photo essay: the writing is on ‘the wall’, bethlehem

Eight metres high. That is twice the height of the Berlin Wall. With watchtowers and a buffer zone for electric fences and military patrols, the Wall surrounds Bethlehem.

It is part of a 708-kilometre-long separation barrier of which 15% runs along the agreed Green Line, while 85% of it encroaches into Palestine, splitting communities, villages and cities alike.

On one side of the wall, a ‘western’ world thrives. On the other, an ‘eastern’ world is shackled, its every move monitored with cameras, sensors, and hundreds of checkpoints. Somewhere in between, in the ‘seam zone’ flanked by the Green Line and the separation barrier are 25,000 Palestinians living on 9% of Palestine, neither here nor there, and requiring a permit to exist.

Travel is not always about pretty candy floss sights. At times it is also about harsh realities, often painful and ugly.

I had heard a lot about the Wall. Yet, the actual sight of it was overwhelming. Hard to digest. Sending shivers down my spine. Continue reading

an urban monk’s guide to rishikesh and haridwar

Are you an urban monk? I am. Or at least that is how I perceive myself. Ok, that is how I like to perceive myself—not unlike many others who love the city life and its dynamic vibrancy but are equally at ease with spirituality, restraint, and minimalism. Is that not the new order? And when we go to places that are hubs of spirituality, well, we just tend to experience them a tad differently. 😀 Continue reading

photo essay: the hidden graffiti of rishikesh

What do “Across the Universe” by the Beatles, “TM Song” by Beach Boys, “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan, and “Jesus Children of America” by Stevie Wonder have in common?

Okay. Let me rephrase it. What do Transcendental Meditation, an Ashram on the foothills of the Himalayas, the top pop bands of the 1960s, and Canadian street artist ARTXPAN aka Pan have in common?

Gotcha! 😀

The most fascinating permutations and combinations are often revealed in the most hidden places. Like the street art decorating the ruins of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram in Rishikesh where the Beatles spent the winter of 1968 in search of spirituality and came up with a whopping 48 songs, a bulk of which went into their “White Album.” Continue reading

art focus – street art and dharavi

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“Bhaiya, Dharavi chaloge?” (Will you go to Dharavi?)

After being turned down twice, a rickshaw finally agrees to take me on the condition, “I will drop you off at the main road. I won’t get a return passenger from there… You will have to walk to 60 Feet Road by yourself.”

Dharavi is not the usual jaunt or destination for a Mumbaikar, least of all a Hindi speaking woman on her own who quite clearly does not have a clue about the ground realities of the place itself! All I know is some statistics, historical details and that the main road is the 90 Feet Road, and perpendicular to it is the 60 Feet Road which I want to explore for its street art. But more on the art later in the post. 🙂 Continue reading

art focus – curated bandra street art walk – st+art mumbai

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If Bandra’s charm could be codified, I guess this would be it. Cats and silver leaves—collaborative mural by Anpu Varkey (India) and Tika (Switzerland).

So what happens when 20 internationally renowned street artists from all over the world, and two passionate people from Delhi get together and decide to bring the power of art as a medium of creative expression to the streets of India, free and accessible to all? St+art happens.

From the 7th to the 30th, this November, over 30 murals in Mumbai transformed, otherwise drab edifices, into vibrant thought-provoking compositions. Luckily for me, a bulk of them were painted in Bandra, my home in this city. 🙂 Continue reading

photo essay: the ‘un’hidden graffiti of bandra

i want to infest
the city with
trees.
free all the horses.
lay down
on the floor and
lick it.
cigarettes keep
burning.
so disturbing.
flames are
for candles only
he told me
let the grime exist
in my mind
~ TCC

A poem that recurs amongst the graffiti on Chapel Road… Continue reading

photo essay: the hidden graffiti of bandra


The contemplating sage at Nagrana Lane

I moved to Bombay, sorry Mumbai, this February. And I chose Bandra as my home. It was one of those ‘destined’ moves as I like to term it. 🙂

Bandra grows on you. It slowly becomes the center of your life, and you start believing that there is no other world outside of it; an aberration one slowly and gleefully slips into. Continue reading