Monday, March 11, 2013

Taking on DU

This has been in my drafts section since June 2011. Don't even remember when we went on the walk. Enough already, it's going up now, however incomplete.

Taking on DU

Only the historic monuments, of course.

HT City ran an interesting story a few days ago, about a group of SRCC students -SIFE: Students in Free Enterprise- who had helped organize a bunch of rag tag rickshaw pullers into a group of amateur tour guides. The DU Darshan tour allows these rickshaw wallahs to supplement their income on the weekends by taking fachhas around DU and introducing them to the historic monuments nearby.

Since I'd only been to North Campus once (when I sat in on a very boring lecture at the Faculty of Law with my cousin) and that too when I was in school and thus had none of the awesome Dilli knowledge and spatial understanding that architecture school has imbibed me with, I thought, why not? and so me and Rohan registered for the tour happening today morning.

Not off to a good start. Woke up at 6.25 when I had to reach the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station by 7.30; nonetheless managed to make it there by 7.40. (Was pleasantly surprised by the Station, some very nice clear glazing separates the escalator going up and the street, and makes for great views of the blue blue early morning sky.)

Getting back on track: there was no one around. Well, besides the seemingly dozens of rickshaw wallahs clamouring around for the emerging sawaris-to-be s' attention (laa phacoolty? sen stepphenz?). No Rohan (who said another ten minutes), nor any fancy rickshaw with different black sunshading.

7.45 I called up -and woke up- the organizer in charge, who promised to get back to me. Rohan came. The rickshaw wallahs got into a fight (with each other). A constable came rushing out of the Metro station and -very impressively, I might add- broke it up. Many drivers fled the scene of the crime. We admired the (sadly still closed) SMS stall: Snackes, Maggi, Shakes. Another rickshaw wallah fight broke out, but an older bhaiya set them straight. It was now 8.15, there was no sign of the SIFE rickshaw, and neither of our two contacts were answering their phones. Needless to say, we were very annoyed; the combination of heat+hunger+thirst wasn't helping.

The organizer finally messaged us the rickshaw guide's number, who said he'll take another 10 (read 20) minutes. We finally found the rickshaw, but were told that we'd have to wait for the other group who'd booked the tour. That pissed us off, considering we'd been waiting for an hour, and after some debate we convinced our bhaiya to start already.

Honestly, by this time we weren't even surprised that there was no map and that all we were given in terms of information was a photocopied bunch of pages which talked some-what vaguely about the stops. The rickshaw bhaiya didn't know anything, and I had to rely heavily on my two Delhi bibles, Lucy Peck's Delhi: A Thousand Years of Building and Percival Spear's Delhi: its Monuments and History. Neither could he really show us around; since we were the only rickshaw on the tour he was wary of leaving his vehicle unaccompanied on the road while we went inside the gated enclosures surrounding most sights.

This is where I stopped.

The rickshaw ride (once it started) was quite good, actually. We saw all these places we hadn't seen before, and some were were really beautiful. I remember how I felt when I saw Pir Ghalib, and the Mutiny Memorial.

The real surprise however was the only bit of DU proper we saw (after the tour): the Shri Ram College for Commerce. The campus was, really, stunning. I'm guessing that we saw a different side to it on a quiet Monday mid-day, during the summer break. But it was so, so lovely. Exposed brick, white plaster, concrete, sun shades, thick borders, colonnades. Light and shade and shadows. Sigh.


you may have noticed.
i've changed the header image.

what i really wanted was this:

Wall detail from the Rosia Montana Roman Gold Mines in Romania. Wikimedia Commons.
but Blogger doesn't allow you to upload images larger than 300kb, and no variation I resized on psd would meet the requirement and still be be big enough to fill the size / not tile.

oh well.

post script

forgot to mention in my last post.

got new shelves for my room!
at last.

and they look exactly how I imagined.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Haven't blogged for sometime now. College and laziness.


I've started using Instagram. Instagram


SPA just had its annual students' festival, and Delhi Dallying hosted the Delhi Grub Quiz, an informal pop-up event where participants won free food for correctly answering questions on Delhi. The grub in question is the most delicious palak-chole-chawal I have ever been privileged enough to enjoy, sourced from Gole di Haati in Fatehpuri Masjid and packaged in authentic kulhars. Delicious!

Also delicious was our tagline: Know Delhi, Grow Belly!

poster for the event.
not my best effort. in fact, this was just a mock-up try. 
an initial idea was to also serve jalebis. got nixed, though.

The folks at Jobless Studio and Thinking Theorem were kind enough to help us (at the very last minute) with a short teaser video about the quiz. I think it's bloody brilliant, especially considering the fact that it was shot on an ancient point-and-shoot and, when the battery gave up (since we were so ill-prepared), a camera phone. It was shot, processed, the whole shebang, in just a day.

We were also going to call this butter coffee guy we discovered (courtesy the lovely Kriti at Turmeric) but the college ran out of funds. Made a banner for his booth, though. Will put it up later when I can locate the file.


Also updated my portfolio.


Won (!) a facebook contest to attend the launch of Anuja Chauhan's latest book. Went with my mom (we've both enjoyed her earlier books), got an autographed copy, gawked at Sonam Kapoor and fell in awe of the awesomeness that is Chauhan. The book was good too, set in 80s Delhi, offered an unusual perspective (for me) to life then. Finished reading Arthashastra, which was both very interesting and very, very, boring. Started India Unbound.


Volunteered for 2 days of play and learning at the UnBox Festival; helped with set-up, packed for and manned the picnic counter. Attended an URBZ workshop which explored the meaning of rural/urban. Overall, had major fun.


Been so bleh about college and thesis (thesis!). I've being very complacent and over-confident, almost, thinking that in the end I'll do some crap and not fail. Like I'm satisfied with mediocrity. Did work for this last submission though, so maybe I'm beyond this. Maybe.


Coming Monday Delhi Dallying is taking a bunch of German architecture students around CP and Barakhamabha Road. This opportunity just came up (a teacher asked us to) and I'm glad because finally we're dallying beyond Shahjahanabad. DD was always supposed to be about more than the Old Ciy but it was just so convenient and familiar. Fingers crossed for our venture into the uncharted.