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  • This is a painting of an Indian Street scene made by American artist Edwin Lord Weeks somewhere in late 1800s. When I looked at the painting, it seemed very familiar and yet very exotic at the same time. I could tell that the painting was based in India, but today, nowhere in India, will you be able to see something like this.

    There are some similarities here, that are hard to miss. A number of ethnic groups still wear their turbans and dresses the way it is depicted in the painting. The shoes (known as mojris) are still in demand but only for wearing on special occasions like festivals or marriages. It might still be a familiar sight to see a dog sleeping outside of what would be a newspaper stand today. And with some luck, you will still be able to spot the pigeons loitering on the ledges above.

    Some of these intricately designed buildings with arches and windows still subsist, although most have been replaced by towering but vapid structures of glass and concrete. Today, those ornate windows still look out to open courtyards. But somewhere they miss the life of their bustling inhabitants, now replaced by camera-toting tourists. The monuments survived, but only as skeletal remains of the original magnificent edifices.

    Yet a lot of the culture still survives. A lot of the smells and tastes have been preserved in the form of different cuisines with their elaborate culinary preparations. A lot of the traditional music has survived. Ghazals that were enjoyed in live performances in those days are still enjoyed and cherished today. People don't travel on horses any more but they still gather in the shade and read their news, though not so much on paper anymore.

    And those pigeons still loiter freely as they have through the ages….

    So much has changed. And yet, some of it hasn't.

    (Painting/Picture courtesy : Edwin Lord Weeks)
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