INDIA & THE WORLD:A HISTORY IN NINE STORIES

In Mumbai last week, I went to the marvellous exhibition “India and the world: A history in nine stories” which is on at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya – or, as it says on their own website “(Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)”.

Although the exhibition will travel to Delhi later this year, I very much wanted to see it in the splendid surroundings of the beautiful colonial-era museum.

At the risk of sounding bossy – please do go see this exhibition.

Trust me.  You will not be disappointed.

It is superb, and the way objects are displayed and explained is world-class, weaving history laterally across countries and religions through 9 stories.

The concept of the exhibition is fascinating, allowing us to see Indian artefacts in a global context, across civilisations.  We see how Indian history ties in, for example, with the history of Rome or Greece or Mesopotamia, and you can stand and compare contemporaneous sculptures or pottery from across civilisations, as they are exhibited together.

Take a display like this one, above, in which images of emperors across different civilisations are placed side by side – a Kushan king from India’s Uttar Pradesh, the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Alexander the Great.

Quite extraordinary.

This is a rare, very privileged opportunity to see treasures from the collections of the British Museum, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya itself, and Delhi’s National Museum, as well as objects from smaller regional museums and private collections.  In other words, access to objects you would otherwise never get to see.

All the stops have been pulled out:

“It is the largest such collaboration for even the British Museum, which has never before lent so many objects for a single show.”

https://scroll.in/magazine/858303/an-exhibition-tells-the-incredible-history-of-indian-civilisation-through-nine-stories

Stunning.

The exhibition is on in Mumbai until February 18th and then it heads to Delhi in March, for 3 months.

Every single object on display is remarkable.  But there were some special favourites.

How divine is this little Harappan era agate bull, below?

Tiny, gorgeous, perfect.  Dates from1800BC.  Too lovely.

Loved this juxtaposition, below, of two religious icons:

Loved the slightly cross-eyed elephants in this Golconda painting:

And this was fun, below.

The British Museum’s Roman copy of the original Greek Discobolus, dating from 100AD:

And a 2012 Chinese reinterpretation, complete with Mao suit:

Details of the dates and timings can be found on the exhibition website.

Disclosure: I paid for my ticket + Rs100 for a photo pass, and no-one at the museum knew I blog.

Putting the Adidas Supernova Glide 6 running shoes through their paces

In the two short years in which I’ve been running, I have discovered many things.  Many, many things, and all of them good things.

Except, perhaps, the habit I have of getting too fond of my running shoes, which means that the arrival of a lovely new pair is always accompanied by sadness and regret at the passing of the old pair…

#oldagesentimentality

Thus it was that when my lovely Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost began to wear out, I had to take the inevitable “old & new” photo.

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I loved my Climachill, and did a follow-up review, just so I could talk about them again.

But time (and daily running) take their toll on shoes, and so enter a new pair of Adidas shoes into my life.

And, yes, how lovely and bright and springy they look, compared to my old ones…that disloyalty again!  I really do love the bright colours, completely cheerfully OTT bright.

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The Supernova Glide 6 are sturdier shoes than the Climachill, which means that they instantly felt more cushion-y and, yes, springier than their predecessors, without ever feeling heavy, especially after the super-light Climachill.

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They are made of that nice mesh, that feels easy on the feet.  In my case, as I have big ungainly feet, the mesh makes putting the shoes on nice and easy, and they feel instantly comfortable.  Not at all tight, nor in need of being broken in, even from Day 1.

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Lacing is easy :

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The cushioning is good and has lasted well, despite heavy usage, with almost daily running.

I started the year wearing these shoes, on 1st January exactly, and have run some 752 km in them thus far, including my first ever full marathon.  And then my second ever full marathon.  So, sadly, in exactly 3 months these beauties are now up for replacement.  Overdue, in fact.

They have travelled well and often in less than 3 months, running on many surfaces, from the roads of Mumbai and Delhi for my 2 marathons, to the beach in Sri Lanka last week, and the pavements and parks of London:

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Great shoes, that don’t feel tired or worn out, despite their 752km.

Would I recommend them?
Definitely.

Would I buy them again?

Yes, indeed.

Will I get all sentimental about retiring them?

Oh most definitely.

What is Siri Fort Sports Complex, New Delhi like?

I have just returned from my first ever visit to the Siri Fort Sports Complex in Delhi, and at first I thought, “How can I review it after only one session there? Hardly seems fair.”

And then I thought, “Hang on, I will happily write a review of a restaurant after only one meal, so same difference.”

I used the jogging track, running with one of my running group, as we try and get fit for the Mumbai half marathon.

I was seriously impressed at this clean, quiet, green oasis, right in the heart of the city.  Ample safe parking. Blissfully quiet. After running on city roads, what a treat to run on a good track. Very clean, even the loos.

Slightly bored indifferent staff, but that is par for the course in India with any government/municipal initiative, always coupled with the obvious dread of perhaps having to speak in English with an old foreigner…as it is, this old foreigner can speak Hindi, so that was OK.

Got myself my day pass with only minimum explanation required that yes I am a foreigner, but yes I live here, and that yes I am PIO and…all OK in the end.  They even knocked Rs2 off the price, since no-one had any change.  Sweet.

As I was cooling off after my run, I was challenged by a security guard for not having said day pass.  “Gave it in at the desk over there,” I huffed, bright red in the face.

He went and checked at the desk, and dismissively told me, “Thik hai.”

“Oh,” I asked him, “so you think I would tell you a lie?”

“No, of course not madam.”

“So why didn’t you believe me. Do I look like a liar?”

“No madam, of course not”,  and he saluted, so that was that.

 

Very impressed by what I saw.  It was pretty empty at 3 when we started running, but as the afternoon wore on, and I guess schools finished, lots of children were rolling up, mainly for tennis practice it would seem

I can envisage more runs here, and a post run coffee in the Barista outlet.

Am seriously, unequivocally delighted that my tax rupees have been so well spent.

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Well-tended lawns and flower beds, and gardeners hard at work this afternoon.

Brilliant running track.

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Intriguing sculpture (below).  Guess the message is to get off that couch and into your sports gear.  Could’ve been our logo for our “Couch – 6km” programme last year.

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A slightly puzzling sign (below).

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Only sad note – rubbish “hidden” behind a wall, right next to ticket booth, and a “Swachh Bharat” poster.  No litter otherwise in the complex, which was such a treat, so this was unnecessary.

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Pick it up, fellas, don’t chuck it underneath the hoardings, behind a wall.

The Hundred Foot Journey

It’s not that any film with the  glorious Helen Mirren and the equally glorious Om Puri will automatically be brilliant…well, actually, now you come to mention it, yes, it will, and yes “The Hundred Foot Journey” is.

This is one of those genuinely feel-good movies, and to see it in Delhi (where I live) made it even more special.

The story line is simple.  Indian immigrants, fleeing mob violence in Mumbai, and the death of the family matriarch, end up in the South of France and decide to settle there and open an Indian restaurant.

They end up in the South of France more by accident than by design, since their old rattletrap of a car pretty much makes the decision for them, giving up the ghost just outside a perfectly bijou little hamlet in France.

They find a property and start to rebuild the restaurant they had in Mumbai, before it was burned to the ground.

The only problem is that their chosen venue is right across the road – about 100 feet away, in fact – from a one star Michelin restaurant, owned and run by Madame Mallory, played to perfection by Helen Mirren. I don’t know why I was surprised at the excellence of Ms Mirren’s French. Stupid of me, really.

Throw in yet more racism – tackled head on by Madame Mallory – and oodles of “snobbisme”, and a burgeoning romance or two, and the result is a gorgeous, happy, genuinely feel good film.
Seeing it in India, Om Puri’s muttered Hindi asides (many of them asking advice of his beloved late wife) needed no translation, and the audience clearly loved him and his approach to the patronising snobbery of Madame Mallory.

It was fun watching the crucial (& cross-cultural) masala omelette test. I guessing having lived away from Europe for so, so many years, and having come to expect/require a dash of masala on everything, the idea of experiencing a masala omelette for the very first time is cute –  we dilliwalas certainly enjoyed Madame’s reaction.

There is no great message, no particularly heavy insights to be gleaned from “The Hundred Foot Journey” – so just sit back and enjoy the film.
It is visually lovely, has a feel-good ending, so what more can one ask?

Ms Mirren and Mr. Puri are excellent.

And as for the gorgeous Manish Dayal…well…

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