Museum Treasure: The coffee set

I’ve had tea and coffee out of dainty porcelain cups, chunky stoneware mugs, paper cups and glasses, kulhads (terracotta cups), steel tumblers… In other words, in just about every other type of material possible. And I suppose, so would you.

And then I came across this coffee set at the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum and realised that I had neither seen anything like this or had coffee/tea out of something like this !

Coffee set Sri Lanka

The Coffee Set made from coconut shells

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The clock tower at Jijamata Udyan

It’s quite amazing, you know, of the things one notices, but does not really see. Take for instance the subject of this post. I must have passed it a countless number of times, glancing at it idly but mostly ignoring it. You might have noticed it too, if you are travelling on the Lalbaug flyover towards Byculla, which looms up about 100 metres before the exit on your left.

That day, when I was passing by this structure I felt I was seeing it for the first time. And indeed I was for the slender and elegant clock tower glowed in the mid-morning winter sun in spite of the very obvious look of neglect that it had and stones blackened due to pollution.

Clock Tower, Rani Bagh, Victoria Gardens, Mumbai, Jijamata Udyan

The Clock Tower at the entrance to Jijamata Udyan and photographed from the Lalbagh flyover

Situated at the entrance to the Jijamata Udyan (formerly known as Victoria Gardens and also known as Rani Baug) and among trees, this beautiful clock just begs to be explored. When I attempted to do just that, I found that it is closed to the public with a several “Keep Out” signs placed all around. There is no information board on the clock tower and I had to be content walking around the barrier erected and look at the details through my camera lens. And what did I find? Continue reading

Lonely places, lyrical prose

The Guest Post Series onMy Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, photography, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. Though the guest posts are not always by fellow bloggers, the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest author is Zephyr of The Cyber Nag, who writes about “social issues, family and kids” with dollops of humour, gentle sarcasm, and subtle nagging for our conscience without sounding patronising or condescending. In my opinion, her writing can only be classified in one category, “Excellent”. In today’s post, Zephyr moves away from the topics that she usually writes on and talks about Pico Iyer’s Falling of the Map and how, in spite of not being a fan of this genre, slowly fell in love with this book.

I heard about Pico Iyer and his highly acclaimed Video nights in Kathmandu, about a quarter century ago. But somehow, the title didn’t appeal to me. Don’t ask me why. And so Iyer remained a quaint name in the far recesses of my mind for some years.

Falling off the mapThen came his Falling off the map ( first published in the US by Alfred Knopf in 1993). This one sounded intriguing. My fertile imagination made me visuaIise the countries mentioned in the book jostling for space to stay on the map, but kept being pushed out by the other and better known countries. Sometimes these countries fought with the lonely ones, making them sadder and lonelier! But the book remained right there – in my imagination because back then I couldn’t afford to buy new books and most of my purchases were restricted to second-hand bookshops. Alas, for Falling… to come to that sales outlet, I would have to wait a long, long while.

Besides, travel books as a genre, did not hold much appeal for me. I liked James Michener’s Hawaii, but it was more a historical novel than a travel book. Till one day I picked up a small volume of Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. It was such a delightful read and made me laugh so much that I got hooked – not to travel books, but to Bryson. And Pico Iyer remained a distant name, just like the countries he had written about in that book.

It took a session of #TSBC on travel books to remind me of that long forgotten name and his book and I promptly bought Falling off the Map (2004, Penguin Books India, pp.190, Price: 250/-) from Flipkart.

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Mumbai Lens: Construction city

Mumbai city looks like one big dump and an eyesore these days. For the last few years or so, wherever one looks around in Mumbai, there is something being broken down or built or repaired. The list of construction activities happening in Mumbai right now is mind- boggling; in some places this work continues 24/7.

Road widening. Monorail. Metro rail. Flyovers. Elevated roads. Slum rehabilitation. Road repair. Skywalks. Redevelopment. New construction. Pedestrian subways. Laying pipelines. Railway platform extensions …

Mumbai

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The Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

I love museums, and I can spend hours inside them pottering about and looking at their varied collections. And yet strangely, for some inexplicable reason, I have never really explored the museums in my city of Mumbai. Of course, I have visited them as a child but not really visited them, if you know what I mean.

Bhau Daji Lad Museum 2So one rainy day in August last year, I took the afternoon off from work to see the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum (BDLM). This was a museum that I had never visited, but one that I had heard about a lot from Appa. I went without a camera as I automatically assumed that, like most Indian museums, photography was not allowed. Big mistake. Non-flash photography was allowed in the Museum, though they don’t really advertise the fact.

The dazzling 3-hour BDLM visit was a visual treat all the way — right from the stately Museum building to its grand interiors (that reminded me of a ballroom) to its tastefully displayed collection — and one that stayed with me longer than the time I spent there. I knew that I didn’t just want to write about the BDLM’s artefacts in my Museum Treasure series, but write an entire post on the Museum itself. And since I wanted to include photographs, I had to wait for an opportunity to visit the BDLM once again. And last month, I got that chance and when the Museum opened it’s doors that Friday morning, I was the first to enter with a big smile and my camera. :-)

Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai

The entrance to the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

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My “now” song: Dasht-e-Tanhai

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

I discovered Coke Studio Pakistan (CSP) sometime last year, and life was never the same again. The musicians featured here have opened up an entirely new world through their folk numbers or ghazals or qawwalis or raga-based pop numbers. The sheer variety and quality of music has always amazed and delighted me and has given me hours of pleasure.

One such song is Dasht-e-Tanhai, a ghazal by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and sung by Meesha Shafi. Ever since I came across this song about 2-3 weeks back, I have been listening to it or singing along with it during all my waking hours. And I think I hum this song in my sleep as well. Little wonder then that this song is my “now” song.

Dasht-e-Tanhai was originally sung by the legendary Iqbal Bano (you can listen to her version here). Though her version is very good, Meesha Shafi’s rendition of this song is a sensory delight. It is a song that is full of pathos, longing, hope, love, romance and Faiz’s beautiful Urdu poetry is matched by Meesha’s sensuous and earthy voice. You can actually feel the emotion behind each word in this song and when I listen to…

apni khushboo mein sulagti hui madham madham
door ufaq par chamakti hui qatra qatra…

I get goosebumps. (Please switch on the sub-titles option in the video for the English translation). What a song ! What. A. Song. :-)

Have you listened to this song before? Which rendition did you like — Iqbal Bano’s or Meesha Shafi’s?

To listen to other songs from this series, please click here.