Category Archives: Uncategorized

Its the people who make the land – Kutch (5)


People offer a flavour that nothing else can and will!

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:

Even a tourist destination is more than just the site – its  the people, the place and its environs that define a place. In the recent whirlwind 5-day tour we did in Kutch, we stayed 4 nights in 4 different places, traveled 1500 kilometers by road and took in a multitude of sights. So, there was little time or scope for people interaction. However, what ever chance I got, I did try and catch the local color!! (All pictures taken with permission of the subject)

P1000153 Mia Ahmed selling the puja flowers outside Bhuj market

P1000152 A feisty older woman, with her ware of bel in the Bhuj market.

The local tourists were few and far between. Gujarat Tourism charges just Rs 5/ per adult for entry, which I felt was ridiculously low. But then I caught these two women, in all their pinkness, sitting in the sun.  And they said their …

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Speaking Volumes: India’s suffragette-princess


A most informative and thought provoking read. Let’s not forget the women in history….another type of subaltern!

Originally posted on nilanjana roy:


For the last two decades, I’ve taken my voter’s ID card for granted: it’s just there, like the “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic” of India itself. I almost voted for Dharatipakkad in my first election, before using my franchise a little more wisely, and will vote along with much of Delhi this Saturday. Like most of my generation, I can neither imagine living in a country nor a world where women had to fight for the basic right to vote.

In my favourite photograph of Sophia Duleep Singh, the princess stands outside Hampton Court, an elegant woman whose face expresses her determination. She is selling copies of The Suffragette. Until Anita Anand wrote Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary (Bloomsbury India), even most feminist historians were unaware of the role played by Maharajah Duleep Singh’s daughter in the Votes for Women campaign.


Sophia Duleep Singh died a year after India gained…

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Electorates in Delhi: What data tells us about electoral rolls and misrepresentation


This is precious! Especially for all you data lovers out there…

Originally posted on cprurban:

By Bhanu Joshi, Research Assistant at CPR

Electorates are central to any election. Parity in the electoral units (constituencies) is a vital component in defining how representative and, to a certain extent, how fair the elections would be. This draws from democracy’s fundamental tenet of “one man- one vote”; a principle articulated in the framing of India’s constitution.[i]

Preceding the Delhi elections in 2015, Janagraaha came up with a report which was widely published in The Hindu & Scroll on some of the discrepancies in the electoral rolls and effectively electoral misrepresentation in the form of omissions or deletions of electoral rolls in Delhi.[ii] While this reportage, principally around an election, brought around the necessary publicity, the larger process of voter registration continues to be an issue that needs deliberation.

Delhi has seven parliamentary constituencies which neatly fit ten assembly constituencies in them. Post the delimitation exercise, in…

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[Case note] Poverty, wealth and a developer’s obligations in Maharashtra


The dovetailing of urban planning and development is incomplete even as development authorities and private real estate developers continue to fraternize and collude. What happens, then to low cost housing or private property rights? Is this an issue of class conflict or of irresponsible governance? Raeesa Vakil’s case note sheds light on these essential questions…

Originally posted on cprurban:

The development of the Powai Area Development Scheme (“PADS”) in Mumbai, has been fraught with legal controversy for the last twenty-odd years. In 1986, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (the “MMRDA”) entered into a tripartite agreement with the original landowners to develop 93 hectares of land in Powai, Mumbai. The land was leased to the Hiranandani group for development at a nominal rate of Rs. 1 per hectare. In return, Hiranandani was to construct low cost housing of two types – one of 40 square meters, and the other of 80 sq.m. The original owners would get housing for themselves and an 80-year lease over developed property. Of the remaining housing, 15% would be sold back to the state at low rates for allocation to government employees. The rest would be sold for profit by Hiranandani.

The original agreements with Hiranandani also had requirements for the provision of open…

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Stunning Skies in Assam

Woke up this morning to a series of stunning pics sent to me by friend Vishal, who we visited recently in Assam. He took them when we were all together one evening, watching a mesmerising sunset in Misamari.

The skies in Assam took my breath away, from the creeping light of dawn to the dotted white puffs scattered over the tea gardens during the daytime right down to the spectacular sunsets.

Here are some of the pics we took from assorted cameras and phones. When I look at them, I remember those beautiful shared moments when we were all, regardless of age and background, awed and humbled by Mother Nature.

_DSC9207 _DSC8982 _DSC8916 _DSC9209 _DSC9219 IMG_0748 IMG_0749 IMG_0750 IMG_0751 IMG_0752 IMG_0753

The mysticism of the past: Visiting Stonehenge

I’ve wanted to visit Stonehenge since the year 2000. Back then, I was pursuing a Masters in Urban Planning at Texas A&M University and taking a course in historic preservation. Professor David Woodcock encouraged me to pursue my interest in cultural landscapes, and with his help (he leveraged his contacts at English Heritage and got them to send me every piece of research they had in their possession!) I wrote a great term paper on Stonehenge.

The mysticism of this circle of stones has stayed with me ever since. It’s the kind of place that evokes in me an unnamed indescribable fascination for history. I wonder how humans in those long bygone days conceived the world around them, how they built their social fabric and how they sowed the seeds for the complexities of existence that we take for granted today.

Stonehenge is a neolithic site created from enormous stones over different period of time probably to understand or pay obeisance to the elements of nature, namely the movement of the sun across the sky around the year. It is part of a larger landscape of monuments scattered around this area, dating from 4000 BC to about 1600 BC. Many of these, and more are being excavated and interpreted even now, seem to be ritual gathering places, burial grounds and they reiterate how important birth and death, religion and rituals must have been to ancient humans. No one knows how they transported these gigantic stones from far away to the site, and its hard to imagine the complete monument today when you see only a ruin from which stones have been taken away or that has degenerated with time.

It is, however, possible to feel the primal energy when you stand there next to Stonehenge. A sense of mystery and strength, of peace even, a dedication to the powers that be! This time, I had only an hour to see it, but it would be fun to return one day to this World Heritage Site and walk the entire landscape that includes Stonehenge, Avebury and surrounding areas.

Stonehenge is now accessed through this beautiful visitor's centre. It is impressive how well heritage sites are managed in the UK.

Stonehenge is now accessed through this beautiful visitor’s centre. It is impressive how well heritage sites are managed in the UK.

Sense of scale!

Sense of scale!


A very happy me!

A very happy me!

A very happy Nupur too...

A very happy Nupur too…

Looks different from every angle. As you move around it, Stonehenge transforms

Looks different from every angle. As you move around it, Stonehenge transforms

Helps understand something of why it was built

Helps understand something of why it was built

How tiny the man is, how huge the stones

How tiny the man is, how huge the stones

Smooth stones, rough stones....

Smooth stones, rough stones….

_DSC7988The reconstruction of neolithic homes near the Visitor Centre really added value to the visit for me, as one could better imagine what life was like back then, bringing Stonehenge back from a monument of mystery to one that was used for specific purposes by real people!


I miss my kids when I travel without them and here, I was tickled by how differently this one was experiencing the space as compared to an adult!

I miss my kids when I travel without them and here, I was tickled by how differently this one was experiencing the space as compared to an adult!

_DSC8001_DSC8002Also, a mention must be made of how well the site and visitor flow is managed. I was surprised to know that the entire 6500 acres of the World Heritage Site is owned and managed by English Heritage or the National Trust and that even the land around is owned by the armed forces and other government agencies so that the disturbances to the site and the experiences are minimal! It is possible to walk for miles through fields and woods to explore important prehistoric sites.

There’s a lot of fascinating info about Stonehenge online, if you want to read more….



Here’s another short and sweet post from my (not so) little blogger….

Originally posted on theamazingud:

We went to many places on our holidays Amsterdam is one of them . There we went to the Nemo museum. It is a science museum for children. It is a very interesting place where you can find out many, many things and there is a lot to do. It is designed in the shape of a ship, a big blue one.
We also went to a flea market from where we got lots of things like stickers and metal owls!


Bubble blowing! Bubble blowing!

going to blow bubbles! going to blow bubbles!

working hard to move up and down. working hard to move up and down.

oldest thing I have ever touched, a piece of a meteor! oldest thing I have ever touched, a piece of a meteor!

listening listening

museum made robot! museum made robot!

metal owl from flea market metal owl from flea market

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Architecture in B&W


Stunning work by my very well traveled friend Maneck!

Originally posted on ask maverick:

“Architecture begins where Engineering ends” … Walter Gropius said this and the debate still continues between both disciplines. But, as an architect when one travels the world visiting different cities and ancient buildings, one cannot help but wonder that the best of both disciplines would have gone into the making of these landmark structures. The debate I will reserve for another blog post, and this I will restrict to love of architecture, travel and photography. Big cities and landmark buildings still give me a high like none other I have experienced.

Taking a step forward I have showcased a handful of my recent pictures from my travels … all in Black & White.

The "Blue City" of Jodhpur ... founded in 1459 & named after Rao Jodha of Mandore. The “Blue City” of Jodhpur as seen from the canon mounted at Mehrangarh fort … founded in 1459 & named after Rao Jodha of Mandore.

The Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan ... also know as the "Windy City" ... you can see the Sears (now Willis) Tower standing tall on the left side. The Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan … also know as the “Windy City” … you…

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Bleak future for ‘Girl Child’ in Slums


Depressing, but needs urgent attention!

Originally posted on Terra Urban टेरा अर्बन:

Recently Child Rights and You (CRY) conducted a survey of 480 people living in urban slums across five cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata,Delhi and Bangalore directed towards girl child’s education in these slums.

The survey has revealed interesting insights that leave one ponder on ‘how to protect the fate of girl child’ in our urban poor settlements.

Some of the findings of this survey were:

  • The prospect of getting a secondary school education seems like a long shot for many girls in Mumbai’s slums.
  • Around 78% of slum-dwellers in the city believe that if a girl below the age of 18 is tall and can work for a living, she should not be considered a child at all.
  • Girls in urban slums also have to fight cultural notions associated with marriage. Eighty six per cent of respondents from Mumbai — the highest among all cities — subscribe to the belief that…

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In-Situ – The Kathputli Colony!


Will making the slums ‘aesthetic’ remove the shame e associate with the informal?

Originally posted on ...deep within...:

“The problems of the magicians’ ghetto were the problems of the Communist movement in India; within the confines of the colony could be found, in miniature, the many divisions and dissensions which racked the Party in the country. ….. Fire-eaters and sword-swallowers applauded the guerrilla tactics of the Naxalite movement; while mesmerists and walkers-on-hot-coals espoused Namboodiripad’s manifesto and deplored the Naxalites’ violence.” Thus fictionalized Salman Rushdie in his classic ‘Midnights Children’ in 1980 and took the local Delhi slum to international limelight – The Kathputli Colony!

Projected completely as a magical place, more so when one approaches the settlement, it seems like across some international border with a ‘No Man’s Land’ in the middle. Metro took up a strip of land between the main road and the settlement and locked it up with high walls. In all probability it reflects the notion of shame towards the physicality of the non-formal…

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