Friday, 12 April 2013

Parking for Villagers only - Hauz Khas Village

Was at the Hauz Khas village a few days ago after many years.

It has transformed over the years with unique shops and European style cafes. I was there to visit the unique Kunzum Cafe...more about it later.

While I wasnt intriqued by any of the shops trying to be European or Indian...just to be different...what really intriqued me were the sign posts at places saying...parking for villagers only. In India rarely do the two words 'parking' and 'village' go together until its the Commonwealth Games village or Asian Games Village.

Wonder if the 'villagers' referred on the sign post are people who own shops there or are we talking about the real villagers of Hauz Khas.

The only place which attracted my attention and called me in was a village style temple in the middle of this cosmopolitan space - A temple of Lord Hanuman. In went the pray. A Huge plot and in the midst is this tiny temple of peace in Hauz Khas village. Put this on the must visit list.

After this I went to the Kunzum Cafe...a place for travellers in Delhi and a place to hang out and get to know Delhi. Nice place run by a maverick who truly believes in the spirituality of travel. Bought some of his books and listened to an American artist performing there. Must visit place for people travelling to Delhi from any part of the world.

You can sit and chat here with people about the city.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Kasmur Dagah

 It seems to be Dargah season for me these days. Was travelling to Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. Happen to meet one Mulla Sahab and asked him if there are any dargah's around. He promptly named the Kasmur Dargah and the Rahmatabad. Kasmur was just 25 kms thought of giving it a shot after a days work.

Checked Google maps and found that I had to take a country road from Venkatachalam, which is 15 kms from Nellore on the highway towards Gudur. Took a bus to Venkatachalam and asked the bus conductor to drop me at Kasmur Road.

Got down at Kasmur road and took the lone auto going towards Kasmur. Kasmur is actually a small village hamlet in the countryside. The auto from the highway took 20 minutes to cover about 10 kilometres amidst paddy fields.

The dargah area is a largish market selling food items and a number of small items associated with dargahs i.e pics of Mecca Madina, chaadars and some other secular stuff. There were hardly any visitors to the dargah. It seems that the place is abuzz during the Urs only.

The main gate of the Dargah is a mini charminar. The main gate below

Went straight inside the dargah. The sanctum santorum was not the usual dargah style. It was rather a huge balloon kind of thing on top of the dargah. Perhaps so many chaddars have been put that its seems like a bloated been bag...see if you can get that from the  pics I clicked.

Also, present were a couple of devotees, who seem to be talking to the Peer of the Dargah i.e Baba Mastan (Hazrat Kaleem Ulla Shah Qadri) You will find this at many dargahs...where devotees get into a 'zone' where they start communicating directly with the Peer. I have seen this at Ajmer also.

Another very interesting thing about this dargah is that its open air. There is no roof to the mazaar. Its just in the middle of a courtyard...thats it. Perhaps Babaji wanted some fresh air. In India, I know of another temple in Himachal called the Shikari Devi in Mandi district...out there also the temple doesnt have any roof and there's are many stories around it.

Found some living quarters of very poor people behind the dargah. There is a huge lake just behind the dargah...but I dont think its maintained...found a lot of filth there.

Didnt really connect with the supreme at the Dargah...but was happy that I made it to the place. May be that was what the supreme power wanted me to see and experience there.

Apparently, you get rid of jinns and balayas if you visit this dargah...I am sure there were none with me...I walked out clean anyway.

P.S - I read online that amongst the celebrity devotees of this Dargah is AR Rahman...may be this place is close from Chennai...thats the reason.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ghari Wale Baba - Nau Gaja Peer on G T Road

A mazaar on the GT Road from Delhi to Ambala always fascinated me as I saw a lot of trucks parked near it. All that I could see while driving was a green gate saying mazaar of ....and the bus or my car zipped past. Always thought that I will stop one day and explore it.

That one day...happened to be this Monday. I quietly parked my car behind some trucks and for the first time saw that there were a few shanties near the mazaar selling the usualy flowers and chaddar. There was something else also I saw but I didnt a couple of shopkeepers prompted me their shops to keep my shoes and to wash my hands.

I gave them a pass and walked up to the main green gate visible from the highway. Have been to many mazaars around India and the my mind was prepared to see the same. I had thought I will do my little prayer and go ahead with my drive. But that was not be so.

Some stairs go down from the highway to the shrine...which is in a depression...or rather the highway is elevated.

Removed my shoes and entered the lobby of the mazaar. Saw 4-5 sardars I recollected that mazaars are secular places in many ways. Finally entered the sanctum sanctorum and saw the mazaar. It was unusually long with the usual green chaddar over it. Did the sajda and prayed for bringing 'nothingness in my life' and of course to bring my love in my life.

I had seen many devotees bringing small bottles of oil with them as is common in many parts of India. But then something struck me...I saw many people bringing wall clocks and offering it to the Peer. Didnt really understand why so. Then I noticed a number of clocks lying in a row on one side.

It was clear...there was something about clocks here. I questioned one of the sardars there to tell me the reason behind clocks. He said ' dont know this is Ghari wale Baba?' People from all over the world offer clocks at this place for being in time and bringing good time in life."

I was intriqued. 'So whats the story I said?'. ' A driver's truck stopped working and he reached this mazaar and offered his wrist watch and prayed for the truck to start and for him to reach his destination in time'. And you can guess what happened...'His truck started working and he reached in time' and the place became popular among truck drivers and later with people offering clocks.'

'Every channel has made documentaries on this place'. So I was clear that this is a popular place that I had hit upon accidentally. He said that as you have come here of your own Baba will give you a gift for sure.'

I was ecstatic ...the dreamer me. Good times in my life will start now. I was eager to go out buy a clock from the shops outside and offer it to the peer. Who knows my Teacher Logo Project is going to become a hit? Interestingly I stopped wearing a wrist watch a decade back... I dont own a wrist watch. Some connect it seemed to me.

As I started moving out...the sardar asked me to stop and presented me with a gift...a wall clock. He said take it as a gift from Baba and dont let it stop ever...and may be I can come with a clock as a gift for Baba next time around.

Elated I was...never ever in my life had I got a return gift from any such place. My good times had started.

Bought some nice Punjabi Qawwalis from the shop outside...One of them I have been listening since yesterday...Mere Shahenshah...Maine Kuttiyean ch Rakh la. Awesome.

I also saw a CD on Gugga Peer...who incidentally is my Kul Devta....the main god revered at my native village Larha near Galore in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh.

My drive from Ambala to Delhi was a delight listening to those Qawwalis

Jai Babeyan di...Jai Mastan di

P.S -

1. The exact name of the mazaar is Nau Gaja Peer Saiyyad Ibrahim. Not to miss while driving on this highway. It is around 10-12 kms from Amabala towards Kurukshetra and couple of Kilometres before Shahbad.

2. You will find a lot of cocks and ducks and this place

3. Googled this place and found not much is available..and also varying stories...this is mine

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ice Bar in Stockholm

Every time I have been to Sweden...never had time to see Stockholm city as work took me to other cities with me just being able to see the Arlanda Airport in Stockholm.

But I was clear...the day I get some time I will hit the Ice bar in Stockholm...had read quite a bit about it on the net. Finally got an opportunity in October 2012. Never been to our desi ice bar in Saket, Delhi but Stockholm to phoren hai na.  So, wahan ke ice bar men to jaana hi hai.

If I remember correctly..I spent about 290 SEK to get into this place in the Nordic Hotel. Bade khwaab the...par it turned out to be a very average experience. I think its overhyped and apart from the thrill of having made it ...its not that a great experience after all.

Its just that you are put inside a room which is like the deep freezer of your refridgerator with ice all around you. 

The only thing I enjoyed inside was the drink in an ice glass. You get some special gear...jackets to enter inside and thats it. Your entry is for 45 minutes but I guess I came out in 20 minutes flat from that place.

I saw the website of the Saket ice bar...looks much better than the one in Stockholm. Will try it sometime.

Gur making in the sugar belt of India

Last winters I used to travel regularly to the sugar belt of India...Western U.P Dhampur and surrounding areas.

One could see a number of  gur  making hutments on the road. Stopped by them at one of them and picked up some gur.

Gur is actually brown sugar... the first level of unrefined sugar used in making chikki/gacchak

First step is to take out sugar cane juice using a electric run juicer. Then this juice is boiled in a couple of stages. Interestingly the remnants of juiced sugarcane i.e molasses, is dried and used to boil the sugarcane juice.

Later when the concentrate becomes thick it is put in a chamber and left to cool. Pieces cut, stacked and sold on the highway. Minimum piece...20 kgs.

We have landed...Chaos

Sitting in a plane...the moment the air hostess announces...we have landed...there is chaos on the plane.

Suddenly you hear seat belts clicking open and people get up to open the overhead stowage and out come the cabin baggage. Its a sort of a people hurry to jump out of the plane even before it has been parked at the gate or the gates have been opened.

And with the bags in their hand....people wait for the next 10-15 minutes for the gates to open and people to move out.

I wonder how much of a difference in minutes does it make if people were to sit patiently till the gates are opened. I dont think the difference would be more than a minute or two.

Even when I have been the last person to get out of the plane...I see most of our hurried passengers waiting outside either at the baggage belts or those who dont have checked in baggage ...outside the loo or in the taxi queue.

It would help for the air hostess to include in her safety instructions...Please relax for a few minutes in you seats...we will shortly announce deboarding.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Autos at Airports

Air travel was an elitist thing in India for a long time and I guess that was one of the reasons why autos were never allowed at airports. But with budget airlines coming in...everyone gets to travel on air.

Autorickshaw (the three wheeler taxi in Delhi and many other areas) is one of my favourite machine.

But unfortunately its banned at a number of places including the airport in Delhi. You cant be dropped at the airport by an auto. You will probably be dropped a kilometre away and from there you will have to walk.

I found this signboard below at the Chennai airport. I happen to take an auto to the airport at that time and got dropped just in front of this signboard. Interestingly there was a van waiting there for a free drop to the airport...that van was run by Sky Cabs...a radio taxi company in Chennai.

Its the same when you get out of an airport. I have seen many passengers walking to the main road outside the airport to get an auto.

Changing track, I had heard that Mumbai is a more equal city than Delhi...its was evident when I found autos available right outside Mumbai airport. I guess we will have to get Delhi to be more equal by having autos at the airport. Incidentally, five stars in Delhi dont allow autos...but I have heard its not the same in Mumbai.

Interestingly, Chandigarh being a Punjabi city culturally also should treat the autos in a similar manner at the airport. But I found one auto at the airport in Chandigarh. This guy quickly dropped a person at one corner and zipped away