'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Past, New Year Yet To Come...

Q: What is the only bigger letdown than a 'dry' Christmas?

A: A dry New Year of course!

Well, I have just gone thru an instance of the former and am up against an instance of the latter, in Amdavad; am making do with preservative-laced plum cake which has come all the way from Kerala and costs a fortune.


An opportunity missed:

'Post-Hindu India' is a spanking new book (spanking in every sense) by Hyderabad-based academic Kancha Ilaiah. From what little I could make out in a quick browse, the only low-key thing about the tome is the title itself - the Prof is not one for subtlety or understatement - or pretensions of decorum - when holding forth on what someone else referred to as 'India's most popular mass-opiate' (for the uninitiated, Ilaiah's name features prominently in the Wiki article 'anti-Hindu').

I saw the book at a book-shop in Delhi airport a few days back and now regret that I did not muster the courage to shell out 295 bucks and grab it (especially in view of my then being about to use an air-ticket bought for nearly a dozen times that amount), for it appears very likely to be banned in our thin-skinned times.


A strange motif:

Champaner-Pavagad is the only Gujarati site on the Unesco World Heritage list. An hour's drive off Vadodara, the place has several half-millennium-plus old mosques scattered over a few kilometers of very scrubby terrain - the Jama Masjid, the Kevda Masjid, the Nagina Masjid, the Ek Minar Masjid and so on...
Jama, the largest of the lot has an impressive domed pavilion crowning the gateway into the main enclosure; the decorative work on its walls and archways shows great skill. Nagina too has a similar pavilion. Several of the domes have fallen off. Only a solitary minaret remains of the Ek Minar...

What struck me most is a decorative motif which has been carved in loving detail atop arches, niches and even in the Mecca-facing mihrabs of Jama Masjid - and is repeated several times over in Nagina and elsewhere; the design appears to show an incense-burner hanging from a chain with highly stylized fumes gracefuly emanating.

I don't quite remember seeing such a design elsewhere - although it might well feature in mosques at Sarkhej, Dholka etc. (places I have actually been to) many of which are associated with the strangely-named medieval ruler Mahmood Begada, who is said to have laid out Champaner too.


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