____ There is a crisis in the field of architecture. There are millions of materials to choose from and manufacturers chase professionals to adopt theirs. However, more and more buildings come to look like ugly pigeon holes. In times of disaster, excessive rains or earthquakes, they just crumble up. Is this profession actually advancing, or is it suffering from retrogression, I wonder sometimes. Where our ancestors could build structures of immense beauty and durability, why is it that today’s professionals fail to build a proper…Continue Reading “They built homes that would last!”

This world is full of skeptics. Whenever we announce a walk, some people respond with comments like, Why don’t you walk for charity? Why don’t you plant trees instead? or simply, Walk se kya hoga? Thick skinned as we are, we continue to walk. It is people like the Dhimans that give us the courage to go on. This is a story worth telling and at the outset I must apologize to the main characters, Mrs. and Mr. Vishu Dhiman and Mr. Mittal (in the…Continue Reading “IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT!”

   While our well-fed politicians constantly debate religion and caste – high up in the Himalayas, where each passing day is a losing battle against mom nature, in the alpine meadows, zero-hour is usually dedicated to the debate on goats versus sheep. While sheep are better propositions economically, ask any experienced grazer and he will prefer to walk with goats. Perhaps because they are more sure footed. Perhaps shaggy goats in the flock of sheep act as an incentive for the sheep to grow an…Continue Reading “Goats or Sheep?”

_ Perhaps the biggest collective contribution to the freedom struggle from Dehra Dun came in the form of the Salt Satyagraha. Soon after Mahatma Gandhi’s call for the Salt Movement, Mahavir Tyagi, Nardev Shastri and others participated in this movement from 20th April1903 to 7th May 1930. Six groups of freedom fighters extracted salt out of the waters of the Nun River and got themselves arrested at the Town Hall, selling it to each other. The waters of the Nun River were salty, hence the…Continue Reading “Valuing Freedom, Remembering Those That Gave It To Us…”

When in Almora, a must visit is the little shop of Lala Joga Lal Sah in the narrow bazaar. Widely reputed to be the inventor of Bal Mithai, the favourite sweet cake covered with homeopathic-like sugar pills from the hills, Lala ji opened our minds to another dimension on a recent visit. While the shutters were down, I noticed a neatly cut window (red circle) in the store shutters, the sharp edges made rounded with tape. What was that for, I wondered, until he pointed…Continue Reading “Keeping the Doors Open !”

For how long will we allow the JE-Contractor nexus to ruin our heritage? We knocked every door, tried to stop this covering up of heritage structures, like this erstwhile tram station in Dehra Dun, but no one listened. Lets’ cover the entire nation in ugly Aluminum sheets, in the name of beautification, just because we cannot invest in preserving older structures and our heritage facades. Now, let us sit down to wonder why our youth seem so disconnected with their history. Arre Bhai, why did…Continue Reading “LOOTIFICATION !”

On World Environment Day, I happened to be in the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH).  Met their director, Ms. Anuradha Dalmia, and she narrated a wonderful story. NIVH shares its boundary with the Presidential Estate on Rajpur Road, and both properties together have a huge Litchi orchard. The orchards were, as is usually the case in Dehra Dun,  given away every year on contract to garden keepers, who save the fruit from the flying foxes, the bats, collect the fruit and sell it….Continue Reading “Its’ Interconnected…”

It is estimated that at one point in Uttarakhand there were over a hundred thousand water mills in operation in Uttarakhand alone. Watching a gharat at work is like watching poetry in fluid motion. Using a vertical shaft, as the water flows through the channel turning the shaft, the vibrators allow only a few grains to drop into the churning wheel, grinding the grain slowly, into just the right texture, so that it retains its complete nutritional value. Wherever there is flowing water, a gharat…Continue Reading “Gharats – Amazing Himalayan Water Mills”