Art, Flowers And Conversations


It’s been an year since Duets got published. I am working on the Hindi poetry book but there are some other priorities that have kept me busy. The search for home continues as I map the autumnal landscape of my city. finding solace under the vibrant Silk Floss trees in bloom or overriding the noxious Delhi air with the heady fragrance of Saptaparni in bloom.

Delhi landscape never ceases to surprise you with its abundant beauty despite of everything that’s wrong with the city.

Apart from the glorious blooms the recent illumination of the ancient monuments of Delhi by ASI is breathtaking. I especially love the magnificent Safdarjung Tomb but the Qutub Complex looks stunning too. Will do another post on this initiative later but sharing a few pictures.

Meanwhile as I do my art and take in the beauty of the city I love some of my work got published and  new much awaited review of Wayfaring came in.

Rhiti Chatterjee Bose, an excellent artist/writer and an old friend of mine interviewed me sometime back about my art journey.
Today it got published in Prākṛti, the page for visual arts on the website Samskriya which has different branches for social work, languages, Indian history. Feeling deeply humbled by this gesture. I owe it to all the artists I’m learning from including my son Aditya.
Here is something about who we are and our initiative, your support means a lot to us. Please share our page and help us bring various art forms and artists to the forefront. Do read the full interview on the website.

The program Prākṛti is aimed at finding, documenting and promoting all such fine arts and artists who have been carrying a huge knowledge in their memory through generations, and also, presenting in a way which can be perceived properly in today’s global world while keeping its originality intact and making the young minds aware of their proud legacy. In addition to this, the program is also about exercising the fusion/adaptation/localization of other forms of all fine arts developed in the other regions of the world.

Here is the Link to my interview and an excerpt :

“What influence has art had in your life?

For a long time, I’ve been struggling with issues, mentally, physically and emotionally. Art keeps me sane in hard times and at others, it helps me channelize my energy both negative and positive. I’m not saying it has cured me of everything but it certainly has helped me in focusing on the right stuff. Sometimes one doesn’t wish to write. Words have their own burden but colours are fluid. It’s a different sort of high, calm and serene.”
Another art related article found home in a website that posts views about Mental Health, society and  culture. Here I write about how art is helping me to cope with various issues I face in my daily struggle to live.
Here is the link – How I Use Art To Stay Sane  
Excerpt :
“Painting by hand lets me express all my anger, pain and anxiety and not feel frowned upon. My everyday painting ritual has helped me focus and gather loose ends to some extent. I won’t say it is the mother of all cures but it certainly is a grounding process for me. Creativity does wonderful positive things to the mind, body, and soul if you let it.”
You can follow my Instagram Page for more work.
In the poetry world things are progressing at their own pace. I was delighted to find an excellent review  of my book Wayfaring   in Jaggery – A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal. 
Shikhandin  is an exceptional poet fiction writer
Do get your copy if you haven’t read it. The book is available with all online book vendors worldwide
Here is the link to the review – Wayfaring By Tikuli  
And an Excerpt :
“The poet as a wanderer. This is what comes to mind when reading “Wayfaring” by Tikuli. Not as a wandering minstrel. Rather as one who collects snapshots of experiences and sketches of mental spaces, through seemingly aimless wanderings. Yet nowhere does Tikuli come across as footloose and fancy-free. Rather there is an oblique brooding quality to the poems.  The have history and landscapes running down their spines. And then there is protest, subtle, unobtrusive, but it is there. “
I will be continuing my series on Delhi Monuments now. Do look out for new posts.
Meanwhile, enjoy some fruits of love that my consistent effort brought. This is my first crop of bell peppers. Most are ready for harvesting. I am awaiting for other produce to show up.

Delhi Monuments – Ambling Through Hauz Khas – Nili Masjid And Idgah Of Kharera


I’ve been missing in action here since a long time and that is because my laptop is giving issues and I have not been able to sort it so far. This Delhi monument post is part of my wanderings in Hauz Khas area. There are still a few more I will cover including those in adjacent Green Park.

Nili /Neeli Masjid 

Since so many years I passed the Nili Masjid of the Blue Mosque but never really went in there to explore. Located in A block the the tree bayed mosque is on the side of the road connecting August Kranti Marg and Aurobindo Marg. Sandwiched between posh houses  sometimes misses the eye unless of course it is prayer time or Friday when one can see a lot of devotees heading there for prayers. It is one of the few working mosques of Delhi which are under ASI protection.

An inscription over its central arch says that it  built in A.H. 911 (A.D. 1505-06) during the reign of Sikandar Lodi, by Kasumbhil, nurse of Fath Khan, son of Khan-i-Azam Masnad Ali Khawas Khan, then governor of Delhi. She is one of the few women who commissioned some beautiful structures in Delhi. Others include Hamida Bano Begum, Maham Anga, Roshanara Begum and Qudsia Begum.

Made from rubble stone and plaster Nili Masjid has rather masculine looking massive bastions and conical supporting towers along its western wall. No other major archaeological features are visible to make it different from other mosques or other medieval structures. This low fortification was suppose to protect them from any invasion but here it doesn’t serve the purpose. It is mainly for beautification it seems.

The mosque has slender turrets at the corners of the octagonal drum (base) on which a single dome sits pretty. There are three arched entrances to the masjid.

An intricate line of kanguras (battlement-like ornamentation) inset with vibrant blue tile work run along the roof of the mosque giving the mosque its name – Nili Masjid or Blue Mosque, however the ornamentation is only limited to the portion above the central facade.  A wide “chajja” (overhanging eave) supported on thick carved bracket runs on the rest of the front face.
Under the blue tiled Kanguras one can see elegant calligraphy and art work. The mosque is beautiful in its simplicity. There is no grandeur to it an yet it is striking to the eyes. Some areas inside the chamber have been recently plastered as part of the conservation program I think.
Within the boundary there is also a well that is covered and no longer in use. One can see loudspeakers etc places in the corners of the roof. One can see prayer mats, racks to keep things etc inside the chamber which is fitted with modern amenities like tube lights, fans and coolers. I wonder what are the rules for the monuments protected under ASI and why encroachments and making alteration is not stopped.
The grass covered front yard is nice and clean with some potted flowering plants and a few lush big trees that line the fence.
While I was wandering in the area I thought of going to Idgah too as it is a stone’s throw away from my son’s home.
Idgah of Kharera 
The 600 year old Idgah of kharera in Hauz Khas (near to Chor Minar in Padmini Enclave)  was used only for congregational Eid prayers unlike the other mosques. The structure represents the West wall around which people gathered for Id prayers. There is a mimbar or pulpit next to the central mehrab for the Imam to deliver his message. Usually a town or city will have one idgah but as Delhi was made of many cities there are four medieval Idgahs here.
Built of rubble masonry, this structure has 11 mehrabs and a turret at the end of one side with the inscription written on a red sandstone slab fixed on the south bastion towards east. It tells that this most famous and renowned mosque was built by Iqbal Khan who was popularly known as Mallu Khan, a powerful noble and virtually the ruler during Muhammad Tughluq’s reign who commissioned this structure. The inscription also tells about the volatile period in which it was built.
It is stated to have been built A.H. 807 (A.D. 1404-05) in the typical Tughlak style. I read somewhere that it was here Timur had set up his camp to offer ‘aman’ or ‘peace’ to the people after he invaded Delhi but unfortunately it didn’t go the way he had thought. Some incidents made him unleash unimaginable horrors on the citizens of Delhi.
The big trees in the fenced enclosure are home to many birds like barbets, peacoks, bulbuls etc. Local residents often come here for picnics and children can be seen playing there under the watchful eyes of the guard. Thankfully there are no encroachments and the monument is in good condition.
The stone slab that tells about the monument needs some attention and the writing is faded and hardly visible at many places.
I remember reading about mosque of Darwesh Shah in nearby Gautam Nagar and it is on my ‘to visit’ list. So are some of the lesser known small monuments around this area.
I am reading up about my city and will post again ina few days. Meanwhile I visited Sunder Nursery and was enchanted with it. Will do a post soon. You can still look up my Instagram account for some pictures from there.
Spring in Delhi is always beautiful so leaving you with some gorgeous flowers I saw there.

Life at Cross Roads


Sona had been selling flowers at the Birla Temple for as long as she could remember. Her earliest memories were of running around the crowded road bare feet in a tattered over sized frock gifted to her by some generous woman at the temple. Her hair unwashed and mostly tangled up in two untidy pony tails always remained tightly secured by dirty pink ribbons. Every day she began her ritual of selling flowers, by offering her first string of flowers to the temple priest. She considered it auspicious for her earnings.

Now at the age of twelve, she had experienced all the aspects of the fast-moving capital of India, with its skyscrapers and luxury cars to the kaleidoscope of contrasting images that passed in front of her as she waited day in and day out for the traffic signal to change colors.

She shared her tiny one-room with her four other siblings, mother and another girl who was orphaned sometime back. Sona preferred to live in her own world, untouched by her mother’s constant bickering, complains and drunken men who sometimes came to take her mother out.

Each morning enviously she watched the other children make their way to school, while she started off to experience yet another day of struggle. She ran behind cars till the soles of her feet became sore. Many a times she heard the rebukes of wealthy people sitting inside the air-conditioned cars. She would squeeze in her tiny hand through the window of a car in her attempt to lure some young woman to buy the string of flowers or offer some roses to some young man insisting that the woman in his life would shower her love if he bought her flowers, most of the time she shared a meager meal with the other children who also made a living at the same crossroads.

The city of Delhi unfolded before her innocent, curious eyes: uninhibited and unpretentious, in all it’s splendor. She would see the changing colors of the sky and the seasons and learn a new way to adapt herself to the new surroundings.

She saw the long queues of vehicles, waiting impatiently for the traffic light to turn in their favor, the dust and the heat of intense summer days and the bone chilling biting winters of the city. She saw the city as it was: hungry, ruthlessly ambitious, and ready to run down anyone to make their own place.

From the footpath she looked at the glittering showrooms that catered to the materialistic aspirations of the rich and famous and those of twentieth century neo rich youth along with the huge traffic hoardings warning the drivers against drunk driving. It constantly reminded of the fleeting transience of life to her.

She lovingly watched the old maulvi sahib of the madarsa nearby sit for hours in the temple complex, chatting to the old head priest and distributing sweetmeats to the poor children. She saw it as a slap at the face of religious hostility that raised its sharp talons so often these days.

She tried to peer though the glass windows of the famous swanky restaurants as chewed hard to break down and digest some hard slate bread slice. She sometimes saw herself against the backdrop of all this and more, inching her way from one car to another, jostling against the other children, all of them trying to sell flowers, magazines, toys, balloons etc. in those two- three minutes before the lights turned green.

She loved the city; it gave her a reason to live, to hope, laugh, and learn and something to look forward to each day. The city that treated her badly at times but still kept her dreams alive, the city that gave Sona an identity.

In the evening all the little street children would gather in one corner of the pavement and count their day’s earnings. As the city would gear up for the glittering night ahead Sona would huddle together with her friends and watch a small screen television. She loved to listen to the new film songs and tried to copy the moves of her favorite movie stars.

Slowly the night would silently envelope the city and she would go back to her dreamland with a smile on her face ready to take on another day with the first rays of the sun.