Dastkar – A Craft Lover’s Paradise!


If you’re in, or around Delhi, or are likely to be there any time soon, stop reading this post, and go see it for yourself! Dastkar, the nature bazaar, is on till the 9th of November 2012.
The colours, textures, sights, sounds, and smells… there is something for all the senses.

I visited the bazaar this past weekend, and it was an absolute delight. I saw first-hand, the art forms I had hitherto only read about, and learnt the existence of many more. This mammoth gallery, is only a small part of the whole experience.

Hope you enjoy!

The Broken Tree


A tribute to a tree

It was the final year of school, and like any other school-going child, I was expected to bury my head in my books.

To facilitate this task, I had been given a little space, all to myself. One small corner, cut off from the whole house. There was room only for a small table, and chair. If I pushed my chair a little away from the table, I would hit the back wall. To my left, was the bedroom, which could be completely hidden from view, by a curtain.

All I had to do, was draw the curtain, and I would have nothing to disturb me from studying – except of course, the view from the windows. The front and the side walls had huge windows, providing a clear and beautiful view of Silk Cotton and Neem Trees, interspersed with Bougainvillea. A street lamp was the lone indicator, that I was in the middle of an urban city.

The birds on the trees would cheer me up when I was studying management functions, and the trees would silently watch over my shoulder, as I concentrated on accounts.

Amidst all the greenery, in the distance, one tree stood out like a sore thumb. It was barren, and its top-most branch was broken. It had always been like that, and showed no signs of changing any time soon. Occasionally, a large bird – possibly a kite – sat on its branches.

Every time I looked out of the side window, my gaze fell straight on that tree. Even though it was leafless, it looked strong, and I took a liking to it.

I tried, on several occasions, to try to locate the tree on the ground. But it was visible only through the window.

In spring, the Silk Cotton and Bougainvillea painted a colourful painting. When the storm came, leaves and branches of the Neem Tree shook violently. The rains made all the trees grow taller, and greener. But the broken tree stood as still as stone.

I had finished my school, and was well into my graduation. My ‘study table’ was now the ironing table. Days turned into months, and months into years. I kept returning to the window to look at that tree. It was there, standing resolutely, even as the wind brought drastic changes in its surroundings.

The broken tree did not change at all. The trees in its vicinity kept growing, slowly, and steadily. Until one day, the tree was completely out of view.

Once the tree was out of view, I stopped looking out those windows.

Recently, a shopping complex was built nearby. The distant trees are all gone, and only the Neem and Silk Cotton Trees are left. I haven’t seen the broken tree since. And it is unlikely that I ever will.

The Broken Tree
The Broken Tree

Although it was meant to be a photo challenge, this week’s theme inspired me to write, and draw…
Weekly Photo Challenge : Silhouette

A Colourful Challenge


It took me several mini sessions throughout the week, and one extended session today, to complete this challenge… a long overdue homework!

When I was in school, a teacher introduced us to Madhubani, as well as Warli styles of painting. She showed us samples of both styles, and asked us to create something in one of these styles.

I loved the Warli style of drawings – mainly because they were very simple to make. The simplicity of the drawings however, did not take away the charm of the designs. I had made several bookmarks – all of which, I gifted away.

I found the Madhubani style of painting rather complicated – it was full of intricacies, and one that would require a lot of patience, as well as colour sense – neither of which I possessed at that time.

This week, I decided to try my hand at this very old homework of mine. I tried to draw a bird, and filled it in with lines, in Madhubani style of painting. I hope the next attempt would be better…

Bird
Bird – Attempted Madhubani Style

Wikipedia knoweth all:
Warli Painting
Madhubani Art

Weekly Writing Challenge : A Splash Of Colour

Guest Post : Jal Satyagrah


As the world reflects on the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests, residents of a small village in India protest against the government for their basic human rights…

The government of Madhya Pradesh decided to raise the water level of the Omkareshwar dam, without providing rehabilitation for the residents of the villages, which would be submerged. Residents of the submerged villages protested – by standing their ground.

From the perspective of a volunteer who saw the struggle first-hand, penned by my good friend, Sneha Chandna:

Kanshi Lal Bhai* sat in water for 17 days along with 50 other people in Ghoghalgaon, to protest against the illegal raising of the water level in Omkareshwar dam. Ghoghalgaon is one of the 30 villages that will submerge, when the Omkareshwar dam reservoir is filled up to its full capacity.

That Kanshi Lal Bhai is beyond 55 years of age, and is completely blind, complicates the situation a bit, but doesn’t stop him from supporting other protesters.

The Government made an official announcement to raise the water level in Omkareshwar dam (from 189 to 193 metres), in the month of May, and started raising the water level in August, 2012. This was an open and blatant violation of the Supreme Court and High Court order, that says that the government can submerge a region only after 6 months of the Resettlement and Rehabilitation of its people.

It seems the distance between a blind, displaced, illiterate, yet determined Kanshi Lal ji, and the machinery for the Delivery of Justice, (which includes the National Hydroelectric Development Corporation, Madhya Pradesh Government, High Court of MP and the Supreme Court), is more than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. It is this distance that makes the victory of the protesters at Omkareshwar Dam, all the more special.

Being a participant in the whole process, one is deeply humbled. In fact, as the protest progressed before my eyes, with each passing day I found it difficult to believe that a small set of people with their truly limited resources could manage to keep the state machinery on its toes and the print and electronic media on their side. As I expressed my disbelief to a senior NBA activist Sh. Ramesh Billorey, he said that in spite of the differences between the resources and power, it’s the truth that helps one sail through, “Satya Hamesha Jhoot par Bhaari Padta hai”.

During the time of the protest, Print and Electronic media played a very crucial role in highlighting the issue all over the country and put pressure on all decision-making institutions to agree to people’s demands. Media persons had, in fact, become a part of the support system for the movement. Also, as the protest ended, realization dawned that the movement had made history, by awakening the conscience of a nation, that is otherwise too busy to notice anything that the tribal or rural folks have to say. Also, it led to similar protests in other parts of the country, where development-led displacement has happened, or is about to happen, such as the issue of Koodankulam nuclear plant.

The victory of those displaced by the Omkareshwar dam, was followed by strong police action in the Harda District of Indira Sagar Dam, where the MP government refused to agree to people’s demands, and removed them forcefully from the Satyagraha site. A lot of media persons asked NBA activists why would the government agree to demands in the case of one dam, and not agree to similar demands by those affected by another dam?

Had the government agreed to the demands of those affected by the Indira Sagar dam, they would have had to allot more than double the amount of land they will now allot to those displaced by Omkareshwar dam.

As a lay person, often times I’ve been forced to wonder, what if someday some of my own rights are violated. It will take so much of time, money and effort to figure out a way to access the legal machinery, that it might as well become the single-most important pursuit of my life.

If it could be this way for an educated young person of the country, imagine what the situation would be for the tribal communities of a village, which has not known any vocation other than farming, which grows most of what it consumes, or which has little money, if at all. All the arguments of the government seem skewed in the scheme of things.

Some 30 villages will submerge because of the Omkareshwar dam, and 268 villages will submerge due to the Indira Sagar Dam. These dams will produce electricity.

Interestingly a short stay in one of the villages that will submerge, will make one notice that electricity in these very villages is available only for 8-10 hours. Yes, it’s true that Foreign Direct Investment might attract investors, but let’s first try to impress them with roads and electricity in every village of the country.

* * *

* Name changed

About the writer: Sneha has just returned from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, where she was actively involved with the Jal Satyagrah. She is currently working with ‘Koshish’.

Narmada Bachao Andolan was established in 1989 by Ms Medha Patkar, protesting against construction of dams across the River Narmada. While Ms Patkar works more at the national level now, the Jal Satyagrah was coordinated in Khandwa, by Alok and Silvy. Silvy sat in the water for 17 days, and that is how people sat along with her, and Alok coordinated fully with the media.

For more information on the Narmade Bachao Andolan, and the Jal Satyagrah, please visit their blog, right here on wordpress : Tales Of Narmada

How To Destroy A Great Idea


Weekly Writing Challenge – And Now For Something Completely Different. DIY gone wrong.

Step #1: Draw

Drawing
The pencil drawing

Step #2: Colour

Fill
Started with water-colour pencils

Step #3: Brush

Water-colour pencil fill
Brushed on a little water

Step #4: Repaint

Acrylic fill
Painted the areas with acrylic

Step #5: Complete the destruction

Details
Tada! And the destruction is complete!

Congratulations! What next?

  • Claim to be an awesome artist and charge an extremely large amount of money for your work of art, enough for you to live the rest of life without having to work;

OR

  • Frame it and gift it to a friend, as you had originally planned, and then pray you still have a friend

Note for existing readers (if you’re still reading):
Taking inspiration from a fellow wordpress-er, I thought I would try my hand at creating a DIY post. I promise you won’t have to withstand this torture beyond one post.

Note for new readers (if any):
This is not how things are on this blog! Wait! Please don’t run away!

Weekly writing Challenge : And Now For Something Completely Different

Happy!


The theme for this week’s ‘Weekly Photo Challenge‘ is happy. The gallery below includes photographs of the bag I bought at a handicrafts bazaar, and an assortment of pencils and brushes – some unused, and some very old!

Unfortunately, the photographs didn’t quite turn out to be the way I wanted them. Here are some images I managed to salvage. Hope you enjoy!

The Old, Beneath The New


A gallery tour of Ugrasen ki Baoli – not really on a tourist’s itinerary. But then, not even locals are aware of its presence!

Ugrasen ki Baoli

Delhi has been loved, and loathed, by people for centuries. She has been built, razed to the ground, and rebuilt, by the same people who destroyed her.

The city has always been the favourite city of successive rulers. The proof of their love, lies in the monuments they constructed, that are spread across the city. Most of the newer buildings were constructed at the site of older structures. So the Fort of Rai Pithora, was razed to the ground, only for the Qutub Minar to be built.

Purana Qila (Old Fort) was built by Humayun, only to be destroyed by Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah built his own capital at that site, only for Humayun to return! But even before the battles between these kings, an ancient civilization existed there – excavations of objects and pottery dating back to 1000 BC proving the antiquity of the Fort.

Besides the most obvious monuments, there are several smaller ones – those that are not on a tourist’s itinerary. They are hidden from public view. Even locals, never fully explore the city. To peel away the different layers of the city, requires more than just a few days. To understand what makes immigrants fall in love with the city, requires more than a lifetime.

In our quest to explore the ‘other’ side of Delhi, a few of us visited a baoli.

A baoli is a step-well, unique to the desert regions of western India. Ugrasen ki Baoli, is just off the main road near Connaught Place (Rajiv Chowk), at the heart of Delhi.

A short walk from the Barakhamba Metro station led us to the walls of the baoli. It looked like any other stone wall we’d seen, until we stepped inside. We collectively gasped at the sight in front of us – a long flight of steps leading to the bottom of the well.

There were scores of pigeons happily going about their daily lives, unaware of their historical home; a few groups of people, wanting to ‘hang out’ together; and one youth, working on his laptop, seeking refuge from the harsh heat!

We descended the stairs, to be welcomed by a very strong odour and screeching sounds. We looked up from the bottom of the well, to the ceiling of the tower – bats. We climbed up the stairs faster than we had descended!

The old, the new, and the pigeons – The three elements that define Delhi – A gallery tour

Related Links:
My friend who introduced the baoli to me, posted a few photographs on one of his posts too. Do check them out here.