Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pilgrimage to Pabal

Pabal, Maharashtra
March 25, 2015

It was a pilgrimage after 18 years – a pilgrimage to one of the few places connected directly to Mastani, her property at Pabal where stands the baradari built by Baji Rao at the site of their marriage rites.
After tremendous efforts by the memorial committee, the site is being restored by the Archeological Survey, as per the rules.  I drove down with my old friend Dr. Usha Ram, who also shares a yen for history.
The wall surrounding the Baradari site has been completely rebuilt, including the old styles niches all around; kota stone flooring slabs cover most of the inside of the property, save the baradari itself, the green overflowing kabar, the diya kund and the five mysterious graves that were not there 18 years ago on my last visit.

The kabar’s flowering shrub on top needs a close shave, as it is overflowing on all sides. It is surrounded by stones which need to be cleared away.  And that ancient diya kund needs a healing touch yet.
But most of all, it is the baradari that needs attention. Once the wall and flooring was done, the attention shifted to the baradari, its damp and stained walls, the beams holding up the eaten away roof, the niches and the support holders in front.

Perhaps they once held up a front shade or chhaja?
The roof has been removed totally to make way for a fresh new one.  The timber beams with design also await attention along with the front of the baradari.

The question that hangs over it all:
Can it all be done by April 28 or will Baji Rao’s death anniversary once again be held at Shanivar Wada?   Let’s all hope that it comes about – but no haste at the cost of long lasting restoration.
High hopes are attached tothis restoration project. Once it is complete then some attention can be paid to the possible memorial to Baji Rao and Mastani at the site of her Wada land inside Pabal, today a wasteland with no trace of her exquisite old residence.
The tragedy is that right next door to the Mastani property, there used to be a grave of a Pir Baba. Well maintained, neat and clean with its green chadar, 18 years ago.
Now that one grave has grown to two, with a solid platform underneath and fences all round – once again, neat and clean and maintained;  while the Mastani property, for which orchards and land was given to the family to maintain the property, was allowed to go so badly to seed.

Will Mastani’s woes ever end?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Fifty Shades?

If there is going to be a sequel to “Fifty Shades of Gray”, please, please find someone who projects the enigmatic sophistication of E L James’ Christian, rather than the baby faced lover boy and his bro in the film.   Men please, not overgrown lover boys.
Even the harshness does not sit well on his sweet face.


What is a “Smart City”?
Perfect traffic control and transport, universal WIFI access, glam infrastructure, basics such as roti, kapda makaan for all plus educational and health infrastructure?

So many have different takes on what a smart city means.  It would indeed be useful if professionals will give their individual takes on it; so that a general definition of Smart City can be drawn up for ready reference.

As the world gears up for “development”,  a proper guideline  needs to be formulated, as early as possible.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Evolution of Disrespect

Down the ages, despite the claims of our purists classical  exponents, the biggest purveyor of contemporary Indian culture has been  films, of all regional languages, but especially Hindi cinema.
From classics depicting old world romance and naïve optimism of the new Indian republic,
= to the Shammi Kapoor era of teasing the girl till she succumbs to his romantic flamboyance, with that almost statutory one rape per film for Pran, Prem and Ranjit and a weepy mother/sister/bhabhi plus  autocratic father/ grandmother,
= to the SRK era with its “yeh kudiyaan, nashe ki puriyan, yeh munde galli ke gunde” of comfort with abusing each other , or is it disrespect?
= to the current  ‘bidi jalaile” and “patade missed call se”  and mandatory gang rapes

All have steadily  pushed modern ‘cultural / social’ values down to rock bottom, allowing modern working girls as loose characters,  boys showing off their manhood with rapes etc.   how much has all this acted as the catalyst in young minds to play out in real life what they see on the screen? 

Who will dare to stand up and acknowledge this?

Monday, March 09, 2015

A Unique Art Exhibition Spins Thoughts

A unique art exhibition in Ahmedabad raised a question in my mind:
Why is Tyaag /Sacrifice the leitmotif / prateek of Womanhood?

The week long Mirror of Art exhibition at the Ahmedabad ni Gufa showed off the end result of interactions between hand picked artists of Ahmedabad with young children from schools and from institutions handling special children.
The children who spoke to the artists overwhelmingly pointed to their Mothers as their inspiration.  Some opted for sisters, grandmothers or a teacher or two, but the over whelming choice was Ma.

The exhibition portrayed those children’s heroes –rather heroines in a myriad ways.  There were some exceptions of course,  Shweta Parikh’s portrayal of an older sister guiding her brother out of the dark morass of their live into more light;  Roma Patel’s teacher; a portrait of a tribal woman with twinkling eyes, imprisoned – if it canbe called that—in her own  wind blown hair; the bright eyed girls who inspired several artists, well known and then, not so well known but now well known from this exhibition.

The overwhelming numbers of MA paintings raised a needling question:       Why is Tyaag /Sacrifice the leitmotif / prateek of Womanhood?

Women are worshipped as MA, but as likely to be sacrificed at the fiery altars of dowry and male ego.  How many of the most virulent misogynists are those who bow before Ma in the temples and then go home to vent their inferiority by thrashing the ma at home?

Can PA s not attain that ‘sacrificer’ label as well?
Women who work, at home or outside, spend most of their earning on the children and the home. In millions of homes, a percentage of the man’s income, especially lower down the social scale, is set aside for his daru-paan-bidi.  Can those possible be given up to earn the “Sacrifice” label?
In the old days, it was the fathers who taught their children.  Why have they resigned from homework duty today?  Then women were rarely educated. Today they are, plus manage home and many other things. Were the fathers to at least guide their children in their studies, their esteem would definitely rise in the children’s eyes.
Was it always like this? Ancient records do no depict it thus. 
It was not there in the days of Chanakya.  Nor under the Mughals, although yes, laaj  probably came into being after the Muslims brought their purdah system with them.  
All these restrictions on women came in after the British took over India under Queen Victoria and her Victorian philosophies and her topi-brown chaddi wallas. 
Doesn’t it look like our Hindu ayatollahs are seeking inspiration from both the ISIS and the brown chaddi and topi wallas?    Instead of a ban on rape, we have a ban on those who speak about it after it has happened!!
What Next?   A Happy Rape Day?