posterbaazi

This post is about three month late.

Sometime this year we realized that with Delhi Dallying, we love love to initiate positive conversations about the city around us. The idea for this poster series started with the idea of happy people and beautiful happy things around them. So we got our mood boards and reference images in place.

We were inspired by some of the exciting work done by Italian creative agency New!

We needed ideas, a list of all the lovely things in the city. Much brainstorming and some dilly dallying later, we were set. We deviated from the New! inspiration and decided to add our own twist: a fun, double entendre tagline that screams Delhi. The aim was to make the posters fun, friendly and provoking.

With the monkey power doodle by the lovely Amri Chadha

With the monkey power doodle by the lovely Amri Chadha

Ideation done, the next step: models!

We got everyone involved! Delhi Dallying held an open photography session in college and begged/ convinced/ forced/ blackmailed the SPA student community. All our friends gave their best shot and Varun and Kabilan captured some really candid moments. We even managed to convince some of our faculty! Unfortunately we weren’t able to make use of all our models (we ran out of ideas!) but we still have hope 🙂

our models, in all their glory.

Our models, in all their glory.

It took some time time (and help from the Creative Suite) to translate our mock-ups to reality.

poster blog

In process.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, we present to you: Delhi Dallying Poster Series 2.

The idea was to start conversation. Delhi is as multifaceted as its people, and there are as many Delhis as there are Dilliwallas: a true multiplicity. With these posters Delhi Dallying wanted its audience to stand up and take notice, to think. What’s your Delhi?

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Walk 1

September 8th, 2012

Walk 1

It’s a fairly pleasant Saturday morning. All of us gather at exit number 2 of the Chandni Chowk Metro Station. Rohan is late (as usual) and we can’t start the walk until he comes because he’s got the route maps printed for everyone. Friends from college, their friends from outside college, and some new friends who read about us online, join us on our very first walk of the Delhi Dallying Walk Series. 30 people, brimming nervous energy. And we begin with Walk 1.

Walk 1 is interesting because it takes you through the residential pockets around Chandni Chowk, sharing with you a slice of the vernacular life in Old Delhi. It consciously misses the touristy spots, to introduce you to the more everyday things of Shahjahanabad. While moving from the eastern end of Chandni Chowk towards the west, through the galis, it loosely weaves together a chronologically sound narrative, with bits of lip-smackingly good food thrown in.

Summarizing, from the treasurers’ haveli in Gali Khazanchi  to the beautiful Jain mohalla of Naughara, we explored the 17th century grandeur of Shahjahan’s reign (along with some 21st century jalebis and samosas). While moving through Maliwara towards Nai Sadak, the remnants of the Maratha siege and the mutiny of 1857 became apparent. Ballimaran and Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli are a testament to the days after the revolt, and also home to the famous Hakims of the Sharifkhani clan, which made for some very interesting haveli hopping.

Coming back onto Chandni chowk, after a small breakfast of kachouri-aloo and the elusive Nagori Halwa, we explored a part of Lala Chunamal’s stunning haveli (a little hushed as we did not seek permission from the current tenants!), who happened to be one of the most influential characters during the revolt. Entering the bustle of Khari Baoli, we went up to the hidden flower market of Fatehpuri, explored the fascinating view from the eerily enchanting  Garodia spice market, and concluded at the recently completed, austerely modern Polyclinic for the Destitute at Lahori Gate, leaving everyone to ponder about what modernity really means for the contemporary old city.

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Walk 1 is a great way to start a conversation with Shahjahanabad, which is a city within a city – one which we tend to be oblivious to, but one which enchants and entices.

Delhi: Phoenix City

On the last Wednesday of August, 2012, after a design studio, we went for an event at the Attic, Connaught Place. Renana Jhabvala and Nalini Thakur were talking about professor, architect and artist CSH Jhabvala. The occasion was the launch of his latest book of sketches and writings on Delhi.

Jhabvala is somewhat of a legend at SPA, spoken of reverentially by even the senior-most of our teachers. We were fortunate enough to hear him speak a couple of years ago and were keen to hear more about the incredible man who (we found out soon) had laid the basis for the present curriculum for our college.

The place was alternative looking, the mood warm, the air cold and the room filled with quiet conversation. We planted ourselves on the (best) third row seats only to awkwardly offer them to senior (looking) architects minutes later. Stranded on the side passage, the only place left was in the front row and Renena asked us to come forward.

The scene was set and yet the program was late. We realized why soon enough, though, when the buzzing conversation in the room thickened as two guys carried in this very very old wheelchair-bound man. The quintessential Indian old man, wearing a cotton shirt with big prints, floaters and those khaki pants pulled up the waist, accessorized with retro glasses and a walking stick. He appeared to be the guest of honour everybody was waiting for.

After some negotiation, he quickly decided to shift to the front row and found himself sitting to the left of two young architecture students, us, beaming at him. He broke into our awkward gaze and made conversation. We introduced ourselves. “Ah! I used to teach there once!” And then the verbal diarrhea began: of course we knew who he was, and we had so enjoyed his previous lecture. He just smiled, looking a little perplexed.

We soon realized our error. A very awkward and impudent question from an audience member let us know that Professor Jhabvala was currently in New York. So, who then did we just confuse with our ramblings?

And then it struck us: we were sitting next to Padmashree MM Rana, Nehru’s chosen architect and Jhabvala’s close friend. We remembered Rana’s profile (and photograph) from the Sushant website, and his work was somewhat familiar via Rahul Khanna’s excellent listing.

The two women’s takes on Jhabvala the father and Jhab the professor were interesting. But the real fun began when Renana requested Rana Kaka to share his times with Jhabwala. Rana staunchly refused to make use of the offered microphone and (struggling initially) rose and walked to the podium. 🙂

And then the storytelling began, and everyone was captivated. He spoke of his days at JJ, where they studied Ionic, Doric and Corinthian column capitals for three years, only to culminate in a studio exercise to design roadside kiosks. He also spoke about the library (a long corridor, really) and the constant presence there of a peon, peeping over students’ shoulders, whose only job was to ensure that no books were vandalized!

On one such un-private visit, he came across legendary American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. Frustrated with his training, Rana wrote to FLW: “I have lost my way in(to?) architecture. How do I dis-educate myself?”

The postal department soon went on strike and all communication was stranded mid way. However, this meant heyday for a philatelist friend of Rana’s, who found ample opportunity to steal all kinds of exotic stamps off of the heaps of letters at the post office. He found a letter with an American postmark addressed to Rana, and graciously forwarded it (after stealing the stamps, of course.)

FLW had written, simply: “If you can arrange to come here, we’ll put you to work.” And so, with help from the princely state of Porbander, Rana became the first Indian Fellow of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. at Taliesin, Wisconsin, USA. In America, he met Jawaharlal Nehru at a formal event during his trip to the country. All Nehru asked him was,” वापस आ रहे हो, या नहीं?” Rana was speechless (a feat, we’re sure!).

When he did return to India some years later, he penned a letter to the Prime minister informing him. Nehru promptly employed him in the planning department for the government. Eventually, though, he did get around to talking about Jhabvala- their reunion, many years later, at Wenger’s. Jhabvala threw a matchbox at Rana’s head to get his attention! (This incident was illustrated with zestful hand movements.)

All this zestful talk was far more than the two words that had been expected of him. Renana was worried and tried to interrupt. But he didn’t care one bit! The incredible zeal in his eyes was only proof of his love for architecture, for urbanity, for the city of Delhi. He was a storyteller and his audience was with him on this joyride, taking new turns with gestures and expressions. We left the venue after the talk, beaming. Little seminar work happened but we slept very well that night.

The first Wednesday morning of October, 2012 found us all together again after an eventful night of seminar work. Our inboxes had a new email about a condolence meeting at school later in the day in the memory of Late MM Rana. We just looked at each other and our hearts sank. We had barely met this charming 93 year old gentleman a couple of weeks ago and now we would never be able to hear more from him. Only during the presentation in school did we find out about the incredible amount of interesting buildings he had designed in and for the city of Delhi. He gave us the Shanti Van, the Bal Bhawan, the Nehru Museum, the Amar Jawaan Jyoti and so many other anonymous buildings that form our experience of the Nehruvian New Delhi.

We wonder how enthused we really are about the world around us and how much better we could ever get. Most of all, we wondered if we would ever attain anything close to his exuberance and energy. We only felt extremely fortunate to have been part of his last architectural public appearance. And even more thankful to our instincts that we recorded the later half of his talk for us to cherish for the rest of our lives.

Rana, you will always be in our minds.

This post co-written by Bhavika, Rohan and Varun.

Of ‘hang-out’ places and pigeon droppings!

Sort-of in the center of  Central Delhi, just off Hailey Road (which in turn, is just off Barakhamba Road), ‘Agrasen ki Baoli’ is one of those places which you wouldn’t typically chance upon. You can’t spot it from far away cause its cozily tucked in,  and surrounded by buildings which are many times its depth, in height. If you’re there, you’ve probably heard of it from a friend, or maybe seen a photograph. It is one of those (many) monuments of Delhi, which don’t usually find a place in history books or travel guides.

So when I actually went there for the first time, I was a little shocked to see people; mostly youngsters and quite a few of them at that. I guess one should be happy about that; after all, don’t we keep saying that people in our city need to look at monuments as more than just mere blackboards for scribbling ‘Pinky ❤ Rinku’? Instead I felt a tinge of disappointment because I’d expected it to be deserted and would rather have seen it with fewer people dotting my field of vision! Anyhow, the Baoli has a rustic charm, to put it simply. The steps, leading down to the water (almost non-existent except on very rainy days),  in exposed stone masonry are an obvious result of time and weather at work. One can spend hours just sitting there and listening to the pigeons rustle and flutter, while absorbing the tension between the zenith and the nadir – shards of high-rises rising behind the plunging depths (ok, that’s a bit of an  exaggeration) of the baoli. Thanks to its ‘protected monument’ status, ASI had put up a much-needed historical overview of the place, which is believed to have been built by Maharaja Agrasen during the Mahabharat era and rebuilt by the Agrawal community in the14th century. Another addition by the ASI, is a prefabricated security cabin (in reflective glass X-/), annoyingly placed right at the top of the Baoli.

A few weeks back, I made my third visit to the baoli. As mentioned in the previous post, 2/3rds of Delhi Dallying was in Bangalore for the last many months and I had found myself feel immensely proud talking about my city (I know I live in NCR but whatever!) to my Bangalorean friends. Some of them happened to be in town for the day and I thought I ought to show (off) Delhi to them, in its full summer glory. This started with breakfast at Bengali Market followed by a walk past my school (Modern School, Barakhamba Road) across the road to this beautiful baoli. Despite the summer heat, there were a couple of youngsters  ‘hanging out’. There were about a dozen plastic chairs stacked up at the broken mosque on the south-west corner of the baoli which got me wondering if this place could actually hold events. Another addition was a visitor’s book displayed proudly right in front of the security cabin.

Now, this book is brilliant! It is  an honest reflection of what the people of the city really feel about such monuments, the sarcasm comes out poignantly in most of the comments and the language is just SO Delhi. At first glance, I couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculous ‘Nice, Good to Smooch!’ comment. But on reading further, it was clear that some people were genuinely concerned about the baoli. There is rightful criticism about the lack of drinking water and ‘the wonderful aroma of bat shit and pigeon droppings’ as well as some interesting suggestions like ‘jhule hone chahiye’!

The visitor’s book is definitely a step towards involving people (rather making people feel involved)  in managing public places but will these suggestions and concerns result in improvements? Time shall tell. Till then, enjoy the comments!

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Photo Credits: Our ‘Bangalorean friend’ Alkananda Yeshwanth

Back to Black (dusty grey actually)

Okay. So we’re back after our little (long) holiday.

Two thirds of the Delhi dallying core team (who anyway live not in Delhi but in NCR :-P) were in Bangalore for the past five months; enjoying lovely weather, the ease of reaching any part of the city within 50 minutes (which is lesser than their average commute to school in Delhi), the wise warmth in the cultured folk of Bangalore. Back to the grime and the grind, this clever city was almost incomprehensible to me for a couple of days and I hated it.

My second day in the city, I went for the pre event prep for the new Typervention for the fortnightly Typeout feature in the Timeout Delhi magazine (writing a Hindi couplet by Gopal Das Neeraj written in a Braille and Devanagari hybrid typeface with Bindis and pearl buttons at the Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust school, Karkardooma). (The incredible) Kriti Monga/ Turmeric Design and I went to Sadar Bazaar and Kinaari Bazaar to get supplies. Through the day, I was fretting to her about how since morning the city’s been annoying me with a frozen SIM and Delhi Metro card a chain of dysfunctional ATM machines. And then we reached the old city and I forgot about it all.

Interestingly, the moment we told the shopkeepers we needed the supplies for this project at the blind school, they had a sudden change of heart, stopped haggling with us, gave us things we precisely wanted with a smile on their faces.

Apart from the pilgrimage to Natraj at Chandni Chowk and the best Banta place yet at Kinaari Bazaar, Kriti took me to her secret summer food must-haves, the puraani Kuremal  Kulfi wale at Sitaram Bazaar, and had frozen fruit kulfis  (simple fruit purees really, but mind bogglingly delicious). Among the two of us, we shared six servings; Jaamun, Faalsa, Anaar,{ask for Kaala Namak for these} Aam, Litchi (the yummiest of them all) and stuffed Aam. So delicious, you have no idea!!

Also, as part of the seminar programme at school, Delhi Dalllying with Ammani Nair and Vani Sood, we would be looking at the Mohallas of Shahjahanabad as Complex Adaptive Systems (more on the mind f**k bits of the same from a better informed contributor soon) under the guidance of Dr.  Leon Morenas. We’re looking forward to the regular trips to the old city, for food and field work.  We’ll keep you posted and invite you for the final event. In barter, you tell us about you secret food spots in Old Delhi.

Join the Delhi typerventions Group here.

Enjoy some Jazz by the Hauz here.

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Style

If you live in South Delhi then you’ve definitely seen some of the great graffiti (ahem, vandalism?) out on the streets. NowDelhi/ Tahska has even made a pretty brilliant short film/ documentary on this, which you can find some posts behind.

From the style and signature (which I sometimes spot) I know that most of the graffiti done around my area is by Daku. It’s all brilliantly coloured typography (and I mean the other meaning of brilliant, the one to do with bright and shining, complete with glinting edges); it’s really good work.

There’s a huge abandoned plot at the edge of my colony -used as a rubbish dump and public urinal- with a lone square very DDA-looking structure on it. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve seen it on plenty of other huge abandoned plots- perhaps some kind of guard room, or something that hides an ancient well?

Anyways, that structure has now been vandalized. (Actually, it’s been so for at least a month, and I’ve been planning to write this at least as long, but we’ll talk about my procrastination sometime else.) This is the best graffiti work I’ve seen for real so far, outside of my computer screen. I mean, shit. It’s just so good, the idea and, of course, the execution. Take a look:

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