The new slum settlement with its houses that look like mounds that have grown out of the parched earth and the tall buildings jutting into and scratching the sky out of nowhere in the background somewhere in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. Both were surprising in their own right and their contrast was striking.

It is rumored in the neighborhood that the slum has got Rohingya refugees that entered India from Bangladesh, which has no reports of official confirmation.

Slums dwellers are an unofficial, unrecognized, and unacknowledged economic class in the country. For one, they form great part of the country’s renewable resources recycling industry. The dwellers of this slum are actively engaged in one of the early phases of recycling resources recovered by the municipal council majorly from household wastes.


Petrichor Poets and Poetry

Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place, New Delhi hosted a poetry reading session on the evening of 9 February 2018. That was part of the run-up readings to Delhi Poetry Festival 5 (IIT, New Delhi, 23 – 25 February 2018). Over a score of poets gathered on that calm evening. The program was organized in collaboration with Petrichor, a creative writing society of over 120 members based in Venkateswara College of Delhi University.

Petrichor started as a club in the Department of English of the college to provide the students poets and writers with a consciously nurturing space for creativity, which was nonexistent there then. The society has collaborated with Oxford Bookstore, CP, New Delhi, and Delhi Poetry Festival.

Poets from Petrichor, including Arijit Roy, founder and President of the society, also read their poems. I photographed all of the poets while they were reading their poems. Some of them are below. These photographs may not be of all those Petrichor poets. If any poet is missing, I will add them here soon. As I don’t know anything about them yet, not even their names (except of a couple of them), I have left the photographs with no textual accompaniment. I will request Arijit to tell me at least their names. It would be a great idea to post a few poems each (including the ones they read that evening) along with the poets’ photographs.

Megha Sawhney

Rajeev Anand

Misk Khurana

Aditya Rao

Vridhi Arora

Sukeerat Channi

Arijit Roy, founder and President of Petrichor

There are various other versions of the photographs here. If the poets want any or all of the versions to be sent to them, write to Lake Bard here. It may take some time but Thoithoi O’Cottage replies. As he does this just in the interest of the poets and not for any commercial purposes, he entertains requests at his leisure.


Students’ Protest

Part of the ongoing students’ protests against the JNU administration’s controversial 75% compulsory attendance regulation put into force by a circular dated 22 December 2017. Almost all students find the regulation debilitating to them–students don’t play absentees for pleasure but most absent students are absent for good reasons that have to do conducting their lives and that cannot be summaries in a few words. And there does not seem to be cases of total absentism–students keep in touch with teachers or their classmates to keep on track and abreast of the goings-on in the courses.

The incumbent VC, Jagadesh Kumar, has been consistently controversial (many are of the opinion that he is insistent on being so) since his “installation” at the heart of the university’s administration in 2016. The VC’s decisions and administrative hands seem to be controlled remotely be some obvious political forces he is affiliated to.

The main protest activities happen at the yard in front of the main administrative building, which was named Freedom Square during the nation-shaking students’ protests following the February 2016 events in the university campus. The small protest group in this photograph was one of the several protest gatherings on 15 February at several parts of the campus around the administrative building and the school areas, and these groups were not self-conscious–students came and joined the protest, chanted slogans and left while new students joined in, and the protests kept going.

Waiting for Dinner

Dogs waiting in front of a meat shop for their dinner. On my way back from the gym at around 10 every night, I see the butchers give these dogs some scraps of meat right before they close the shop. In Delhi, there is always a good relationship between street dogs and people within the boundaries of places specific communities of dogs specify as their territories. That relationship is one of great love. The dogs bark at any odd movements around within their territory–they behave (or act?) as self-conscious local guards.