The monkey in the Staircase

gang of apes

Here a whole gang of them in Varanasi.

Someone screamed in the staircase. Followed by a sound like the bark of a dog. A few seconds later Puran, our office boy, emerged, trembling with fear. “A monkey attacked me”, he uttered.

No one wanted to enter the staircase, but someone had to open the upper door. So brave Puran went out again, frantically looking up and down and behind and around himself.

The beast somehow left the house, but it wouldn’t leave us alone. When my colleague Sunrita stepped out on the rooftop terrace, which is also the way to the toilet, she saw it climbing about on our roof. And she devoutly hoped it didn’t have a companion that waited for her in the sink or on the toilet bowl.

Shortly after her I had to go to the bathroom. As I hesitated at the doorstep, the two photographers leaped to my defence. They armed themselves with monopods and backed me up. Only when they had cleared the toilets, I was allowed to relief myself – while the two men were guarding outside, heavy metal in their hands.

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Is this how Delhi treats it’s Women?

mannequin

Found in a dark corner in the Jahanpanah City Forest

The Bus Driver is honest at least…

break down

… or is it a command? Does the bus try to force me to quit, as I was on my way back from an extremely exhausting 2,5h parkour training? Well, it then only inspired me to pedal harder.

flowers

Find during my mornin run

One party, three locations

Play on Delhi gang-rape victim

A play on the Delhi gang rape victim is going to be staged at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. According to the Indian Express, the production uses the bus rape as a catalyst for a series of personal testimonies culled from the performers who have been victims of sexual violence themselves.

In the meantime, in India the focus on the plight of women seems to decline. So why will the premiere be in the UK and not here?

At least artist keep the debate about the safety of women in India alive – saw this (new?) graffiti close to Siri Fort.

Am I Safe Here?

Colours, sounds and spirits of Iftar

Whereever I looked, I saw melon, papaya, bananas and mangos on plates, uncountable numbers of samosas, piles of dates, chicken wings and potato chips. Families had brought their picnic blanket, baskets and bowls, filled to the rim with dainties. But still no one was eating.

Now during Ramzan (Ramadan), thousands of Moslems are coming together every evening in the Jama Masjid. Theywait  for the gunshot that would signal the day’s break of the fast. During these days, the mosque looks nothing like it normally does. The scattered tourists with their cameras are gone, and in come the religious masses with all their colours, sounds, smells and flavours of life.

The people were inviting me over and over again to join them for Iftar, to share the special moment with them, to let them fulfil a good deed. I refused as long as I could, but one boy was so insistent that I finally accepted a mixed plate of food. I sat down at the washing basin and admired the serenity with which the faithful, who hadn’t even had a sip of water the whole day, were not drawn by the lure of the food in front of them.

I saw no eagerness, no anticipation, no longing. When the loud cannon sound resounded between the marble walls, the hands slowly moved towards the dates. I anticipated a pompous feast, but saw a grateful filling of the stomachs.

After the sun had set, the little lanes around the Jama Masjid came to life and roadside stalls everywhere fried chicken and fish and pakoras in huge kadhais, others baked bread or prepared hillocks of vegetables or stirred some mutton korma. It wasn’t only for those, who can afford it. But also for the poor fellows, who waited squatting and crowded together in front of the stalls for the donations.

Exploring one more of Delhi’s cities

Lucky me, I found another organisation that leads tours through Delhi. (Looks like I should start to maintain a list… oh wait, there is one, assembled by the guys from Little Black Book) This time I joined Delhi Heritage Walks, on their tour Jahanpanah & Begumpur.

Jahanpanah – refuge of the world – nowadays is only some walls and a few structures, situated directly behind the Hauz Khas Metro Station, but once it was one of the capital cities of Delhi. Which one exactly I forgot, as I keep loosing track of the count – there were at least eight of them, or even nine, if one adds the new sprawlings.

Begumpur Masjid

But Jahanpanah definitely was built in the 14th century by Mohammad Tughluq, who is known as the mad genius, as he, on the one hand, apparently found pleasure in executions, which he more often than not ruthlessly ordered, and on the other hand, was well ahead of his time when it came to the administration of his sultanate.

For example did he attempt to exert greater power in the southern part of India by transferring the capital from Delhi to Deogir (a move which eventually failed). Whoever stayed behind inside the old city walls had to fear the worst, the knowledgable tour guide explained to us.

The story goes that two men were found in the abandoned city, an old man and a blind man. The blind fellow was then tied to a cart and dragged all the way to Deogir – where only one of his limps arrived.

Bijay Mandal

Ghost Tales and Shadows Walk

The ghosts I grew up with were the souls or spirits of deceased persons and they would often appear in form of a translucent shapes and also, sometimes, as life-like visions – but they would definitely scare the living . It turns out the stories I heard and read and watched are not so different from the traditonal beliefs in India.

But: Whereas I see the spine-chillers more lighthearted, the people I walked with through the Delhi night around Qutub Minar seemed to have a quite firm believe. Every time they told me about a paranormal phenomena, I didn’t hear any doubt in their voice. It might be true, that in India, mystery, fact & fiction intermingle more than in the society I had been brought up.

It’s raining, man!

One would think that the monsoon is hitting Delhi every year and citizens are prepared for some downpour. It turns out they are not, especially when they are facing the third highest level in a decade.

When the gates of heaven opened on saturday, 123.4 millimeters of rain were thrown on the the metropolis, bringing the city to a halt, flooding roads and colonies knee-deep, snapping power-lines, bringing down walls and damaging cars through falling branches. Even a terminal of Delhi’s international airport was flooded. (Despite all the damage done I have to admit I like the recorded figure: increasing digits, just like the steadily rise of the water levels).

pray to GodMy flat – on the apparent safe top floor – also didn’t get off lightly. The terrace for example looks like ready for a mud fight. So far I never paid any attention to the pipe, with an opening of some 12cm, that is leading onto it. I should have, as it turned out that all the water which is collected on the roof splashes out of it onto my tiles.

The drain my terrace has, in turn, is much smaller, and also has a sieve that is very likely to block the flow of water when the wind brings down some leaves and dirt from all the plants on my terrace (this is exactly what normally happens in these deluges) plus the things that pile up on the roof during the dry season.

The level of my flat is some 5cm higher than the one of my huge terrace, but this volume so created filled up easily on saturday, and the water would have come into my living room (and from there, I guess, would have seeped into the whole house), if I hadn’t been at home and had gone out with an umbrella in regular intervals and cleaned the drain. Who is constructing something like this?

The windows aren’t better. The water that is running down the exterior wall of the house (yes, it doesn’t only rain perpendicular), hits the window frames, and – thanks to the great surface tension of water and the ignorantly constructed shape – makes it’s way around the protrusion, until it reaches the inner frame, from where it flows down, then onto my work surface, further the gas cooker, on the floor, underneath the fridge, and so on. I’m not talking millilitres, but liters.

Other smart water molecules found a crack where my air conditioning is peeking out. So they crawled down the freshly painted wall, stopped for some rest at the lamp, then ran down to my table and finally formed a puddle , so that the legs of the wooden table could well up.

What can be done? I called up my landlord. Sheila Dikshit, the Chief Minister of Delhi, asked the citizens to pray to God so that rains do not return.

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