Sunday, 20 May 2018

#DelhiDiaries: Exploring The Street Art in Lodhi Colony



Delhi Diaries: Lodhi Art District

It was a fine sunny afternoon when I was driving through Delhi: traffic, horns, chaos until the colors dawned upon me slowly, gradually and I had to stop to marvel at the beautiful art that would become India's first ever open public art district.

Whattt? Yes, it's the Lodhi Art District.

St+Art India took upon themselves to paint the walls with amazing colorful murals that depicts a story, a revolution in the streets of Lodhi Colony which is now a benchmark for the rest of the India.

Let me be your guide and take you on a virtual tour to some of my favourite murals:
  • Vishvaroopa by Inkbrushnme:

Delhi Diaries: Vishvaroopa by Inkbrushnme

This wall depicts the beginning of the 18 day battle of Mahabharata (an Indian epic) when Lord Krishna manifest into a form called Vishvaroopa. This wall shows the many forms of Lord Vishnu.


  • Dead Dahlias by Amitabh Kumar:

Delhi Diaries: Dead Dahlias by Amitabh Kumar

In the words of Amitabh Kumar, "This city is made up of magic, which is now crumbling apart. Through this intervention I would like the viewer to catch its crumbling pieces and vanish."

  • Katha-Crazy Twins by Harsh Raman: 

Delhi Diaries: Katha-Crazy Twins by Harsh Raman

This wall tries to showcase two different generations, cultures trying to coexist in harmony. Where on the left, there is the ancient Indian art form Kathakali (a dance which showcases a story), the latter depicts the younger form of storytelling (mainly street arts, music).

  •  Typography by Daku


Delhi Diaries: Typography by Daku

This is one of the coolest wall simply because of it's uniqueness. This is the epitome of shadow play which is best visible during 9:30 - 14:30 hrs. The sun when directly casts its shadow on the letters, displays a beautiful poem on the wall.


  • We love Delhi by Lek, Somat and Hanif Kureshi: 


This is the most popular amongst the all and I think its because it resonates with the people. Delhi has a different worlds living in it all living in perfect harmony with one another and despite everything, the Delhiites love their city. 

The one thing that really stood out for me in all of these paintings were how modern art was tastefully mixed with the local traditions and cultures. It's like storytelling that is localised and yet can be understood by everyone.

I also feel that these paintings have opened up a whole new dimension of art in Delhi. It filled up colors to the everyday mundane life and showcases people what art is capable of. It's no surprise, after the successful launch in the Lodhi Colony, these paintings have sprung up in various parts of the city including the metro stations.
If you're an art lover or not, you would appreciate these murals. Give it a try if you're in and around Delhi.


Have wanderlust? Will travel:

Read about my adventures in Kuala Lumpur
Also visit with me The biggest handicrafts fair in the world in SurajKund
or what I learned in my road trip

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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Why You Should Create Your Own Niche - If You Can't Find One

blog post

One day while I was filling a blogger contact form for a bloggers meet, they asked me -
 Select a category that fits your blog theme.

and I didn't know what to choose.

I have written fiction, some productivity hacks, self-help, travel posts and also some poetry. Shall I tick them all? but they were radio buttons and they don't work that way and this is exactly the thoughts I had,

Why do I need to choose one category? 
Why do I have to be the 'travel girl', your goto 'coding girl' or a 'motivational blogger' when I can be all of them? 
Why can't I be interested in one or more things and why should I not write about them as well?
It was then I realised that I don't fit into a pre-defined niche and I don't have to. I will create my own niche, without any labels to define my writing. My individuality is my niche. I am my own niche.

This is in contrast to one of the most common piece of advice for all bloggers according to the web. Finding your own niche. It's been written so many times in the same way in different blogs of the same niche that I find it funny in its own sense.

Although I do think that it gives you a targeted audience and a cleaner outlook on the blog but it also limits you.

Now you maybe amazing at your field, you know the depths of what you're writing about and have a niche specific blog but what happens when you want to try something new? People grow, their ideas change and their content change and either one of these things happen:
  • You are unable to write something new thus limiting yourself and would produce same content over and over by recycling the titles. Also stifles your creativity.
  • You get a mental burnout and blogging which was considered as a passion now seems like a chore.
  • You spice up things regularly and write on stuff that fills you up with excitement. You're happy which leads to better quality of writing which leads to more readers enjoying your content.

For the first two, people do this in the fear of not being successful. They put themselves into a box instead of creating an empire with no boundaries. 

How to change?

If you think your blog fits into a niche and you want to keep it that way, that's great. More power to you! but if you don't and you like writing on multiple topics but are not because you're afraid to jump out of the box? Take that leap right now. 

Set aside some time to yourself and make a list of topics you want to write on. One of my blogger friend Sankalp and I play this game regularly where we both come up with posts we want to write on in the future turn wise in a limited frame of time. This gives you a whole list of things to blog (bye, bye writers block) and also gives you time to be mindful about why you're writing the stuff you write.

Your blog should be a refection of who you're.

Free yourself out of the box to explore all of your interests, to write about what excites you! because in the end we all are sharing our stories, our journey and this is what matters.

What is your blogging niche? what do you write about? what do you want to write about? Let's have a little tea chat party in the comments below :)

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Saturday, 10 March 2018

Stand Up Comedy Is Hard

A man on stage doing stand up comedy

"A ticket for the 6pm Open Mic, please"

This weekend I witnessed my first live standup comedy show ever. Cherry on top? It was an open mic.

An open mic is a live show where amateurs are given a stage to showcase and polish their work and professionals are trying out new content. 
This is raw comedy at its finest.

During the 2 hour duration, as 12 comedians took their turns to try make their audience laugh and it became evident to me that -

Stand up comedy is the hardest type of public speaking.

You're putting yourself out there on the stage under the spotlight while the audience looks like you owe them laughs. Not just one but many. They are sometimes forgiving, but usually would be pissed if you don't make them cry enough tears of joy. (Bonus points for making them cry out of regret to be there in the first place)

The pressure is immense because the feedback is immediate.

Usually when the comedian on stage is cracking jokes, he is assessing the mood of audience. He tries a couple of jokes to check what works with this audience and also to see how far can he go and get away with. He gazes at every individual trying to decipher their expressions and analyse the success by the applause and cheer after each punchline or not. It's easy to know - they either like it or they don't.

The success of the gig is also immediately obvious to everyone in the audience. Vibes, they don't lie.

Stand up comedy is popular today and everybody seems to jump on the bandwagon.

I also noticed a few similarities in their sketches. The jokes included heavy usage of stereotyping followed by self deprecating humour. I couldn't make out if this is because they assume this style would guarantee laughs (seems to trend in the YT videos, might work in mine too) or if they just haven't found their own style yet.

Comic timing and delivery is crucial and so is improv. The maximum laughs were gathered by those who were able to crack jokes on the very situation they were in at that very instant.

Nevertheless, it made me happy to see these people doing what they love and were there to hone their skills. There were participants from all age groups, from different professional backgrounds. A lawyer, a doctor, a student - all celebrating the art of comedy.

Everyone there wanted to make people laugh, to make a world a happier place. How bad can it be?

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Thursday, 1 March 2018

Turn Off Your Notifications - Would You?

Turn off social media notifications

I was in a meeting the other day in the office and suddenly we all heard a 'ping'. This was followed by multiple pings- phones of almost everyone present were buzzing constantly with notifications streaming from different apps - but who is to blame?

We live in a time where urgency prevails. We need to know what is happening around the world at that very moment. If we are to keep away from our phones for even about an hour, we do get uncomfortable not knowing what to do by ourselves, having FOMO and getting anxious to know if we are missing out on something.

Ping! You have a new message!

Ping! Joseph sent you a friend request!

Ping! Look what Sarah and 25k people liked.

Ping! You have memories to look back today!

Ping! Get $5 off on your favourite deals!

Ping! We found a new restaurant for you.

Ping! Ping! Ping! All day long.

It made my life miserable. While I was at work trying to concentrate on the problem at hand or while I'm with my family or loved ones, my phone kept buzzing of deals I don't care about.

Do you relate?

Push notifications should help the users to be out of their phones rather than to constantly draw them in. If you get an email, it does tell you. Till then, why worry about it? But you do and marketers take this as an opportunity to buzz you endlessly in a bid to get your attention.

Game apps would tell you to play more in order to buy their in-app purchases, transport based apps would tell you there are top drivers nearby so that you might consider taking a taxi, food delivery apps would notify you of a new restaurant nearby for you to order now, the news apps would send you notifications every update to just keep out the competitors.

Attention craving, soul sucking little apps on your phone.

What is the solution? Turn off the notifications. Turn them completely off.

Go to the settings of your phone and turn the push notifications off of all the apps that doesn't require your immediate attention one-by-one. 

I turned off my notifications a month back I have been a happier person since that day. It gives you a sense of having control. Now if I'm scrolling twitter, it is because I want to and not because someone else liked this tweet which I need to know. I still have enabled notifications for my calls and texts - but that's quite about it and I think you should try it out too sometime.

Ping! You have life waiting to be lived. Take a look away from the phone!

Also read: Are emoticons replacing emotions?  and about how I spent a day without my phone

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Saturday, 17 February 2018

How Storytelling Inspires Generations

As children we all grew up listening to stories. It could be either fairy tales about princess and fairies, superheroes that saves the day, mythology or just plain life stories about your grandparents, the people they know, the people around you.... and although while all of their plots might be different, there is a particular element common- a message. At the end of the story, you take a lesson, a value , a learning that stays with you. Then you pass it down to others for generations to come.

We all have a story to tell.

As humans, we thrive on stories. We are inspired when other people share their stories on how they started and your inner voice disguised as hope whispers to you "if they made it despite everything, I can too" and this is how a movement is begun. This is how an idea that was buried inside you sparks off into a change.

Take the #MeToo movement as an example. What began as a hashtag to expose details against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, matured into inspiring millions of women around the globe to share their personal stories denouncing sexual assault and harassment.

How?

This is because when someone share their story, you know you are not alone.  This in turn helps you build a larger community of people who will back you up and all of us grow stronger. The women who were afraid to speak up and were kept in shadows now spoke fearlessly - in large numbers and a movement began.

Your stories matter.

Artists have a different way to share their stories. They put a little part of themselves in their art- dancing, writing, poetry, painting, songs. These creations are beautiful, not only because they pleases our senses but also our heart. All of the art pieces - unique because of their stories behind which led them to their creation. They not only tell us about the ideology about the era when it was created but also restores our history in place.

Why do you think we refer to old literature and movies for historic researches? Yes, exactly.

This is the magic of stories- no matter which shape they take. They teach you. They force you to look the society from a different perspective. They bring out empathy. They unite us. They help you to understand the world. They inspire you to change the world.

One story at a time. One idea at a time.

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Thursday, 8 February 2018

#SurajkundDiaries: Visiting the Surajkund Mela, the Largest Craft Fair in the World!

The largest craft fair in the world!

A celebration of art, dance, crafts, ethnic cuisine, music and cultures, Surajkund mela is observing its 32nd edition this year in Surajkund, Faridabad, Haryana - merely 50 kms away from Delhi. This enormous fair witnesses almost a million visitors each year, making it the largest craft fair in the world!


I visited the fair this year and wasn't left disappointed. As you enter the gates, you'll be entering into a festival - with local artisans dancing, playing music and people joining in the celebration, you'll feel immersed into their joyous mood as well.

With around a thousand stalls, and live shows to keep you entertained, this is a nice glimpse of the art that India has to offer. Artists from SAARC nations have also participated bringing in their slice of heritage as well.

What I truly loved about this fair is the fact that these artists from all around the world have this platform to showcase their crafts all under one roof directly to the market - thus, eliminating the middlemen. Also festivals like these just help promote the local artisans, something we don't usually see in the metropolitan cities.


There are food stalls from across the states and what I would recommend you to try from that cuisine:
  • Rajasthan : Dal Baati Choorma/ Kachori
  • Gujrati : Khaman Dhokla
  • Bihar: Litti Chokha
  • Delhi: Aloo Tikki /Cholle Bhature
  • Haryana : They have a pre-defined Haryanvi thali (Bajra Khichdi, Makke di Roti, Sarso ka saag and more)
  • South Indian: Masala Dosa

... and for people with a sweet tooth, we have Kulfi and Jalebi at various stalls. So many options to choose from!
Every year the fair has a theme state and a partner nation that is generally highlighted more than the rest. The theme state for this year is Uttar Pradesh and hence you'll find slogans for UP tourism and famous architecture imitations in the fair.

If you're visiting with kids, the site also offers an amusement park with various rides for kids and you alike! The ferris wheel is a delight to be in - a classic.

At a glance -

Where : Surajkund, Faridabad, Haryana
When: 2nd - 18th February 2018
Timings: 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM
Theme State: Uttar Pradesh
Partner Nation: Kyrgyzstan

Are you planning a visit? Have you ever been to fairs like this in your country? Let me know :)

---
Let me take you to Kuala Lumpur? : All you need to know about travelling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Why do we still fear the eclipse?


As I type this, I'm in a middle of an ongoing lunar eclipse, one of its kind. The moon is shining in its pristine glory, bathed in red glow, looking at its absolute best. A celestial treat for all the stargazers!

..and all I hear on the news channels and radio is- how to protect yourself from the evil rays of the eclipse. They tell us to not eat or drink anything, or to put a basil leaf on our food to 'purify' it and to chant holy mantras throughout.

Now I understand where these myths are coming from. They have been taught to us by our ancestors and it does sort of makes sense to believe them but in the past.

Long back when the human civilisation wasn't as advanced as it is today, we heavily relied on the rhythm of the world, to make sense of an order in life. We noticed that the sun rises in the morning, the sun sets in the evening, and that a silver moon shines up the night. Any slight difference in this pattern would set an alarm - causing a panic among people and they were determined that this disorder is a threat to their existence.

The old folk stories related to eclipses often involved demons, dragons, evil spirits and gods and when the eclipse had ended they rejoiced their victory.

Fast forward to today, we are in a scientific era and these superstitions still haven't completely gone away. The bits and pieces still remain or have been modified to suit accordingly.

Even now, a slight change in our routine brings us in a panic of our well being and this is wired in our roots-our DNA. We have been hardwired to worry about us, our well being to survive and hence the astrological gurus will continue to mint money on our fears.

This is why we still continue to believe in superstitions which aren't backed up by science.

Do we really need to fear the eclipse?

No.

We are inside a giant gas ball that has been revolving around the sun and has a celestial friend called the moon who revolves around us. There are times when we all three coincidently are in the same line and this phenomenon is called the lunar eclipse.


That's it! Yes, pretty straightforward. 

Also, it's super pretty and you should look up at this rare phenomenon at least once. It's a sight to behold. 

It's time that we act like the civilisation that landed on the moon to marvel at this beauty together. Shall we?

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Monday, 21 August 2017

When I Look Up at the Sky



WhI look up at the sky, I feel significantly small. Significant enough to make an impact yet small in this vast world that we call our own, yet smaller in this multiverse.

It's an humbling experience.

To learn that billions of us of different races, ethnicity, countries, genders, ideas share the same sky. That we all are so different from one another but yet the same. 

To understand that we are not alone.

To know that there is a world out there to explore.

To realise that there is a universe out there to figure about our origin.

I'm in awe.

To see how differently shaped clouds float together in the bright blue sky in such unison.

To be able to look when the sky is beautifully painted with the hues of sunset.

To see how the sky gets dark and  how the stars show up one by one until the sky is nothing but a blanket full of diamonds.

To be showered in the silvery hazy glow of the moon. 

To feel an ineffable notion within me, that makes me feel right at home, that longs to go back to its roots.

as I continue to look up in amazement, gaze at the infinity and ask the most important questions.

To ponder about my place in this wondrous universe.

---

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Inner Monologue of a Blogger



I did it again.

I took a blogging hiatus.

I can't write anymore. Words that were typed seamlessly, now struggle to leave my mind.

I stare at my computer screen for hours, my mind brimming with unstructured thoughts and then,

I type. I try to let out but I end up deleting it all.

No, it's not a writers block.

  • I have hundreds of stories to narrate to you, countless lessons that I have learned to share with you.

No, it's not the lack of time.

  • For what I believe, people make time for something that is important to them.

What is it then, Sakshi?

I ask this question to myself repeatedly. I don't know if those are valid reasons or just lies that I tell myself to convince my naive heart.

"Ah! I can't be a technical person with a creative mind"
I would say, as my fingers moved swiftly across the keyboard while I code.

"There is a fine line between my life and what I share"
Forgetting how writing is to be vulnerable.

"I am not able to write how I used to"
You haven't been writing in a flow since months, almost years. It's going to take some time for you to get you in the groove. Do you remember your first blog post? I would have laughed it off, if I read it now. But, you got your first 3 followers that day. Are you going to give up even before you try?

"The blogging community is not what it used to be"
Now you're just finding reasons to not write.

Sakshi, no one is stopping you to write except yourself.

I miss writing.

Every day, it pains me like a goddamn needle prick in my heart knowing I'm losing an essential part of me.

..but here I'm today.

I have decided to believe in myself and start writing again.

I have decided to be a better writer than the day before.

I want to share my stories with you.

I want you to learn from my experiences.

I want to build us a community where we help one another despite the distances.

That was and has been the only reason of why I write and will continue to.

I hope I'm back.

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Phillumeny: Collecting Stories, One Matchbox at a Time!

I was a child, travelling in a train when I found this matchbox.

The first matchbox that caught my attention :)

Little did i know that this would be my first ever matchbox in my upcoming collection that I'll start to build in my teenage years.

phillumenist
fɪˈluːmənɪst
noun
a collector of matchbox or matchbook labels.

I am a phillumenist. I find it interesting how these little matchboxes stores such large stories. What started off as an inexpensive hobby for me, it turned soon into a gateway of understanding our history better. With over hundreds of matchboxes in my collection, I have noticed how there is a common theme that runs across all the designs on the pack. While tigers, elephants, roosters and bicycles are the most common ones, the diversity ranges from mode of transports, food items, historic monuments and deities of worship. All of them printed beautifully according to the era in which they were made, like a pretty intrinsic design on a tiny box! A piece of art.


I remember getting these as souvenirs while I travel to any part of the globe as I search for a local paanwala with my eyes glued to the window of my car to get a unique matchbox this time. And oh how the managers raised their eyebrows when I asked for a matchbox in a non smoking room in the hotel. My friend Pranjali, helping me in building up this collection in the summer break and my mom remembering all the boxes I still need. So many memories!

I don't understand why phillumeny isn't as popular as it should be. Just like stamps, it depicts the history of the era, stories and values that raises a society and hence are little treasures that serves as the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle when we look back in time. With the modern times, it only gets less popular which concerns me. I wished everyone can see with the same amazement as the seven year old me in the train.

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