A wilderness that won’t let you get lost!

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There is a beautiful reserved forest area in north Delhi, a wild area that has been caged within the national capital city-state of Delhi. Although it’s usually too crowded by commuters and university students, the Kamala Nehru Northern Ridge still in its vastness provides you the joy of solitude, if you take the road less trodden on. I can assure you, in this wilderness you will not get lost!

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College

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"Dreams come true, just we are just too blind to see them do."

“Dreams come true, just we are just too blind to see them do.”

It’s been almost three years, since the first time my feet touched these peripheries, and it came to own me, even though to be bluntly honest, that first time, I didn’t dream I would be spending all this time here, in Kamala Nehru College. First off, I was so far off from home, and all this while I’ve had just so much going on, on my mind, that inadvertently I ended up not wholly appreciating the privilege I had been goaded with, to be forever, a part of and be one with all the past of KNC, my college, and its future as well.

To the common man or woman it’s just a college, another building in a lush sub-urban neighborhood, but for me, it’s my identity, my bridge towards reality. Every morning, walking through the front gate, out of time and breath, I step in and rush around the front porch and conveniently dash up the stairs in the search for my class. Well, it’s my fault, that I lead two very disjointed lives, that I appear like a lost lampoon at the beginning of every class, but then, that’s my story, and it’s entirely irrelevant here. This is the story of my college. So breathe, I’m almost there.

But I am an observer, I am at one with the human spirit as well as the spirit of all things on the earth and over my time at KNC, I’ve grown closer to nature than to my classmates. The lush campus of my college provided a very good setting for me to explore the minute things of life. The bustle that thrived all around the big college building, always instilled a kind of unusual feeling in my heart, that first year, that coming home for the vacations, I learnt was “homesickness” and my own house, seeming to feel smaller because unknowingly the place had come to own me, made me acknowledge it as my home. I knew I could never be at peace for the months I was away from college.

I am not a very studious person, but I read, oh I read…and reading I’ve spent hours reading, just curling up under the big willowy trees in the fields with yellowed collections of old, very old poetry, and lose track of time entirely. I, who’s usually very concerned about a low battery on my phone, could forget about my dead phone, and let it stay dead for forever, while I lay down on the soft greens of our playground and feel the sun warm my closed lids on a wintry afternoon. I admit it, I am lazy, and I love to waste time – specially, when I am witnessing, or while being a part of, something that with my soul, I wouldn’t hesitate calling beautiful.

The college grounds proved to be a great place for me to practise photography as well, since it was very convenient to carry along my camera for beginners. It was just ridiculous thought that I was found by people to be looking into every crevice, searching for treasure. Haha, that’s just me saying, because with every good shot, I’d be up there, beaming like Napoleon Bonaparte, as if I’d conquered a nation, bursting with glee. Even though I wasn’t really expecting a round of applause from people around, me, I was still a small town girl. But it didn’t take me long to realize there was no one with me in my bubble and I walk around, learning more with every step that took me away…

The canteen was where I always went in search for comfort. People have this strong notion that I eat a lot, and why shouldn’t that notion exist, I am a foodie, and I love good food. And especially it was the aroma circulating around our college canteen that drew me on like a moonstruck vagabond follows the moon goddess. My classmates would testify to the fact that I’m wholly addicted to our canteen, my favourite momos with the red sauce with the lemon iced tea, the chicken tikka rolls of the Coke Studio, the rajma rice, and the perfect combo of the samosa and coffee from the Nescafe stall, that we get after we exact it with the coins – those twelve, well spent rupees, are all the fuel we need to sit through the tiresome back-to-back classes on the late autumn afternoons when the rest of the world is cosily taking a nap in their warm beds…

Now my college days are drawing to a close, and it’s like a cold, harsh gust of wind whipping across my face. I would miss my college and I will miss the people of my class. But then life goes on…like time and tide waits for none. KNC will forever be the longest chapter in my life, my hard earned prized that I forgot to cherish while I had it… But then that’s my story, which is an entirely different one. KNC, will always stand, and I’ve loved it in so many other ways, it’ll always make me speechless; like right now, I don’t know how to conclude this…since the story hasn’t ended, nor, it ever will…

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Fifth City of Delhi

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Watch a dream

Poisoned by a curse

Watch your broken song

And crumbled verse.

The city of your love

Captured by decay

A lifetime of hope

Withered away

You were meant for such times

O’ Wise Fool, where

Tall dreams are not a crime

And treasured is your emerald tear.

Photo and verse: Afreen Hussain (http://www.facebook.com/songsoftheflute)

There in the outskirts of the the City of New Delhi lies a stretch of cursed land where the Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (pronounced Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq in Urdu) had built the fifth city of Delhi.

Curse of the Sufi Saint, Nizamuddin Auliya.

Ghiyas-ud-din, as an Emperor, is usually perceived as a liberal ruler. However, he was so passionate about his dream fort that he issued a dictate that all labourers in Delhi must work on his fort. The Saint [Nizamuddin Auliya], a Sufi mystic, got incensed as the work on his baoli (well) was stopped. The confrontation between the sufi saint and the royal emperor has become a legend in India. The saint uttered a curse which was to resonate throughout history right until today Ya rahey hissar, ya basey gujjar (may it [the fort] remain unoccupied/infertile, or else the herdsmen may live here).

And indeed to this day it has stood still, as the fort lies crumbling, hundreds of years later…in it’s solitude. miles stretch on and no sign of human habitation. It’s like this strategically important city is indeed forgotten by all of human race.

However the rustic beauty of the place and the resonating silence go together side by side like it was meant to be. A curse, so binding, it’s a fact, I do not wish to disturb the peace and serenity. It would feel like dropping an antique urn containing the ashes of a God, and weeping over the lost remains would be bitterly pathetic.

This is my advice to you as a friend, or you could call a person who knows her India well, visit this place. A chance like this comes once in a lifetime, and this is something you gotta see before you leave Delhi. Not very far from the city. It’s Tughlakabad. Subway available just nearby.

This is where you’ll find yourself at par with your soul…as you trying to listen to the drums beating as the emperor presides over his court, and then the saint walking in with his lute, and the words uttered, you already know.

Have a great time…:)

Buried in the Heart of the City

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Agrasen ki Baoli, an old monument hidden in the bowels of the skyscraper encrusted heart of the city of New Delhi, Cannaught Place. Not known to most people, this is a protected archaeological site, an old step well. With 103 steps completely immersed in water, this used to be a storage house of water… The visible parts of this historical step well consist of three levels. Each level is lined with arched niches on both sides.

From an architectural perspective this step well was probably rebuilt during the Tughlaq period. However, the oldest existing Baoli in Delhi, the Anangtal Baoli located in Mehrauli which was also known as Yoginipura, was built in the 10th century by the Rajput King Anang Pal II of Tomar DynastyAnang Tal literally means reservoir provided by Anang Pal of the House of Tomar.

Regarding the name Agrasen Ki Baoli it should be stated that in 1132 AD an Agrawal poet named Vibudh Shridhar mentions, in his work Pasanahacariu, a wealthy and influential Agrawal merchant of Dhilli named Nattal Sahu who was also a minister in the court of King Anang Pal III. Rebuilding the old Baoli would have been within the means of a wealthy Agrawal community.

Although there are no known historical records to prove who built Agrasen ki Baoli, it is believed that it was originally built by the legendary king Agrasen[2] during the Mahabharat epic era and rebuilt in the 14th century by the Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja Agrasen.

Water temples and temple step wells were built in ancient India and the earliest forms of step well and reservoir were also built in India in places like Dholavira as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation.

(courtesy, Wikipedia)

Recently, I went there, with an unique friend of mine. Here’s a poem I wrote about the rendezvous. This is an important part of my life. This place, was already special since I’d already been there before a lot many times, from the first visit, last October with my best friend. And now after this recent visit, I have become quite sure, it has become one of those things in my life, that I cannot give up deliberately. This was already beautiful and now, it’s become special.

 

Through the many nooks and vents,

Wings of feather dart and flap.

 

It is a maze, through which,

I do not want to escape.

 

Through the topmost window,

We watched the sun slowly dying.

 

I felt your hands untying the knots among my thoughts,

I felt your lips burning through and through my stiffness.

 

I just wish the wheel of time would never have restarted,

From how you’d stopped it for us to intertwine and breathe…

 

Oh, there, right there, will I go back every time.

Because you showed me what real love could be like.

 

I would never have known.

And died and faded away like that.

 

You showed me that doors aren’t always needed.

To escape, we could just come out…

 

Leaping out from one of the many windows.

But this is a maze I do not want to escape.

 

I’m happy and so let me sing your praise…

It’s always been my choice, don’t make me sad.

 

Hauz Khas Fort

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Part of the Hauz Khas Fort, in the old village of Hauz Khas, New Delhi, this is a beautiful local/foreign tourist spot. Used for several photo shoots, and turned into occasional film sets this fort is a very popular place to be in Hauz Khas. Not situated very far from the Hauz Khas metro station, in South Delhi, this is a portal that leads Delhi’s cosmopolitan present into it’s rich and monopolized royal past. These are some photographs I took when I recently visited it, in May this year. There is this irresistible and charming enticement about the antiquity about this place that binds one to it. The pillars behind which lovers huddle close to each other, utter words of bliss and exchange tokens, words of promises resonate the music of long ages, that hums faintly in the ears ask we walk through the corridors taking the steps of the great Maharajas of the ancient days and the past comes alive when we breathe in the cool air that blows in from the amazing lake that stretches on forever below the fortress. I for once again felt proud when I took in so much history all at once.

If not Anything, You Make me FEEL Young…

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Feels like suddenly I’m helpless,

In the wake of the minute hand of the clock,

One evening not talking, not laughing with you…

Feels like heaven’s broke and rained rocks.

Why is it that so suddenly in just seven days,

You’ve become so important to me?

Why hadn’t we met before?

Now you make me think.

Is that what soul mates are like?

Like one meets the other half,

And then, suddenly, they’re one.

So much has changed since the hour we met.

And ever since then, I haven’t been myself–

But a stronger, bolder and wiser me.

Then can I call us soul mates?

I don’t know of that, as of yet.

But it was exactly a crowd that we first met,

So, maybe my epiphany still counts…

And we just happened to stumble upon each other.

I had a hundred reasons ready,

Excuses that spare me from going that day.

I overslept, and then my dress too wasn’t ready.

My hair wasn’t washed and poor me,

Instead of a petty-coat, I wore pajamas under my saree.

But still it worked, until it rained bullets.

My heels raised on five inched blocks,

I was forced to hunt for three wheelers on foot.

Windblown hair and dancing stupid unskilled bihu.

I don’t know how it started, but the way you guarded my heels,

Letting me dance as much as I wish, sure did touch my heart.

That you weren’t much that into the stoner den, like I was,

But kept experimenting with your camera, like I do with mine.

And now three weeks have passed,

But that memory’s still alive.

Like a little sixteen year old, you make,

My heart go out, on a roller coaster ride.

Little, little jokes, and secrets, planetary homes,

Like a game of snakes & ladders increasing in progression.

With your little innocent smile, you made me grow past

The pains I have endured in my battle-worn life.

Maybe that’s what soul mates are made for,

To stitch each other’s sore wounds up.

uncouth

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dirty scoundrels sweeping the alley,

infect the night, like blood bugs buzz.

uncouth men, sitting in their windblown, spa-like cars,

through drooping eyelashes, hawk for a girl to pass.

dainty filles in airy curls, Versaces and Ralph Laurens,

with Mochi stillettoes flirt with wine and ash.

the guards are two, spatting with one another,

about who’d demand for the bribe–

from a late night venturer.

the pubs are all about to close,

the hour which depletes their barrels,

of such pricey, heavenly liquor.

cars begin to wheel out

with their heavily drugged owners.

and their long forgotten humanities,

well, the flat drunks leave, but the rest prowl,

in search of new robes, to tear,

for the thrill of the screeching,

throbbing flesh to resist their advances.

and to smother the mouth to silence,

with puke-worth kisses. Done.

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as the alley darkens, let the dogs wake up.