Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heritage Walks: Building my Itinerary

  It's been a long time I have been sitting more or less idle; trying to figure out how to go about content marketing for youth diaries. It's high time I should think about more direct revenue models and salaried procedures. Through the course of writing 'Arth Unearthed' I believe travel has become more or less my routine and I guess it's here when I should take travel writing more seriously. So where to start; but home itself. The next ten-fifteen days of my life would be concentrated upon discovering Delhi, and its culture as much as possible; and that's my pledge. 

  As most of us do know, Delhi is cities of cities. Well; built over seven cities. And I thought to myself the best way to explore Delhi is starting from the first city (Qutub and Mehrauli Archaeological Complex) and then moving on consecutively. However it didn't start at the first it started at the last mausoleum built in the Mughal architectural style (Garden tomb, as that of Humayun's tomb): The Safdarjung Tomb, a mausoleum of the viceroy of Oudh (Late-Medieval constituency in U.P) under the reign of Muhammad Shah (1719-48). In-order to build my itinerary I needed the Archaeological map of Delhi, which I lost a few months back. So I went back to the place from where I first bought them, however then I was updated that those books and maps are no longer available at Safdarjung Tomb; and now are available at the Red Fort, Qutub Complex, and the Humayun's Tomb.

  So I decided that I would just walk around the gardens and the Tomb that evening. It originally did remind me of the same architecture used in the Taj Mahal and Humayun's Tomb. It's a square tomb, with symmetrical sides; and a trail of fountains leading to the four Arch-ways of the tomb. The main entrance gate to the complex is a magnificent one to the east; which neighbors a courtyard of apartments and a mosque to the right. And though prohibited area to tourists; I somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the central washroom next to the courtyard (Pretty much reflected on the late medieval life-style). The tomb is built on a platform; and even though we observe a single grave in the central chamber; it's believed that the graves of Safdarjung and his wife lie underneath that chamber. There is a library also; which until my own experience realized was again restricted to tourists. Caught in the enthusiasm and heavy rain, that evening; I realize maybe I should just lose myself in my idea for the next few days, and then conceptualize whatever I would then learn.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Unfinished Documentary

    It was summer 2010; when I had this knack of shooting a documentary. Well; I possessed a book on Archaeology of Delhi by the ASI and I must say for any one who wants to learn more about the historical structures and landscapes in Delhi, it's by far the best source. One of my most planned experience by far I guess; I scripted down a documentary on 'Emergence of a Capital'. Hence, it all goes back to the Old Fort; where the earliest remains from Nothern Painted Grey Ware were found and are to be associated with 1200 BCE. Since the region used to be connoted as Indrapat; the site is identified as Indraprastha, the mythical city of the Pandavas. From there on, by the banks of Yamuna (The Yamuna then); Delhi lived on. It was in Ashoka's Era that he even inscribed in the rock, the message of Dharma and peace near the Kalka Ji Mandir (Kali Mandir known for sacrifices in the past) at Srinivaspuri colony.

 Then we come across the first city of Delhi; or technically the second if we consider Indraprastha to be first. It was the Qutub Archaeological complex where the Tomars built their city in the Lal Kot (fort) later fortified further by Prithvi Raj Chauhan in the 12th century AD. However, over the period of Central Asian invasions Prithvi Raj lost the 2nd battle of Tahrain (Thanesar) to Mohmadd Ghauri and the city of Rai Pithora to Ghauri's slave Qutub-ud-din-Aibak. And the rest as we know is history; Qutub-ud-din-Aibak demolished all the temples in the fort complex and near to build the mosque and other structures in the Qutub Minar Complex. Since then we have come across six other cities of Delhi; and finally coming to one modern capital which covers all seven. 

    After the script; I did make director's notes and plan my shoot. I shot a few scenes as to the scripted documentary as well; however I had to then leave to Hyderabad, and I could never get myself together for video editing since I always faced trouble softwares like Adobe After Effects (The damn thing hangs up my whole laptop) and Windows Movie Maker is.. well 'Crap'. However I am looking forward to get a hang of alternative softwares, and resume the work on the documentary with luck and time. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

From dwelling in cafes to 'The Leaky Cauldron'

I am rather shameless about spending most of my time in Hauz Khas village working from a Cafe and sipping my Espresso. However there are more reasons for one to get hooked on to this place. The ambiance; it has to offer both which is the old and the new, and offers a space for creativity. And it's here that I came across 'The Leaky Cauldron', a new kitchen that has recently opened up at 19, Hauz Khas Village. 

It was a regular day at Kunzum Cafe, with my friend Anurag; when Namrata 'Elysia' came over and got us aware of the 'new magic' that was to be conjured in the village (an invitation to 'The Leaky Cauldron'). So just like most Potter fans and Occult fans; our imaginations did run wild and we wanted to explore the place. The best part is that entire Hauz Khas Village is another Diagon Alley; and then there is a Leaky Cauldron. So the story behind this Kitchen begins when 
a kind-hearted witch named 'Elysia' travels far and wide on her broomstick, to be endowed with the knowledge of her favorite cuisines Thai, Mexican, and Italian. Finally she settles in the Hauz Khas Village to share this knowledge through her Kitchen. (The whole story is much detailed, why don't you discover it for yourself)
There are spaces where we find comfort with our friends and family; yet there are fewer spaces which relate to our fantasies. I guess the latter is the one which provides more warmth. Very soon the Kitchen will also harbor shelves with books on witchcraft, occult and symbology. The cuisines will have a different perspective; perhaps from the world of wizardry and the ambiance may just set us believing in what medieval histories, controversies and tales meant to us at one time. It's often the inception of the 'fantasies' that intrigue us more than the desire to believe in them; which is exactly what makes 'The Leaky Cauldron' a kitchen for all those who dared to dream.