work took me to the national capital recently and i have ever since been wanting to share some random thoughts from that trip. the pictures were all shot on a kodak camera – basic model, official.

i’ve often heard people say how they hate this place or that. it probably arises out of affinity to the places they ‘belong’ too. or out of the inability to accept change. diversity is a fact of life and not many people are able to accept it, let alone relish it. imagine a world of similarities – of people, places and what not – sounds boring to me.

me, i like ALL places. i’ve managed to travel around the country a little bit. thank my stars. thank my dad who always paid for my trips as a youngster. this wasn’t the first time i went to delhi. and like everytime, i couldn’t but marvel at the majesty of the place – broad avenues, mostly lined with greenery, grand buildings. there is something about india gate, especially on winter mornings – its grandiose beauty, yet essentially simple. and the amar jawan jyoti – for someone who always wanted to be a soldier, it is very dear to the heart.

one of the things that struck me was the contrast that is apparently visible in most parts of this country. on the one side there was the metro – technologically way ahead of anything i have seen (barring the calcutta metro of course), comfortable, fast, and whats more, they even claim it is environmentally friendly. and on the other hand, where i stayed in karol bagh, we had cycle rickshaws. a colleague of mine was telling me how he had made a policy decision not to travel in those. i didn’t subscribe to the view. it is hard work, and they earn a meagre amount, but i don’t think there is anything demeaning about the profession. to satisfy my ego or conscience or whatever, i’d usually pay up a little more than what they demanded, which wasn’t much anyways.

it has been 60 years since this country won its freedom from foreign rule, and i can’t help but think about the kind of impact the oppressors have made here. even today, atleast among the commoners, the white skinned people are looked at with fascination and awe. go to any tourist destination, and you can be assured you’ll only be treated on a ‘second grade’ if you are brown skinned. i have personally experienced this in auroville, a so called ‘universal city’. another aspect of this fascination is the respect we give to people who can speak english. in many cases, indians who are unable to speak this language fluently, are scorned at. all this was running in my mind when i saw these funny signboards, and almost involuntarily photographed them.

since i was there for almost a week, i could find sometime to go out and see the place. one such spot that i was quite particular to visit was chandni chowk. dating back to the 17th century, this is quintessential old delhi for you, and offers an amazing aspect of the contrast that i mentioned earlier. some of the highlights were –

the famous perfumers called gulab singh johrimal – they apparently set up shop way back in 1816 and were famous among the moghuls. they had quite a bit stocked up – soaps, little incense cones, sticks, pot-pourris and all sorts of perfumes in quaint little bottles of different shapes and sizes.

not to mention this other shop, selling gol guppas (aka pani puri. of puchka – if you’re from the famous bong land. or gupchup, as it is called in orissa and also hyderabad, if i am correct). i couldn’t stop once i had started, and as i left, i was hoping we’d find some of that quality stuff in madras too…

or this dhaba, where we had dinner. they had employed a couple of kids, and as i was battling within the idea of eating in such a place, they came and started talking to me, and when i wanted a picture, they flashed the happiest smile in the world ever.

to me, the highlight of the trip was my meeting with an old time friend – we were supposed to be ‘chuddy buddies’ and all that back in college, and so the reunion was lots of fun. he took me to one of those cool joints, i don’t remember the name. wait, it was TGIF, yes that was it. definitely not for us bum kinds, but well, he was playing host. and whats more, he was paying for my drinks, so what the hell!

long hours and many drinks later, it was all but a blur, and that was also good bye to new delhi.

you could not and possibly should not be anything less or more than what you are, anywhere other than where you are. now.
– anonymous


40 thoughts on “dilli

  1. Great pictures and excellent post. Er, sorry. One of the things I appreciate about Indian people is that they are so friendly to us Brits and don’t hold the past against us.

  2. The inclusion of the pictures is an interesting upgrade ๐Ÿ™‚ The contrast are the reflexion of a country that is growing at the speed of light. The officials need to be careful and not ruin what’s good about the past. But even over here the contrasts are still widening – the rich are richer and the poor are poorer every year that goes by. It’s really sad.

  3. Dear God, you are one of the most profound people I know. I traveled mentally, philosophically and peripherally in this post. I really needed the quote at the end today.I bow to you…Novel

  4. Hey.. u were in my city? Great! I live in the suburbs and we rarely, if ever, go to Delhi. But while we are at it, I have to add to your excellent review of Delhi: It is THE place for plays and poetry.The NSD festival twice a year, the Sriram Center Repertory, not to mention the several theater groups active in Delhi, and the plays of other languages, that come from the respective Akademis(me, I go to the Punjabi Akademi plays and mushayaras).. these are the things that take one to Delhi, and the things that make Delhi such a joy to be in. The things one does not like about Delhi, is the average Delhi-ite’s attitude towards women, and towards pace. The pace here is not collective, like in Mumbai. It is always my pace at the cost of your pace, which is collectively destructive.:-) There, review is my current mode! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. for someone from the north…this description seems normal(the matter, not the style..which btw is awesome!)makes me wonder..how northerns have a fascination for south n vice versa…loved the last quote ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I so thoroughly enjoyed these photos!they were all shot on film?I am taking my old camera out again inpired byyou – i love love love pani puri and the place youhad dinner looks marvellous -wonderful trip and thankyou for incuding us!

  7. HiDilli aaye aur hamen bataya bhi nahin!!!Regarding sign boards, one common menu available in dhabas are “Sand Witch”. surprisingly it missed your eyes!!Delhi is beautiful. I love the place.

  8. flattered? lol.what i like best about the pictures is the slight peek of the ‘filter wills’ packet on the corner.somehow, i find delhi very interesting. it smells like an oven during summer, but i still like it.

  9. Interesting photo log with nice narratives. :)It is sad that it’s not only the US and UK that we are treated like second class citizens but also in our own country by our own people. Loved the sign boards, I have clicked pictures of some too, it’s really hilarious.

  10. ADITI,i did a sly thing, removed the pic, but yes, it WAS my pic. put it up, and removed it in retrospect – thinking a bum would rather be faceless :)and as always, thanks!SUNRISE,hope u do get to india soon and explore to your hearts content.Z,thanks you. and what woudl you be sorry about – i am glad, and proud you have said that about us people. yes, i would find it quite meaningless to hold on to the past.PINK,sure. but that would also be an excuse to hitch a hike and meet some interesting people, no?JOLVIN,yes, and i don’t belong to any culture that i can not identify with. i love mumbai. i love delhi just as much :)DIVSU,sad, na?NANDITHA,thank you.DEVIL,the contrasts, i presume are widening all over the world. the gap seems to be ever widening, as you have noted. something better be done, least it turns out to be explosive.NOVEL,come on, i am just a bum :)i bow to you too, in all sincerity and humility.*hugs*PRITIKA,its always different to visit and live. even home is like that, i have noticed. and which place does not have its share of problems?TRINNIE,hullo, and thanks dear!HDWK,hey…now i didn’t know thats your city!i like your pride for the city, it makes me haoppy, and wanna be proud too. thank you.ADITI,yes, my dear friend, like i said, i removed it quickly, but not before u had a look :)NISHA,normal, yes. yes, we do have a fascination for what is not ‘ours’. it is, i think quite natural.and thanks!MADDIE,not film my dear friend, it was a digital camera, although a simple one with minimal features.you, maddy, are always included in my trips. i love your fasication for india, for love, for life…you are a bundle of joy :)SUGAR,thank you :)CHITRA,bhool gaya, maaf kar deejiyega na. agli baar aoonga, bataoonga, aur aapkey yahan ‘bhiksha’ mil jayega na?saw the witches in so many place, didn’t snap them ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. PHISH,u like wills too? u have a keen observation. but then, like they say, we see what we want to see :)IWOBM,thank you. welcome to this space!it is alright, as far as i am concerned, if i am treated that way in a foreign country. but here…it makes me REALLY sad.KESHI,do come down sometime. and my pic, i don’t think is worth posting :)CM,you’re back i see, and i am glad.the humour, well it comes naturally sometimes. only the black kind though ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. ** :”diversity is a fact of life and not many people are able to accept it, let alone relish it.”- very classy I like it** “the famous perfumers called”- WOW!! 1816!!** “selling gol guppas (aka pani puri. of puchka – if you’re from the famous bong land. or gupchup, as it is called in orissa and also hyderabad”– WO, I did not know so many names.I never ventured eatingthem when i was in calcutta/hyderabad/bhubneshwar!!:P** “you could not and possibly should not be anything less or more than what you are, anywhere other than where you are. now.”- very interstingAND EHY: where is the last pic..from? Of?nice post

  13. hmm now i cant ask which one was u.. but sentiments of anonymity respected..I do tend to return to the comments section where i expect an answer to a question or something.. and so I am guilty of using your comment section for conversations often.. hehe

  14. ABHISHEK,thank you.i must tell you that you have missed a LOT if you did not try the famous puchkas of calcutta. or even in bhubaneswar – i got 4 pcs for a rupee and would pig on it :)the last picure – is of a lamp with a shade.ADITI,guilty?ARPITA,i don’t mind the extreme cold, in fact, i like it. the heat is another thing now ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. enjoyed the pix and the writeup. i enjoyed my visit to delhi as well. i also tot i might not like it for various reasons given to me by ppl, but it was a nice suprise. every city comes with its ups and downs, how we look at it and enjoy the oportunity is wt matters.see ya:)

  16. Hi, I’m new here and impressed with the writing and the photography.I’m left with the question though – Do they really flatten the tires??Peace, love and understanding.

  17. Nice post! You’ve got me all nostalgic about Delhi now (sigh). I get this craving every few months to be back there, do the things I used to when I was there, visit the places I used to and eat the food I used to. Mad, mad Delhi leaves me energised as much it leaves me drained. I think Delhi Tourism has started some kinda Dilli Darshan. I want to take that tour to explore the city some day.

  18. SHUZ,you are right, sometimes it is best not to listen to people :)ADITI,that wasn’t a charge, my dear friend, jusst a simple observation :)RUBYSHOOZ,they’ve said they flatter them – i don’t know how they’d manage that :)welcome here, and thanks!VITRUVIAN,thanks! yes, i did enjoy the place. the peopl of course are fun everywhere as always :)ARTI,thanks!D,glad u liked it. i don’t normally recommend arranged tours. there is very little freedom to explore.VENUS,thanks and you are most welcome.

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