Delhi photoblog

Delhi photoblog-the city comes to life

My mobile camera encouraged me to do a Delhi photoblog  while coming back from the Red Fort last Sunday. Since a large number of my readers live outside India ( I hate the term ‘foreigners’) , a photoblog like this one would be in order for them. Many of them see Delhi through the eyes of tourist places and hotels and they do not get to see how people in India actually live their lives.

Let me know if you like this Delhi photoblog. It would be better if you suggested improvements. Some pics are crappy, but I am not  a professional photographer, you see.

Delhi photoblog
The Lodhi  Colony Art District

The staid government colony, Lodhi colony, is undergoing an image makeover these days. Graffiti is making this habitat an interesting place for the backpackers.

Whomsoever has planned and executed this project deserves my kudos.

Speaking of doors, I found this one..isn’t it pretty?

Delhi photoblog
Can you imagine the age of this beautiful door? My guess is it is more than 220 years old.
Delhi photoblog
Is she a goddess or is she a beautiful girl?

Can you guess who she is? I think she is a working woman. Carrying her child on her back, she is seen flitting from home to school to back to home. She can be found in places as diverse as New York, Nigeria, Japan or Delhi.No?

Delhi photoblog
This lady reminds me of the American Indians

What is the grandmother saying? Can you guess? Perhaps, she is pleading to save the environment. “Save trees.”

Delhi photoblog
Delhi has never looked this beautiful

Yes, the ladies need to be fearless. Whether young or old, they should look the world into its eye.

Mornings=Tea Time

Delhi Photoblog
Chai, Chai

Delhi photoblog would be incomplete without this picture. Our mornings begin with chai. This chaiwalla uncle is preparing tea for his guests. I am calling this gentleman an uncle because he is  a little younger than my dad.

The most famous chaiwalla ( tea-seller) of India is our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He used to sell tea in the trains and railway stations in his teens.

Delhi photoblog
A chaiwalla brews up some excellent tea

This is paradise my friends, paradise. If you like this photo, the credit goes to my Gionee camera.

Bliss!

Delhi photoblog
She too is a mother. Don’t you dare touch my kids, she is saying

My kids would have hijacked some of these pups had they been around ;)))

Morning News !

Elsewhere, a gent is catching up on some morning news.

Delhi photoblog
The printed word still is still trusted by many when it comes to news.

Setting up shop

Delhi photoblog
A panoply of colors

Can you imagine India without color? I took this snap when a shopkeeper had just opened up his stall to sell bangles. Gods and bangles jostle for space in this stall.

Delhi photoblog
The spice seller at Chandni Chowk

India has always been known as the land of spices. I read in my history classes that the Romans and Egyptians used to trade their bullion for our spices which is not a bad deal after all!

Sharing is caring

Delhi photoblog
Many Indians start their morning by sharing their foods with animals

We share our spaces, roads, homes and even food with animals and I hope you like this photo from the Delhi photoblog.

Color my skies

Elsewhere, our skies were getting ready to welcome their guests- the kites.

Delhi photoblog
This was the first time Delhi played host to an international kite flying festival

People in Delhi fly kites on January 26th and August 15 but this was the first time that kite flying  was promoted on an international scale in the city. Good effort but a lot of distance to cover.

If you were around, you could have bought a few puppets as well  in the festival.

Delhi photoblog
Puppets have their own tales to tell

Kathputlis or puppets are dying in Delhi. When I was young, I could see many puppeteers around and telling stories about folk heroes through the kathputlis. Video  and mobile games have replaced this popular form of entertainment and alas, our kids don’t know much about this craft. Puppeteers use their hands and voice skilfully to recount ancient tales of folk heroes and heroines.

Delhi photoblog
This joker was balancing dominoes as part of his entertainment duties

A jeep hauls up a heavy kite!

Delhi photoblog

I have flown kites when I was in teens  but never knew that some of them need to be hauled up by jeeps!

Have you ever flown kites?

Jallikattu Story

The Jallikattu Story-Of unending traditions and animal welfare

The Jallikattu Story is an interesting reading material for all those interested in India’s hoary traditions. This one has more than 2, 500 years of history behind it.Read it to understand how a lovely tradition changed for the worse.

What is the Jallikattu Story?

Jallikattu refers to the age old practice of embracing the bulls by people of Tamil Nadu. This practice is a sight to watch during Pongal.

Can I see how this Jallikattu thing is played out?

Sure, watch the video.

What is Pongal?

The Pongal season marks the arrival of the fresh crop in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

But, heck, what is the connection between Jallikattu and Pongal?

Since ancient times, Indians have used oxen and bulls for farming purposes. Jallikattu provides the reason for the farmers to thank their animals.

Jallikattu Story
The bulls are thanked on Pongal

But, why is the Jallikattu Story creating such a ruckus?

You see, over a period of time, people started using their bulls in a wrong way. Rather than thanking them , the farmers started using the occasion as a spectator sport.

So, what is wrong in that?

Good question. What went wrong in the Jallikattu Story was that animals began to be teased, agitated and beaten in such fairs. The bulls and oxen were fed with great food and on Pongal, were used by the villagers as toys. The animals were caged in closed places and teased so much that they had to escape from the hordes of people.

Jallikattu Story
Over the years, the lovely tradition of Jallikattu has changed to one of animal bashing.

Sometimes, the bulls escape to busy  roads and other inhabited places and this scares the drivers of the vehicles.

Did the animals die in this Jallikattu Story?

An emphatic no. There is  no record of any animal dying because of this practice. However, according to PETA, more than 1, 000 people have been injured because of trampling by the animals.

Got it. So, how do you prevent this cruelty to the animals?

The Supreme Court of India has ordered a ban on this inhuman practice. Not surprisingly, the people of Tamil Nadu have opposed this ban.

They say that the Jallikattu tradition has been in vogue for more than 2,500 years. It also helps the state get tourists and also helps in breeding superior quality of milch cattle.

Really?2,500 years?You must be joking!

No way. Here is an image of an ancient sculpture of Jallikattu.

Jallikattu Story
This image which is more than 2,500 years old shows the practice of Jallikattu

But, so many people kill animals for food. Is that not cruelty?

It is, definitely. I have seen so many birds and animals dying a slow and painful death in the name of religion! And here, PETA, one of the petitioners has failed to establish that Jallikattu leads to animal deaths!

So, when is Pongal?

Tomorrow, i.e. January 14th, Saturday!

Holy Moly, isn’t it also Makar Sankranti day?

Yes, indeed. In North India, Makar Sankranti means flying kites, but the underlying reason is the same- new harvest!

India Travel

India Story- This man cycled more than 6000 miles to meet his love

This is the fantastic India Story of a poor man from Odisha who cycled thousands of kilometres from his village to Sweden- just to meet his lover, who was a Swedish princess. At the outset, I will like to express my thanks to Nelson singh who has permitted me to use his photographs in this article.

India Story- Meet Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia

The hero this story is Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia who was born in 1949, just a couple of years after India gained her independence from the Britishers. Mahanandia came from the Dhenkanal district of Odisha. This district was and is one of the most impoverished regions of not just Odisha , but the entire country as well.

To make matters worse, Pradyumna’s family belonged to the lower strata of the society. His parents were extremely poor and ranked low in the social pecking order. The rest of the villagers avoided all social contact with Pradyumna and his family. The family members had to subsist on meagre rations. How tragic is this India Story? Ironically, the word ‘Pradyumna’ is also the name of the son of Lord Krishna.

Off to the Art Schools

In the early 1970s, Pradyumna gained admission to one of the best universities in India- the Vishwabharati University. Unfortunately, he did not have enough money to pay the tuition fees and had to come back to his impoverished village. Life was very painful for him.

A few months later , he got admission into an Odisha college but again, he was unable to fund his education.

Finally, lady luck smiled upon him and he got an admission to the College of Art in Delhi. It seemed, the poor lad from Odisha had found his bearing. Ladies and gentlemen, this India Story isn’t over yet.

Portraits, Portraits

The young man from Odisha had to struggle a lot in Delhi to carve out a living. He liked making portraits of people and found Connaught  Place  (now Rajiv Chowk) as the best place to find his subjects. Connaught Place was in the centre of the city, had lots of people and was also close to his college. Not surprisingly, he found many clients in this beautiful place that still oozes a lot of old world charm.

Pradyumna meets his lady love-the princess of Sweden

One day, while he was engrossed in his work, a beautiful young woman came up to him. Her name was Charlotte and she was visiting India as a traveller. Charlotte had heard about Pradyumna and wanted him to create a portrait for her.

You can’t imagine what happened in the next few minutes…both of them fell in love. Isn’t this India Story enchanting?A princess falling in love with a poor, out caste man! Haa…I wish, a princess would have found me out too…ha ha ha;))

Marriage and then separation…

Of course, the two married and the princess offered to take her new husband back to Sweden, to a life of luxury and comfort. But, our hero would have none of it. He was determined to stay back in India and fund his way for travel to Sweden.

India Story
Love is not limited by boundaries

The distraught princess , after much cajoling, left for Sweden in the fond hope that she and her husband would be soon reunited. Our hero, Pradyumna , refreshed by this marriage, went back to his work, determined that he would earn enough to see his lover once again.

Keeping in Touch

The two kept in touch with letters. There was no internet in those days so you can forget about e-mail and WhatsApp. Dear readers, please imagine the intensity of love between the two; writing a letter, posting it and waiting for the other person’s reply ! In those days, a letter from Sweden would take 14 days to reach India and vice versa. My salute to them.

Can’t bear without her..

A few months after Charlotte’s departure, Pradyumna started pining for her. He could not bear her absence. Pradyumna wanted to be with his wife-the beautiful Charlotte- at all cost.

But the poor artiste did not have enough money to fly down to Sweden! What to do?

No problem, I will cycle down

And yes, dear readers, Pradyumna took a very difficult decision. He took out his ramshackle bicycle and decided to ride down to Sweden ! His friends and well wishers tried to convince him not to do this crazy thing but, what can you do when your heart is possessed with infinite love!

With prayers on his lips and love in his heart, Pradyumna began his dangerous and arduous journey to meet his lady love. He travelled through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Central Europe and many other countries before reaching Sweden. It is easy to list down all these countries here but very , very difficult to imagine the pain that he experienced in his journey.

India Story
It took  Pradyumna 4 months to travel to Sweden from India!

His cycle broke down several times.

He had no money to buy food and clothes.

Many people thought he was a spy.

His body would have ached a million times on the way.

He did not know where he could get a shelter.

HE DID NOT KNOW WHETHER HIS WIFE WOULD ACCEPT HIM OR NOT…..

Sweden…

After four months of painful, arduous and dangerous travel, Pradyumna reached Sweden.He did not know any Swede there. This was an alien country for the poor artiste from Odisha and he did not know what to do next. Nobody seemed to know English and for our lover here, the situation was quite pathetic.

It had taken him 4 months to ride down to Sweden and all that he wanted was to meet his wife.

Did the lovers meet?

The Swedish immigration officials promptly arrested him upon his arrival in Sweden. They thought he was a spy. He told them he was a lover. The Swedish princess was his wife and her name was Charlotte.The police was unconvinced.

Our boy from Odisha had to spend some anxious moments in Sweden before Charlotte was told by her friends of Pradyumna’s arrival in Sweden .

What……, she was overjoyed and surprised. Pradyumna has come to meet me riding a cycle! Oh, my goodness!

And you know guys, what happened next?

Reunion of the two lovebirds!!!!!!

Post Script

Pradyumna and Charulata (Charlotte) now live in Sweden. They are a happy couple and have been blessed with beautiful kids. It has been more than 45 years that the couple has been living in Sweden. I wish them well.

Our man from Odisha is now a cultural ambassador of India to Sweden. He is a much loved and respected person there. He runs a Facebook page too.