almost the same... they've redone the bandroom.. put cupboards in it like the ones in JPSharma sir's room..the old room for learnin instrumental music... for the guitars n stuff..i think anmol sir's taken over the instrumental music bit.. but the orchestra???? i really dont know.. i didnt ask... there was a blackboard n a bulletin board in the band room... which was covered with newspaper clippings n posters etc...it was sooooooooo much fun.. hanging out there again..my haunt for 2 yrs..n yet now i felt like i was in a dream..
soooo many ppl had turned up..my juniors though.. the ones that have just finished with their 12th boards... pallavi batra, abhimanyu, shivang, tamanna, n lots more of their classmates... i'd called sasthi... so we both basically went to hang out in the bandroom again...i took a walk around the building... saw my classes... teachers.. the nooks n corners where i'd stood with frenz n talked..
there was practice for the scholar badge function goin on in the MP hall.... i stood there for a while n nearly started cryin coz it was soooo familiar... n yet i wasnt a part of it anymore...the two choirs... the band, instrumentalists.... madhok maam n surjeet maam n goswami maam n nigam sir n all those students milling around...
i went to the 8th, 9th, 10th wings again... walking along the corridors i'd run thru....laughed n cried in... chatted n argued with my friends in.... so familiar... yet so changed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

what xactly do u call trust??? n how do u telll whether u can trust someone??? what do u believe when u dont even know what is it that ure believing....

Monday, May 01, 2006

i gave my dad a BIG hug today.... told my boyfriend how much i love him n how glad i am that he's there for me... told my best friends how lucky io feel to have them in my life...
sometimes u just take things for granted.. or worse..complain bout wat we have coz we feel we're getting a raw deal...but its not always that way.... if i sit back n think. i have sooooooooo much to be happy n proud of... a loving family, wonderful frenz n an awesome boyfriend.. and everyone cares sooooooo much bout me n ni have so many ppl who would do anything for my happiness... so if i have to give something in return... its my good luck that i have someone to give back something to.....
thank u god.... for letting me have this gift of life n love.
may i be worthy of it.
amen.