Qutub’s towering past and my Dilli pigeons


The blog has been on a month-long hiatus, the result of my end-of-semester workload and then a rapid departure from D.C. We’re back in action, though probably less frequently, as I’m on the move for the summer, working and researching overseas.

The above picture dates to my trip to India in December-January. My favorite Delhi flocks over my favorite Delhi landmark.

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Temple kabutar!


My ongoing obsession with pigeons. These come from the Harmandir Sahib complex. It was a hot afternoon and pigeons need to drink, too.

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Good luck birds

A flock of pigeons, fed often for good luck and other auspicious reasons, in Old Delhi.

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Kabutar! In silhouette…


On the dome of a Lodi Garden tomb.

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The cloistered life of wealth

Flight of the pigeons

An interior courtyard at the palace of Mariam-uz-Zamani, known today as Jodhabai, the Rajput princess who became wife to Mughal emporer Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, or Akbar the Great. Her palace today is a World Heritage site at Fatehpur Sikri near Agra.

Today, the warrens of Fatehpur and nearby Agra are tourist nightmares. They represent the ghoul that arises when Western wealth and gullibility meet Indian poverty and aggressive entrepreneurship. The touts, the scams, the hawkers as well as the ignorance and self-rigteous behavior (from both sides, mind you). Oy. There are few places in India I like less.

But inside Jodhabai’s haven — and similarly inside the Taj Mahal — one finds respite. Of course, behind the peaceful walls, I’m not unlike a member of the Mughal court of the 1500s, cloistered safely away from the poor, common folk hustling and bustling in the dirt outside.

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Winged desert rats

The one in the middle is clearly giving me the stink eye

In honor of my upcoming trip to the desert state of Rajasthan, here are 2004-era pigeons from a royal courtyard in Jaipur. Though we tend to think of pigeons as diseased garbage birds, in Islam (and even in some secular segments of India) they are respected or even lucky.

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