Is There A Choice?
Last Saturday, Delhi witnessed yet another blast, smearing the calendar with yet another black day. The theatre of savagery was uncannily similar to the previous blast sites – this time, it was a crowded street in Delhi’s Mehrauli. The blasts sheared off a little boy’s head, killed a 22-year old and injured another 27. The perpetrators this time were different, though the stripe was similar -- at least that is what our keepers of law told us. Yet again we read in the next day’s newspaper that Delhi had bounced back on its feet. What other choice are we left with?
Given the atmosphere that is laden with grief and despair, passing off an incident-free Eid this week was not a small consolation by any stretch. Jamia Nagar, the area where Delhi Police felled two alleged masterminds of the Delhi blasts and questionably lost one of its gallant officers, is uncharitably referred as Chota Pakistan by the neighbouring areas of up-market South Delhi colonies. The shootout and the arrests of three alleged terrorists that followed has only added to the miseries of this unjustified branding. But the afternoon of Eid seemed to have erased the agony and infamy of its residents, at least temporarily. It is amazing how a festival can heal so many bruised souls. The narrow streets of Jamia Nagar were full of happy faces, dressed in white, some wearing skull caps -- hugging each other with Eid greetings. I couldn’t resist a smile thinking of a caption that I had read in the 70s in the Northern India Patrika published from Allahabad. A sub-editor with aspirations of becoming a poet someday had captioned a six column front-page picture of men in embraces exchanging Eid-greetings that read: "Muslims go gay, on the Eid-ul-Fitr day". I am sure the sub-editor had no malafide intentions.
Remembering Alain Danielou
Pt. Ravi Shankar, Maurice Fleuret and Alain Danielou in Paris, 1985. Photo: Jacques E. Cloarec
Last week Delhi’s India International Centre celebrated the centenary of Alain Danielou in India. Danielou, the Frenchman who became India’s first unofficial cultural ambassador to the west was also the man through whose stunning photography the world discovered erotic sculptures of
the Khajuraho temple. Much before Osho could tickle the Yanks about our erotic marvels,
Danielou hosted the first ever photography exhibition of the Khajuraho temple sculptures at the MOMA, New York. An eclectic
Indophile, who composed music, played the veena, painted, choreographed, wrote over 30 books -- most
seminal being his writings on the Vedas, Hindu philosophy and Shiavism -- and also orchestrated the music for Jana Gana Man and Vande
Mataram. Born in French aristocracy, Daneilou became a pundit in Benaras assuming the name of Shiv Sharan through whose writings Europe could understand Hinduism. He had a big influence in introducing Pandit Ravi Shankar to the west in 1958,
and as the sitar maestro acknowledges: ‘To this day his continuous contribution to the promotion of India's cultural heritage abroad has no parallel in modern history. His unflinching devotion to our culture and, above all, love for Mother India, defy all expression.’
Danielou passed away in 1994 at the age of 87 in Switzerland.
Ridiculous Price Tag
A cotton T-shirt for Rs 6000. A shirt for Rs 50,000. A suit for Rs 2,00, 000. Does it really matter how many zeroes follow after the first few zeroes? Welcome to Effervescent India’s most ridiculously priced shopping mall in New Delhi –Emporio. This is our answer to Macy’s in New York or Selfridges in London but with one difference – the price tag. The sprawling structure built on Nelson Mandela Road came into the news only for wrong reasons while it was being constructed. But clearly its backers knew exactly how to work the system in India and therefore this mall too has come up, and now it houses such eclectic brands as Bottega Veneta, Ermenegildo Zegna, Salvatore Ferragamo with some of Indian top end designers thrown in. At Macy’s I could buy a designer label shirt at a rack price of $50 (about Rs 2200) or a prêt line designer-label suit at the Selfridges, which even the Emporio Mall offers, for 150 pounds (about Rs 12,000). Quite fittingly, the mall looks like a cemetery even on a festival weekend.
The Car In Delhi
The car in Delhi that has big metal bumpers in front and the rear, will also be the car that will blind you with its high beam headlights, will also be the car that would honk at you, will also be the car that will overtake you from the left, will also be the car that would have dark tinted film on its window that prevents you to see who the jerk behind the wheels is, will also be the car that would have its number plate written in illegible letters – most likely starting with alphabets HR.