Monday, April 30, 2007


The Jawaharlal Nehru University

you enter the gates and immediately notice the reluctant red flowers on the trees, rendered pink by the lights. the guard eyes you suspiciously for no reason at all, as you pass the mob and the mud to come to ganga dhaba, where she smokes a cigarette and buys you tea.

then she takes your hand and makes you walk down a road that wants to end but seems too lazy to until you come to a tree, that's like all the other trees except the flowers are a shade redder (kdding). we hide behind a hedge and change into flowing maroon robes.

'these cost some shit', she says, 'but everyone has to get one.'

it's sweaty and uncomfortable but we have to wear it to get in

in is half a mile down, where we notice another red robe run past us. there are suddenly other red robes about, generally making merry. there's a boy who's reading the autobiography of jim morisson by a small fire.

'it's getting harder', she says, 'keeping the filth out. it's hard enough tolerating them in class. even the way they look at you is just..'

morisson's fire is soon a whole lot larger and we're standing around it in a circle holding hands as someone's i-pod (connected to a battery powered i-dock) switches from sean paul to a celtic version of Led Zepplin's Stairway to Heaven.

an american in a red robe is holding what clearly looks like some arcane volume and is trying to sound british.

'what're we doing?'

'raising the dead.'

' all of them'

'no', she says, 'just one'

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The View

and when you're done trekking down the ridge, you pop out in front of an archetypal 50's housing colony. you walk in and discover that the place you've been looking for is in a park in the middle of this nightmare. the paint's peeling off these houses, old yezdis and the odd maruti 800 dot the porches and children sit idly, looking at you like you're some uninteresting lifeless exhibit.

Peer Gayab, in the middle of this, is an old lodhi structure built in the memory of some dervish. there are hardly any stairs, but if you're keen enough you can manage. you pull yourself upto the first floor, which is a series of arches, and what seems like it used to be an empty hall. you notice a rusty sickle kept next to the remains of a few incense sticks and a flight of stairs.

when you're done following the stairs to the top, what hits you first is an unnaturally hard gust of wind. and these continue. you walk over to the edge of the roof and notice the view. and it doesn't strike you, at first, but then does.

you notice, that from this building, the gross equivalent of a two floor building, you can see all of delhi.

The Service Station at Gulmohar Park

you go past the main road into one of the numerous little openings in this thick concrete bundle of nerves and keep going until the road's not a road. the place looks like the compound of some large house except it's many houses with curtains and dupattas kept out to dry and general stores with scrubs, brooms and packets of detergents hanging out front.

you continue down until you reach a dead end. the road/battered path stops short of a hole in a wall that leads into a hill of mud and what looks like a temple. the top of the hole has a sign that reads Enfield Service Station. you go in and find old bikes in various states of disarray, rusting, dismantled, broken down. 'that one's burnt.' you turn around to notice a greasy old man in a torn shirt with no hair at all, scrubbing at a silencer.

'how did it get burnt?'

'in a fire.'

you ignore the Triumphs, BSAs and Jawas parked about you and continue up the muddy hill. The mud seems to continue for a mile or so, before it yields to a line of green that disappears down the horizon. this place was suppose to be in the middle of the city.

you come back to the old man for an explanation. you notice his ears are strangely pointed. his teeth, between black lips are sharp and stained red.

'what is this place?'

he spits out something red and grainy into the mud and says, 'this is a temple.'

you notice that the other side of the building is, in fact a temple. this side is a makeshift garage that you don't want to enter.

'we also fix bikes.' he says, looking up, almost with an air of expectation about him.

there's a whole lot more to this city than djinns.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yoga Lessons

If you want to reach out and touch your inner self, find a connection with the spirit of mother earth (gaia) or lose that cramp that's been bugging you through the weekend, there's no better place (places) than the million yoga/alternative thearpy/quacks that've sprouted up throughout the city with the higher purpose of fleecing high society housewives of their husband's earnings and foreigners of some valuable and much needed foreign exchange. i happened to have the fortune of interviewing one of these gentlemen of higher being recently, based in a basement with the giant cutout of a tiger and lots of mirrors.

Gentleman of higher being: you're late

Interviewer: oops

Gentlemen of higher being: OOPS! oops ain't no country i've heard of! do they speak english in oops!?!

Interviewer: umm...

Gentlemen of higher being: english motherfucker! do you speak it...

Interviewer: yes...

Gentlemen of higher being: then you know what i'm saying

Interviewer: (cowering) yes

Gentlemen of higher being: Good! then let's get on with the interview. Yes, why were you late...

Interviewer: couldn't find the place

Gentlemen of higher being: COULDN'T FIND THE PLACE! HEAR THAT EENA! that's ridiculous, this is the most well known basement in all of Hauz Khas

(Enter Eena)

Eena: this is just not done, it's a saturday and Sensei (read Gentlemen of higher being) has three corporate workshops and several home visits lined up for the day

Interviewer: i'm sorry, i just...(breaks down)

(Exeunt Eena)

Gentlemen of higher being: ok, let's just get this over and done with...

Interviewer: yes (controls himself), so what do you do here

Gentlemen of higher being: we initiate sentinel beings into the mystic art of yoga and also give salsa lessons

Interviewer: wow, so is that like a holistic approach

Gentlemen of higher being: no, it's more of what's called a surround all encompassing 360 degrees holistic approach

Interviewer: OH!

Gentlemen of higher being: Yes

Interviewer: and is there something else you do

Gentlemen of higher being: Yes, we often go out for coffee together, see, the whole point of this is to generate some warmth in what's a cold and harsh world

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Ridge

There's a place in the Ridge, close to North Campus, called Peer Gayab. Someone told me that they sacrifice people to dark gods over there, citing the presence of incense sticks as evidence (which i found highly inadequate). What i suggest, if you've got a day to kill, is to trek down the Ridge to this place.

One of the easiest doorways to faerie, you'll know when you've entered elf territory when you stop noticing the monkeys. However, keep to the track if you don't want to lose your way. A '73 Stephen's Eco student called Amar Nath Dwarka, in fact, just surfaced after over 20 years of absence. I met him in college, white hair and all, wandering about trying to figure out what happened. His time there, he said, only seemed like a couple of hours to him, which he spent chasing little children with pointy ears (djinns, probably). He also said that he didn't particularly want to come back, but apparently lost his way out of being lost. 'It's the monkeys', he said, 'you know you're back when you come to this corridor with unusually long trees to either side, with more monkeys than leaves. '