All posts filed under: India

Bateshwar Temples from the eyes of the legendary Archaeologist KK Muhammad: A Photo Essay and FILM

My earliest memory of meeting KK Muhammad was in his white room, filled with books to the brim, touching the tall old roof of the Red Fort Complex, his newly ancient home. Astounded, I asked him if he would ever finish reading all these books! Smiling, he said, “Narayan an age comes when you don’t keep books to read them, they read me daily instead. I only use them for references”. Somehow I carried this memory for long, and since then had no guilt for keeping as many books myself, thinking either way of someday reading or at least being read by them. I also remember him today as he came out to be one of the most important person who was behind the archaeological excavations at Ayodhya, that according to him clearly indicated the presence of a temple below the mosque. Father of one of my filmmaker friend, with whom i was fortunate to work together in the making of this film, that became a tribute, a testimony for his commendable and courageous work …

The Paradox

Who is observing the observer? Are you in front of the camera or behind it ? Or are you it ? Do you realize the change Changing? We walked up to the oldest virgin man. The sevak of shiva sitting on a hill, under a bright summer sun. His skin had earned blocks of pentagon, shaped into numerous lines criss-crossing his whole body. Once wrinkles turned into scales, crafted like on a snake’s skin. For a moment when he stood, I moved and touched that skin. But it felt nothing like it instead it was soft as wool. We walked seven steps together and then he sat in the shadow, near few men who had come from the nearby village, singing. He was humorous. He looked at Maharaj ji and told him that you look older than me! abhi bhi dum lagate ho? Do you still smoke Chillum? And started laughing at his own prank. But when he did, i could see through his mouth till his almost neck, bereft of any bone. wide, narrow, dry and …

To a Monsoon Wedding and a Rare Feast –III

After Kaushik and I experienced our first monsoon thunder, together under this Divine Tree, I knew that home was calling. I was already on an extended journey here in Bengal, but incessant downpour set me up for long at Kaushik’s home in Jhargram. One evening when rain took a brief break, I went out on a short walk towards the local football park where i had played five days ago, where I was welcomed by millions of frogs playing music  in the recently grown pond. During one of those rainy nights Kaushik received a phone, where his friend invited him to his sister’s wedding. I got excited and we decided to leave, with a condition. His friend asked us to reach by the daylight. We started from here in time, but rain and bad road took all day to reach a place from where we had to wait for the jeep to the village. It was a strange place. There were many people but there was almost no sound. I didn’t see almost anyone talking …

Love in Himachal Pradesh

Lets start from where we ended. For twenty-seven nights, I was the only one living in a wooden balcony that hung facing the jungle on a whole mountain. The red moon that I saw on the forehead of a mother in the village down, i saw a similar one on my lover. But her eyes were set against the only window the first night. Pink walls. She told me she wants to scream. Now! I said. She smiled. Fire. She kept looking in my eyes and started screaming. I closed my mouth. And opened my eyes. It was winters. It was cold. And you know when it is winters and when it is cold how heavy the rains hit. It confuses the heart. It was sunny next day. Pluto arrived. Nara, let’s go meet the man who sneezes forty times. He does that once daily. We left our two limping dogs behind. It was a beautiful walk. We reached. We sat outside Daulat Ram’s home in his garden on uncomfortable plastic chairs. An old brown …

One monsoon in Bengal – II

After hiding under the monsoon tree i had thought of home and had felt at that moment home is calling. Bengal had become love filled for me because of Kaushik. I was living, moving in the rural country around his village as he wished to. We reached his home thinking i will take the evening bus to calcutta but the moment we arrived at his place it started drizzling and it did not stop raining for next four days to come. Here I am writing from Kaushik’s village home in Jhargram. Its night. Light has come after nine hours. I have cooked six packets of maggie with peas and potato. We both will eat it all tonight. Kaushik has gone to get McDowell’s for himself. Its my last night. We are partying. Meanwhile, I posted that letter to M. Something happened. Let me share this. it was magical – I am fortunate to have spent a memorable time during west Bengal monsoons. The blue sky behind the clouds had slept and drizzling took a break from firmly falling …

One Monsoon in Bengal – I

Monsoons are coming, Or are they ? They say that this year it’ll not rain but the skies are going to weep. Clouds have arrived two weeks early. Even the universe knows, that this time children are angry,  they are not participating in anything. All are quiet and vulnerable. Few years ago, i travelled through Rural Bengal once in majestic Indian Monsoons. Being there it felt like my soul grew while in only seeing the earth showing her abundance, her happiness. So much went inside me then that i had to write a letter to a friend who sat far. Not to tell her as such, but to learn myself what was going. –– Clouds have arrived, I knew it ended right there with this photograph. I realised home is calling. Silda Football Ground West Bengal Rain was never far behind. This happened to be that moment of my journey. This tree felt home away from home. Travels have not been too comfortable but its liberating to learn that i could come to west bengal at this time. …

A hitchhike gone eternal

I could well be passing my worst night. I had missed my fastest express to home, and was barely left with enough money to buy tickets again. Evening was around, I decided to reach the highway and do what i had never done. I started asking passing by truck drivers for a lift. As time passed and no one stopped, uneasiness was creeping in. I hadn’t done anything like it before. But I kept telling myself that if nobody stops I will rest at a temple or the next dhaba i may find. After a considerable time suddenly a big truck passed and seemingly started slowing down. It must have stopped 100 meters ahead. I ran. It looked strange at first sight for such a big thing stopping, for me!! It was a sixteen-wheeler trolley. Empty. I got in. There was only one small, frail person, the driver sitting. He was lanky, and looked too young to be driving anything like this. Also he looked grim, bit sad and may be in shock. Apart from …

The day of the U-Turn

Winters had started settling in Leh. I used to get up the earliest, take the coldest shower from the waters of Indus. For at least half a day to come, my peace with that. I was making tea when i heard Cynthia, singing. An old American woman who had been teaching in Leh for last 29 years. From the US, she arrived each winter to teach Laddakhi students. I offered Cynthia Tea. She said “I am sorry, I am still not Indian’ and laughed out loud. And asked me to come up and look at the old lines on her table. The table had a beautiful map. And this map sounded fulfilling. It had a path along the river Indus, that left the road way down and lead one to an ancient looking narrow canyon. She suggested, I must take that. And then without asking walk for an hour or two to the village called TAR. There lives my best friend; in a cave, like kitchen, where Ibex’s and snow leopards come sometimes to say …