I don’t know . This line keep on hitting back . It can be an absence of words. Some expressions can’t be conveyed by words. The reliance on internet further makes the handicap more acute.there is a human being , out there, from the woods, mountains, crowded shining city, glued to that black microbox. He may cry, shout, laugh, paranoid, ecstatic , irritated. Too distant inspite of the long chatter.still the heart seeks that voice, touch, smell( even stinky!).

The flowing of information is humongous .like being lost in a complex jigsaw puzzle, a twisted maze. we seek opinions of others. As soon as some quote of a thinker is placed on say, Facebook. The comments section is exploded. Most of them deal not with what is being said. It is a judgement of agreeing or disagreeing. The context, the meaning of the sentence gets twisted according to the mind of the audience. Reflection is but minimum. The debate with the one of contrary opinion s reduced to a battle for superiority which if not online,would be a tirade of slangs, punches and probably murder.the people who agree form their own gangs.military artillery are loaded against the other. Whatever viel of sobriety and coquettish manners which were exhibited in public life even towards a pricky rival is discarded. The vulgar sword is brandished with a strange satisfaction that nobody can catch me. I can go out naked as I am. It is more obscene,pretensious, strangely real. The enlightened anarchy visioned by Gandhi would be blushing at the site of this mobocracy






City of djinns: chapter 8 summary

In this chapter, William reignites the ancient city of tughlakabad and jahanpanah founded by the tughlakdynasty.

Tughlak as a ruler was very blood thirsty. Cruel punishment were the order of the day like a mystic forced to eat excrement, a general flayed alive etc. This militaristic outlook was present even in the most important building called tughlak fort , meant to protect them from the invasion of mongols. Connected to the fort, is a pyramidal red sandstone topped with white done defended by walls on all sides which guards the remains of its kings zealously. Jahanpanah was a city founded by the second tughlak called Muhammad.  He enclosed all the old cities within jahanpanah by building a giant wall. Here, the main attraction is the begampur mosque known for its utter simplicity and magnificent symmetry of arches, cupolas, light color. Sadly, the medieval city is now a modern sprawl.

Then he goes to hauz khaus region known for a beautiful tank. There was also a prestigious madarasa known for its symmetry, wide courtyard, sumptuous menu, curriculum having religion, astronomy and also medicine. Eastern medicine called unani fascinated the author. He considers it to be holistic healing, not just eliminating disease. It relies on finding out the unique pulse of the patient and giving them indigenous herbs which as a trade secret along with chanting. He explores the unani practiced in old Delhi. It had actually worked for their friend navina who suffered from a inflamed tendon.

Nizamuddin, the Sufi saint was alive during tughlak era. He cursed tughlak that his city will be abandoned, so did it happen. He was a secular mystic, practicing simple living, prayers, love for god. His tomb is still a popular site for believers to ask for their wishes by tying threads, offering shawl and flowers.  There is a famous singing called qawaali to honor the saint. It is also believed by some people that the saint spirit still hovers the tomb in different ways-sitting, in dreams depending on the level of faith. William also meets a mystic called pir Sadr ud din. He is proficient in capturing evil spirits called djinns. He also says that Delhi doesn’t die because djinns keep on rejuvenating it after every destruction. William attends the annual urs festival in Ajmer where many devotees go for wish fulfillment.  He wishes that he sees a dervish whirling which gets fulfilled during a qawaali.



City of djinns: chapter seven summary

This chapter shows that the golden era of mughal empire under shahjahen was mired with  Shakespearian tragedy to win the throne between his sons.

To find out the details about this time, William visits Dr Jaffery frequently. He has translated shah jahen nama. He lives in a Sufi like place made of dome, lots of candlelight and Persian books. He expresses himself in parables like follow the camel of love etc. Sufism is a theme that the author follows in the next chapters where he visits the nizamuddin dargah, goes to Ajmer for urs festival etc. Dr Jaffery also mentions two important travelogues : Berniers travels in moghul India and manucci’s mogul India. I did read some portions of Berniers book. It was very enjoyable in terms of aesthetic details, court politics, Kashmir’s beauty, his rationalism, his dislike of Indian roti and extreme hot weather. Manucci as per the book is more adventurous as he was a con-artist and a artillery man.


The story can be mentioned in short here. Shahjahen got weak and fragile. There was two major groups seeking power. On one hand, was Dara shikoh, a scholar, secular man but who overestimated his ability. He was supported by all caring  Jahanara Begum. On the other hand, was the brave, skillful but scheming warrior called Aurangzeb. He was aided by his little sister ,roshnara who was jealous of Jahanara. Aurangzeb shrewdly won support of his other two brothers by flattery. He eliminated them brutally by poison. He also bought nobles in dara shikoh army. He emerged victorious imprisoning his own father. He finally had to kill his own sister roshnara. His policies were generally against minorities by imposing harsh taxes etc.

Here he deals with two historical monuments. First, he talks about the red fort. It is a red walled indo Islamic structure adorned with chattris. Initially there is a market ,then a house of drums which announced coming of a important visitor. then, one entered the diwan-i-aam where audience was allowed to raise their questions. There was specific location of Omar’s, ambassador’s, princes as per their status. Inside , there was private apartments of the king and the harem. This portion has received maximum damage because of the Britishers diverting yamuna river, making their own lawns and barracks. Second, he goes to shalimar garden which was a blissful experience. Even though, it isn’t very handsome and noble according to Bernier. It displays the Islamic monuments quality of order, symmetry soundly by its charbagh, flowers in the borders. However, it is ageding by the peeling plasterwork, overgrown vines, low popularity among delhites.

Finally, describing the wedding of dara shikoh which is full of glamour and funfare, he manages to attend a wedding of his gardeners daughter. It is a arranged marriage. It parallels the mughal wedding like giving of mehr, gifts, putting of henna etc. He also shows the commercial aspect of these wedding in matrimonial advertisements where it’s boasts of beauty, degree, salaries etc.

City of djinns: Medieval era summary part 1

This work is pure magic. It does transport you to the seven Delhi’s that rose and fell.

I will begin with the summary of the chapters that deal with medieval history of India. This begins with chapter six in the book.

The life of Safardjung, one of the important nobles marks the golden age of the mughal empire and it’s startling decline. Safardjung was a major kingmaker who actually controlled the empire under a puppet ruler engrossed in opium, drink and women. But his autocracy didn’t last long. It was resented by other nobles which culminated in a civil war. He lost his grandeur , being thrown out of Delhi. With great difficulty, his son build a tomb for him in a wasteland area. It is known as safdarjung tomb. The tomb appears very hapazard, with pink patches and marbles dispersed messily. It describes the state of the empire which has been reduced to ashes and is dancing in it’s ruins like a drunkard.  But it must be understood that this tomb differs from taj Mahal. It had onion domes. It has rococo i.e assymetrical motifs like big cabbages, stamens, tendrils, lotuses etc.



The author is intrigued by the eunuchs. They enjoyed high position in Mughal courts like keeping secrets of harem, even being brave warriors. The decline in the empire left a huge dent on them. They were treated contemptously forced to make ends meet by dancing on auspicious occasions like childbirth and marriage and prostitution. William( author) manages to meet a family of eunuchs. He gifts the head a naqshbandi taweez. He finds that most of them faced a lot of condemnation from their family like Panna who had to leave her village as she was considered cursed. Strangely, they had accepted their situation without much bitterness. This is visible when William asks them if they would like to be reborn as a eunuch. Vimla said that she has no control over God’s plan.

He explores a now forgotten sport in India. It is the bird fight. It happens in Pakistan, some other states of India like Rajasthan. But the most popular arena is Muslim cementary in old Delhi. There is a khalifa who is like the judge of these fights. He is generally a experienced fighter with many partridges. Life of khalifa is solely interested in this fight. These fights are full of bloodshed like gladiator battles. But they provide lot of relief to the audience from the chaos of life.

All about love- Chapter 2: Childhood love lessons

‘ without justice, there can be no love’

Bell hooks in this chapter deals will our childhood conditioning and experiences with love.

Most importantly, she discusses the social myth perpetuating in our families. In the name of discipline, parents generally mete out abuse. The cover up of these heinous actions is that they love you and are doing it for your welfare. Kids also internalize this version of love as they focus mostly on random acts of love.Hooks mentions painful experiences of young boys who bore such terrors from alcoholic father, neglectful mother’s etc. It was a difficult read for me because I have also faced chronic abuse as a child. My mother used to abuse consistently since childhood till adulthood. The usual trick is to make me terribly guilty for her bad behavior. Mentioning how much sacrifice she has done, so I shouldn’t question her. I became very numb, passive and fearful as a child. I had very low self confidence and face problems on trusting people. My reactions to abuse are extreme at times. I have also seen abuse of my cousins by their parents by extreme foul language and beatings. I know how destructive the present family system is for kids. There are no child rights. If you speak assertively, you are still subject to abuse.

Hooks also upholds need to respect the child as a individual. Acknowledge his voice and his ideas in the family to create a more sane world. I have my doubts about it’s practicality as most parents treat kids as property. Bringing mental and behavorial change in absence of any pressure from the state makes them more callous.






All about love summary: Chapter one- Clarity:give love words.

This is a book on love by the acclaimed feminist bell hooks. It is a rare book on this subject written by a woman.

The first chapter is called clarity because in our culture, love is seen as being hazy, vague, variable for everyone. As we are unclear about it, our actions can betray love itself.


Bell hooks tries to define it using work of other writers like Scott peck and Erich Fromm. Love is not a feeling. It is a verb, a act. It is an act to help growth of oneself and others. I found this meaning very different from what I was taught. Love was taken as a feeling. It was a mysterious force. It was meant to be given by girls. It was mixed with lot of abuse and hate. The love I knew and also practiced was quite reactive and harmful for myself and others. The writer also accepts that in her own family, she actually faced lovelessness, because of verbal and physical abuse along with instances of care. She also had relationships with men who were emotionally wounded which further increased her alienation.

She makes an important point that firstly we need to accept the lovelessness in our life. Only, then can we make efforts to act lovingly. But many of us are in denial mode out of fear, so we seek refuge in the definition of love being a feeling etc.

She also says that we need to encourage dialogue on love, not just relying on books.I also think that we tend to talk about a lot of stuff like movies, food etc. But generally are silent on vital things in our life. We need to encourage a honest talk which can help us transform ourselves.






Film review: Aurat pair ki juti nahi hain

For few days, I have been doing a lot of domestic work like cooking, dusting etc. It has made me more sensitive towards the way woman have to slog through the day with little appreciation and assistance from the men folks in homes.

In this context, I wanted to see a movie. so, I watched a 1985 Hindi movie called aurat pair ki juti nahi( woman is not a foot sole)



In this movie, the male called Rakesh is known for his adherence to strict moral rules. He adopts them with no consideration for anyone. On this ground, he gets kicked out of work repeatedly. He scolds a vegetable seller for selling goods in the colony. The biggest sufferer is his wife. He is a autocrat at home. He criticizes endlessly her cooking, her shopping, her smiling. He is even suspicious when she is concerned for his ill friend. This is a sharp contrast to their earlier days of marital bliss. His wife, Shobha suffers silently. She doesn’t challenge him openly. Whenever she tries to speak, he goes away.  She doesn’t have much alternatives either as she is a homemaker and her parents had already warned her that they won’t accept her if she divorces. Rakesh’s ill friend called Kamal has only few days to live. He is very carefree, always smiling and spreading joy for others by his sense of humor. He also sings a beautiful ghazal- ‘ tum na mano par yeh haqeqaat hain’ showing the importance of love in life. In the movie, Shobha in the end gathers enough courage and leaves Rakesh.

This movie made me understand that how much women are trapped in such marriages. Out of custom and false beliefs, they sacrifice their life. If we are taught from the beginning, that we neednt be dependent on male company always, it can help us grow fully. We will not get enslaved in our relationship. Patriachal marriages based on domination needs to end in favor of egalitarian relations. Blind pursuit of morals can be disastrous as evidenced by Rakesh. It can make one heartless and cruel. Kamal’s character on the other hand, is a celebration of life, appreciating what we have.