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  • This is the best body of work in infra-red photography that I have seen in India.
      Shri S. Paul
    Photographer, on the infra red exhibition Ladakh Huess
  • I am proud to know this couple- Shamim and Sasmita. This book reflects the labour of their love. We could reach the place because of the power of his lens.
      Janab Arif Mohammed Khan
    Former state minister, at the inauguration of the book
  • Words fail me; outstanding!
      Mr. Rajiv Lochan
    Director NAGMA, on "One Fine Tuesday"
  • At times Delhi looks beautiful but the kind of flavour Shamim has brought about in black and white is not only very beautiful but after this book we all will see these monuments from a fresh perspective.

    ( while unveiling of the book 'Forgotten Dilli - Portrait of an immortal city')

    Extraordinarily taken pictures. Akhtar is someone we are proud of.

    ( on 'Ladakh Hues " )
      Mrs. Sheila Dixit
    Ex-CM Delhi
  • When stones burst into songs

    Qutub Minar must count among the most sketched, painted and photographed monuments of the world. What the Eiffel Tower is to Parisians, the Big Ben to Londoners, the Brandenburg Gate to Berliners and the Statue of Liberty to New Yorkers, the Qutub Minar is to Dilliwallahs. It is older and more spectacular than all the other monuments.

    I have seen hundreds of photographs of Qutub Minar but none to match the cover of Forgotten Dilli, Portrait of an Immortal City by Sasmita S. Akhtar and Shamim Akhtar. Shamim is a Bihari Muslim, now in the IAS, posted in Delhi. Sasmita is an Oriya Brahmin, a sociologist, who is a product of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Between them, they produced a pictorial album on Lakshadweep and now one on the old monuments of Delhi.

    Sasmita has written the text; Shamim has taken the photographs. They have limited their work to the end of the Mughal dynasty in 1857. They have pictures of baolis (step wells), dargahs (Sufi shrines), forts, mosques, and mausoleums. What arrests the readers attention is the interplay of light and shade on trees and clouds to highlight every monument.

    It is a sheer joy to turn over the pages of the book again and again. It reminded me of an old film song, 'Geet gaaya paththaron ne ' 'The stones burst with songs'.
      Mr. Khuswant Singh
    The Telegraph, 6th March 2010
  • 'A stunning exhibition, highlighting the unique beauty of Ladakh...extremely impressed by the quality of his images.'

    (on the exhibition, Rode to Heaven in 2008)

    'I have great pleasure in commending this book to all those who love mountains. Packed with photographs, there are short descriptive notes which are useful.'

    (In the foreword of the book, Rode to heaven: Ladakh in 2009)

    ...I myself have not been able to go to Kailasa nor will I be able to go to in this life; but after reading this book I feel I have also done half parikarma.'

    (At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within' , at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011)
      Dr. Karan Singh
    At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within', at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011
August 25, 2014
Right of admission reserved

There was a very nice place in the middle of the city , where a poor boy from a humble family used to go with his father for cleaning the area. In that beautiful place was a huge building at the gate were two well dressed guards and on the gate was written " right of admission reserved".

The boy used to wonder, what that place was? He used to watch beautiful people dressed up entering that place and the  guards used to bow down to them.

It was very fascinating  for the poor boy. One day he asked his father about that place and the father said to him that that was the most prestigious club of the city only meant for the 'top class people'. The boy could not understand the concept of 'top class people'.

He asked very gently to his father,

 " why can't we enter the place, I just want to have a look ? ".

 The father was very angry with the boy and replied ,

 " you are too young to understand. We can never enter this place in our lifetime ".

Boy : " Why not? What's wrong with us?"

Father : " This club is only for the rich and powerful  and we are neither rich nor powerful"

Boy : " Then tell me how can I be rich and powerful please"

Father : " You are not interested in studying and that's why I bring you to work. If you study hard enough, may be some day you can enter this place "

The boy was determined and took a vow to study hard. He was admitted in a government school and passed his tenth class with flying colors. He came to the club along with his father and said ,

" I have studied hard and read the constitution of our free nation also. It gives us right to equality. Why can't I enter this club now ?''

Father :  " My dear son, this is an IAS club and you need to be an IAS to enter this club"

Boy : " Then tell me how to become an IAS?"

Father : "Dear son, by our family standard , you have already done very well. You will get a better job than your father now with this qualification. I don't know how one becomes an IAS , but I don't think we can afford your studies any further".

The boy was adamant to enter the club. So , he went on studying and working simultaneously, burnt the  midnight oil and finally after a very prolonged struggle , he made it. After joining the training, his dream came true and he was there at the gate of the club all dressed up.

He had tears of joy in his eyes when the guards bowed down to him. The gate opened and he entered. It was like moon walk to him.

He was finally in the main hall. Well decorated place, with clean white tablecloths on the round tables. The hall was very big , with his wet eyes, the boy could see the bar in the distant corner and some people sitting there. He choose a corner table and sat there silently, trying to figure out , what this is all about. Time elapsed , and he noticed that the well dressed waiters were only serving to the people sitting at the bar. Then he saw some more people entering the hall, and the waiters rushed to receive them.

After quite some time, when no one came to him, he called a waiter, and everybody looked at the boy with disgust. The waiter came to him and with folded arms asked what he wanted.

The boy asked for the menu card which the waiter obliged. After going through the menu, the boy ordered the cheapest dish. The waiter refused saying not available. The boy choose another dish, and again the waiter refused. The boy was bewildered.

Then somebody much older sitting at the bar intervened and called the boy to the bar. The boy walked very slowly and greeted the old man. The old man asked him " what's your surname?"

Boy : " I have none."

The hall burst into laughter, and the old man said in a very loud voice pointing his finger at the Boy "when will these people understand the meaning of ' right of admission reserved' ? "

The boy left the club crying ..... thinking whether it was worth the effort he put in, for entering the club.


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