august 2010 programmes


monday 2nd august
6.30 pm at
IIC Main Auditorium
'Celebrating Delhi' Launch of the book by Penguin Books & The Attic

saturday 7th august
1-3 pm  Food meditation – Breakfast haldi/milk, popped amaranth, muesli

monday 9th august
6.30 pm ‘Sacred Food’ an illustrated lecture by Dr. Bharat Gupt at
IIC Main Auditorium 

friday 20th – wednesday 25th august (Sunday closed)
“Starving Artists” An exhibition of paintings by 8 contemporary Tibetan Artists.
Opening Reception: thursday, August 19th 5:00-7:00 p.m.

friday 20th august
6.30 pm ” Heaven on Earth” a talk by  Pepita Seth 

tuesday 24th august
6.30 pm "Sufiana Kalaam": a performance  of traditional sufi ghazals by Gulfam Sabri  




monday 2nd august
6.30 pm at
IIC Main Auditorium
'Celebrating Delhi' Launch of the book by Penguin Books & The Attic 

Chief Guest: Khushwant Singh

Speakers: Upinder Singh: Introduction to the book and 'Discovering the ancient in Modern Delhi' Pradip Krishen: 'Delhi's most interesting native trees ' Rakhshanda Jalil: 'Dehli ki Aakhri Shama' – a poetic re-enactment of 'The Last Mush’aira of Delhi' 

In 2006 The Attic organized a series of 12 lectures sponsored by Sir Sobha Singh Public Charitable Trust and the IIC on the History, Architecture, Music, Birds and Trees of Delhi. These were not meant for publication but were so popular that Penguin's Diya Kar Hazra asked if we would be interested in collecting them for publication. 

And 4 years later to the day here they are. A few of the original lectures are missing and we specially miss the lectures on the birds of Delhi by Sheila Chhabra ( too many colour pictures) and the brilliant re-enactment of the last Mush'aira of Delhi (copyright problems) but have made up by adding an article on the cuisine of Delhi and its language. The lecture series was originally dedicated to Ravi Dayal as is the book and we are grateful to 'Seminar' for giving permission to reproduce an article he had contributed on his reminiscences of growing up in Delhi in the fifties.  


'Discovering the Ancient in Modern Delhi' by Upinder Singh
Most Dilli-wallahs visualize their city extending from somewhere near the Qutb Minar to somewhere beyond the Red Fort and recollect a vague connection between ancient Indraprastha and the Purana Qila. The more discerning might recall the famous iron pillar in Mehrauli or remember reading about the legendary seven cities of Delhi.

But Delhi from the stone age to the times of the Rajputs stretches much further than one can imagine. From an-open air shrine in the village of Tilpat to an inconspicuous mound in the village of Sihi and from stone implements in the area of Delhi University to the layers of civilizations revealed in archaeological digs at the Purana Qila in search of the ancient city of the Pandavas.         


Upinder Singh teaches ancient Indian history in the History Department of the University of Delhi. She enjoys travelling to historical sites and has written on many subjects ranging from the ancient history of Orissa to the evolution of Buddhist monasteries, from ways of understanding the inscriptions of Ashoka to explaining the early cults and shrines of Mathura, from exploring ancient sites to reconstructing their modern histories. She is the author of Kings, Brahmanas & Temples in Orissa, Ancient Delhi, The Discovery of Ancient India: Early Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology, and most recently, A History of Ancient and Early medieval India: from the stone age to the twelfth century. 

Delhi's most interesting native trees' an illustrated short introduction by Pradip Krishen 

In his lecture in October 2006 Pradip had chosen to talk about 'Avenue Trees for the Imperial Capital'. In this lecture he had discussed how the Imperial planners of Delhi had argued and debated a list of only about 13 species of trees to line the capitals avenues excluding all the favourite trees (Mango, Shisham Shehtoot) used by the Mughals and others before them. Most people don't quite know what trees are actually native to Delhi. Here's an interesting take on those that deserve most attention for one reason or another.  

Pradip Krishen is an 'ecological gardener' who has created a 70-hectare Desert Rock Park in Jodhpur and is currently planting up a swathe of Sundar Nursery in Delhi with plants native to the Delhi Ridge. He is the author of 'Trees of Delhi - A Field Guide' and is close to finishing 'The Jungle Trees of Central India.'  

"Dehli ki Aakhri Shama’" – a poetic re-enactment of "The Last Mush’aira of Dehli" Introduced by Rakhshanda Jalil

The Last Mushaira of Delhi is a dramatic re-enactment Farhatullah Beg's novel 'Dilli ki Aakhri Shama.' 

Fact and fiction blend seamlessly in a narrative that is not only a highly entertaining account of historical personges and their distinctive literary styles but is also a valuable document of a society, its morals and manners. Farhatullah Beg’s book transports us to an age when everyone – from the Mughal emperor Bahadurshah Zafar to the poorest beggar – cherished and adored Urdu. Polished and perfected by Delhi Ustads such as Mir, Sauda and Dard, urdu poetry shone like burnished gold. 

Farhatullah Beg’s book has a vivid account of the development of not just the Urdu ghazal but the Urdu language itself. His narrative is studded with lively pen portraits of the ustads Zauq, Ghalib, Momin, Dagh, Sheftah, Azurdah as well as their shagirds. Among them the French army captain Alexander Heatherley Azad, the colourful Nazneen who wrote in the women’s dialect rekhti, using women’s idiom and recited with great coquetry and coy playfulness wearing an odhni and the mystical Tashnah who arrived at mushairas not only drunk but also completely undressed. He  absent-mindedly snuffs out the shama placed before him before reading a ghazal that carries the only portent of disaster in its refrain of the nothingness that awaits. Tashnah and Zauq will sound the only note of sadness in this assembly that is otherwise complacent in its sense of wellbeing. Of the 59 poets assembled by Farhatullah Beg in his imaginary mushaira, I have chosen only 11, the twelfth being the royal emissary who reads the Emperor’s ghazal.  

Rakhshanda Jalil writes on issues of faith, culture and literature. She has edited two collections of short stories: an anthology ' Urdu Stories' a selection by Pakistani women ' Neither Night Nor Day', six works of translations and' Invisible City: The Lost Monuments of Delhi' She is currently working on the Progressive Writers' Movement.  

saturday 7th august
1-3 pm Food Meditation # 9 ‘Breakfast food’ 

Menu:  Pure cow’s milk with haldi (turmeric) and gur (jaggery)
            Amaranth (chaulai) muesli
(popped amaranth, cornflakes and dried
with yogurt or milk

            Homemade ‘ragi’ (millet) bread

(cottage cheese) and tomato
            Home collected honey
            Amaranth laddu


                               Todays lunch is actually composed of nutritious breakfast foods.

Pure cow’s milk is ultra-rich in minerals, enzymes, and amino acids.  It is abundant with lipase (a fat digesting enzyme), and contains pathogen killers. Today’s pasteurized, homogenized and formulated milk is almost a non food with no real value or flavour.  

Haldi is an antiseptic, disinfectant and according to Ayurveda an all-purpose cleanser. Scientists now tell us that curcumin (the essential ingredient of turmeric) is anti-inflammatory, in that it can reduce soreness and fever, much like tylenol or paracetamol. And it acts like those latest anti-inflammatory drugs called cox-2 inhibitors: Celecoxib and Vioxx. (now withdrawn by the FDA for safety reasons.) 

Amaranth can be cooked as a cereal, ground into flour, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted. The seeds can be cooked with other whole grains, added to stir-fry or to soups and stews as a nutrient dense thickening agent.

The fiber content of amaranth is three times that of wheat and its iron content, five times more than wheat. It contains two times more calcium than milk. Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a complete protein with a food value as high as fish, red meat or poultry. 

Amaranth also contains tocotrienols (vitamin E) which have cholesterol-lowering activity. Cooked amaranth is 90% digestible and has  traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness. It consists of 6-10% predominantly unsaturated oil, high in linoleic acid. 

Home collected honey – in many villages of the Garwhal Himalaya a space is made in the wall of a home (see photograph) in which these are encouraged to make a hive. They collect nectar from the seasonal wildflowers of the area. The owner of the hive/hut keeps collecting (stealing) the honey while the bees are out for the day and storing it for his own use. Most commercial honey is made with the beekeeper putting out pans of sugared water which the bees carry home without the bother of visiting each flower.  

There will be no verbal exchange during meditation and cell phones will need to be switched off.

Participation is by registration on payment only. Telephone The Attic 23746050 or email,
Charges: Students Rs 25. Others Rs 100.
Only 15 participants. No walk-ins please.



Along the Spice Routes of the World

Indian 'chicken tikka masala is now the national dish of Great Britain and any day now Mcdonalds in the US will be launching their newest culinary invention 'McAloo Tikki Burger'. Almost everyday there is a new book on Indian cooking and this series will celebrate the vast diversity that is Indian Cuisine and its international influences. We will explore history with 'Cooking of the Maharajas', geography with 'Cooking under the Raj', literature with 'Mistress of Spices', travel with the cooking along the Grand Trunk Road, globalization with 'Bound Together' and medicine with Ayurvedic cooking.

This series of 12 lectures is brought to you by The India International Centre and The Attic. Some lectures will be followed by a dinner relevant to the subject.


monday 9th august
6.30 pm ‘Sacred Food’ an illustrated lecture by Dr. Bharat Gupt at IIC Main Auditorium

In most religious and cultural traditions there are forbidden foods and foods considered sacred. Hinduism bans the eating of cow meat, Judaism and Islam forbid pork and Jainism prohibits even root vegetables. The Catholic tradition considers bread and wine as representing the body and blood of Christ, the Andean cultures consider the Coca leaf as sacred, the Challah in Judaism is symbolic of divine presence in Shabat. 

This talk discusses sacred foods in the Indian religious traditions. These can be divided broadly into two categories, the Vedic and the Shramanic. The first is devataa (deity) centered and the second is consciousness rooted. Offerings to the deity and offerings to the higher states of being are the two kinds of food that can be called sacred.

 In the first category as the deity is seen as a separate entity from the devotee, food is prepared and served to the deity through an elaborate ritual to promote devotion. In the Vedic yajnas sacred  food (called bali) of grain, vegetables or animals was offered to the gods by putting into the sacrificial fire. In the case of tribal rituals, there was no fire but food (animals and birds) was offered by laying it out in the sacred space. In the temple precincts the deity is served with a huge variety of cuisine made according to Vaishnava or Shaiva traditions.

 In the second category as the offerings have to be made internally within the self. The lower awareness is surrendered to the higher consciousness. This sacred food or the lower nature is offered through yogic fire using the medium of yantra, mantra,  shabad or nada.   

The underlying factor in both the categories is the absorption of the devotee into the higher Reality in a way that provides unlimited pleasure/ ananda/ rasa or nirvana.  

Bharat Gupt, an Associate Professor in English at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi, is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre. He has lectured extensively at Universities in India, North America, Europe, and Greece. He was a Visiting Professor to Greece and member of jury of the Onasis award for drama. He serves on the Visiting Faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi, and as resource scholar at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and several other major centres and academies of the arts. He also gives annual public lectures in New Delhi at the Habitat Center and several other forums. His published books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian (1994), Natyasastra, Chapter 28: Ancient Scales of Indian Music (1996), Twelve Greek Poems into Hindi (2001), India: A Cultural Decline or Revival?(2008).


friday 20th – wednesday 25th august (Sunday closed)
“Starving Artists” An exhibition of paintings by 8 contemporary Tibetan Artists.
Opening Reception: thursday, August 19th 5:00-7:00 p.m.

The "starving artist" is a typical figure of Romanticism  in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, mainly in France. He is seen in many paintings and works of literature. Henri Murger wrote about four starving artists in Scènes de la Vie de Bohème the basis for the opera by Puccini.

Tibetan contemporary  artists living in  refugee settlements all over India are alive with creativity, but there is an additional ingredient, a dogged determination to not only exist in exile--but to thrive and engage with the global community. 

The group exhibit organized by Peak Art Gallery in Mcleodganj, Dharamsala incorporates the works of eight Tibetan Contemporary Artists working in various medium including, oil water colour, and mixed medium.  Each of the pieces in the exhibit offers a poignant reflection of refugee life.  All of the artists  find  inspiration in different contexts.   Dr. Dawa the former director of the Tibetan Medical Institute , Men-Tsee-Khang, frequently paints landscapes that he encountered when he was collecting natural herbs to use in traditional  medicine.  Lobsang Dorjee is entirely self-taught and works with varied themes, such as the Dalai Lama and climate change.   Sonam Wangchuck is passionate about painting traditional Tibetan themes; he does so in order to share the richness of Tibetan Culture with his viewer.

When first confronted with the collection the diversity of prospective is largely apparent.   Each artist offers differing representation, and the juxtaposition between the hyper-real work of Sonam Wangchuck and Dr. Dawa, and the abstract nature of Tenzin Dakpa’s and Dukte’s works reflects the varied experiences of living in exile.

Peak Art Gallery features contemporary painting and prints from Tibetan exile communities through out India and Internationally. They promote the work of middle to early career Tibetan Contemporary artists, as they explore the complex themes surrounding the refugee identity. 

(TASHI GYATSO  +91 988 269 0785, or email at


friday 20th august
6.30 pm ” Heaven on Earth” a talk by  Pepita Seth

Backgound of Guruvayur:  Every day of the year, thousands of pilgrims swarm into the sacred precincts of Kerala’s Guruvayur Temple. They come to seek the blessings of Lord Krishna, known locally as Guruvayurappan, a deity whose precious idol was, according to myth, originally worshipped by Lord Vishnu. Another belief states that the idol was eventually inherited by Lord Krishna and enshrined in Dwaraka and that, just before His death, He declared that it was to be re-installed in India’s most sacred place. The task was carried out by Brihaspathy, the Guru of the Gods, and Vayu, the Wind God, whose combined names gave the temple its name. After travelling all over India, they eventually arrived at the place where the present temple now stands, and were welcomed by Siva and told that the purpose of their journey was fulfilled. From these mythical beginnings, Guruvayur became one of India’s most important temples, the small shrine that the Lord once occupied, now a mahakshetram , a great temple. It is a temple whose elaborate poojas have survived the many vicissitudes of history, of wars and changing times, always adhering to the rules that Adi Sankaracharya is said to have laid down a thousand years ago. That the temple has not only preserved this remarkable link with its divine origins, but has also continued to respect and honour its unique customs is largely due to the presence of the hereditary families, priestly and otherwise, who continue to fulfil the duties assigned to their ancestors many centuries ago. It is also a temple where devotion to Guruvayurappan has remained undiminished by the passing centuries, where the thousands of devotees who seek His compassionate blessings still uphold the mystery of His divine presence.

Heaven on Earth: The Universe of Kerala’s Guruvayur Temple takes the reader into the heart of this complex universe, chronicling the temple’s myth and history, describing its rituals and beliefs, its traditional style of management, its festivals and patronage of Kerala’s ancient art forms, its elephants and, of course, the beliefs of all those who worship within its precincts. It is a book made possible both by the trust and willingness of people, including the temple priests, to share their knowledge, and by author-photographer Pepita Seth’s commitment to the project and her determination to represent the scope of the temple’s world.

This remarkable and unique record is the outcome of 7 years of careful research enhanced by sensitive photographs that not only portray all aspects of life within the temple, but its atmosphere of intangible divinity.

Pepita Seth was born in London and grew up on a farm in Suffolk. Her career began in the cutting rooms, editing British and American documentaries and feature films-working with such directors as Stanley Donen, Otto Preminger, Tony Richardson and Ted Kotcheff. It was the chance discovery of her soldier great-grandfather’s 1857 diary which, in 1970, inspired her to make her first visit to India. In 1972, she returned to India, more specifically, to Kerala. From then on, between work assignments, she made regular visits to Kerala, finally basing herself in Thrissur where she now lives. By 1979, she had given up all film work and, driven by her passion and respect for the region’s culture and traditions, begun seriously photographing and writing about the rituals of Kerala’s Hindus. In 1981, she received official permission to enter Kerala’s temples-including Guruvayur Temple.

She has lectured extensively on Kerala’s traditions in India, Britain- at the British Museum and the Nehru Centre, and the United States-at the Smithsonian, Columbia and Barnard Universities. Exhibitions of her photographs have been held in India through the British Council, and in Britain and the United States under the aegis of Nikon House and Barnard University.

Her novel, The Spirit Land, was published in 1994, the year she began to focus on a single subject: the Theyyam rituals of Malabar. The 5 years she spent in northern Kerala resulted both in exhibitions-in Britainand the United States-and the firm conviction that she would return for more intensive work.

In 2001, encouraged by the temple authorities, she began her research on Guruvayur Temple. Heaven on Earth: The Universe of Kerala’s Guruvayur Temple is the culmination of 7 years of research and documentation-an experience Pepita Seth acknowledges as having changed her life.

tuesday 24th august
6.30 pm "Sufiana Kalaam": a performance  of traditional sufi ghazals by Gulfam Sabri                                  

 Gulfam Sabri belongs to a distinguished lineage of traditional musicians and represents the 7th generation of the Sainia Gharana of Rampur-Moradabad. He is the youngest Son of the great Sarangi maestro Ustad Sabri Khan Sahib and was initiated into music at a very early age by him.

He has carved a niche for himself as a Sufiana & Ghazal singer but also involves collaborative work with western and Asian musicians, and theatre artists.

Gulfam Sabri has performed widely in concerts across USA, Europe, Africa, Australia, South-East Asia and in Indi. He participated in the ‘Re-Orient Festival`- Estonia and also In the ‘BBC Live-2000’, in Birmingham. He has also  performed in the International Sufi festival in Kabul to commemorate the Chishti tradition of Sufism, as well as in Asian Sufi Festival,  Kashmir.He was awarded the  Sangeet Bhushana Award, Best Artist Award AIIMS  Surmani,from Mumbai. He has taught  music In Singapore, Australi, Finland and the UK as well as in many schools and colleges In India. His published CD`s are  ‘Dehleez’,and `Mumta` which were released from Britain.   


Tuesday Lunches at The Attic – a 2 month experiment in meditative eating

31 August
7 September
14 September

From October 2009 Anaam and The Attic have conducted a Food Meditation lunch exploring the 3000 year old tradition of eating in India. We have also emphasized the concept of ‘mindful eating’ recently expounded by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

We have learnt that food is not only a material that fills your stomach but is the spirit of life itself and when eaten meditatively goes through a deep transformation and becomes consciousness.  

We have eaten black rice from Manipur, Chaulai (Amaranth), Kulath (horse gram), Naurangi Dal, Jhangora (barnyard millet), Jau (oats) all from the Kumaon hills. These extremely nutritious foods  are rich in fibre, iron, calcium, vitamin E and have been almost totally lost to the urban population.  

These lunches are open to the public on the 3 days above only from 1 to 3 pm only.  Reservations are possible on advance payment but not necessary. We can seat only 25 people at a time. Seating will be on cushions on the ground and silence will be encouraged.  

1 to 3 pm tuesday 31st august
Forgotten Foods – an experiment in eating

1.       Arhar daal (Lentils) with jakhia tadka
     Mandua (Finger Millet) and Amaranth (Chaulai) Roti
     Paneer (Cottage cheese) curry
     Amaranth Raita
     Alloo jakhia (Dry potato vegetable)
     Chhachh (Buttermilk)
     Black rice
     Kheer (sweet rice in milk)
     Mint & Coriander Chutney
     Freshly prepared achhar (pickle)

Amaranth and Finger Millet Roties: Amaranth (chaulai) is a pink coloured grain. Finger Millet (mandua) makes black rotis. These rotis have a slight sweet taste and are a natural source of Iodine and Calcium.  

Tickweed (Jakhia) is a tiny seed used used in the hills to season vegetables and lentils. They are crispy and crackle and splutter when heated in oil. Jakhia is both a herb and a spice. Its chief medicinal value is in being lethal for stomach worms as well as in healing wounds.  

Black Rice (Chak-hao-Amubi) it is used in Manipur as a delicacy in feasts and festivities. Known all over South East Asia for its attractive colour, glutinous texture and flavour it is high in nutritional value and rich in iron. 

Chhachh: Buttermilk is a cooling drink especially in the North Indian summer. Today’s buttermilk comes from home fed cows in the nearby town of  Baghpat.   

      Pickle (achar) is freshly made from mangoes and mustard seeds 

Charges Rs 200/- per person. Telephone Mina Vahie 23746050 or Anaam 9911950530 or email,