Despite coming from a household where one parent has a Doctorate in History and the second holds two Masters degrees (one in History), I'm not that smart, and my appreciation of History is rather limited. And while I might have studied English Literature, I don't quite get poetry - other than Latin American poetry. Always been more of a prose person. However, none of these flaws in me has ever stopped me from appreciating the beauty of Delhi.
Unlike any other major urban centre in India, Delhi has a history that rivals only Athens and Rome. Indraprastha dates back to the time of the Mahabharat, and yes if that lunatic Sahib Singh Verma (one of the BJP's follies when they ran the NCR of Delhi) had his way, he would have reverted the cities name back six millenia. I might have been born in Calcutta, but I have spent the greater part of my life in Delhi. I have studied here, grown up here as well as found (and lost) love over here. I am a Delhi-ite.
Some people are not very happy being from this city. They bitch and moan about its heartlessness. Yes, maybe the city is heartless. Maybe you do leave accident victims on the roads, waiting for the police. Maybe the shock of a second-rung politician cooking his wife in a tandoor doesn't shock us. Nor do the stories of rocket-scientists with a fetish for young boys.
I remember when we moved back to Delhi after my father joined the Times of India, I was nine years old. Right behind our house in Panchsheel Enclave was the wide open expanse of Siri Fort. I used to take my cycle there with some school friends, but always got back before six. As we grew older we heard stories of.. well, you know what people do in big parks. Yet it was weird, because here we were living in a city just surrounded by history and not realising it.
Anyway, after we grew a bit older there were the evenings spent watching the Sunset from the ramparts of the Old Fort, even going to Humayun's Tomb (and climbing those two-feet high stairs) and Red Fort or to Karim's at Jama Masjid. The idea of history in most other cities is just not there. For gods sake, the school picnics - like those we took with Mrs Venkatraman or Mr Alphonso (yes, that was his name) from St Columba's were to decrepit tombs around the Qutub Area. One of those tombs in a Western City - say in Europe and they would be charging ten Euro entry or something. Here we just walked in.
Sometimes, when I got a car, I used to take a girl out to some of these places for a romantic getaway in the middle of the day. Once I remember, we went to Tughlakabad Fort, another huge fort, thats just there because we had nothing else to do. Just went and spent one whole day inside the ramparts of a fort, three people, thats it. A huge empty fort inside a city. Only in Delhi.
I don't know why my last few posts have carried on about this city. Maybe because I'm angry that people spread baseless lies about a city or maybe that my anger is directed towards those who attack my city. Normal programming will resume from my next post. I have to write about ToI's front page edit today (written I assume by 'Big' brother himself).