Women Dhakis of Bengal: Girl Power Unleashed

Photo Courtesy: The Indian Express
Photo Courtesy: The Indian Express

I woke up to the sound of Dhak today, its Shashti morning! The much awaited Durga pujo is finally here; BTW the dhak is playing in the ETV Bangla’s TV show where they are showing different pandals of Kolkata.

Welcome to the Durga Pujo in the Delhi NCR.

We being probashi will only get to hear them LIVE when we reach the pandals, which is a good few kilometres away. The sound of dhak is as ubiquitous to pujo as laal paad saari to Bengali ladies. The Dhakis wearing starched dhoti and phatua carrying a humongous dhaks with feathery tail have heralded Bengal’s most important festive season since time immemorial. However, times are changing, they are now getting a tough competition from the girls. Yes, a troupe of girls from Maslandapur village of West Bengal, is setting the tone of this year’s puja.

A girl dhaki—how cool is that!

According to Indian Express:

Late on Mahalaya evening, the prelude to Bengal’s 10-day puja carnival, 25-year-old Uma Das prepares to take centrestage at a south Kolkata pandal. Her face, with a dot of sandalwood paste adorning the forehead, is a mask of concentration. Her lal paar sari is starched stiff, with not a fold out of place. As she moves towards the dais, you half expect her to pick up a thali and help out with the puja preparation. Instead, Uma hangs the jute strap attached to a hefty dhak around her neck and signals her band of five women to follow suit.

What a refreshing change, this can only happen in Bengal. This is a small post I wrote in a jiffy in the spirit of Durga Pujo—you see I am a bong I have to make a post on pujo as I am sitting in the office trying hard to kill time till the evening, before I head to the pandal.

Happy Durga Pujo, everyone!

#durgapuja2015 #womendhakis #girlpower #girldrummers #bengalis


Toddler’s Play – Butterfly Kiss

Actor: Hagar Tishman; Director: Elinor Agam Ben-David

As a kid growing up in the 90s, my first recollection of summer vacation is a day of chasing dragonflies with my friends. The bratty-ones use to tie a thread on the tail of the flies (sounds brutal, I know)—they were the expert in the game—much-respected and lauded among their peers. Such was our obsession of catching the flies that even games like pitthu and hide-n-seek took a backseat that summer. We all use to start early so that we get enough flies to practice and master our art. Fast-forward today; my 2-year old first introduction to the concept of the chase has come from The Temple Run or Subway Surfers.

So, when a few weeks back Israel-based director Elinor Agam Ben-David’s toddler play Butterfly Kiss came to The Indian Habitat Center, Delhi, I knew that I wouldn’t miss it for life, for my sake as well as Aurko’s. The concept of the toddler’s plays being non-existent in India, I was eager to find how they would hold the attention of a 2-year old.

Butterfly Kiss narrates the tale of a young girl who catches butterflies in a jar and finally decides to set them free, but only after getting the last butterfly’s kiss. After watching the first scene, I knew that only a mother—who knows the psyche of a child—can come up with a concept so simple and innocent. The use of hand puppets, digital artwork and toys made the show visually appealing and interactive at the same time.

The play was recited by the beautiful lone actor Hagar Tishman, who effortlessly formed a bond with the audience the moment she entered the stage. Dancing, playing and sharing butterflies, Tishman made sure that the backbenchers also get the same attention. Kids were allowed to stand very close to the stage so that they can participate. Unfortunately, all the kids in the front where way older than toddlers, but nonetheless the interaction was not limited to the front rows.

Now, how Aurko perceived the show is all together a different ball game. I would say the experience of sitting among 50 kids was something new to him. He was very coy and shy to start with, but warmed up to the show in the end, much to my surprise. It’s just a start for him; we are taking tiny steps now. Though, I have not seen a dragonfly in Delhi yet. I hope to find few butterflies in our small garden for him to chase. At the end of the show, we all received a handful of little butterflies, which the actress tapped on our cheeks—like a kiss.

Altogether, it was a wonderful experience, and something I would love to see again.

This is an old post firstly written for my previous blog Idle Tusser.

#thingstodowithkids #toddlerplays #toddlertheater #oneofitskind


Heritage Transport Museum: A Photo Diary

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If you are vehicle enthusiasts, head straight to this one-of-its-kind Heritage Transport Museum. Housed about 40 KM from Gurgaon, this stunning and well-maintained Museum is a goldmine for transit junkies, packed with information and dozens of the actual vehicles used to transport high-flying Indians over the past 150 years. Run by Mr. Tarun Thakral of Le Meridien, New Delhi, the museum houses an eclectic collection of vintage cars (from IMPALA to Pontiac), hand carts, palanquins, boats, a train compartment, Pakistani truck-art by famous artist Anjum Rana, and even a bi-plane. Built on a 3 acre complex, the museum is spread over four air-conditioned floors that offer over 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, library and reference centre, mini auditorium, souvenir shop, and cafeteria.

What’s on offer?

Take your kids on a walk through time and explore the history of transport in India, although I felt they need to make it more interactive for the kids. Lots of vintage cars, buses, mini Vespas to see; but they can’t really clamber or touch it, and that could be a little disappointing for little kids. (Disclaimer: I am not endorsing touching the displays here, in India you can’t really allow that). I felt a nice play area where kids can indulge in a vehicle-related activity would have been nice. Though, after checking the four floors of the museum kids can enjoy a day of painting, pottery, horse and camel ride in the outdoor plush green area—but they can do that anywhere, right?

Getting there

Finding the place was a little taxing for us as it is a bit far from Gurgaon, and the GPS showed 2 approaches— via Sohna or NH8. NH8 is recommended, and a possible landmark could be GITM College. The place itself is in the middle of nowhere so that made it a nice little road trip for us.

Mommy Tips:

  • It felt great to visit a museum like this in India with great exhibits, informative displays and without any jostling for space.
  • Cafeteria is running but there are limited things on offer (Pastas, Popcorns and Yippee noodles are not my thing)
  • One can spend 3-4 hours easily exploring the museum
  • Souvenirs are expensive as all the cars and trucks are designed and decorated by famous artist Anjum Rana. However, it’s worth paying for if you are into that kind of stuffs.
  • The entire place is accessible by stroller and wheelchair


Highly Recommended.

#destinationunlocked #eyeforluxury #kidsdayout #daytrip #everythingvintage #parenting #placestovisit #mustvisit #museum

A version of this blog post also got published in Huffington Post India under my name. Here’s the link of that post.