Tag Archives: ITO

River crossing

Five Yamuna walks ♦

Cities usually consider a river to be a blessing, but us Dilliwalas tend to turn our backs to ours. We hold our breath while driving across the Yamuna, thoughtlessly discharge our waste into it, pour concrete over its banks and, during the occasional festival, dump statues, diyas and other religious paraphernalia into its choked waters. In this Time Out Delhi cover story from January 2012, walk to the water with a series of guided strolls over and around five of the city’s road bridges, from Wazirabad to Okhla. Delhi does its best to kill the Yamuna, but take a closer look – our riverbanks are surprisingly alive.

Read the full story below, download it as a prettier PDF here, or find it online at Time Out Delhi.

Published: January 4, 2013

Shankar’s International Doll’s Museum

The world in miniature ♦

This article is part of a longer story on Delhi’s museums.

To celebrate Janmashtami this year, the doll-makers at this museum’s hidden workshop spent four months working on a new diorama. It’s the 45-year-old museum’s only multi-sensory display: a tableau of Vasudeva crossing the Yamuna with baby Krishna on his head. Thunder crashes and lightening flickers over the plastic rain and frozen waves, adding a gloomy vibe to the dim room, which is already eerie with the hundred glassy doll eyes looking out at you.

When political cartoonist K Shankar Pillai began amassing little people (many of them gifts from visiting heads of state), he envisioned his collection as a mini-United Nations. That vision still defines the Shankar’s International Doll’s Museum, but it is – perhaps like the UN itself – a bit frayed. There are amazing, gently disintegrating dolls here: a 250-year-old Swiss doll (who has been “confined to bed” in the display); Shankar’s first doll – an apple-cheeked Hungarian peasant;  Japanese Girl’s Day festival hinamatsuri dolls with precise little fans and scrolls; witch-faced Irish biddies; and so much more. There are also recreations of Neil Armstrong’s first moonwalk, Krishna cavorting with a bunch of wild-haired gopis, and Indian dolls made in the museum’s own workshop. Sadly, information on the doll-folk’s individual histories is negligible.

Shankar’s International Doll’s Museum Children’s Book Trust, Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg (+91 11 2331 6970). Pragati Maidan. Tue-Sun 10am-6pm, Entry R15; R5 for children under 12.

Read more about Delhi’s museums.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, September 2011.

Published: September 5, 2011