For my last day, I decided to spend some exetended time in rick-shaws. These are better than any sight-seeing buses! Bye Bye Delhi! I hope I will see you again soon; but cooler this time! Will miss you. All the best, Amelie
The day started pretty well with some laptop work in a rick-shaw on a bumpy street (with take-away coffees on top). I do not recommend! After this accidental working session, I head to Old Delhi once again to have a Devanagari dip. As expected, I was not deceived. I also had the chance to get one of this booklet that help opticians to find out the sight level of their customers.
Five Senses Garden
By this very warm sunday -temperatures are reaching 43 degree Celsius- nothing than chill out in one of the few green areas of Delhi. We are heading to the Five Senses Garden, close by Saket.To my surprise and delight, the garden possesses a wayfinding system with some interesting letter cuttings at the entrance. The Devanagari typeface used in the signs is pretty bad, with plenty of inconstancies, shape and weight wise. When the sun sets, the garden turns into a marvellous location with the moon and stars as witnesses.
Back in Old Delhi
From GK II, jump in the 540 bus. Try to fit in. Do not pay more than 15 Rs for the journey to Central Secretariat where you then catch the Metro to reach Chawri Baazar station. It's always nice to have a bit of modernity and a/c when it's 40 degree Celsius outside! On the way to the Jama Masjid and the Standard Type foundry, I noticed the bricks had some Devanagari letters cast into. Once again at the foundry, the communication is still difficult. This time my translator is on call. And I eventually get this whole Hindi wood type set.
Back in Hauz Khas
From GK II, jump in the 540 bus. Try to fit in. Do not pay more than 10 Rs for the journey to Aurobindo market. Finish the trip walking down to the quiet Hauz Khas. On the way, one can also stop by the South Indian temple with marble all over. Hauz Khas is very relaxing. You can find there graphic design studios, shops with hidden treasures and very trendy cafes. Next to the Archeological Park, step down to the Old Maps shop. Inside you will find hundreds of movie posters! My last acquisition is a Bengali poster from the Satyajit Ray movie. More than awesome!
Back in Delhi
I feel like to be back home! And always more samples of Devanagari letterings.
Welcome to City Beautiful
Chandigarh is an interesting stop in my Northern trip. Like Brasilia, the city has been entirely decided on maps. Herbert Mayer with Matthew Nowicki were the first in charge of the planning of the Punjab and Haryana capital. Following the accidental death of Nowicki, Jawaharlal Nehru asked Le Corbusier to pursue the work for Chandigarh aka City Beautiful. The result is quite remarkable, balancing open spaces, large scale public buildings and superblock housing. Some interesting samples of Gumurkhi are also living in town.
The mountain train linking Shimla to Kallka (Himachal Pradesh) is like an amusement one with its 98 tunnels crossed on the way down. The vista points are quite impressive, looking from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the valleys of the Himalayan foothills. And we also had the chance to have a drizzling rain!
From Dharamshala, the lower part of McLeod Ganj, I took another night bus. To avoid the nightmare journey I experienced going from Delhi to McLeod Ganj, I chose a Deluxe bus. Hopelessly, the extra passengers spend their nights sleeping on the knees. Eventually in Shimla, the surroundings look very European. One can easily be fooled and think to be in Switzerland. Shimla has the smell of India under the British administration. The Institute of Advance Research is a great heritage from this era. The building designed in a Scottish style is now a place for scholars to pursue their research in humanities. The bookshop is notable for its linguistic references.
After four weeks in Delhi, it is time to get out of the city. First destination of my week journey is McLeod Ganj, in the foothills of the Himalaya mountains. The town is rather small however its importance makes no doubt since it is the residence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. Houses and prayer flags are hooked to the steep slope of the mountains with snowny pics of the Himalaya in the background. Many inscriptions in the town are as a matter of fact written in Tibetan script. India and Devanagari seem a little far.
One great landmark of Baghsu, the village attached to McLeod Ganj is the free access pool filled with the waterfall water. Swimming with Indians and Tibetans was a real experience of bliss! Sadly, no other girl than me took a dip in the very fresh water.
Delhi Public Library
Going to the Public Library of Delhi was another real experience by itself. Naturally, the main branch is located in Old Delhi which is not the most quiet place of the city. Filled with a street chai and having survived to the usual traffic jam, I get inside the library. Willing to stay in the rules, I asked to the "information desk" the authorisation to take pictures of the material on loan. Following this simple request, I have been lead from offices to waiting rooms; I eventually met the Director of the Library two hours later, in order to explain my request. The library is sponsored by the Unesco. The first pictures below are from a penguin edition in Devanagari. The next books are random editions in Devanagari and Gumurki. The Constitution of India is also standing high in the Reference room. The large book was entirely calligraphed by Prem Behari Narain Raizada and photo-lithographed. The kid section was also refreshing and the kids behaved well! They all know their Devanagari syllabary.
Museum of Crafts
To have a good start, more stencil found in the street and one nice poster with 3D Devanagari! After a long journey through the city, I eventually find the Museum of Crafts, hidden behind Purana Qila. The heat is at its maximum, all insects are on the move! The museum is not the most famous of Delhi and its signage reflects this lack of interest. The bilingual communication is particularly wrong and disgraceful. At the opposite the pieces exhibited are fantastic. From Shiva wooden statues to the Orissan drawings, through the whole textile tradition of India.
Ready to make the most of my day, I get on my rest when I discovered that it is Good Friday and that India is celebrating it! Thanks God, buses are running. Buses is such an experience here. The most difficult part is to find out which bus one have to take, since the bus stops are pretty minimalist. At night, buses switch to some king of disco mobile with the music out loud and few little flashlights here and there; very cool! A little metro ride, and here I am in front of Anuman temple. Quite impressive, you enter the temple through the mounth. On the way to Janpath market, I found this nice bilingual poster in Hindi and Urdu, which are similar languages using very different scripts.Lotus Temple is a family attraction. It is a nice place to be.
The stencil is one style well shared through the type world. Here is one good sample from some electric street cupboard. Walking down the street (rick-shaw strike), I get visually chocked by the bike/ice cream stand. Is it Kali ordering you to get one of these delicatessen? After this (another) hot day, nothing but a rest in a peaceful park (pretty rare in Delhi).
I am now the happy and lucky owner of a Moli-Moli, this red bracelet ladies wear on their left arms. Temples are some relaxing places in the tumult of Delhi.
What's on TV? Soap, cricket game or Hindi news?
Standard Type Foundry
... This time I came with a translator!
Pursuing the research in Old Delhi, I went to explore the bookshop neighbourhood of Darya Ganj. The reserve of Manohar Books is full of old and rare books. Among them some are printed in Devanagari, Bengali or Urdu. As a matter of fact, I took a particular interest in the Devanagari ones.
My new friend in Pahar Ganj (what a crazy neighbourhood btw) is Gurmukh, the wood cutter/henna maker. We made some sort of agreement: every morning I am coming in to show him some bits of calligraphy when he explains me some wood cutting tips and henna making. Thinking about a way to design an "italic' Devanagari I have been attracted by the script style one can see on various doors and rick-shaws. After some research on the Standard Type Foundry, I eventually found it in a small alley close to the Mosque in Old Delhi. This place is unbelievable... more to see will come soon.
Rick-shaw to South Delhi
What is the best transport solution to reach the South of Delhi from the North? Answer: Metro and rick-shaw. The metro transportation is smelling new in Delhi with the great luxury of air conditioning in every coach. I have to say that its standard is higher than the Paris or London ones. Following this shot of modernity, one user has to go back to the buses or the most enjoyable rick-shaws. Some road signs are elevated to highest point of multilinguism: Hindi, English, Gumurki and Urdu are sharing the same panel. After a short walk in Lodi Gardens, I am heading deeper South through Delhi's traffic, ruled by car horns. I was surprised to discover on the back seat of my driver these wonderful Hindi words. South Delhi is an agreeable place, where air conditioning is provided in cafes! On the way I found these beautiful transliterations of some English initials.
The owner of the wood cutting store, next to my hotel, insisted to offer me a henna tattoo: Nirmala! Visiting Old Delhi is an adventure by itself. You have to fight against traffic, rick-shaws, chai vendors, electric lines... On the way back to my hotel, I have found some nice Devanagari samples.
My new location and for the six coming weeks is India. I just landed early this morning and could not resist to take visual notes of the multilingual situation of the Abu Dhabi and Dehli airports.