taking a walk in india and beyond: photos | stories | travel

August 28, 2011

Anna-rchy at Ramlila Ground

Anybody entering Ramlila Ground will see groups of youngsters with paint in their hands, asking people whether they want an imprint of the tricolour on their cheeks for free. Many said yes.

This is the main tent where most people slept at night, and while it rained.

Kewal mahilayen (only women).

Where are the women?

Give me justice or suicide, says the poster.

Gaurav Sharma of Indo-Asian News Service listens to the man, who said he was fired from his job unjustly. The company he used to work for is considered one of India's best state-owned oil firms. A human interest story was developing over why he was fired. But the man said, patiently, eyeing Gaurav, "My case had reached the Supreme Court and even the Chief Justice of India was involved." Then Gaurav immediately left the man. "Why are there so many liars at Ramlila Ground, trying to come in the news?" said the reporter.

Reporters are free to call this number for a Sunday feature.

Doing brisk business. A customer who has not yet donned any tricolour takes the plunge.

At the food stall. Free food. Strict discipline.

The less shown part of the protest site. This is where mobile toilets have been set up. They were overused.

New Delhi railway station metro station. From this hole came out hundreds of people heading in a beeline for Ramlila Ground, a five-minute walk away.

Special thanks to Gaurav Sharma, correspondent, Indo-Asian News Service. Time to go.

August 24, 2011

climate change, bob marley and mali

two boys at bamako, mali.

sali samake, 45, lives in tamale, near the capital city bamako. she is a very important person in the village because only she knows how to use a rain-measuring instrument. the villagers depend on her to plan their harvest.

she calls herself a self-taught meteorologist. mali, one of the poorest countries in africa, is now one of the worst hit by climate change. farmers are clueless about rainfall. monsoon comes and goes by its own will.

children at segou town.

bob marley — one of africa's best exports till date. though technically a jamaican.

courtesy: jayashree nandi.

August 20, 2011

ima keithel

ima keithel, or mother's market, is any cluster of small shops in manipur run by women sellers. tradition is that no male sellers have set up shop in these markets. the idea goes back to the time of the british rule and the women's war (nupi lan) of 1939. historically the war had its immediate cause in the artificial famine of 1939 caused by the profiteering activities of traders, who exported rice to colonial garrisons outside manipur. 

when the ban enforced on rice export was lifted in 1939 to the great advantage of traders from outside, the price of paddy soared up, thus, seriously affecting local petty traders, mostly women, and poor consumers as well. an atmosphere of agitation was looming with women traders ready to take a course of action against inflation.

on december 12, 1939, hundreds of women who were demanding an end to free trade on rice besieged the president of the manipur durbar. in the scuffle that broke out between the women and the british army, 21 women, one officer, and seven others were killed and many were injured.

in the following months, women targeted rice mills owned by traders. they boycotted the main bazaar, which was the hub of hoarding and profiteering happening under colonial protection. the women formed vanguards, intercepted rice carts and at times threw cartloads of rice into sewers. in the course of the struggle, women lay siege to the state jail and fought several pitched battles with security personnel. many died in the series of armed skirmishes.

the movement, however, subsided as a result of the approach of the second world war in manipur in early 1940s (areas in northeast india where japanese forces met the allied army while trying to push into india, an event that was forgotten while people were busy campaigning with mahatma gandhi for india's independence. the first shot of the first battalion of the indian national army, formed by subhash chandra bose in 1942, was fired against japanese forces advancing towards imphal)

nupi lan was a crucial juncture in the series of organised anti-colonial struggles in manipur.

their story turned into something of a legend and even today, only women occupy the small markets that sell essential items and local food. it is their turf.

although it is a landlocked state, manipur benefits from a large freshwater lake called the loktak lake, abundant in fish. apart from rice, fish is one of the staples in the state.

kakching town, thoubal district, manipur

(special thanks to e-pao.net for inputs)

August 18, 2011

hampi and rimjhim coffee

hampi in karnataka is also known as the 'second goa'.

instead of beaches it has beautiful ruins of the vijayanagar empire. 

the ferocious tungabhadra river cuts across hampi, ferocious because it is wide and its current strong, and the sound it makes at night is chilling. but to sit by its banks with a good book and tea is a vacation worth having.

this is not in hampi but uppinangdi, about an hour's drive from mangalore.

the delightful rimjhim coffee at laxminivasa hotel, kalladka, on national highway 48 near uppinangdi. confusing directions! but if you do visit this place try their fluffy buns too. i did not get enough time to ask about why this coffee is so popular. you may check out this article in mangalore today.

back in bangalore.


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