Friday, 23 January 2015

Daunting, Delightful, Innovative Delhi

Delhi-pic coutesy
How can a city be delightful and daunting all in one- an innovation to wonder about? Perhaps, if Delhi is chosen as the one.  An off-chance weekend trip to Delhi, always fun, but more so in the winter, brings back so many memories. Of shops brimming with handicrafts, of historic marvels springing from nowhere, of deer dancing in the middle of the city, of khau gallis and fruit chats , of street markets and Dilli haats, of carrots pickled in vinegar and sundried in the tender winter sun, of cycling around the IIT campus, and so many more.

Yes, this is Delhi indeed. The darling of many, this is where it all began. So many stories stand today- of the Mughal Raj, the target of many a reign, of wars, of a city that just stayed on. So many attackers came and went, and yet she stood her ground. Steadfast, refusing to fall, or perish. And so she lives on, even today. Daring Delhi indeed!

Bombay may have been known as  the city of dreams, but Delhi, has always been the dream city for me. So elegant, dreamlike by day and daunting by night, all in one. The expansive Lutyens bungalows, the pristine Connaught circus now somewhat, but thankfully, not completely marred by the likes of ugly monstrous buildings. The streets of Janpath, all fortified by daunting barricades and army posts, speaking of a city so loved , yet so hated, as a symbol of New India that villians chose to defile. Defile they must, by their acts of terror, on people –one or many, but the city still stands, stoic and tall, witness as it has been to the many invaders who tried to break its spirit, through dreadful and heinous acts, even hundreds of years ago, but never could succeed. For it rises, like a phoenix, each time, with its body damaged, but its  soul untarnished, brave and beautiful, ready to spring back. Delhi is and remains a delight- a paradise for writers, many of whom have devoted their entire books to it. “Adventures in a megacity”. “ Derilious in Delhi”,The new “Delhi stories”, " Delhi-6, the movie" and many more, inspired by the soul that refuses to die.
A lot of conjecture goes into what gives Delhi its name, but, I guess, the city of delights may be the best that I can think of. “Delightful Delhi” . Be it a glutton, a historian, a shopper , or just an amblingindian, delightful it is indeed, endearing to them all, and innovative in its own way (More about that in the next post). Delightful Delhi, at its best, as it is today, and will be !

Aina Rao,

The amblingindian.

P.S the amblingindian has today crossed 20,000 views. You, dear readers, delight me, as does Delhi...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Re-invented Snakes of Bangalore

It's official. Bangalore is the city of snakes.And there are snakes everywhere in the city. So what's new this time?

Urban Bangalore - Where are the kaluves hiding?
Snakes have always been around right? And have always been hiding under the earth, in their burrows, crawling along, causing little annoyance generally, but sometimes emerging from their deep dark shadows, enough to scare everyone. And that's exactly what's happening now. Apparently, there were these snakes in Bangalore, hundreds of them, in the olden days, officially known as kaluves (canals) or rajakaluves even, crawling through the city. They've always been around, but did anyone know of them until now?  Not really, Not until some rather clever public officials woke up to the fact  that these snakes were not a source of annoyance, but also a source of a lot of hidden wealth. So, the snakes are being re-incarnated, or re-invented and rejuvenated. The official term being " rejuvenation of the kaluves". Now, what is this so called snake or kaluve, one may ask? A kaluve is in fact a canal that used to carry water in the good ol'days, when water tankers were not available, It was the kaluve that took water from the rivers, lakes and canals, for irrigation and such, to control the overflow.

So what now? Since the kaluve existed for irrigation, what happens when irrigation and fields go away, and get replaced by swanky high-rises? Does the kaluve still need to be there? Maybe, as a storm water drain, or maybe as a decorative thing, notwithstanding the fact that the existing drains are nothing but masses of debris, garbage and anything unnamed, floating around in the name of a canal. Look behind Diamond district, the city that is supposed to be shining with diamonds, but , in reality is flanked by an ugly, stinky mass of debris happily floating around. The stench is so strong, you might call it the first "smelly diamond". And other kaluves, behind the airport wall, Belandur lake, so many of them abound. Plenty of these overt and covert kaluves are yet to be "found".  The overt ones, having been converted into ugly sewage carrying pipes, the covert ones need to be unearthed too, so that the officials, in the name of diverting water, can divert their attention from cleaning up any of the stinky garbage canals, by creating some more. Maybe a new way of disposing off garbage.

So , it comes to pass. That the officials have suddenly woken up to mark the A,B,C and god knows how many other kaluves supposedly buried under now called  "illegal" land. Not withstanding the fact that these were perfectly legal when sanctioned and registered by the same Govt authorities, right under their noses. So where were these kaluve hiding then? And why are they surfacing now? Is it something to do with the fact that the kaluves, or these snakes are hidden gold mines?. We did worship snakes in the olden times didn't we? Maybe they brought gold then too? Maybe they didn't. But they can now.

So, the formula is very simple, Look for an old map, uncover a kaluve, go and mark the houses of residents who have apparently built their houses over it. The poor chaps who had no knowledge that a snake was lurking under their house or in their garden, because no one told them. None of the so- called authorities who were very happy to collect the duty and taxes then , to allow them to build right on top of these so-called kaluves.

Coming back to reality, uncover or unleash an innovative snake on the residents. Here is a snake right under your house . Pay, and get it out of your way, or be demolished forever. Do what should a hapless resident do? Go around the courts, streets or kaluves to get some releif? From the kaluve which could have been skirting around his garden , in a harmless way, but are made out to be right under the house. In fact these snakes aren't harmless are they? They are quite ferocious, poisonous, smart. and agile too. They can change course ,as they realise that changing course is more beneficial, since no one knows where they existed anyway, it might be a figment of the imagination that they surface now.

 And just looking at them, everyone goes into a frenzy, runs helter skelter, tries to cover the damage, trying to save themselves, through a motley mix of courts, lawyers, judges and people.  Here we run around, trying to uncover or divert an irrigation canal that might have existed hundreds of years ago, to irrigate so called irrigation fields that existed at that time, which have all been converted into houses, office buildings etc, But the irrigation canal must stay.

 For what joy, no one knows. We must gather up our steam, allow the kaluve to pass, so that some amount of water can pass through and irrigate perhaps the apartments that have come up on erstwhile fields. Clever, isn't it? A snake in the grass, a snake that can bring a lot of wealth, as with a gold -mine to the public official who has found it. A snake to bring us all to our knees for our houses are at stake. Spend our money, time and effort on diverting them now, since we have committed the cardinal sin of not feeding them all along or not watering them at least.

And so the kaluves. The new age gold-mines- Innovation indeed. The ones to be prayed to. For their power to unleash more havoc and bring more wealth to the discoverers!

Aina Rao
The amblingindian