global travel shot: the 6th nizam of hyderabad’s wardrobe

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When you are one of the richest men in the world, a ruler of a princely State where diamonds are measured in kilograms and pearls by acres, and have an obsession for fine clothes, lots of fine clothes—this is what your wardrobe looks like. 🙂

Made of the finest Burma teak, the wardrobe of His Highness Asaf Jah VI Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Siddiqi Bayafandi, the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad State (1869 – 1911), is 176 feet long and built on two levels. It remains housed to date in the old palace or Purani Haveli in Hyderabad’s Old City. Post India’s independence, the palace is now a school and a museum; the latter packed with the silver and gold gifts encrusted with diamonds presented to the 7th Nizam on his silver jubilee celebrations in 1936.

The 6th Nizam is said to have never repeated his clothes. Once worn, they were given away. Some claim he bought entire bales when getting his clothes stitched and had the unused fabric burnt to ensure there was no other outfit remotely like his. Sherwanis, shirts, coats, socks, shoes, headgear; he could just not have enough of them. The lives of the rich and famous in 19th Century India! 😀

Factoid: The Nizams, an abbreviated version of Nizam-ul-Mulk meaning administrator of the realm, were of Turkish origin from Samarkand region. They were the sovereign rulers of Hyderabad State for 224 years, from 1724 to 1948, an area that spread over 214,190 sq. kilometres populated by 16.34 million people at the time of India’s independence.

the walking sticks collection at salar jung museum, hyderabad

Have you ever been to a museum gallery dedicated to just walking sticks? Yup, you read me right—walking sticks. In all shapes and sizes, in cane, Malacca cane, wood, sandalwood, ivory, fish-bone, jade, glass, metal, and leather. Walking sticks with snuff boxes, and umbrellas and gupti [blades] inside. Where some handle heads are decorated with semi-precious stones, some lined with silver and gold, and others yet shaped as horse hooves, shoes, classical figurines, and the various inmates of an animal farm.

Bet you have not! 😀 Continue reading

blogging workshops with me: evolve your blogging skills

Four years ago I was forced to re-evaluate my life. My father was in hospital and I ended up spending a lot of time waiting—waiting for visiting hours, counselling meetings with the doctors, test results. Times like these force one to look within and ask questions.

A seemingly simple enough question asked of me by my sister, over a coffee in the hospital cafeteria, triggered it further: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I did not have an answer. And that scared me. Like shit. It made me realize how disconnected I had become with my own self.

On the surface I had a fancy job in a fancy office. I worked from 9 to 9. But I had become so engrossed in the minutiae of deadlines and meetings, wrapped in the trees I had stopped looking at the forest aka myself and my journey.

A series of soul-searching questions later, I left my job, moved to Bombay and set up The Communique. I just knew I had to live out my purpose.

Purpose is a funny thing, wouldn’t you agree? Once we find it, it is hard to let go of it. I was lucky I discovered it—yes, it was in the same hospital. My dad was discharged, declared weak but on the road to recovery. And I walked by his side, with clarity in each footstep.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while would have surmised I love blogging. It is a deep seated love which goes back 19 years. Building capacity in communication is the purpose which brought me to Bombay in 2014. A commitment to share my learnings in communication acquired over two decades of experience and study. Rather disparate, you will agree. Blogging and capacity building in communication. And for quite a while I accepted them as separate facets of myself where the twain were unlikely to meet.

Till three months ago. Continue reading

to blog or not to blog?

When people tell me they want to become a blogger my first response is “how committed are you?” Blogging is not a one-night-stand. How one wishes it was! It is a commitment you make to blog a post, an intelligible post that adds value to your readers’ lives, week in and week out. There is no finish line. To worsen it, you are only as successful a blogger as your last post, where the last post is a recent post.

Think your tryst with blogging can stand the test of time? If yes, hey, congratulations. It is one of the most satisfying forms of self-expression replete with engagement and making the world a better place. It allows you to grow as a person and continuously learn and share. If not, steer clear. For it can also be gruelling and mechanical, requiring oodles of self-discipline. Make your choice. And then stick to it coz there is no fence to sit on here. ❤

What do you feel about blogging and commitment? Would love to hear them.

[Note: This post was published earlier in the week in my communication blog on tumblr]

national museum, new delhi – 90 minutes at the museum

The National Museum, New Delhi makes the herculean task of experiencing India’s monumental heritage spanning 5,000 years—doable. You could always spend 3 minutes looking at each object in its 210,000 piece collection. But that would take 14.5 months with no sleep or meals inbetween. Or you could do an audio tour and spend a day exploring its glorious galleries through 64 masterpieces. And if you have just one and a half hours, then why not feast your eyes on its very best.

Earlier housed in the Rashtrapati Bhawan [President’s residence], the collection has its roots in 1947 when the Royal Academy, together with the governments of India and Britain, decided to hold an “Exhibition of Indian Art” in London. Selected artefacts from museums across India were collected for the showing.

Before returning the exhibits to their respective museums, it was decided to display the exhibition in Delhi as well. What a huge success it turned out to be! The overwhelming response led to the idea of a permanent National Museum being set up in the capital with its very own building by India Gate which it moved into in 1960.

The National Museum has it all. From the iconic Harappan Dancing Girl to elegant Gandharan Buddhas, from exquisite miniature Mughal paintings to luscious Tanjore compositions, from Chola bronzes to 20th Century decorative arts, from medieval sculptures of voluptuous Hindu deities to diamond and emerald regalia of its once-upon-a-time royalty. The Museum has all these, and much much more.

Here are my 15 favourite pieces collated after rambling through its collections and meditating over its audio tour. Doable in 90 minutes. 🙂 Continue reading

the 6 untold treasures of vadodara

Friend: “You’re going to Vadodara. Wonderful idea! There is a lot to see in the city. After all, it is the cultural capital of Gujarat.”
Me: “Nice. So what do you suggest I visit and explore?”
Friend: “The Lukshmi Villas Palace is an absolute must!”
Me: “Ok, will do. What else?” [As I jotted it frantically in my notebook in anticipation of being hit by a barrage of to-do-things]
Friend: “The museum attached to the palace is another must do.”
Me: “Ok, got that down too. And?”
Friend: “Hmmm. Oh well. I don’t know. But there is a lot. Hey, it is the cultural capital. But I don’t know…”

Yes, that is it with Vadodara, earlier known as Baroda. Though it is publicly acknowledged as the cultural capital of Gujarat, its attractions are neither documented nor publicised. At least not enough and one cannot be blamed for wondering if they even exist. Continue reading