Monday, October 31, 2005

A city for the ages.

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).


papamali said...

Do I detect a case of homesickness?

K said...

Naah, more of appreciating home....

shaun said...

May I support the statement of homesickness?

thalassa_mikra said...

That was a beautiful post K. And reminded me of all the school picnics we had in Lodi gardens, Purana Qila, Hauz Khas etc. You are right, a sense of history is strewn around for anyone to walk through oblivious. I used to be amazed at the number of sarai, baoli and tombs I would see just traveling by bus on a given day.

Perhaps that is precisely why I loved Rome so much, it reminded me of this careless scattered beautiful fragments of history.

Papamali, Shivam, take it from a former Dilliwallah, now Angeleno, it's more than homesickness.

makash said...

Nice Post. Glad that you mentioned about the TOI editorial. The whole piece was to me a bit unlike TOI and the last line was very ominous. I just have one question. Who wrote that thing?

shaun said...

Happy diwali, Bong Bong!


K said...

Nahiiiiiiin..... How do you know that!

Shivangi said...

I've been in Delhi for almost four years now and I have made the most beautiful memories here. Leaving this city is going to be a hard task. I know the men have x-ray visions, and people are heartless, too business minded, but the city grows on you. It really does.

shaun said...

Nahiiiiiiin..... How do you know that!

Hahahahahahahhhhaaahhahahh [demonic laughter!]

Vikas said...

Hi K,
This post was good and it reminds me of nai sarak where i went to buy books and the meena bazaar and chandni chowk where i had thandi rabri. I just love the history spilled everywhere in delhi. I certainly don't like comments from people i meet in bombay/pune or further south about delhi being tuf and ppl being rude. Nobody asked u to bring ur asses here. Sure Delhi is tough since its like a Jungle and you gotta fight to survive, that what i like about it. Being competitive and strong. No city teaches you better than Delhi. I love Delhi.


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K said...

Having lived in the "City of Djinns " for the last six years I cannot help but share the sentiments you have expressed here. In spite of the initial awkwardness brought on by unfamiliarity, Delhi and I have become great friends. I have now left the city, temporarily I hope, but I cannot help think about the picturesque relics of this neverdying city strewn about on the roundabouts and the local DDA greens, with nostalgia and longing. I cannot wait to walk yet again along the charbaghs of Humayun's tomb or drown in the musical frenzy of the devouts at Nizamuddin on Thursdays not to mention to sink into the unparalled bliss of Karim's seekh kababs and Murgh noorjahani.
It is alwayas good to find kindred views. Coincidentally I am also a Calcutta born Mumbai/Delhi-ite and also use the pen name 'K'.
Glad to have stumbled on this blog.