Tag Archives: photography

A View Through The Iron Bars


Iron bars don’t always have nasty things behind them. Take this pic for example. It is of a Semal tree that has its roots inside the Uttam Nagar police Station and stretches its long, slender branches all over the place. Isn’t it beautiful?

Well, it is Spring time now and Uttam Nagar East Metro Station has this flower-laden tree as its latest attraction.

Every year, this Semal tree celebrates the onset of spring by bedecking itself with huge bright red flowers and bedazzles everyone who cares to look at it for a while…

A sight of this peeping tree during spring fills me with great joy every morning as I climb upwards on the escalator towards the platform on my way to work. In about 2 months, hot, blazing summer would take over and these gorgeous flowers would disappear. Green, commonplace leaves would quietly take their place and become the new tenants of this tree…just like the constantly changing face of our city Delhi…


Leftovers from Valentine’s Day

Whether you like it or not, Valentine’s Day is here to stay in India. Though it is an imported festival, this, by itself, should not stop ultra-conservatives from savoring the wonderfully delicious feelings and sentiments it arouses. The idea of being the occupant of a special place in someone’s heart makes you feel tremendously valued. It makes you feel good, positive and the sheer joy of this feeling percolates into the other aspects of your life too…

If you haven’t already, just try giving a rose to someone you fancy and watch how that person’s face lights up with a huge smile or a naughty grin…

Litti Kachoris

My introduction to the pleasures of Bihari cuisine happened recently in January 2018 through Litti Kachoris, thanks to Phulwanti, a tea-shop owner in Okhla.

A few days ago, as I walked briskly to my office, my gaze fell on this plateful of kachoris at a roadside stall (pic on the top). It was a chilly, wet morning of late December 2017 and the idea of munching them with a hot cup of tea felt irresistible…With great difficulty, however, I resisted the temptation and carried on…I couldn’t afford to fall sick, I reminded myself…Street food, especially the deep fried type, is a very risky thing.

But the sight of those kachoris refused to leave my mind. So, a couple of days later, I walked to that shop shortly after settling down in office. The utensils looked clean and the place had a quaintly pleasant, earthy feel to it, especially because of an adjoining huge tree spreading its protective branches over it. The woman at the counter looked up from the karahi she was busy with. She was stirring something and seemed to be enjoying what she was doing. The newspaper that the kachoris were sitting on, I noticed, was dry and not soggy with oil, which was quite intriguing…

I began by asking, “What kind of kachoris are these?”

She replied patiently, in a soft spoken manner, “These are litti kachoris. They are filled with sattu, onions, green pepper, and garlic.”

“How much are they for?”

“Two for Rs.10.”

That sounded quite reasonable.

“Today I will buy just one. If I like it, I will return for more.” Mentally, I added to myself, if my stomach remains okay, I might eat them again.”

She smiled and nodded her head. She quickly tore off a piece of newspaper and wrapped a kachori in it for me. I was again pleasantly surprised to see that it did not leave behind any oil stains on the newspaper.

Eating that kachori that morning made me feel sinfully fulfilled. My feel-good feeling continued the following week too, so I kept the promise that I had made to myself and treated myself to those kachoris again; this time it was two at one go, not just one…

I am now a frequent visitor to this shop. While talking to the lady the other day, I learnt that her name is Phulwanti. She hails from Gaya, Bihar, and she lives in a settlement in Okhla, Phase 1. The sabji, she said, she cooks everyday and it varies, depending on availabilty of ingredients. People who work in adjoining offices often order for it. That day, she was making aloo-tamatar. The smell of spices wafting outside from the karahi seemed quite familiar. Out of curiosity, I asked her in Hindi, “Kitne ki deti ho?” Meaning: How much is it for?

Her reply in a typical Bihari accent was, “Dus ki deta hoon, bees ki bhi deta hun.” Meaning: For Rs.10 and Rs.20.

Her way of mixing up the gender and her manner of stirring inside the karahi suddenly reminded me of my late mother-in-law…She always preferred the slow cooking of a karahi to a pressure cooker. That way, she insisted, the spices and the ingredients get a better chance to assimilate with each other. She always looked at cooking as an art and she was well-known in her family as a great cook. My relatives used to keep advising me to learn all I could from her regarding cooking at least!

Well, one of these days, I think, when I am unable to pack my lunch for office, I will try out her sabji.

See her pic below…Her shop is next to A-271, Okhla, Phase 1, opposite to Intex Service Center.

Remembering Mom…

Sardarni Beant Kaur

18 November 1939 – 16 November 2017

This is how I would always like to remember my Mom; strong, gentle, awe-inspiring, and cheerful. This photo was clicked on 15 May 2016, Mom and Dad’s 51st anniversary.

Mom expired on 16 November 2017, just 2 days before her 78th birthday. We were all shell shocked when the doctor pronounced his verdict with the remark, “No use of taking her to hospital now.”

I was in office when I got the news. I rushed out immediately. It took me two hours to reach home from Gurgaon. Mom was on her bed, eyes shut, covered with a blanket right up to her neck. My Dad, in between fits of weeping, was trying to inform as many close relatives as he could. I tried my best to console him, but he was still very distraught.

I still could not believe that she wouldn’t open her eyes again and smile at me, like she always did. I touched her hands and feet. They felt ice cold and sent a sharp stab right through my heart…

For some strange reason, I always thought Mom was invincible. She had, after all, battled with cancer and emerged as a winner. She was always optimistic, never complaining or grieving about anything, always trying to be her best. Not once did she ever utter the word ‘death.’ Even though she was now retired from her nursing career, her professional bearing, her courage in the face of extreme pain and adversity, her neat and tidy way of doing things stayed with her right till the end.

On the morning of the day she died, she seemed to be better than ever before. With her feet firmly planted on the ground, she had moved herself closer to the pillow and said, “Thank you” after I was done with freshening her up as per my daily routine. I thought everything was becoming normal again as it was Mom’s old habit to always thank profusely for every kind gesture, no matter how small…

Since it was already quite late and my husband was in Kolkatta, Mom’s cremation was fixed for the next day. My younger sister Dimpy and my brother-in-law Lalit, with the help of our neighbors, arranged for a casket to be brought home from the Gurdwara for preservation of her body till then. I was really touched to see the way everyone came out to support in every way possible.

As the hours ticked by, Mom passed through all the different stages with a quiet rock-like endurance and resilience that is characteristic of the dead. But even when she was alive, she had the same amazing inner strength that always inspired everyone she came into contact with.

With our family members around us, I clicked as many pics she as I could during the next few hours. It was my way of coping with the painful loss by doing something concrete and preserving something of her while she was still with us…Some of them are given below.

It was for the first time that I was an active participant in Sikh rituals related to death. The prayers offered at every stage served as a soothing balm because of their constant reminder to not grieve excessively as death is inevitable. Nothing is lost and nothing is created. After death, the body returns to earth while the soul moves into another body…

Mom is now no longer with us physically, but something of her and the values she stood for continue to inspire us. Her advice to me in particular, “Remain active, never stop working” will keep me on my toes for as long as I am alive…

Wish you a great after-life, Mom!

16 November 2017

Around 3:30 PM

Around 11:30 PM

17 November 2017

Around 10 AM

Dad, grief-struck…

Ardas before cremation

Getting ready for cremation

A stark reminder: Irrespective of how much you struggle to achieve your goals in life, everything turns into ashes in the end.

20 November 2017 (Final day of Akhand Path)

End of Akhand Path…

Around 3 PM

Kirtan and final ardas in C Block Gurdwara, Vikaspuri, New Delhi…


Final get-together at tea and saying goodbye…