Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A new chapter in art

This past weekend presented an unusual opportunity for me to lead a walk through a brand new art destination in New Delhi. Lodhi Colony in south Delhi is being transformed into Delhi's first Art District with the largest number of international artists brought together to paint the walls of the government employees. Since its inception, four years ago, ST.Art India has been bringing international graffiti artists to collaborate with the best of Indian artists and promote street art.

During our walk we witnessed the latest paint on the walls, like the one above by a Japanese artist who used the lotus motif to paint his name.

Rakesh Memrot's gond art inspired mural wowed everyone on the walk. The beautiful elephant at the centre of the mural was painstakingly crafted over two nights while the remaining mural was filled in by volunteers with an intellegent incorporation of stencils by volunteers.

The above painting is called Lava Tree and is the creation of Delhi-based artist Anpu Varkey. She has been experimenting with various styles and motifs and has also collaborated with an international artist to paint the Mahatma Gandhi mural at ITO created during the first edition of St.Art.

The true historic moment in the walk was watching Delhi-based artist Amitabh Kumar painting his mural. His work is inspired by Indian mythology and the few completed portions are truly inspiring. We cannot wait to see the completed work. See one completed section below:

We often rue the absence of exposure to our history and cultural heritage and to witness our history being painted right before our eyes was a great privilege. Should you wish to witness the same head to Lodhi Art District at once or contact us for a guided walk through the district.

All images are the copyright of Alpaviram, use without permission is prohibited.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Price tag on cultural experiences?

I have been a part of a number of walks in my favourite city, Delhi, over the past few years. The key to most of the walks was the cost associated with them. While I have never really attended any walk priced over Rs 450, my recent collaborations as an organiser of walks in Delhi over the past two months has lent an interesting insight into the concept.

A picture from #alpaviram's collaboration with #delhibymetro for a walk to Ugrasen ki Baoli

What am I paying for? My worst experiences on a walk were mostly when the lead walker, organiser, rattled numbers and years that I could read out of a book! I found a complete lack of a personal connect with the destination or experience offered and that really put me off. Who wants to pay another person any amount to know what is freely available in books? The walks I have loved were the one where the person leading the walk gave me limited but interesting information. They did not try to show off their knowledge or their ability to rote. It was heartfelt.

A picture of my favourite Delhi walk leader, historian and film buff - Sohail Hashmi. Forever indebted to you sir.

Heritage walks should be chargeable only if there is something unique being offered. I do not endorse or suggest people to attend paid walks that are nothing more than walking through lanes and reading off signboards. Please remember that our heritage is freely available to all. Why would you want to pay Rs 500-800 to walk through a well-marked monument that has an entry fee of only Rs 10-20?

A frequent argument is that people do not respect what they get for free. But that's not really true. The past two months have seen me help organise five free events and everyone of them had a respectable audience. One of the young men who turned up for our walk has now launched free walks of his own as well with our help. There are serious people out there who believe, like me, that our culture should not be commoditised for the benefit of a handful. Creating product lines of our cultural heritage is a rather poor way of encouraging domestic participation. And we, the people who live and breathe this culture, are in dire need for better platforms to converse on.

Join us on our next walks (https://www.facebook.com/Alpaviram-590180271085750/?ref=hl) and see for yourself. The best things in life, at least a few, are still free.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Here's to driving you mad...

There has been much talk about Delhi's odd-even private car regulation that has come to effect since January 1. Several car users find the system strange and there's much to hear about the rule across the city. In fact, Ahmedabad is also planning to launch a similar traffic regulation in the days to come. Alpaviram brings you a list of strange traffic rules from around the world...

No women drivers in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not allow women to drive. A woman in the driving seat can be fined heavily, detained by the police or deported. In 2015, the King's advisory suggested that women above 30 be allowed to drive before 8 pm and without using make-up.

No shirtless driving in Thailand
The heat can be unbearable but Thai authorities ensure that you keep your shirt on while you drive in the country.

Don't splash a pedestrian in Japan
If you are driving in the rain on your visit to Japan, make sure you do not splash a pedestrian as it may cost you $65 as fine.

Auto emission car sticker in Berlin
Don't forget to ensure that you hail a taxi or private car with a proper auto car emission sticker or you could be fined $60 for it.

Don't stop for the pedestrian!
Beijing, China gives car drivers more leverage than pedestrians and you are not required to stop to allow someone to pass. In fact, if you stop for a pedestrian you could be fined and issued a warning.

Headlights on at all times
While driving through Sweden you are required to keep your headlights on irrespective of the time. Failing to do so, invites a fine.

Dirty cars off the street
In Dubai, you are not allowed to drive a dirty car. You are also not allowed to wash the car outside your own residence! And don't try to run to Russia either. It is illegal to drive dirty cars in Russia as well.

Off with the numberplate!
If you park your car illegally in Greece, the police will simply take away your numberplate. Go figure!

Full tank for AutoBahn
Drivers are not allowed to stop for fuel on the famous stretch in Germany. Make sure you have all the gas you need for the trip.

Don't drive blindfolded or on the sidewalk
USA takes the cake! Traffic rules include driving without the use of blindfolds (HUH!) and not driving on a sidewalk (yes, really!)It is also illegal in Massachusetts to drive with a gorilla in the backseat.

Know some more? Share with us in the comments box for no fine at all.