3 May 2016

Today in Photo


Fascinating book about the things we say in public and how they sometimes come back to bite us in the ass. I'd recommend to everyone who has ever sent out a tweet, posted on Facebook or posed for a selfie they've shared with the world. #nowreading #250in2016 #readingchallenge #bookstagram #mrmbookclub

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Today in Photo


Sir Bruntonious Rex and Lady Olga da Polga turn two today. I've also taken to calling them Brandon and Brenda (full marks if you recognise the reference). Their mum was called Nancy, who her owner referred to as Nency so when I'm talking about the Terrible Twins as a collective, I call them my Nency Cats. So many names! What do you call your cats that aren't their "official" names? #catsagram #happybirthday #indiancatsofinstagram

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2 May 2016

Today in Photo


From Saturday's International Cat Show in Delhi. Here I am with third place kitten winner Lola. She's as soft as she looks. Look out for my story on the show coming out in Scroll this week with more photos, shot by both me and K! #catsagram #persian

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Today in Photo


Weekend read that turned into a Monday afternoon read as well. Brilliant collection of essays I've been meaning to get my hands on and was marked down to practically nothing on the Kindle store last week. I'm savouring this, reading one essay at a time and so many women writers I know personally and admire! Definitely read this. #nowreading #250in2016 #readingchallenge #bookstagram #mrmbookclub

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28 April 2016

Today in Photo


Lucky for me I'm such a lush that my collection of money plants in pretty bottles is growing. This is in the master bathroom (mine. K gets his own in the other bedroom.) where the blue goes so well with the tiles! I drink a lot of gin. By the kitchen window is another money plant in a Tanqueray receptacle. #gin #bathrooms #interiors

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27 April 2016

Today in Photo


Lush green evening made better with an iced coffee on the balcony. Went to the Panchkuian Furniture Mall today which is full of some Truly Tacky Things but luckily also these modernish tree of life garden chairs which match the rafters on top. Now all we need is a swing. Bonus Olga in the background lurking by our massive champa tree which is putting out new flowers. #homeiswheretheheartis #decor #balconygarden

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26 April 2016

Today in Photo


We got a hanging light for the center of our ceiling and with that, finally finished hanging up the rest of our pictures. Plus this lovely wrought iron bracket we bought from the same wholesale garden shop we got the rest of the plants for some green stuff inside. I love it. G&T reminder sign was a housewarming present from someone who knows me well and these succulents are hardy enough to survive indoors. It's all come together! #homeiswheretheheartis #interiors #plants

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25 April 2016

Begumpur Masjid is falling down, falling down (and no one gives a shit)

Most of India is a little spoilt when it comes to history. After all, we have so much of it, we can afford to be slightly blase about it. History is the building that crumbles while a goat herder walks his flock through an ancient building where a nobleman rests. History is an inconvenience for when you need to jam the five cars your three member family needs into a small space and you can't drive up the stone stairs, worn smooth by years of ancient passage. The only history we seem to respect is the one where gods lived, and for the most part, only Hindu gods.



I'm speaking from real life here, because in the park bordering the colony I live in is an ancient mosque, dating back from the fourteenth century, which is used alternatively as a place to drink, a place to go to the bathroom and a place where the walls—in pretty good shape for one so old, are collapsing in on themselves, their foundation worn by the village next door, crowding in closer and closer.



The Begumpur Masjid is not one I knew about before I moved into this new place. I knew it vaguely existed, but like many other people living in this continuously occupied city, I was more aware of the “big ones”-- the Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, Lodhi Gardens. Places taken over and turned into tourist attractions with huge lawns and a ticket counter and guides to take you round and explain things to you. (Well, except Lodhi Gardens, but that is, I think, Delhi's biggest park and also adjoins some of Delhi's richest neighbourhoods, and so it's kept clean and green and beautiful.) One of the things I love about Delhi is how you can constantly be surprised by history—it's there on a street corner, or looming up right after the next traffic light, and the Begumpur Masjid is an example of that, sitting as it does at the end of a nice park. I went for a walk there as soon as I was settled in, but the more I walked around, the sadder I got.



The previous year, I had gone to Greece for the first time, and seeing the reverence with which they treat every single ancient stone—and how they've turned it into a money making industry—made me wonder why we don't do the same in India. There's so much scope for it, and so many places; therefore, it's probably because the people are resistant. There's only so much space to go around, and if some of your space is taken up by a massive ancient monument, serving no purpose as far as you can see, the best thing in your mind, is that it crumbles down so you can build on top of it.



A few years ago, there was a brief revival of interest in a small palace in Nizamuddin called Lal Mahal. It dated back from 1245 AD and traveller Ibn Battuta once lived there, but since no one seemed to care about it, the person whose land it adjoined had it razed down to build over it. By the time the Archaelogical Survey of India found out and filed an FIR, it was too late. By contrast, the Begumpur Masjid isn't on anyone's private land, but there is no guard, no restriction on entry (hence the use of one of the old prayer halls as a toilet) and completely flaunting the ASI regulations, houses in the neighbouring village are less than 50 meters away from it instead of the legal 200. Until the early 1900s, a whole village was living inside it, until they were chased away. But now it seems like that encroaching is beginning again—smashed beer bottles in centuries-old domes, old staircases that could have been preserved if the right care was taken, all in threat of falling into ruin, unless something is done.



We all have that little bit of history next door to us. Maybe it's an old building or a garden or even what used to be a palace. And if no one cares, we need to step up and adopt these for our own. We need to visit more often, because if more people visit, the less free others will be to use them as drug dens or bathrooms. We need to write to our local concerned authorities and tell them of our interest. And most of all, we need to save history so it lives on, not crumpled under the weight of 21st century India.




(Following this column which I wrote for mydigitalFC, I also wrote emails to INTACH and the Director of the ASI. I haven't yet heard back from them.)

(You can help by emailing them OR visiting one of Delhi's abandoned and unloved old monuments. It doesn't have to be the Begumpur Masjid--although, I think it's one of the nicest ones--but the more people who visit who don't want to do smack in a corner or poop in another one, the more wary encroachers will have to be. See how nice Lodhi Gardens is?)


23 April 2016

Today in Photo


The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas. #moonlight #balcony #nofilter via Instagram

21 April 2016

Today in Photo


Back to Begumpur Masjid with my mother yesterday evening, enjoyed how surprised she was at the massive courtyard in the middle and we walked to the top of the arches and looked at the view. It really feels like my private monument but sadly I don't think it's going to last for very long. A section of the ceiling has already collapsed, there are houses in the neighbouring village built right up next to it and there are men drinking in every corner. How can I get the Aga Khan Foundation or someone with money interested in this place? It's worth preserving, and if one was to charge an entry fee, there'd be money in it too. Anyone know anyone? #begumpurmasjid #delhidiary via Instagram