“You can’t depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.”
– Mark Twain
“Do not judge men by mere appearances; for the light laughter that bubbles on the lip often mantles over the depths of sadness, and the serious look may be the sober veil that covers a divine peace and joy.”
– E. H. Chapin
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
– Wayne Dyer (Psychotherapist, Author and Speaker)
The quotes above apply to individuals.Women,men and children. But I would take the quotes and apply them in context of cities too. What happens when you judge cities.
Have you read about the Reader’s Digest survey where Mumbai was ranked really low in terms of politeness? The last one in the list infact.
And which city was right on top?The politest so to say?
Now I have no idea of New York or its citizens. But I do have a problem with the sheer absurdity of such a survey. And the criteria used to define politeness.
This snap judgement, oh! I am sorry judgement based on a ‘survey’ is just so stupid!Can one judge a complete city by looking at how 10 -15 (or whatever the number was)’half of them men and half of them women mind you..can one judge a complete city based on such a survey?? Or for that matter an entire nation ??(if a survey were to be done)
Do you remember how absolutely furious the survey made you when you read it for the first time? You kept nodding and saying,”yeah sure we are not exactly polite 24X7 but the rudest city in the world?” And I am not talking of an average Mumbaikar. I am talking of you as an Indian.when no matter which part of the country you lived in, you were furious about the way Mumbai one of your Indian cities had been judged.
You really hated that feeling didnt you? And the rest of India shared those sentiments too.We all were furious with the Mumbaikars.
How dare they,the Reader’s Digest people judge us like this? ‘ Us’ refers to not just Mumbaikars but India as a whole.
Ofcourse, there also must have been others who must have thought ,’ofcourse Mumbai is rude.I knew it.Just knew it.”(based on their interactions with a handfull of Mumbaikars)
For such people all I can feel is sorry. They couldnt possibly get more judgemental if they tried.
Do you see where I am going with this?:)
Why you should not judge.
People,cities,nations,cultures,religions,what have you.
It’s a vicious circle.You judge me .I judge you and it goes on and on.
It needs to stop right now.
At this point I really don’t care what the world thinks.But I do care what Indians think of each other.Or how they percieve each other.
When you diss ‘my’ city(there is no such thing as my city or anyone’s city btw)and I diss yours,where does that leave India?
Where do we stand as Indians?
I live in Delhi.N Delhi.New Delhi to be precise.
I have spent almost my entire lifetime in this city.It has beguiled me ,romanced me,charmed me.
And I am yet to explore it fully.I have barely scratched the surface. At each corner I see a new past .Contradictory is it not?:) new past?:)
And yet the truth. For,Delhi has had many pasts. It has been plundered,looted,founded time and time again,looted more…the list of its rulers will run into miles if one were to sit down and write about it.
But this is not about resting on past glory.That indeed is our biggest weakness as Indians.
No. This is about trying to understand why and how cities are not just about brick and mortar structures and the people living in them. This is also about how you and I as visitors interact with those cities. How we see them and how they see us. If you lack imagination this city will never reveal its charms to you.:)
Or any city for that matter. She will give her gift to only those whose hearts are open and non-judgemental.
Cities are like lovers. Loved and hated in equal measure. Were one to love a city forever, without any disagreements and arguments, the charm would be lost.
So it is with Delhi or Dilli.
I am not from Delhi. I belong to (how can anyone ‘belong’ to any place? but for information sake lets proceed) UP. Uttar Pradesh (a most unimaginative name) Not just any part. But the part that gave a new definition to the word ‘Tehzeeb‘ and the part where everyone refers to themselves as ‘hum’.
Luckhnow and Varanasi (Banaras).
These are the cities that I went to or relatives came from during my summer vacations.
Between an army upbringing where one had to mind the ‘P’s and Q’s to these cities where every sentence had to be peppered with ‘hum’, ‘ji’ , ‘ kijiye’, ‘ dijiye’ and so on..
One never spoke in the singular. It was always .”Hum keh rahe the ki unhe bhi sharbat dijiye’.
It was never ‘ main ‘.or ‘de dena’.
And yet despite these ingrained ways of speaking, I felt most at home in Delhi. A city where people say ‘tu’ sometimes in anger but mostly with familiarity.’Tum’ also with affection.
Is Delhi considered rude because it has certain predominant languages? Almost abrupt sounding dominant languages? Punjabi and Haryanvi? ‘Lathmaar’ as they say in hindi. Which means they sound as if the speaker is hitting you with a stick or a laathi.
And by this definition would all the states ,cities,places where the dialect is music to the ears…are they filled with honest,polite people ? Are they places where no crime occurs and things are rosy?
It could be one reason I suppose.
But there are other factors at play here too.or so I think.
The loss of a true Dilliwalllah is mourned everyday by the old residents of Puraani Dilli. (Old Delhi)
They lament the ‘tehzeeb that has gone.The ‘adab’ that is nowhere to be found. They too are living in the past.
The Purani Dilliwallahs lament the departure of Dilliwallahs who went to lahore after partition and criticse the new ‘Punjabis’ who have come as crass and vulgar and the noveau riche so to speak.
I am dead sure the Puraane Lahorewallahs lament the departure of true lahoris and criticise the arrival of crass,uncouth ‘north Indians’.
Do you see the irony here?
The joke that this is.Each side lamenting for what had been their beloved city once upon a time.How much of it is imagination and how much of it is real,that is something only they would know.
But the truth is that cities keep changing.They change every day, every minute.Every second.That is their nature. To be otherwise would make them stagnant.
The nostalgia lies in all of us.Buried deep inside.Hidden somewhere.Taken out at times of great disappointment.
Read what Raza Rumi writes about Lahore.
”Writing about Lahore is a sensation that lies beyond the folklore – Jine Lahore nai wakhaya o janmia nai (The one who has not seen Lahore has never lived). It has to do with an inexplicable bonding and oneness with the past, and yet a contradictory and not-so-glorious interface with the present………..Its ancient moorings explain its indomitable will, ability to survive the upheavals of time, and an innate life beyond the limits of recorded histories, fancy notions of urbanity and cultural evolution. Lahore is also about its centuries of residents. The mystique of the city thus is a personalised experience, as if a city were in permanent dialogue with its residents even while speaking to a newcomer.”
Insert the word Delhi or Calcutta/Kolkata and the emotions,the sentences,the feelings would still hold true.
Beautiful and yet thought provoking is it not?:)
These are cities. Living ,breathing mementoes. Teeming with millions and yet with arms open and welcoming newcomers irrespective of who they are.
And read another man’s account here.
”With its chain of colleges and professional institutions, Lahore was the leading centre of education in North India. So much so that students from Delhi came to Lahore for higher education. The city had acquired the reputation of being the Paris of the east. Fashion ruled the life of its people whose lifestyles, habits and customs were considered to be most admirable. It had also become the nucleus of commerce and politics….. came to India with family….after partition…Fifty years have passed but the memories are still fresh in mind and most of us consider ourselves rootless. We are still groping for an identity. We had to make linguistic and social adjustments.”
Now if I ask you about whether you see all this when you say Delhi is rude… ,the pain,the suffering,this futile search for identity,the old identity long lost in the past…and how it has transferred itself to the new generations too…would you be able to say yes?
See how beautifully and so aptly someone has described Delhi. (and people her blog is awesome.The way she writes.Oh man!:)Thank me for taking you there):P
Delhi: Kind and Rude
It strikes you sometimes, the random kindness of strangers. These random acts, by themselves insignificant except for a certain moment. Like when you are climbing the steps of a narrow tower, and you find yourself face to face with someone going down. With no space. You negotiate, suck in air. Make yourself smaller than you are. Step sideways. Allow.
In a city like Delhi, the randomness is even more erratic. And yet certain flashes of it exist. Like some guy at the toll booth telling you not to worry, he’ll get you change. You’re like his sister, after all.
You see, the people of this city are never polite. There is a rudeness in everything. In their incessant honking, in their gestures, in their walk. Their elbows forever ready to nudge you, even if painfully. But they are kind, sometimes. Even their kindness is sort of rude. An abrupt gesture that you are meant to forget. To acknowledge it implies that you have seem them vulnerable.
For a city that has been attacked so many times, it needs to build walls around itself. For a city full of sarais, it is strangers who must become family. And with family, you can be rude and thankless. Even if you secretly admire them. Because at some point you find yourselves sitting next to them, and when they fan themselves in the heat, a little cool air grazes you. They look at you rudely. But continue fanning themselves, a bit more than really required. And for that accidental kindness, you are grateful.
I could not help but smile after reading her lines. Because yes,This is Delhi to a T
I would have written and spoken as passionately about wherever I would have happened to live. Be it Delhi,Kolkata or Pune or Mumbai or Chennai.
But most of all I would have avoided labels.Whether good or bad.
The sentences below are something someone wrote after being furious when Mumbai had been mentioned as the rudest city. He is a Mumbaikar. This is not to judge him but merely to show all of you as to how his Mumbaikar identity came before his Indian identity.Forget even the Maharashtrian one. and the identity as a global citizen?Forget it. I doubt people who judge would know of it.
Yes, we are rude. We are almost always rude. Cities are always rude. We are the only city in the country. Delhi is a bunch of villages held together by the politics of power and some nice roads. Chennai is a self-satisfied town which wants to be known for its culture. Bangalore looked like it might well grow up to be a city but now that it’s got the opportunity to do it, it’s choking itself to death. Calcutta had its moment of glory in the 19th century when they built lots of mansions and factories and set up the kind of intellectual atmosphere of a Cambridge debating society. Then they lost it, the Bangla babus and settled into making funny kurtas for their men to wear and selling Bankuda horses to the rest of the country.
Yes, we are rude. We don’t have time for that. We’re too busy dragging the rest of you into some semblance of wealth. We’re too busy earning the money that runs the country. We’re too busy paying for the Delhi and Kolkata Metros. We’re too busy earning the money to pay the 75 percent of the income tax paid by the country. In Kolkata, they don’t earn money. In Bangalore, they know how to hide it cyberwise. In Delhi, everyone’s a farmer with agricultural income that’s tax free.
I was horrified when I read this. How can a discussion on whether a survey is right or wrong turn into a mud slinging contest which says ,”oh yeah I am rude?You ####### you all are rude.You are also ungrateful for all that I do.’You should be kissing my ####”
Do you see the dangers of labelling now?
The sheer insanity of it all?
I mean how did this guy turn it into a question of Delhi and its citizens?How??
Or any other Indian city for that matter?
This is why I say labels whether Delhi is ‘rude’ or Mumbai is ‘cosmopolitan’ or Calcutta is ‘intellectual’ or Patna is ‘backward’ or ‘dehaati’are dangerous labels.
Dangerous because when you say I am superior it becomes a given that somewhere you also have seen someone or something that you deem inferior to yourself.
For,it is only by contrasting that you have arrived at this concusion of superiority haven’t you?
When you look at a city, it’s like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it.”
—Hugh Newell Jacobsen
So please it is a request most sincere that before you paint a whole city with the same brush or a whole country or a whole culture or a whole religion,please take a moment and think.
Think of how you too could be labelled as part of a group.
And no, I am not a Punjabi
Nor do I have any distant connecton to Delhi:)
I simply am in love.
In love with this city.
In love with all the times I have spent here.
In love with its exasperating people.
In love with the tantalising glimpses she keeps showing me.
In love with all that is quintessentially Dilli
But rest assured it never bores.
“How soon country people forget. When they fall in love with a city it is forever, and it is like forever. As though there never was a time when they didn’t love it. The minute they arrive at the train station or get off the ferry and glimpse the wide streets and the wasteful lamps lighting them, they know they are born for it. There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves: their stronger, riskier selves.”
—Toni Morrison, Jazz
PS:- err…funny thing..I still have not posted my ode to Delhi:D
*ducks a tomato and a few eggs*:D
I started rambling here and didn’t know when to stop.:D
ODE to Delhi warts and all in my next post
and feel free to fall asleep after reading three posts on Delhi in a row.:P