MIDC Miraj. Sangli - Miraj Road

Running hot water

Typical Day in a Wedding Hall 3: Bath Time

After a short rest with mosquitoes dancing around you, there's only one way for the army of relatives to look their best for the wedding. It's to have a nice hot bath.

The smart ones are up earlier than the rest and this one place where the Sangli-Mirajkars are faster than the Mumbaikars.

Mumbaikars are quick in Mumbai. But the minute we are out of our inverted beehive shaped city, we are slow. So we watched the locals decked up and ready, the energetic old aunties plastering turmeric on the groom and his family.

The symbolic crushing of turmeric.

Wonder what's the secret of her energy. Silk or gold?

Another aunty was singing aloud, the old songs hand written for the occassion.

Given the fact that nowadays, there are now 5 times more people above 60 in most families in South Western India than people below 20, the groom was napalmed with hands full of turmeric paste and neem leaves and 100% sanitized through traditional methods.

Read the full series here. Typical Indian Wedding.

MIDC Miraj. Sangli - Miraj Road

Typical Day in a Wedding Hall 2

Actually it must be a typical night in a wedding hall. Or the morning after. No one really sleeps on the night before a wedding and it's not just because of the mosquitoes singing naughty tunes, or cold breeze. It's just that it's Hum Apke Hain Kaun? time.

The extended families of the bride and the groom were staying under the same roof. They broke ice like a nuclear powered russian ice breaker in no time, playing Dumb Charade, Men and boys Vs. Women and girls. By dawn, they were all relatives. The bridegroom was running around all night doing little errands and making sure guests who keep trickling in at odd times found a corner to sleep or joined the game in progress. No one noticed or ignored the group of youngsters who quietly finished a few bottles of whiskey in the corner. One of whom you can see snoring away as the Turmeric Ceremony happens in the other side of the hall.

The bride had her own little room. Locked up with a few relatives and I assume, the jewelry.

Read the full series here. Typical Indian Wedding.

MIDC Miraj. Sangli - Miraj Road

Typical Day in a Wedding Hall 1

Air Instruments

There's no Indian Hindu wedding without an air instrument. It's break time for the band at a typical wedding hall, on the road that connects the industrial twin towns of Miraj-Sangli. The trumpet player took time off to try some complicated tunes that his clumsy instrument with as many tones as an elephants trunk would allow.

No one was listening.

We are deaf, we love jet engine background decibels and brass bands, shehnai and nadaswaram, however loud they are, is elevator music.

That hat is an original Indian design.

North or South. Shehnai or Nadaswaram. You find Bollywood playing Brass Bands everywhere.

And before the band takes over, the master himself on the PA speakers. Breathtaking, if you pause to listen.

Mangwana, Kutch

Style Bhais of Kutch Part 4:
Cement Worker.

You can take a Kutch man off grazing and farming but you can't take the style gene out of him. Even when he wears Dabbang Ready Wanted clothes or rubber finger protection for the rough day at work, he does it with his own Tashan.

Kutch is full of limestone deposits, dotted with ports and is close to oil and gas rich middle-east. It's also dotted with huge cement plants and it's taking the young ones off the land and making them do hard labour. Animal raising and farming is a 24/7 job. Working as a casual labourer in a cement or any other factories pays you a little less but it's a job with fewer responsibilities and risk.

See the full series here.

Pingleswar, Abdassa Tq., Kutch

Monsoon 2011.

The monsoon hits the Kutch coast. There's no rain. The few drops that did fall, fell on me and the clouds just flew away. But there was electricity. And it probably lit up many homes.

This stretch of the Kutch coast, is Suzlon territory. Tall windmills line the coast, high above the salty sand and thorny shrubs. And yes, it is very windy at this time of the year. The monsoon here looks fiery but there's time before the clouds actually cause some rain.

This place also saw a Tsunami in 1945, the Great Earthquake of Kutch in 2001, and is close to the border where Pakistan started the war in 1965.

Luckily, this is a sparsely populated area, just a few kilometers south of the Sindh border.

And finally, this taluk is called Abdassa Taluk and you are not likely to find a town by that name on any map. That's because the taluk is named after a very interesting character from history. More about him, later.

NH4. South Of Pune

Current star of the Mumbai-Bangalore route. But surprisingly nothing beats the Airavat or white elephant Volvos of the KSRTC.

Raipur Bazaar Street, Ahmedabad

On the same street. Where else but in Old Ahmedabad!

University Road, Ahmedabad


After looking at the tired, city eyes in the mirror and everywhere I go, it's refreshing to see eyes that reveal the soul.

Dholavira, Kachch

Archeo Postman

It’s all in a day’s work for postmen to stamp and deliver letters from all over the world, but what would you call a postman who delivered messages from a different millennium?

The ArcheoPostman?

That’s exactly what the retired postmaster of Dholavira post office, PIN Code 370165, did. And he won the Indian Postal Service Award for his work. Not for delivering messages to the residents and soldiers of the Border Security Forces in this remote village sitting on top of a raised ground, an Island name Kadir in the middle of the dry Rann Of Kutch, but for his work in archaeology.

The remains of Dholavira, a city that thrived as a trading centre during the good days of the Indus valley civilisation was first discovered in 1967-68 by JP Joshi but the excavations have been going off and on since then and earnestly only since 1989. The locals say because of the constant reminders of the postman who kept digging up interesting messages from the past.

The archaeologists came and left, but one person was a constant fixture as the wonderful city that we now call Dholavira slowly revealed itself to the world – the postmaster. He took a keen interest in the things that have been excavated here and like Ekalvya, he observed and learnt the science of archaeology from the ASI officials.

Today, this retired postmaster is a daily visitor in this ghost city that is left in the hands of a couple of temporary casual workers who once assisted the archaeology teams. And if you happen to go to Dholavira, you now know who could be your best guide.

Ask for the Postmaster Kaka.

The most unique aspect of Dholavira city are the reservoirs. The city is surrounded by massive reservoirs that stored rain water from a seasonal stream. Built in the precision Indus Valley Civilisation fashion, the water supported a trading city that was connected to the rest of the world when what is now the Great Rann of Kutch had easy access to the sea.

Special thanks to Srinath Perur and Vinayak Varma of Brainwave Magazine. These pictures were clicked for a story in Brainwave, the science magazine for children from Amar Chitra Katha Publications, Vinayak edits. You will find it at select bookstores across India.

Ghatkopar (E), Mumbai

Don't make me a hero.

That's what Shailesh Pandey asked me to when I asked him to pose for a photograph. Eventually, he didn't pose, he was busy with phone calls and I was forced to click pictures of him as he kept speaking to people in different parts of the country as they kept calling him.

Shailesh Pandey is on a Royal Enfield Bullet right now, going across the country. While most Indians go around visiting temples, or relatives, Shailesh is visiting places associated with heroes from Indian History, especially heroes from the Independence struggle who are not known beyond the immediate geographical surroundings.

So why did he ask me to not make him a hero?

5,000kms since he started off from his hometown, Varanasi, Shailesh has met many travellers, many of them who have travelled more than him and met people who made his journey feel smaller than theirs.

I think, each journey has its own merit and is a very personal journey. Comparisons are not right. But Shailesh feels that his journey is attracting a lot of attention online, especially from a section that like to prefix and suffix Vande Mataram to each of Shailesh's tweets. Shailesh feels that he has been meeting real heroes enroute and he hardly compares.

So fair enough. Let's not make him a hero.

Let Shailesh go around discovering India that are absent from our textbooks. He feels that it only talks about the Congress part of the Independence struggle. But what else can we expect, it's the victors tale.

Shailesh has been discovering stories that are covered in the local state textbooks. Example: Rani Chennamma or Kittur, Kattabomman, etc. but these are stories people elsewhere have no clue about. Shailesh is discovering their stories on his bike and is using a blog and twitter to convey the stories to a large audience.

But the bigger question is about our sense of History. It's a subject in school that is given step motherly treatment. For many generations, it was the Amar Chitra Katha that gave us the better lessons in history not our textbooks. The present generation, gets a twisted form on television, if any. Maybe, that's the reason Shailesh's around the country trip is popular with a whole new generation. Like the school kids in Mumbai who welcomed him with a video put together with photographs Shailesh clicked on his road trip.

To those kids, who have never heard of a man go around on a bike just to dig out interesting stories is worthy of hero worship. They made you a hero, Shailesh.

Follow Shailesh Pandey's journey here:

Twitter: Shailesh K Pandey


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