SARAH AHMAD | 15 OCTOBER, 2015
Of Memoirs And Melodrama
A freeway, a purple truck, panes of carton, words, lines and a clicking sound, a red bricked building, pink skies and clustered concrete, a trail of white cars, blue cars, ever moving cardboard boxes, logs and metallic sheets, all part of different stories; to be built, to be brought down.
He had a pen in his hand; his thoughts whispered their way on sheets of lined paper, plain white crisp papyrus, now inked and blue with words. He penned down his stories, observed, narrated to him, by bystanders, by dreamy bourgeois, by empty roads and crowded market spaces, momentous days, through the humdrum, and of love so hard to be forgotten.
He got them all together, painted, built images of never ending interludes, made allies, invented comrades, some diminished, some doted on, thereon into pages of printed black; hardbound, stacked. My grandfather, Kalam Haidri, a hard-core journalist, an Urdu writer and a staunch businessman, has left an indelible mark on me of his life’s incredible story, his leftists views, voyages to Moscow and an unending tale of mushairas, dramatists, flurries and friends; a story often narrated to me by my mother, this story that I have never told, but spoken often of, thought recurrently about, a tale I write of him every time my words progress onto blank spaces. The present would have left him aghast; peace being filled with quiet, of life with agitation.
From a place in my heart I erase so words they might form, or rather flee, the dawn changes to dusk of moving iridescence; an aurora of sun and rays of pink. I place parts of the past into the day, writing about theatrical lives, about things to come, events to unfold, pictures, pictographs, lights, reels, canvassed spaces.
While we only visit places, we visit people too, of lives lived, enlightened, evolved. Finding the Old in New Delhi is one such visit or rather a walking tour by the Habitat World, from Agrasen Ki Baoli to Jantar Mantar led by historian Swapna Liddle.
The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi becomes an arena of photographs and memories. An exhibition commemorating renowned photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta’s work and life, titled A Journey also brings together two eminent photographers, Raghu Rai as the inaugurator of the exhibition and Dayanita Singh as the guest of honour. A self-taught photographer, Prabuddha Dasgupta grew up in post-colonial India; he has had his works exhibited and published in India and all around the world.
The India International Centre brings forth a Festival of the Arts. The festival commences on the 30th of October and draws to a close on the 4th of November, bringing together and celebrating performance arts, an eclectic range of performances by various theatre and music groups.
Sufi heritage of the city of Delhi is celebrated through “Baees Khwaja ki Chaukhat,” while Ustad Chand Afzal and his group present an evening of Qawwalis from the Sufi shrines of the city, at the Festival of the Arts. From Carnatic vocals and a Baroque music performance to a Jazz concert, theatrical dance-drama performances of mythological sagas like the Mahabharata, to a play presented by the Yellowcat theatre, Don Quixote and His Epoch Quijote Wallah, the Festival enjoys display of various types of acts and feats by distinct artists.
Bringing together the genres of comedy, drama, romance and thrill, The Short+Sweet festival raises its curtains at the Habitat World in October; the biggest festival of ten minute plays from around the world is brought to life by Delhi’s finest actors and directors.
As my words paint a memoir of lives lived and weave spurts of buoyant lives, of drama and zeal, people are remembered, sporadic tales told, fictive lives lived. Little stories form brief thoughts in my mind, a book by that corner or a quote, a unique scent, a crisply ironed kurta, a plaid jacket, pieces of almost yellow, blue inked notes, wooden stamps, a phone book, a note, a word, a photograph, they become part of life’s various sojourns, quests and anecdotes.
I write about him and all of them, that bookcase that quietly carries boundless stories he had written and those that he read, I write about events that unfold in the daylight and by the gleam of that intoxicant; penning down passages about the art of forever moving, of being still, of being remembered.
Finding the Old in New Delhi- A Walk, hosted by the Habitat World, 18th October at 8:00am
Exhibition of photographs by Prabuddha Dasgupta- A Journey, at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Jaipur House, India Gate, New Delhi on till 22nd November
Festival of the Arts, from 30th October to the 4th of November, at the India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi
Short+Sweet Theatre Festival, from the 23rd of October to the 25th of October at the India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi.
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