Ballimaran Se Dariba Talak

Tujshe milna purani Dilli mein
Chhod aaye nishaani Dilli mein
Ballimaran se Daribe talak
Teri meri kahani Dilli mein

From Ghalib’s haveli


One steps out on to the street

Delhi, April 2016

on Gali Qasim Jan

Delhi, April 2016

through the narrow dark streets of Ballimaran

Delhi, April 2016

where boatmen once lived but over the years were followed by soldiers, hakims, Ayurvedic healers, jalebi makers, kabab walas, mattress makers, plastic suppliers and other people

Delhi, April 2016

with Mughal domes jutting out in the far distance along with electric cables, air-conditioner units and modified roofs

Delhi, April 2016

And of course Lal Kila stands in the distance at the Dariba Kalan corner on Chandni Chowk

Delhi, April 2016

To round it up, in my book, based on my limited literary sense, one of the greatest Gulzar compositions ever


The Nile

The Poetry Translation Centre is a fantastic project which I stumbled upon recently. Today’s random poem I read had this to say:

The Nile flows quietly…
Seeping through the city’s silence
And the burning sorrows of the villages.

This from the first Sura of the Poem of the Nile by a leading Sudanese contemporary poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi. The original poem was in Arabic and has been translated by Hafiz Khebir and Mark Ford.

The traditional English poems of the Nile reflect on quite different themes: This is Shelley

O’er Egypt’s land of Memory floods are level
And they are thine, O Nile–and well thou knowest
That soul-sustaining airs and blasts of evil
And fruits and poisons spring where’er thou flowest.

And this is Keats:

Son of the old Moon-mountains African!
Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile!
We call thee fruitful…

Clearly the earlier poets had the Nile as the main hero. Al-Raddi puts the Nile as the silent spectator winding through cities made into ghosts and villages burnt into despair by the civil wars and calamities of Sudan.

Here’s a Flickriver stream of pictures of the Nile as it passes through Sudan.

Road Calendar for 2012

So a friend asked me for some photographs to make a 2012 calendar for her father’s company. The theme of roads was chosen (just like that). These are the photographs finally selected and printed.

I present a few here as an essay accompanied by lines by Walt Whitman.

Oman, April 2008

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road
Healthy, free, the world before me
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Vang Vieng, Laos PDR, March 2011

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

Mahabaleshwar, January 2007

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

Nanak Matta, Uttarakhand, November 2007

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

The Vagabond

So what is this blog about? Is it just another travel blog? Same old beaches and treks and beautiful buildings and photographs ad infinitum?

Maybe. And possibly some more. I don’t know what I will put on this blog except that it will concern the broad theme of travel. Of living on the road. It could be a pleasure trip. It could be business travel. It could be escaping away. It could be a journey.

I leave the word painting to Robert Louis Stevenson.

Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river –
There’s the life for a man like me,
There’s the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me
Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
Biting the blue finger.
White as meal the frosty field –
Warm the fireside haven –
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even!

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.

This is the road below me.