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.
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.