Like after days on the front
As the water of a flowing Ganga
Like that interaction with the soul
As was that dance on a rainy day
Life as it was
Life as it is to be
A feeling,
That has been a constant throughout
A conversation,
That speaks always like it’s a new day
A promise,
That owes its sanctity to that feeling
A journey,
That always gives a sense of freedom
Life as it is
Life as it is to be
The Ganga has been the mother,
Giving life a sense of completeness,
Without expecting,
Like mothers in our lives
Life lives many lives,
At the Ghats of the Ganga in Varanasi,
Transcending to the realms beyond,
In conversation with the conscience,
In meeting with its resonance
This evening or any other,
It has been this experience always
Life here travels in thoughts,
And quietly captivates me,
In a conversation,
That I always long for..

In God's Own City-1


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


Time had stayed on
The day.. though split
Was hanging around
With a curious aloofness
Showing the usual panache
To make the move
To sing its heart gently
To reach out
Thoughts were arrested
In the freedom
Of a nowhere zone
Its visage was caring
With its presence subdued
The day..though split
Was proving a companion
Adding freshness
To the duet
With a relevance
That had seemed illogical
So far
Picking up the journey
The loneliness had begun
The day..though split
Had just arrived
And was here to stay..

The Day..Collage-3


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/



My friend, who is also a respected elder brotherly figure for me, first pulled my attention to it during our random stopover at a chai-shop (tea-shop) in the market opposite the main gate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT).

After lunch, we decided to take a walk and the urge to have some ‘chai’ took us to the market complex.

Now this dog was sleeping king-size in front of a food joint before the chai-shop, Chayoos, an outlet that we could locate where we thought to experiment with for fulfillment of our urge.

I had read somewhere that dogs sleep, on an average, some fourteen hours a day. Now I don’t have any idea about the verity of this claim but the dog here certainly looked living it fully.

In the midst of a slightly upscale market place with people frequenting food joints that dotted the place, he was positioned there, in his deep sleep, indifferent to the chatter of people gorging on delicacies while sipping their choices of brews.

Now, gorging on food is universal a habit to most of the Delhiites irrespective of which scale and class of the society they come from. In fact, the more affluent ones gorge more copiously (or stylishly), irrespective of which upscale area of Delhi they populate.

And by his size, our dog looked sharing this inherent gluttony of Delhiites. Clad in a striped dog coat, he was clearly obese. Sleeping under the tutelage of the ‘proclamation standy’ of the joint, with a radiant doggedness, he was sleeping like its brand ambassador and it seemed he was adopted by the ‘marketplace with many food joints’ and was enjoying many patrons and good Samaritans.

Pushed by my instinct and my friend’s suggestion, I clicked the frame in some angles. Thereafter, we proceeded to meet the demand of our urge.

Dogged Dog Collage-1

Now, this chai shop was like any other outlet in such places, promising big with cramped surroundings, with sitting places giving a feeling worse than the economy class leg rooms of many so-called no-frills air carriers. Frequented by people of all shapes and sizes, it had a longish menu on chai.

We both settled on ‘honey-ginger-lemon’ tea. The counter guy took our order, obviously with a smiling face. But the marketing innovation, yes the promoters of this chain would have thought so, that came with the smile while taking the order was a silly one.

With a marker in hand, the folk asked our name. It’s common, so I told him. Now what he does – he writes our names on the two mugs that are to be used to serve our order. And after the order is prepared, he shouts our name as on the mugs to call us. Now rubbish it was. It was a small space and there was no need for this senseless ‘value addition’. A simple order number would have done it better.

And we were not going to think in ‘outrageous for them’ terms that asking and writing names on mugs meant they would gift the respective mugs to the customers (and so to us). Even if their ‘honey-ginger-lemon’ tea was overpriced, the ‘innovation’ would not be financially viable.

Anyway, the tea served was good in taste and volume, better than my many experiences with ‘honey-ginger-lemon’ tea and ‘honey-ginger’ tea at many other outlets. We sat with, talked and discussed freely and had some quality time together on our once-a-year meeting. And the taste and the volume indeed helped in this. Also, they had accepted our request to bring down the volume of the audio.

After finishing the tea, when we came out, we again saw our dogged dog, now fully awake and strolling around the marketplace in unison with its oversized built. He was walking around like he owned the place.

Naturally extending my previous act, I took some more frames of him and we proceeded to complete our walk.

Dogged Dog Collage-2

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


It was so magnetic to look at them and it was so good to see them shining, healthy and clean, at the iconic square of Landour, the twin city of Mussoorie, the British era cantonment, a 1000 feet or so above Mussoorie.

The Landour dogs are essential part of the Maggi shops lore (the Char Dukan hangout) of the cantonment and like the historic call of Mussoorie, the tales of the mountains and the tales of how it came to be and the famous tales of it’s legacy of haunted stories and the beauty of that, the Landour Dogs, too vie for the call. You may come across local people telling you these Landour Dogs are from the lot of the legendary ghosts of the Mussoorrie Range.


More photographs to follow..


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


When I got this sudden call to reach the Connaught Place (CP, in Delhi) on an off-day, it was routine. There are some good, quiet places in the chaotic CP where we can sit and spend some quality time, be it for some professional engagement or spending time with friends or simply for networking.

While discussing about the place, the idea of the Oxford Bookstore and its Cha Bar cropped up once again. Though the Oxford Bookstore along with its Cha Bar (a good place for quality tea while leafing through the pages of the books carefully selected from the book shop – the old experience) had reopened some months ago and in CP only, just in front of its previous address, the Statesman House, we had not been to the place yet.

And we decided, let’s meet up there. For me, it was always a good time out option with its concept of the previous bookshop (rather a book lounge) in mind – a lounge sort of environment, peaceful and appealing, plenty of good books to read and decide from, with sips of different preparations of tea (coffee too) and some good bites and a good view of the traffic on the Barakhamba intersection that added positively to your time there.

But, I should say it was a letdown like the Starbucks CP outlet. The reason behind it is the ‘book lounge’ feeling has been totally compromised. Though, it was never too spacious even at the Statesman House, one felt at ease while reading through and choosing the books and more importantly enjoying the time with the books with a seamless access to the lounge area. There were no lines drawn and the sip of chai (tea, since its Cha Bar, let’s go with chai, the Hindi for tea) blended naturally with the atmosphere.

That was not the case with this reopened outlet. Here, the Cha Bar was on one side of the book shop clearly separated from a wall with poor sitting arrangements. It looked chaotic. Crammed with people, it was indeed more like a poorly arranged hangout zone of some eatery. Also, there was no outside view like the Barakhamba intersection.

It looked more like a narrow space carved somehow from the book shop to focus entirely on the commercial aspect of the Cha Bar as a hangout joint for that small bite while one looks to sit somewhere, a good place, certainly not on the line of the concept that I had in mind.

If we think of the esthetics associated with a book lounge sort of environment, it was totally absent here. Add to it, the music was poorly chosen for the ambience and was distracting, more like in the CCD (Cafe Coffee Day) outlets, loud and interfering. Even the white of the walls could not prove soothing.

Overall, it didn’t give you the feeling to be at ease with you (when you had the concept and the feeling of the previous bookstore at the Statesman House in your mind), be you wanted to be with books, with you or with your friends.

I opted for ginger chai and it was equally disappointing and so I didn’t go any further. Hope, the next time, I will be served a better quality chai for my time and money there.

I googled for Cha Bar images of the old and the reopened bookstore and came across these which clearly tell the difference (a letdown).

Cha Bar 1
The Oxford Bookstore and the Cha Bar while in the Statesman House, CP, Delhi
(Image sourced from a Blog*)

Cha Bar 2
Cha Bar at the reopened Oxford Bookstore, CP, Delhi
(Image courtesy: Zomato)

Cha Bar 3
Reopened Oxford Bookstore, CP, Delhi
(Image courtesy: Zomato)

The only saving grace came from the book shop (and not book lounge). Book stacks were easier to approach. Here the white gelled well with the ambience. The collection was obviously good. It was supported well with material on multimedia content. There is no need to write on other stuff available in the shop, the gifts, the goodies, the accessories. They were regulars like in the previous one.

Yes, the positive development for me, to visit the bookstore, came in the last, during the time I spend looking for books, movies and documentaries. Surprisingly, I could find some good content on Auschwitz and Holocaust.

When almost every book is available from online bookstores like Amazon or Flipkart on healthy discounts, and that too, at your doorstep, bookstores like Oxford (not offering any discount) with concepts like Cha Bar can still a good draw provided they maintain the lounge character of the store. That I could not find here, during my first visit to the reopened and the remodeled store. Hope, it will be a better experience next time, obviously with a better chai.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/